Home, again

Day 374

     Back home for routine maintenance on Truck and The Sphinx. While we are having that done, going to a wedding (another good man bites the dust), and a week at Ocean City, Maryland. Hope to be back on the road in 2 weeks. 

Technical Stuff: Ashland, Va to Fallston, Md. 175.4 miles

4 hours and 55 minutes (numerous backups, I am surprised I got such good milage)

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.22


Maymont, Richmond, Virginia

Day 373

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     James Henry Dooley, the son of wealthy Irish immigrants, was born January 17, 1841. On May 5, 1862, during the Civil War, he was wounded at the Battle of Williamsburg, captured and confined in prison for a short time. Upon his release he worked in the Confederate Ordnance Department in Richmond.

     After the War, Dooley further increased his fortune by speculating in real estate and becoming involved in railroads, steel and banking.

     To show off his wealth, in 1893 he and his wife Sallie built their elaborate Gilded Age estate on a site high above the James River in Richmond, Virginia, and called it Maymont. This 100-acre Victorian estate contains not only the mansion, but gardens, water falls, animals, and furniture from all over the world. 

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From gilded wall paper Day 373 Maymont, VA 2903_FotorTo opulent furniture

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Even their archways had stained glass Day 373 Maymont, VA 2908_Fotor

And of course, a comfortable bed Day 373 Maymont, VA 2911_Fotor

     Throughout my travels, I have seen hundreds of lily pads, but no frogs on them. I am wondering if this is a myth. 

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Petersburg, Virginia

Day 372

     So, where was Robert E. Lee’s last major battle before he surrendered at Appomattox Court House? I thought it was Richmond, Virginia (based on the phrase “like Grant took Richmond”), but I was mistaken. 

     Grant began his march from Washington, DC with the intention to take the Capital of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. He fought many battles on the way, in which Lee continued to outflank him (as stated in previous posts). Because of no decisive victories, and suffering some defeats, Grant decides to attack Petersburg, Virginia, as that is the hub of the Confederacy’s supply and transportation lines. The thought was cut off Lee’s supplies, and Richmond falls.  It was not as easy as he thought. The siege of Petersburg took him 9 months.

     Finally on April 2, 1865, Grant breaks through the confederate line at what is now called the Breakthrough Battlefield. We hiked this battlefield today, about 2 miles. Once Grant broke through, he was able to cut off all the supplies to Lee. Lee telegraphed Jefferson Davis in Richmond and told him to evacuate. Lee himself retreated, hoping to make it to North Carolina to meet up with General Joseph E. Johnson (see Day 249). 

     After the breakthrough, Grant pushed on after Lee, finally trapping him at Appomattox seven days later, where Lee surrendered. 

     When a portion of Grant’s army entered Richmond, there was no troops or government there. 

     l learn something new every day. 

Ashland, Virginia

Day 371

     Visited the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier (Pamplin Historical Park). This museum was not about any particular battle, or about the Union Soldier v. the Southern Soldier. It was about how the soldiers who fought in the ranks prepared, lived, and survived, or not. When you enter, you chose a soldier to follow through the museum. He narrates his particular life (as interpreted through diaries and letters he wrote home). 

     The museum also covered the black soldier’s plight, and some of the citizens in the towns used as battlefields. It was certainly a different perspective than the other museums we have been.

Technical Stuff:

Fayetteville, North Carolina to Ashland, Virginia:  236.4 miles

4 hours 41 minutes

12.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.33


Edgar Allan Poe’s House, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Day 370

     Visited Edgar Allan Poe’s house. No, not that Edgar Allan Poe. This Edgar Allan Poe was born in Fayetteville, N.C. and was a prominent businessman. The house was built in 1897 and represents the life style of the middle class at that time. In a couple of days I’ll show you a house reflecting the life style of the hoity-toity.

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     The house housed a museum of the history of the Fayetteville area.

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Fayetteville, North Carolina

Day 368

     Fayetteville, North Carolina is best known as the home of Fort Bragg. Established in 1918, it is now the largest military installation in the world, covering over 251 square miles with more than 50,000 active duty personnel. It is named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg. As so, Fayetteville hosts many war related museums, including the Airborne and Special Operations Museum. 


     And North Carolina’s Veterans Park. This park is unique in that it paid tribute to veterans, past, present, and future, by displaying one hundred bronze hands from castings taken from veterans of every North Carolina County. 


     In the exhibit hall was a chandelier of dog tags representing 10,000 North Carolina casualties from World War II to the present.

Technical Stuff:

Summerton, South Carolina to Fayetteville, North Carolina: 114.4 miles

2 hours 52 minutes

11.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.33

Cooper River, South Carolina

Day 367

     We hiked along the Cooper River in Berkeley County, South Carolina. This is the area were Francis Marion was born in 1732. He joined the military and took part in the French and Indian War. He became known for his brutal campaign against the Cherokee Indians, this carried over to the Revolutionary War. He was not liked by the ranking military officers and was given his own command in defending South Carolina from the British to get him out of their hair. Marion committed atrocities during the war, including not honoring flags of surrender, brutality, and killing unarmed prisoners.

     An example would be after the Battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781. The retreating British fled to a plantation were they set up a hospital to treat their wounded. Marion ordered the hospital, and it’s inhabitants, burned to the ground. This incident resulted in much controversy about the proper rules of warfare. The senior Continental Officer of South Carolina responded saying military supplies were stored in the building, which made it a legitimate target. The victors write the history.

     Marion was made a romantic hero by books and shows like Walt Disney’s Swamp Fox.




Summerton, South Carolina

Day 365

     It has now been one year of traveling in the Sphinx. Do we like it? Was it worth the investment? What were the highlights? What problems did we have? With all of the above, did we make the right decision?

     Never being more than 40 feet apart was a major concern when we started this adventure. As it turns out we get along great, which is probably the reason we’ve been married for 35 years, we both love me.

     Taking into consideration the cost of the Sphinx, campground fees, attraction and admission costs, restaurants, and diesel fuel, it is costing us less on a per day basis than staying in our home. (We figure groceries equal out.)

     Seeing the Country, learning (or re-learning) history, seeing wonderful sights, tasting local cuisine (today we had shrimp that we bought right off the shrimp boat), and meeting a wide range of people, has made this a fantastic journey.

     Taking your house, with all your possessions, and shaking them up like a cocktail has given us challenges (my wife’s term), that we did not anticipate. At lot has to do with the poor quality control in the RV industry (and we have what is considered a high-end RV with good quality control). We have overcome these challenges (from the hydraulics not working to a shattered window caused by the roughness of I-55 in Louisiana). It is all part of the adventure.

    There is no doubt in our minds that we made the right decision. We are having the time of our lives. 

     Therefore, we will be continuing our 5 year journey. We chose five years as our initial target to justify the cost of a new RV over a used one. There is nothing to prevent us going longer, as long as our health holds out. 

     I will continue writing this blog so you may follow our travels. I hope you find them entertaining. Please leave comments in that section at the end of each blog, making sure you check the box that says notify you when I respond to your comment. 

Technical Stuff:

Townsend, Georgia to Summerton, South Carolina 158.1 miles

3 hours 12 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.69


Disney World, Florida

Day 355

     We will be staying a week at Disney World, Florida. No battles were fought here, and most people know it’s history. Therefore, I will not be writing any blogs for the next seven days. However, stay tuned for the further adventures of Steven and Barbara.

Technical Stuff:

St. Augustine, Florida to Disney World, Florida: 125.7 miles

2 hours 56 minutes

12.3 MPG

Diesel: $ 2.39


Castillo de San Marcos, Florida

Day 352

     When you think of St. Augustine, the first image that comes to mind is the Castillo de San Marcos. 

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     There has been a Spanish fort on this site from the time of the settlement of St. Augustine. Nine wooden forts to be exact, up to 1672. At that time, the city was plundered, sacked, and burned to the ground by the pirate Robert Searless. The Governor then order this brick fort to be built, construction began on October 2, 1672. Since that time the fort has never been taken by force. 

     This is now North America’s oldest masonry fortification. 

     TIDBIT OF INFORMATION: How many colonies did England have in what is now known as the United States?    

     Wrong! There were 15 colonies. When England gained control of Florida from Spain at the end of the seven years war, in 1764, she divided Florida into 2 colonies to better govern this mass territory. In order to inhabit this new and untamed land, settlers were offered land and goods. At the time of the Revolution, these new colonist were very happy with England, and her rule, and would have no part of the Convention in Philadelphia planning a Revolution. 

     With the British losing the Revolution, Florida was returned to Spain for her support in the war, and the 2 colonies were dissolved. 

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Fountain of Youth, Florida

Day 351

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     The area around St. Augustine has numerous peacocks. You have all seen peacocks.

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     You might have even seen one with it’s full plumage

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     But, have you ever seen the Mother of All Peacocks?

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     How about this?

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     Tidbit of Information: Nineteen year old Juan Ponce De Leon was a sailor and part of the ship’s crew on Columbus’s second voyage to the new world in 1493. 

     In 1513 Ponce De Leon came back to Florida searching for the Fountain of Youth. He did not find it. I don’t know why, it was clearly marked:

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     Actually, I thought it was a fountain like you see in the parks. I forgot, this is 1513.

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    I told Barbara not to drink so much of that water



Saint Augustine Lighthouse, Florida

Day 350

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     What? Back to lighthouses? Yep, I enjoy them. This one is a little different from the rest. First, it has a much wider staircase. Second, it is being used as a research facility. 

     The lighthouse was first lit on October 15, 1874, and is the city’s oldest still standing brick structure.  

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     We climbed the 219 stairs to get a view from the top. 

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     During the closing days of the Revolutionary War, there were many British loyalist in Charleston, South Carolina. On January 1, 1782, sixteen ships left with these loyalists and their possessions for the British Colony of East Florida. The ships were caught in a storm and sank off the coast of St. Augustine. One of those ships was discovered and an expedition, with headquarters in this lighthouse, began recovery efforts.  

     The most interesting artifact found was this rare carronade cannon made in 1780. The second oldest existing one in the world.

Day 350 St Augistine lighthouse Fl 2551_Fotor     It was brought up and cleaned here at the lighthouse:

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Pirates in Florida

Day 349

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     Pirates were common in the St. Augustine area of Florida since the Spanish occupation. It was a goldmine for merchant ships, ripe for plunder, as well as St. Augustine itself.

     The pirate museum in St. Augustine claims to have more authentic artifacts of pirates than any other museum, including this original Jolly Roger from 1850:

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   And Pirate Thomas Tew’s treasure chest.

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     Our host through the museum was none other than Captain Morgan, himself.

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     He pointed out that the Jolly Roger was a warning to ships under pirate attack to surrender quickly or die. The black flag was raised first, indicating that good quarter (merry) will be shown if no resistance was met. A red flag indicted no mercy and death to the party under attack.

     Each pirate had his own flag. The most popular was that of Calico Jack, and the one we most associate with pirates.

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     Although pirates kept their plunder in chests, none were buried. The spoils were divided evenly among the crew or placed on the readly available black market. There was no reason to bury the plunder.


St. Augustine, Florida

Day 348

     On April 2, 1513 Juan Pounce de Leon lands here and claims all of North America for Spain, calling it La Florida. Therefore, Maryland was once part of Florida.

     I think I will search for the Fountain of Youth while I am here.

     This landing precedes Jamestown, and the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock by over a 100 years. In fact, both the Spanish and the French were here before the English. 

     St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. The City was founded on September 8, 1565, by the Spanish conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. He named the area St. Augustine in honor of the feast day of St. Augustine, that honored that Catholic saint, and was being celebrated when he first spotted this site. He came here on the orders of King Philip II to  drive out the French, build a fort, and set up a permanent settlement for Spain. The French had built a fort a few years earlier, in 1562, in present day Jacksonville, Florida, just north of here, which was Spanish territory. 

     Immediately upon landing, Menéndez marched his soldiers overland for a surprise attack on the French Fort, where they find that French military is not there. By chance the French set sail for St. Augustine to drive out Menéndez and the Spanish. Unfortunately, they get caught in a hurricane and their ships are wrecked or scattered. Menéndez hearing about this (I think he got it on twitter), returns to St. Augustine where the French survivors are coming ashore, Menéndez executes them all. The name of the bay at St. Augustine is now called Mantanzas, the Spanish word for slaughter. 

     Eventually a fort and wall were built around the city. The gates to the city:

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     Of course, restaurants abound, and we took full advantage:

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    Aviles Street, named after the founder of St. Augustine, is the oldest street in the United States:

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     And now, I leave you with this thought:

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Technical Stuff:

Lake City, Florida to St. Augustine, Florida: 104.4 miles

2 hours 13 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.50


Olustee, Florida

Day 346

     One of the few Civil War battles that took place in Florida occurred on February 20, 1864 at Olustee, Florida. 

     You are probably tired of me telling you about obscure battles of the Civil War, so I will spare you my narrative, only to say, the Confederates won this battle. 


Suwannee River, Florida

Day 345

     We hiked 5 miles along the Suwannee River in Florida. The river gets it’s name from the Creek indian word for “Echo”. The river begins it’s journey in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and proceeds southwest to the Gulf of Mexico, not far from us. Hence, we are way down upon the Suwannee River. 

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     The river became famous from the song by Stephen Foster, Old Folks at Home. Stephen Foster was born July 4, 1826 in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, now known as Pittsburg. Foster had neither been to Florida, nor seen the Suwannee River. His original version of the song began “Way down upon de Pee Dee Ribber, far, far away…” But that did not fit in with his song. He looked on a map of the southern United States and decided on “Swanee”. A modified version of his song is now the Florida State song (They took out “offensive language” like “darkeys”).