Frogmore Plantation, Louisiana

Day 278

     Frogmore Plantation, in what is now called Feriday, Louisiana, was built on an enviable plot of real estate. A farmer named Daniel Morris built the farm along an early wagon trail that stretched from Natchez, Mississippi to Natchitoches—a city that, at 300 years old is Louisiana’s oldest. The trade route eventually led to the Camino Real in Texas, and all of this interstate travel meant that Frogmore’s cotton was easy to ship across the South and beyond. By the time the Civil War came to Louisiana, the once-tiny plantation had grown to a massive 2,640 acres.The plantation is named after Frogmore, England. 

     Today it is still a working cotton plantation, with a section kept as it looked in 1815. Barbara was tasked with picking cotton, but she didn’t meet her quota, and I had to leave her. 

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Tupelo, Mississippi

Day 269

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     Tupelo, Mississippi, is best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Of course we visited his home. He was born here January 8, 1935 at 4:35 AM. 

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     We also visited the Tupelo Automobile Museum.  This museum had cars that I had not seen before, such as:

     Toyopet Crown Deluxe (1958). First Toyota offered for sale in the US:

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     Benz (not yet Mercedes-Benz) (1886)

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     Olds (1902)

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     Carter Car (1912) a friction drive automobile – no clutch, no transmission, no driveshaft, no gears.

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Quiz:       (what, you didn’t study?):

     Can you name these hood ornaments?

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1. Plymouth (1959) 2. Lincoln Mark IV (1976) 3. Packard (1929) 4. Pierce Arrow (1929)    5. Cadillac (1939) 6. Triumph (1949)  7. Stutz (1927)  8. Lincoln (1931)

Of course, you remember this grill: day-269-tupelo-ms-9838_fotor

Engines were so much simpler in the 50’s

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Technical Stuff:

Huntsville, AL to Tupelo, MS 179.5 miles

3 hours 57 minutes

9.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.26

Tobacco is King, North Carolina

Day 250

    Washington Duke was born on December 18, 1820 in eastern Orange County, North Carolina. In 1852, Duke built a homestead on land in Durham, NC his father gave him when he married. He was drafted into the Civil War in 1864, and when he returned in 1865 he became interested in growing tobacco. By 1890 he had the largest tobacco company in the world, The American Tobacco Company. In 1911 the company was broken up by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

     We toured the Duke Homestead, but because of the rain, we did not go to any of the out buildings, only the Tobacco Museum.

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     The museum had a section on the history of spittoons and cuspidors. Barbara does not think I should go into great detail on that subject.

     They did have this replica of the Liberty Bell built of Tobacco Leaves.

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     Tidbit of information: In 1924, Trinity College becomes Duke University.

     Of course, you remember the logo of Lucky Strike Cigarettes, LS/MFT? 

Cotton Exchange, Memphis, Tennessee

Day 215

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     When I think of cotton fields, I think of “Gone With The Wind” and darkies in the field.

     Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. (“gin” stands for engine and not a still.) That made separating the seeds from the cotton easier, the cotton still had to be picked by hand.

     Although Samuel S. Rembert and Jedediah Prescott received the first patent for a cotton harvester in 1850, it was not until 1936 that the first commercial harvester was produced by John and Mack Rust. 

     Delta Airlines, named for the Delta of the Mississippi where it was founded, began as the world’s first crop dusting organization in 1924. 

     After the Civil War, Cotton was traded as a commodity. Because of its location on the Mississippi River, Memphis became a center point of cotton sales in the South. The Memphis Cotton Exchange was incorporated on April 20, 1874 to regulate cotton marketing in the city. The exchange had exclusive membership, limited to men only. 

     Cotton is graded into qualities based on the content of seeds and other stuff in the cotton. This is called classing. For example, a higher quality cotton would be used for bed sheets, with a lower quality for denim jeans. This is where the phrase “fair to middling” comes from. It had to be done in natural sunlight, therefore it was done on the top floor of the Exchange under north facing skylights. It could not be done on cloudy days.  

     The centerpiece of the exchange was a large blackboard placed high above the trading floor. Only members were allowed on the trading floor, and you had to be invited to be a member. 

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    Everything changed with the advent of the computer, which made it possible to get prices and trade electronically. The exchange closed in 1974. 

     Tidbit of information: The Confederate currency was backed by cotton rather than gold. You can see the image of cotton on every note issued by the Southern States. 

     Do you recognize this symbol? day-215-cotton-exchange-tn-8461_fotor

     In the 1950’s and 60’s synthetic fibers were becoming more popular because of their ease of use and being wrinkle free. As a result, textile mills were buying less cotton. Cotton Inc. was formed in 1970 to promote the use of cotton and therefore their share of the market. In 1973 they introduced the “seal of cotton” so the consumer could easily identify cotton products. Evidently it worked. (Sort of “look for the union label”). You sang that in your head, didn’t you?

 

 

 

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Day 209

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     The hot springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas is created by thermal fusion. Other springs, like in Yellowstone National Park, are heated by volcanic action. 

     First, the statistical information that I present in these blogs is provide me by the National Park Rangers, Docents, or Placards at the places we visit. Second, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the information I received at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas in reference to the age of the water. 

    The spring water comes from rainfall that seeps down into the earth where it is heated by the heat generated from the earth’s core. To become a hot spring, the water must find a fault in the core to rapidly make it’s way to the surface, otherwise it would cool as it returns to the surface. The temperature of the water here at Hot Springs is 143 degrees. 

     According to the Park Ranger, the water in the springs fell as rain over 4,000 years ago. This is determined by carbon dating. 4,000 years ago? I find that hard to believe. Further, according to the Ranger, 

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750,000 gallons of water comes up through the springs each day. Therefore, if it doesn’t rain here ever again, they have water for the next 4,000 years?

     Further, if I drink this water, and there are numerous fountains throughout the city, then fall into a cave and die, and my body is found 1 year later, at which time they decide to do carbon dating on me, will they think I am 4000 years old? Just saying. 

     This area was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. President Jefferson sent explorers William Dunbar and George Hunter to investigate the Springs, which had been known to French fur traders and indians for some time. The report to Jefferson became widely known, drawing many people to this area for what they thought was a therapeutic value to the hot water. 

     There are 47 springs here. Crude bathhouses were built over the springs. However, as the area grew the water became contaminated because the residents and visitors dumped their waste into the streams. This caused the Federal Government to take the unprecedented step in 1832 of creating part of this area as a Reservation. Nevertheless they did nothing to control the land until 1877 when the Government took steps to preserve the creek and springs. 

     By 1916 the Government had walled in or covered and locked most of the springs to prevent contamination.

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   They did leave a number of places you can access the springs. 

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     At this spring I tried putting my hand in the far end, but the temperature, 137 degrees, was too hot for me keep it in the water for more that a few seconds. 

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     The configuration of the Hot Springs National Park is unique in that a city had been developed before the Feds took over. Therefore part of the city is actually in the National Park. The only brewery in a National Park is located here. We stopped in so I could have a beer (root). We had a table overlooking one of the springs.

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     Today, there are only 2 bathhouses in operationOf course we could not pass up the opportunity to bathe in the hot spring water at one of the bath houses. There were 4 pools, each 2 degrees warmer than the previous, culminating at 104 degrees.

Technical Stuff:

Branson, MO to Hot Springs, AR 232.1 miles

5 hours 22 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.24

St. Joseph, Missouri

Day 185

     Saint Joseph was first settled as a trading post for the American Fur Co. by Joseph Robidoux in 1826. Later he acquired the site and laid out a town named for his patron saint.

     In looking at a map, you would think that Saint Joseph would have been part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. And it would have been but for a clause that gave the Indians in the area this land in perpetuity. That only lasted until 1836 when the Indians sold out (or forced out, depending on who is telling the story) by the Platee Purchase. 

    Coming down the river, or overland from the East, from this point the pioneers took off for the West. By 1859 St. Joseph was the western terminus for the railroad. 

     St. Joseph is also famous for an event that took place here on April 3, 1882: 

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     This is the house where that dirty little coward shot Mr. Howard, and laid poor Jesse in his grave.

     We took a detour to go to Missouri Western State University. Before reading any more, do you know why?

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     It was to visit the memorial honoring the most trusted man in America.

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              Walter let me take his picture.

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                                      AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS.

Technical Stuff:

Nebraska City, NE to St. Joseph, MO 86.6 Miles

1 hour 48 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.32

Florence, Nebraska

Day 184

     Like others, the Mormons left to go West. But their vision was different. They were in no rush to get to their destination. More than likely Brigham Young did not know his ultimate destination at this time. But he did know that others would be following their path (literally) that he would be taking.

     Between 1839 and 1846 the Latter-day Saints gathered on the banks of the Mississippi to built a city they called Nauvoo, Ill. They were immigrating here from all over the world. The rapid growth of the city and the distinctive religious beliefs of its inhabitants disturbed other settlers. These differences eventually erupted in conflict, inciting the murder of the Mormon’s founder, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum and forcing the Saints to leave the city.

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     During their trek west, they stopped here in what is now Florence, Nebraska to weather out the winter. They ended up staying 2 years. During that time they built homes and planted croups not only for themselves but also for those that would be following.

     After the Mormons arrived in Utah in 1847, they continued to improve the trail leading into the Great Basin. They built bridges, set up ferries across rivers, and wrote a detailed emigrant’s guide so that those who followed would have an easier time along the trail. 

     To encourage other Mormon emigrants, they set up the Perpetual Emigration Fund that provided money to buy wagons and oxen for those wishing to make the trip West. After 20 years 80,000 Latter-day Saint pioneers had settled in Utah.     

     Today a museum sits where they wintered camped to tell their story. When we entered the free museum we were greeted by a church member who gave us a personal tour of the museum. Although he did not try to convert us, the opportunity was there.

Bet You Didn’t Know:

     Brigham Young wanted to leave a detailed trail for others to follow. The Mormons at first tied a rag to a wagon wheel. 360 turns of the wheel equaled a mile. 

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     They then developed this cog system. Each turn of the wheel moved a peg in a cog, which moved a numbered gear. With precision they could now say go 5 miles, and it was five miles. 

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Deadwood Gulch, South Dakota

Day 166

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     Traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota takes us to the gold mining town of Deadwood Gulch. Best known as the place where Wild Bill Hickok was shot playing draw poker, holding black aces and black eights. (he had two pair, anyone know what the fifth card in his hand was?)

     There was a reenactment of his shooting.

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     You old people probably remember the Saturday afternoon TV show of Wild Bill Hickok starring Guy Madison and Andy Devine (“Hey Wild Bill, wait for me!”)

     Actually, the hey day of Deadwood was only a few years, beginning in 1874 when George Armstrong Custer was charged by the Army to map out the area. His expedition found gold which started the gold rush in that area. Wild Bill was killed in 1876. Richer claims were found, and people were leaving by 1880.

     Some, but not many, of the original buildings remain.

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     This barber shop has a sense of humor.

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National Eagle Center, Minnesota

Day 151

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      In 1782, after a 6 year debate, the US Congress chose the Bald Eagle as the symbol of our nation. To them it represented courage, freedom, and immortality (who knows why immortality). The more practical man, Benjamin Franklin, wanted the Turkey to be our national bird. 

     As you can see, the Bald Eagle is not bald. The name actually comes from an old English word — balde — which meant “white” rather than hairless. The English settlers therefore named the “Bald Eagle” meaning “white-headed eagle”.

    The National Eagle Center, located in Wabasha, Minnesota, has an amazing exhibit of Bald Eagles. Their purpose is to educate about the eagles, and encourage their growth.

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     Why here? The Mississippi river meets other rivers here in Wabasha. The rapid current prevents the river from freezing. This, therefore is a feeding ground of fish for the eagles migrating South looking for food. During the winter there are over 500 eagles in this area. 

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     This education center was built to view the river and the eagles. Eagles that are injured and can no longer survive in the wild are brought here to help in the education. 

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Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Day 146

     Wisconsin Dells takes its name from the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a  glacially formed gorge, called a dell. Not unlike the painted rocks, but no paint.

We saw a water show:

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     Traveling around, we have seen some strange things, from this street performer who didn’t keep his neck straight, what a mess:

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to these strange sights:

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    As hard as we looked, we couldn’t find the farmer.

Baraboo, Wisconsin

Day 144

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     The International Crane Foundation has it’s headquarters in Barbaboo, Wisconsin. What do you think we saw there?

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     The foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and conservation of the 15 species of cranes in the world. 

     Historical note: The Ringling Brothers started their circus right here in Baraboo, Wisconsin in 1884.

Technical Stuff:

Peshtigo, WI to Baraboo, WI 202.6 miles

4 hours 7 minutes

11.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.38

Peshtigo, Wisconsin

Day 142

     On October 8, 1871 there was a great fire. Where was it? (Hint: we are in Wisconsin.)

     If you said Chicago, right date wrong place. In 27 hours the Chicago fire consumed 3 1/2 square miles of ground and killed 300 people.

     The fire was in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. In only 7 hours the fire consumed 1,000 square miles of land and killed 1,200 people.

     The town of Peshtigo lies on both sides of the Peshtigo river which is a tributary of Green Bay, which is an arm of Lake Michigan. In olden times it was a great place to trade goods, and later on part of the lumbering industry.

     A little history on why these fires are on the same day. For the entire summer of 1871 there were only 2 rain days, the last one 6 weeks before October 8th. It was an unusually warm and windy season. After the Civil War, the area of Peshtigo was looking to populate and they offered any Civil War veterans 80 acres of land. But they had to clear the land of trees. After felling the trees and using the wood for homes, etc. they would remove the stumps by burning them. This was a common practice of the time. Here, as elsewhere, including Chicago, there was no education on fire safety, and people where very careless, letting fires burn and smolder unattended. Smokey Bear had not yet been born.

     Ok, you ask, when was Smokey Bear born? What, do you think I know everything?

 

Actually I do.

 

 

Day 142 Peshtiho WI5188_Fotor       Smokey Bear was born August 9, 1944.

     Meanwhile, back at the ranch, because of the arid summer and high winds, there were numerous fires, not only here, but all through Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In fact in Chicago the week before October 8th the fire department, consisting of only 200 men, responded to over 40 alarms.

     No one knows how the Chicago fire started, but the O’leary cow makes an excellent story. Here in Peshtigo, the winds picked up the embers of the smoldering fires in the area, sent the sparks to the dry fields and houses, which then consumed the area. There was no fire department.

     Three blocks from our campsite was the Peshtigo Fire Museum. In addition to facts about the fire, it had vast exhibits on other items through time, including Uncle Fred’s dentist equipment.

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Badger Park, Wisconsin

Day 139

     We have now crossed the top of Lake Michigan and are continuing our journey down the west side of the lake, which takes us into the State of Wisconsin.

     Looking for campsites off the beaten trial, we found Badger Park in the small town of Peshtigo. This beautiful and tranquil town park includes 60 camping sites. For a small park the campsites are very spacious, easily accommodating our 40 ft. Sphinx and truck. The cost was $12.50 a night with water and electricity. No sewer on campsite, but there is a dump site as you leave. We are staying here 4 nights, so there is no problem on the sewer.

     Since we are in Wisconsin, the first thing we did was look for cheese.  

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Technical Stuff:

Newberry, Michigan to Peshtigo, Wisconsin 202.3 Miles

10.6. MPG

4 hours 7 minutes

Diesel $2.59

Paradise, Michigan

Day 137

     Ok, enough about light houses, let’s move on to waterfalls. 

     We are at the top most part of Michigan. Like the rapids of the St. Mary’s River, which were converted into locks to connect Lake Superior with the lower lakes, so are there numerous other rivers with rapids, and therefore water falls.

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          Tahquamenon Falls is the closest one to where we are staying. It is located in Paradise Michigan which is on the eastern part of the Michigan Peninsula, on  Lake Superior. 

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     The brown color of the falls, and of the river, is caused by tannins leached from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock trees in the swamps which empty into the river.

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     We hiked along the river and saw other falls and rapids. Day 137 Paradise MI 5125_Fotor_Fotor

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      Most parts of the river were only 5 to 6 inches deep. It seems to be a pastime of people wading across the river to put up stone monuments, 

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as they were up and down the river.

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     We hiked 3 trails, one by the river and 2 through the forest.

     In hiking through the forest up from the river I noticed the trails were blazed blue, so were the cross trails. 

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     Barbara thinks that all 16 trails are blazed blue to let you know that it is a trail. I think this is confusing when reaching a spoon in the road. 

 

Soo Locks, Michigan

Day 136

     There are 4 locks that connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Collectively they are called the Soo Locks. The locks are required as there is a 21 foot drop between the lakes. The connecting water way is the St. Mary’s River. The rapids of the river caused by this 21 foot drop prevented goods to be transferred between the lakes by boat. 

     In 1797, the Northwest Fur Company constructed a navigation lock 38 feet long on the Canadian side of the river for small boats. This lock remained in use until destroyed by the Americans in the War of 1812. No one bothered to rebuild the locks until 1853. 

     I don’t know why the 4 locks are collectively called Soo. It might be the anglicized word from Sault, which is from the Indian word for rapids. 

     It was a busy day at the locks, from large freighters

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To motorboats

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To a small dingy.

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We happen to see the Tall Ship Niagara, from Erie, Pennsylvania, go through.

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     This man is either the Captain, or a deckhand being hung out to dry and disciplined. 

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     The locks are run by the Corps of Engineers, and there is no charge for a ship to pass through the locks. 

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        Sorry, we are experiencing technical difficulties.

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     The Valley Camp is a cargo ship built in 1917 that has now been converted to a museum. 

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I have never been on a cargo ship. It was cool.

Munising, Michigan

Day 134

     We took a 2 hour whale watching cruise on Lake Superior. 

     Traveling down the west coastline of Michigan we saw what the locals call The Pictured Rocks. This part of Michigan’s coastline is made up of 50-200 ft. sandstone cliffs that extend for more than 15 miles along the shoreline. It is a very porous substance that allows water to drain through it from the above vegetation to the Lake.

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     That water has minerals in it, which stain the rocks, iron (red), manganese (black-white), limonite (yellow-brown), copper (pink-green), and other minerals. As the water evaporates, these minerals leave streaks of color. 

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     Sea caves, arches, blowholes, turrets, stone spires, and other features have been sculpted from these cliffs over the centuries by unceasing waves and weather.

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     To appreciate how massive these cliffs are, I threw in some kayakers.

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     Wherever you have rock formations, people see strange things in them. For example in this outcrop

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some people think it is an Indian Chieftain, but obviously it is soft serve ice cream in a cone.

     And this one is a man with a gag over his mouth.

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     Of course, there was a lighthouse. 

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     For those in the know, know that the Great Lakes are fresh water and whales are salt water mammals. 

Newberry, Michigan

Day 132

     When we woke up this morning, the rain had subsided but the winds had picked up. They were now gusting to 30 miles per hour at the campground, and I assume more at the bridge. Nevertheless, we packed up our camp and headed off for the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge is 5 miles long. When it was built (who remembers the year from a previous post?) it was the longest suspension span in the United States. At it’s apex the roadway is 200 feet in the air.

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     When we arrived at the bridge, the winds had subsided to around 10 miles per hour. No trouble crossing the bridge.

     Upon reaching our campground we asked the host, as usual, if anything special was going on in the area. He informed us that the annual Wild Blueberry Festival was concluding it’s three days of celebration “just down the road.” In the Upper Peninsula their concept of distance is a little different than us city folk. We kept driving and driving, and driving. The festival was 46 miles “down the road”, just outside the town of Paradise, Michigan, on Lake Superior.

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     Is that blueberry pie, with ice-cream and whipped cream, and blueberry sauce on top you are eating?

     We travelled another 11 miles to the Whitefish Point Light Station. It now had turned out to be a beautiful clear day as a result of the wind.

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You can see Canada across Lake Superior.

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     We came across Popeye the Sailor’s old tugboat.Day 132 Newberry, MI 4819_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Mackinaw City, MI to Newberry, MI 84.2 miles

2 hours 3 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.50

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Day 131

     Mackinac Island sits in the Straights of Mackinac. You can only arrive there by boat. We took the Hydro-Jet Ferry.

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     It took us under the Mackinac Bridge:

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     The island has been a popular tourist get-a-way since the 1840’s. Before that, it was a major trading post between the Indians and European settlers. At that time the only means of transportation on the island was the horse and wagon. By the 1900’s the fur trade subsided, and tourism became the main form of revenue. With the advent of the horseless carriage the residents passed a law that these new fangled devises would not be allowed on the island. Hence, with the exception of a firetruck, ambulance, and police car, there are no motor vehicles on Mackinac Island.

     Main street is lined with tourist traps and restaurants. We took a buggy ride for a different view.

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Most of the island is preserved forest, part of the State Park 

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      The main attraction of the island is the Fort. Dismantled by the British piece by piece from Mackinaw City, it was reassembled and enhanced on the island, which provided a better defense from the American rebel gunboats. 

     It has a commanding view:

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     No battles took place on the island during the Revolution. At the conclusion of  the war, the new United States received all of the British occupied land, including this fort. However, at the end of the rebellion, the continental soldiers left the army to return to their farms. This left an army of only about 50 men, not enough to send a detachment all the way up to the Great Lakes. As a result, even though the fort now belong to the US, the British remained here for another 18 years, until 1796, when Colonial soldiers arrived. The British moved only a short distance away, as they had other forts across the lakes in Canada. There again, this fort was used mostly for trading with the Indians.

     As you know, the peace between England and the United States was short lived with the beginning of the War of 1812. However, no one informed the American Commander of Fort Mackinac that the war had begun. (I don’t know why they just didn’t call him.) 

     During the night, the British sailed down the lake, came ashore on Mackinac Island, went to the rear of the fort with their cannons poised. At sunrise, the British Commander knocked on the fort door and inquired if the Americans wanted to defend the fort. The American Commander, seeing he was vastly outnumbered, plus his cannons were facing the wrong direction, determined that discretion is the better part of valor and surrendered the fort. 

     This, therefore, was the first land engagement of the War of 1812. Once during the war the Americans tried to retake the fort, but were unsuccessful. At the conclusion of the war the fort, again, was returned to the United States. The Island became a National Park, the second after Yellowstone. At the request of the State of Michigan, the Island was turned over to them and became Michigan’s first State Park. 

     The park hosts interpreters to tell you the history of the fort and life of the soldier and his family. 

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     They had a cannon firing demonstration.

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     And that is how we spent the day.

     I leave you with this thought:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 130 Macinac Island4714_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

     We have now been traveling over 4 months and each day brings a new challenge. Today’s challenge is wind. On our way up to Mackinaw City there were numerous billboards about the Mackinac Bridge. Some of them warned you that the bridge was subject to high winds and use caution. Some informed you that if you were uncomfortable driving the bridge that you could have their driver drive you across at no charge.

     With all these signs posted, would you be concerned driving a 40 ft. long 13 ft. high trailer? Your darn right. However, the entire time up to tonight there were no winds, and therefore no concerns. Tonight things changed. As I write this it is raining with high winds. We are scheduled to leave tomorrow morning with reservations on the Upper Peninsula. I am sure I will sleep good tonight. However, if there are no further posts, you know we went into the drink and didn’t make it. 

 

Fort Mackinac, Michigan

Day 129

     The first Europeans to reach this area, which sits at the junction of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, were the French in the late 1500’s. They traded goods with the Indians for furs and pelts. In 1715 they built Fort Makinac, not for military purposes, but as a trading post. This drew many French settlers to the great lakes area. As a result of the English winning the French and Indian War, Britain  received all the French possessions around the Great Lakes.

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   It was still used as a trading post for the exchange of furs and goods to be shipped back to England.

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     When the English rebels, in the lower part of the continent, began capturing English forts in the North, the commander of Fort Mackinac decided he would not be able to defend the fort against the rebel gunboats and dismantled the fort moving it across the Straight of Mackinac to Mackinac Island. (Is that a run on sentence?) He then burned the remains of the fort so it would not fall into the hands of the enemy.

Mackinaw City, Michigan

Day 127

Day 130 Macinac Island4573_Fotor

     On our way here from Traverse City we crossed the 45th parallel. Anyone know the significance?      No it is not 54 40 or fight.

     It is the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator.

     Mackinaw City is located at the upper part of the State of Michigan where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. It wasn’t until 1957 that a bridge was built across this area which links the main part of the State to the upper peninsula, referred to by the locals as UP.

  There have been 78 shipwrecks in the 5 mile Mackinac straight that connects the two lakes. There is a neat shipwreck museum, which we visited of course.

     We also visited the lighthouse which is on lower Michigan.

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                          It gave us a great view of the bridge.

Day 127 Macinaw City4795_Fotor

     Of course, you can’t go to Mackinaw City without visiting Wienerlicious which has the nation’s largest hot dog statue.

Day 127 Macinaw City 4567_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Traverse City, MI  to Mackinaw City, MI: 149.3 miles

3 hours 25 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel 2.11

 

 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, Michigan

Day 125

Day 125 4546_Fotor

     Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is located three quarters up The State of Michigan on Lake Michigan.

     The dunes, formed by melting glaciers and wind, are humongous.

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      Climbing up them gives you a magnificent view of Lake Michigan.

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Technical Stuff:

White River, MI to Traverse City, MI 125.5 Miles

2 hours 50 minutes

10.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.00 gallon

 

Michigan Lighthouses

Day 121

We are greeted wherever we go.

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     The lighthouses of Lake Michigan are still functioning, although not needed. With the requirements that larger boats must carry designated navigation equipment, the need for lighthouses has ceased.

    On our circle tour of Lake Michigan we have seen so far 19 lighthouses.

     The first beacon for navigation on the continent was erected in Massachusetts in 1673, with the first lighthouse being erected in Boston Harbor in 1716.

     On the Great Lakes the first lighthouse was located at Buffalo, New York, at the “junction of Buffalo Creek and Lake Erie,” and was erected in 1818. The first lighthouse on Lake Michigan was at St. Joseph Island, built in 1832.

     Back in 1789 all lighthouses were placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Lighthouse Services. President Roosevelt consolidated the U.S. Lighthouse Service with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939 where it remains to this day.

     During the 1960’s most of these lighthouses were decommissioned by the Coast Guard. Although still under their jurisdiction, they are dismantling them or selling them. The ones we are visiting have been taken over by the local historical society or organizations such as The Lighthouse Keepers Association.

 

     We were able to tour the White River Lighthouse.

Day 119 White River MI4408_FotorDay 121 Lighthouses MI 4422_Fotor Day 121 Lighthouses MI 4439_Fotor

the Muskegon lighthouse.

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and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse

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Fresnel Lense 

We next wanted to tour The Mears Light House.

Was this it?

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Nope. That is the Ludington Breakwater Lighthouse.

How about this one? 

Day 121 a Lighthouses MI 4486_Fotor

     Yep, that’s it. No more traditional lighthouses. Current lighthouses are unmanned, powered by solar, use LED lights which are controlled by automatic sensors that turn them on in bad weather and darkness.

      I got a fish for dinner, but Barbara would not clean or cook him.

Day 121 a Lighthouses MI 4506_Fotor

Man traveling Country in RV looking for cook.

 

Fr

Montague, Michigan

Day 120

   One of the great things about traveling around the Country in an RV is that you stumble upon the unique treasures of America, like the country’s tallest weathervane:

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     At Michigan’s Heritage Park in Whitehall, Barbara decided she likes living in an RV rather than a wigwam:

Day 119 White River MI4378_Fotor

She also learned how to make candles,Day 119 White River MI4391_Fotor

and throw the atlatl, 

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     This device is like a sling shot. In her hand is the thrower which has leather straps for her fingers and a hook in which the spear fits. She hurls her arm forward, holding on to the thrower which propels the spear with great force. She did pretty good. 

    During our travels we set up camp and explore up to a 100 miles from our campsite. We like driving through all the small towns. It is a challenge, since most of these towns did not consider a 21 ft. long, 8 ft. wide pickup truck with dual rear wheels when they laid out the roads. Nevertheless, we have not encounter any unsurmountable problems. 

Blue Lake, Michigan

Day 119

Travel:

     We are camping in Blue Lake, Michigan, but we haven’t found the blue lake. What we did find was the White River which empties into White Lake which empties into Lake Michigan. There we found this light house.Day 119 White River MI4402_Fotor

     I would not think it is very effective, being below the tree line.

     We are currently traveling around Lake Michigan on what they call The Lake Circle Tour. It is the only great lake you can circle without a passport. We entered the circle on the east side from Ohio. We will follow the tour around the top of Lake Michigan and down the West side to Wisconsin. At our current pace, we anticipate this to take 3 weeks to a month.

Technical Stuff:

Grand Rapids, MI to Blue Lake, MI 62.4 miles

1 hour 30 minutes

11.5 MPG

 

 

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Day 116

Travel:

Day 116 Grand Rapids 4358_Fotor

     We joined a club called Harvest Hosts. For a modest yearly fee, they provide you with locations around the Country of farms, wineries, and orchards, where you can park your RV overnight without additional fees.

     Our first use of this program brought us to Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery.

Day 116 Grand Rapids 4360_Fotor

Did we choose this one for the apples or wine?

    We are parked in the cherry orchard. Unfortunately, we just missed the cherry picking season (July). They are now doing peaches and apricots. Our only problem were the big bugs.

Day 116 Grand Rapids 4363_Fotor

     They also have a winery, which Barbara had to test out (as a courtesy for them letting us stay here, of course).Day 116 Grand Rapids 4369_Fotor

See you down the road

Day 116 Grand Rapids 4359_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Grand Haven to Grand Rapids 64.4 miles

1 hour 42 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: 2.05

Grand Haven, Michigan

Day 115

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     Grand Haven is the headquarters of the U.S. Coast Guard on Lake Michigan. Every August the town of Grand Haven honors the Coast Guard with a festival. We were able to tour 6 ships, 5 of the Coast Guard, all ice breakers, and a Canadian patrol and rescue boat. (I can never remember, are they “ships” or “boats”?)

We walked to the end of the pier to view the lighthouse. Day 115 Grand Haven 4281_Fotor

There are 95 operating lighthouses on Lake Michigan. 

     Barbara insisted on checking the nautical charts. . .Day 115 Grand Haven 4287_Fotor

and then insisted on moving the boat to port (or was that rye?)Day 115 Grand Haven 4295_Fotor

For those that cannot read naval flagsDay 115 Grand Haven 4293_Fotor

It says “Welcome Steven and Barbara, RV’ers”.

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Barbara and those guys in uniform.

That evening, there was a water fountain show.Day 115 Grand Haven 4356_Fotor

Holland, Michigan

Day 114

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     Holland, Michigan wants to be Holland, Netherlands. From wooden shoes 

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to windmills.

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A dance was performed for us, wearing those wooden shoes.Day 114 Holland 4227_Fotor

Our guide was born and raised in the Netherlands.

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     Although we are traveling, Barbara still keeps my nose to the grindstone.

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     Finally, in addition to beautiful grounds and flowers, they had a player organ.

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     We ate lunch here, but they used a microwave rather than a Dutch Oven.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Day 112

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     Kalamazoo is not only familiar by the Glen Miller song, I’ve Got a Gal In Kalamazoo, but also because it is the birthplace of William Upjohn, the founder of the Upjohn Company, who make a majority of our medicines. Originally called The Upjohn Pill and Granule Company. Medicine in this time (1884) were in powder form. Dr. Upjohn developed the friable pill, in which he compressed the powdered medicine to create a stable pill that could and was easily dissolvable in the stomach.

     In walking through the city, we stopped at a park and saw about 50 – 60 people, of all ages, in which EVERYONE was on their smart phone. It was weird. We soon realized they were

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playing the pokeman-go game. We stopped a woman to ask her about it, and she said she does it because not only was the game fun, but it kept tract of how far she walked. She tries to do 10,000 steps. At this point she had done 8,000. Since we walk an average of 2-5 miles a day, we saw no need to play the game.

Battle Creek, Michigan

Day 111

     On our way to Battle Creek, Michigan, we stopped in Marshall, Michigan to visit the American Museum of Magic.  A great disappointment. However, Barbara did try to learn “hide the ball”.Battle Creek4168_Fotor

Battle Creek4174_Fotor

     The Battle of Battle Creek took place on March 14, 1825 and was initially called “the battle at the creek.” It took place about 8 miles from the present day city when two land surveyors working along a stream were approached by two Potawatomi Indians looking for food. An altercation arose and ended when the surveyors produced a rifle and settled the argument by mortally wounding one of the Indians. 

     John Preston Kellogg, who made his fortune running a broom factory in Battle Creek, was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He helped establish the 7th day adventist hospital and promoted holistic healthy living – healthy food, sunshine, exercise, refrain from smoking and drinking. He encouraged his son to go to medical school. When his son,  Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, returned, he agreed to be director of the hospital. The son carried on his father’s work and ideas of modern medicine, among which was a vegetarian diet. However, because of bad teeth, patrons could not eat the hard grains. He and his brother, Will Keith Kellogg, developed corn flakes which were easier to eat and digest. Will Kellogg commercialized those flakes into Kellogg’s Corn Flakes that we know and love today. The tours of the factory are no longer offered because Kellogg’s competitor, Post, were stealing their secrets. 

Saugatuck, Michigan

Day 110

     It appears my last post was not worded correctly. The post should read: “Barbara had a drink called sex with the Captain.” The author regrets the error. (DUH! No I don’t.)

     Saugatuck was originally a lumber town. It is now an art colony. The Johnson River flows through Saugatuck to Lake Michigan. We were here, like those over the last 100 years, to watch the boats and have a picnic. day 110 Saugatuck MI3983_Fotor

day 110 Saugatuck MI3994_FotorWe were fortunate to catch their annual boat show and fireworks. We sat in the bandshell, where Barbara talked the ear off the guy next to her.day 110 Saugatuck MI3979_Fotor

Next to us was a chain ferry. day 110 Saugatuck MI3967_Fotor

A paddle boat took tourists down the river. day 110 Saugatuck MI3981_Fotor

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     This year’s theme was Vikings. The boats dressed up in their best viking gear and lights and paraded down the river. 

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 We then watched the fireworksday 110 Saugatuck MI4085_Fotor day 110 Saugatuck MI4137_Fotor day 110 Saugatuck MI4134_Fotor

 

 

 

South Haven, Michigan

Day 109

Travels:day 109 South Haven MI 4162_Fotor

     South Haven is a quaint seaside town located on the Black River, which feeds into Lake Michigan. day 109 South Haven MI 4160_Fotor

    The dark water is the Black River and the blue Lake Michigan.

    We strolled down to the docks where numerous yachts were moored. Barbara had sex with the Captain.

Technical Stuff:

Made arrangements with COSCO to get there early in the morning where they topped off my 4 Sphinx tires with nitrogen.

Farmington, MI to South Haven, MI: 192.1 miles

4 hours 6 minutes

11.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.00 gallon

 

Hillside, Michigan

Day 107

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     William H.L. McCourtie made his fortune in the cement business. He had an estate of 42 acres in the Township of Somerset, Hillside, Michigan on which he had sculptured 17 bridges which crossed a meandering stream on his property.day 107 Cemete Park 3956_Fotor day 107 Cemete Park 3960_Fotor

     Each of the bridges, as well as other structures, such as benches and trees, were made of sculpted concrete to look like logs, planks and ropes. 

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     He ultimately gave the land, now called McCourtie Park, to the Township. Even the chimney on the garages was made of concrete to look like a tree stump. day 107 Cemete Park 3954_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Healthcare on the Road.

     Before we left for our grand adventure we tried to minimize potential problems. We got our yearly physicals. Transferred all our vitamins and prescriptions to Walgreen’s Pharmacy, because they have the most pharmacys throughout the United States. Got our dental checkup and cleaning. And updated our health insurance and prescription cards.

     Nevertheless, problems do arise. For instance, my tooth is beginning to bother me. I now need to locate a dentist on the road. Or, I can continue to treat it myself with chocolate. 

 

 

Irish Hill, Michigan

Day 106

     Our hosts, Sharon Woodard and Mack Madrey, on whose property we have been staying for the last week and a half, graciously took us to their house on Lake LeAnn, in which we stayed for three days.

 

 

Each day we went out on their boat.

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     The lake is fed by springs, and you can see those springs bubbling up the water.day 106 LeAnn3858_Fotor

     Barbara couldn’t resist dipping her to toes into the bubbles.

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     She also took time swimming with her noodle.

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     There were all kinds of watercraft enjoying the gorgeous day.

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Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan

Day 102

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     It took us all day to view the Ford Museum, 10 AM to 5 PM. One of us reads every word, on every placard, at every exhibit, so when the guide says “Oh, you can see the Museum in 3 hours”, not us.

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     Now, that is what I call a snow plow.

     The museum was divided into different areas. This one was on trains.  Barbara was reading that this engine was used in the Canadian Rockies to clear the tracks of snow drifts. Actually, I jumped to the trains you can sit in:Day 102 Ford 3715_Fotor

     There were many things to see, Day 102 Ford 3747_Fotor     like one of the original RV’s:

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And do:Day 102 Ford 3731_Fotor

     

 Come on, crank it up to 3 lights. 

     They did have some very interesting items. For example, the chair from Ford’s theater where Lincoln was sitting when he was shot,

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 Do you think that is his pee?

And the bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. 

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Lake Tipsico, Michigan

Day 101

     It appears that no matter what campground we stay, there is either an airport (jet planes), a highway, or railroad tracks. Therefore we hear those noises all night. Now that we are staying on a farm, I expected peace and quite, except for the sounds of nature. Not so, this is what we woke up to at 6:30 AM:Day 100 jet 3662_Fotor

     They were replacing the driveway and parking lot at the school, which now abuts up to the “farm”.

      The cousin of our friend, on whose property we are currently camped, has a home on Lake Tipsico. Day 100 jet 3689_Fotor

     We were able to go out on his speedboat Day 100= 464_1024_Fotor

     and then his jet ski.Day 100 jet 3676_Fotor Day 100 jet 3692_Fotor

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Day 100

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     In 1845 a group of 15 German Lutheran missionaries left the Kingdom of Bavaria to bring the word of god to the Chippewa Indians. There settlement here became Frankenmuth. Day 100 430_1024_Fotor

     The whole town emulates Bavarian culture. However, the most unique character of the town is that every street, every building, every house, every business, and every public square are covered in flowers. 

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    As you enter Frankenmuth you smell the flowers before you see them.

     The amazing thing is that there is not one dead leaf or flower in the whole town.Day 100 450_1024_Fotor

Dearborn, Michigan

Day 99

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    No visit to the Detroit area of Michigan would be complete without visiting The Henry Ford Complex. The factory, where Ford F-150’s are made, is a jaw-dropping experience. The assembly line, consisting of just over a 1000 workers and automated machines, produce a completed truck in 72 minutes. We watched as these trucks were assembled.

     Another part of the Complex is Greenfield Village.

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     This area, 80 acres, was developed by Henry Ford in the 1920’s. There are 83 historic structures, including the lab where Thomas Edison worked, the workshop where the Wright Brothers had their bicycle shop and developed the concept of manned flight, Harry Firestone’s farm (I didn’t know Firestone had a first name), Abraham Lincoln’s office where he practiced law, and H.J. Heinz’s home. Ford went around the Country looking for these items to preserve them for history. The towns where these structures stood did not want them, or the expense of their upkeep. They were disassembled by Ford and transported here. 

     It is interesting to note that only 65 years after the Wright Brothers first flight, Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon.

     H.J. Heinz started his business in the basement of his home. His first product, when he had only 1 variety, was horseradish. He advertised that his product was fresher than any other that could be bought at the time. To emphasize this he packaged it in clear glass bottles so you could clearly see his horseradish. 

     An interesting thing we saw, at Edison’s workshop, is a demonstration of the only working tin foil voice system. Day 99 3656_Fotor

     This was the predecessor of the vinyl dictaphone.      

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     Barbara tries on a bonnet at the millinery shop. 

     As usual, we clearly did not allow enough time to see everything, and were kicked out at closing. We will be going back another day to see the Henry Ford Museum, which we will allow a whole day.Day 99 3652_Fotor

 

Chore Day

Day 98

     Every once in a while we must take time off our busy schedule to tend to those everyday tasks that allow us to travel independently around the country: hair cuts, nail and beauty stuff, shopping for supplies and household goods, etc. Today’s that day. Barbara’s glasses broke so we went to Costco for repairs. 

     It also gives us an opportunity to inspect everything for routine maintenance. The truck has a tire monitoring system, which I check periodically with a tire gauge. I still have not figured out how to check the inner tire of my dual rear wheels. I cannot access the tire stem. The Sphinx’s tires do not have a monitoring system and must be checked manually. Those tires are nitrogen filled. Nitrogen is an inert gas (I am not sure what that actually means, but it sounds cool) that has larger molecules than oxygen and therefore is less prone to leakage. It also does not heat up during travel, which stabilizes the tires.

     My normal tire pressure on the Sphinx is 110 psi. I am 7 pounds low on each of the 4 tires. The question is: do I fill with regular compressed air, or find a place that has a nitrogen pump? I have an air pump that is capable of easily pumping that high air pressure. I use it to pump air into my air ride hitch which requires 100-110 psi. That is basically an air bag system that absorbs the rode bumps and takes pressure off the rear springs of the truck as we zoom down the road.

 

 

 

Farmington, Michigan

Day 97

     The last time I visited Farmington, Michigan, 42 years ago, I stayed with my friend and her family who lived on a 40 acre working farm. My sister and I came up to visit and ski. I called my friend from Sandusky to let her know we were in the area, and could we stay a few days on her farm. My thought was we would set up on a secluded area of the farm to be out of the way. 

     When I arrived today, I was shocked to see that over the last 42 years the farm had been sold off in parcels, so that now it was just over 2 acres, and no longer used as a farm.

     Nevertheless, we were able to set up in back of the old farmhouse. It gave us a chance, for the first time, to live off using the batteries only. Our electrical system is divided. All lights, water and heater pump, jacks and leveling system, slide outs, and refrigerator run off the batteries, which are 4 six volts wired in series and parallel. The refrigerator actually runs on 110 volt power, but we have a 1000 watt inverter that converts 12 volt battery power to 110 volts. All electric outlets, air conditioner and heating fans, television and microwave, run on 110 volts, like your home. 

     Obviously, when we are on battery power only we cannot use the above. We therefore have a 5.5 kilowatt generator to run those items. That generator runs off our two 30 pound propane tanks. The generator will also recharge the batteries. Right now I am not using the generator as it is quit noisy, and I don’t want to disturb the neighbors. I will run it during the day when the noise will be masked by everyday sounds and traffic.   It appears that the batteries will last a day or two before having to be recharged.

    Based on past performance, I should be able to be self-sufficient for about a week (provided Barbara doesn’t poop too much). 

 

 

Rutherford B. Hayes

Day 93_DSC3542

     Visited the home, library and museum of President Rutherford B. Hayes in Fremont, Ohio.

     Barbara gave a  presidential talk to the media:_DSC3544

     

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     I took time out to catch up on some correspondence._DSC3575

                             The desk I am sitting is the Resolute Desk given to President Hayes by Queen Victoria, November, 1880. You might remember this desk from the Nicholas Cage movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, in which he sought information he believed hidden in the desk’s secret compartments. 

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     My friend John also used this desk for a few years.

Kennedy     Afterwards, we attended a concert and ice cream social on the Veranda of President Hayes’ house._DSC3585

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Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie

Day 92

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     Took a ferry ride from Sandusky, Ohio to Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie: _DSC3535 _DSC3533 _DSC3506

     It is from here during the War of 1812 that Commodore Oliver Perry dispatched his fleet to engage the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813. After his victory, he sent a dispatch saying “We have met the enemy, and they are ours”.

     I told Barbara not to jay walk, or she would be Put-in-Jail:_DSC3521

Fortunately she knows a good lawyer (retired).     

We have been walking so much, I think we are loosing weight:_DSC3530

Sandusky, Ohio

Day 90_DSC3497

     Sandusky, Ohio, started out as a trading post between the British and Indians.

     Prior to the abolition of slavery in the United States, Sandusky was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. As depicted in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, many slaves seeking to reach freedom in Canada made their way to Sandusky, where they boarded boats crossing Lake Erie to the port of Amherstburg in Ontario._DSC3494

     One of the city’s attractions is the Museum of Merry Go Rounds

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Technical Stuff

Harmony, PA. to Sandusky, OH 175.3 miles

3 hours 21 minutes

10.9 MPG

 

Harmony, Pennsylvania

Day 86

     Harmony, Pennsylvania, was established in 1804 by a German weaver, turned Profit, who came here with a small following to set up a religious community. He established the Harmony Society in which his followers gave up their worldly possessions. In return, the Society provided the necessities of life as well as religious and educational instruction. His Utopia lasted about 10 years with a following of 1,000 members. At that time, the War of 1812 was in progress and Harmony became the center of troop movement going north and south, interfering with the Society’s desire to be separatists. They sold their land to the Mennonites and moved to Indiana. 

The diesel dilemma:

     Since this trip would be over 250 miles, we knew we would have to stop for fuel. About the half way mark we stopped at one of the rest areas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Since truckers would stop there for fuel we figured the fuel islands would be big enough to get the truck and Sphinx in. 

     Sure enough, the island were plenty wide for our combination. I pulled up to a pump, but it had no place to insert my credit card or pay at the pump. Barbara pointed out that the pump said “bio-diesel”, which my truck is not equipped to take. We maneuvered to the next island, which did have pay at the pump, but it would not accept my credit card. Went inside and spoke with the fuel cashier who informed me only fleet credit cards are accepted at that pump, but she could take my card inside. Pre paid for fuel and went back to the island. The pump nozzle had a flange at the end, which is not the normal diesel nozzle. Barbara pointed to a sign over head that said “high speed diesel”. Never heard of high speed diesel. Back inside to talk to the cashier. High speed diesel is for tractor trailers only. 

     She directed me to the pumps were autos were fueling up. I could use my credit card at the pump. Fortunately, there was a diesel pump on the end island that I could maneuver my truck pulling the Sphinx to get my tank adjacent to the pump. Trouble was, after fueling, I was facing the wrong direction to the exit. However, there was enough room to make a “U” turn so I could exit back to the turnpike.

Technical Stuff

Gettysburg, Pa. to Harmony, Pa. 263.3 miles

5 hours 24 minutes

10.4 MPG

Diesel $2.70 gallon

 

I Like Ike

DAY 84

Left Gettysburgs, after a chat with Abe._DSC3462

     Visited the farm of General Dwight David Eisenhower. He purchased this farm, located adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield, when he retired from the Army. He had trained at Gettysburg (before it was a National Historical site and was used as an Army Base) after he graduated from West Point.

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It was a tranquil day.

Battle of Gettysburg

Day 81

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     We took the Way-Back-Machine to July 2, 1863 and witnessed the battle of Gettysburg. We sat in on a meeting of the Generals who discussed strategy for today’s battle.  

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     We met with General Robert E. Lee for almost an hour. He told us the reason he made certain decisions, and why he did not take the advise of one of his Generals that might have changed the out come of the battle.  He also told us about his family. He told us that his son, Robert E. Lee, Jr., joined an artillery unit as a private, without his knowledge. The General happen to visit that unit, where he saw his son and learned of his enlistment.

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Soldiers’ National Cemetery@Gettysburg

Day 80

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     Our first stop was the “bivouac of the dead”. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. After the 3 day battle at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, there remain over 50,000 dead, wounded, and missing soldiers, plus hundreds of dead horses. Eventually the stench was overwhelming. Those that could afford to have their dead relative shipped back home, did so, mostly officers. The remaining dead were left on the battlefield, or put in shallow graves, which were washed open by the heavy rain on July 4, 1863. 

     The decision was made to bury the 3,000+ union soldiers in a cemetery to be created in Gettysburg. President Lincoln was invited at it’s dedication on November 19, 1863 to say a few words. (His Gettysburg address while there was 8 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, Pa.) 

     Two interesting facts: 1) no confederate soldiers were to be buried in the cemetery, and 2) the only civilian casualty of the battle was Jennie Wade who was a resident of Gettysburg. At the age of 20, she was killed instantly by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863 while tending wounded soldiers. 

About 12 confederate soldiers did mistakenly get buried here. _DSC3032

 

 

 

 

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Back On the Road Again

Day 79

     Our one granddaughter graduated college, got a job and is moving into her own place. Our other granddaughter got a new job with better pay and has joined the fire department to be with her dad. I concluded my responsibilities with the fire department at the Ocean City, Maryland, Convention. Our work here is done.

     We are now back on the road. I had hoped to spend some of the time between my granddaughter’s graduation and the fire convention by going to Western Maryland. However (don’t you hate that word, it always foretells gloom), while the Sphinx (our RV) was at the dealers for routine maintenance, one of their employees ran into it with a fork lift. While the damage was minor, we did have to take it to a repair facility, wait for parts, etc.

     Now we are back in the Sphinx. We have packed it with supplies and clothes. The refrigerator and pantry are full. We are headed, at a very leisurely pace, in a westerly direction toward Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

    Our first stop, Gettysburg, Pa.  As you might remember from High School, the battle  was fought July 1–3, 1863.  We thought it would be cool to be here for the anniversary.  We plan on staying in Gettysburg for a week so as not drive during the holiday weekend.

 Technical Stuff

Baldwin, Md. to Gettysburg Pa. 70.6 miles

10.1 MPG

2 hours 45 minutes

Diesel: $2.15

 

The End of our First Leg

Day 78

     In order to attend our granddaughter’s graduation from George Mason University, we return to our driveway on Placid Drive. This is the 78th day on the road counting from February 20, 2016.

     We have pulled the Sphinx for 3,112 miles, with sightseeing in the truck for an additional 2,073 miles.

     We plan to be back on the road by June 28, 2016. There is a week between Barbara’s family get-together in Alabama and the Fireman’s Convention in Ocean City, Maryland. We might take a trip to western Maryland and go over the Allegheny Mountains to prepare for crossing the Rockies.

     Until then: chocolate cures everything, and eat ice cream every day, you can’t go wrong.

Technical Stuff:

Chesterfield, Va. to Baldwin Md.    226.2 miles

5 hours  42  minutes

11.0 MPG

Diesel: $1.86 gallon

Say goodnight, Gracie

 

Civilian Conservation Museum, Virginia

Day 76

     It is pouring down rain, and our moat is filling nicely. Pocahontas State Park, Virginia, where we are staying for 3 days, consists of 8,000 acres and dozens of hiking trails. Since we cannot hike today, we decided to go to the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum which is on the park grounds (since the CCC built the park). Then we would go to Pamplin Historic Park, which consists of various museums. If the weather should clear by then, we would go to the Blandford Church and Cemetery, which has the second oldest grave yard (I believe the oldest grave yard in the Country is in Salem, Massachusetts, which we had visited on a previous trip.)

     The CCC Museum is a one room building containing the history of the Corp and facts on the building of this and other parks. We were fortunate, that because of the weather no one else was visiting. The curator was a vastly knowledgeable gentleman who captivated us for quite some time. Day 76 (5) Day 76 (1)

The Pamplin Park and Church will have to wait till another day.

     Because of the tremendous thunder storms, we spent the rest of our time in the park resting in the Sphinx. Day 76 (4)

 

Pocahontas State Park, Virginia

Day 75

     We are now meandering our way back to Maryland for our Granddaughter’s graduation from college.

     We decide to spend a few days at Pocahontas State Park in Virginia. Because their season is Memorial Day to Labor Day, there were over a dozen spots for the Sphinx. We walked around looking at the various available spots. We found one perfectly level, in a treed secluded area. Perfect. No sooner had we set ourselves up, when a thunderstorm hit the area. After it was over, we looked out and found we were surrounded by a moat.

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     Because the spot was so level, the water did not drain. No problem, we used our leveling blocks to build a boardwalk.

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Day 75 (15) Day 75 (16)

      Later, we walked around the park and saw we were the only ones underwater. Boy, can we pick em?

Technical Stuff:

Wilson, NC to Chester, VA   136.9 miles

2 hours 42 minutes

11.5 MPG

Diesel 2.06 gallon

 

Wilson, North Carolina

Day 73

      Day 73 (13)Wilson North Carolina is the most depressing city I have ever been. Although it is the County Seat (which means the Circuit Court and Government buildings are located here) and it is lunch time on a Monday, the streets are deserted with 80% of the buildings boarded up. Another 10% of the business closed. It would be a great place to film a disaster or zombie movie.

Day 73 (12)

 It did have a couple of antebellum houses, like this one. Day 73 (2)

 

           Barbara was impressed with the rose garden, which was in a most unlikely place, the Public Library grounds.

Day 73 (4)

 

 

 Maybe the town was once a seaport, and the waters receded

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     I was so astonished with the condition of the County Seat, (being a lawyer I have been to all 22 County Seats in the State of Maryland, all of which were bustling places) that I went back to the visitor center to ask the hostess, who is a life long resident. She informed me that when tobacco died, the town died. Although they still grow tobacco here, it is shipped to other parts of the State for processing.

Technical Stuff:

Dillon, SC to Wilson, NC   132.8 miles

2 hours 39 minutes

11.9 miles to gallon

Diesel $1.98 gallon

 

Dillon, South Carolina

Day 71

     Dillon, South Carolina, is a train whistle stop. In 1882 the Florence Railroad Company was building it’s line from Florence, South Carolina to the North Carolina State line. It had right-of-way problems when it reached the land owned by J.W. Dillon. The issue was resolved with Mr. Dillon granting the railroad a one half interest in 65 acres of his land on the condition that the railroad build a depot on the land, and lay out a town. The boundaries of the town are 1/2 mile around the train station.

     When we visited the town they were having their annual “Dillon Celebrates Main Street” festival. It included lots of food, displays, and a car show.

     The Courthouse did not display a tribute to the Confederacy, but the stars and bars and the Sons of the Confederacy were well represented.

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Barbara could not resist adjusting the carburetor day 69-70 (47)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technical Stuff:

Charleston SC to Dillon SC: 170.9 miles

3 hours 29 minutes

11.7 MPG

Diesel $1.97

Charles Towne Landing, South Carolina

Day 69

     Carolina began as a grant to 8 men by King Charles to set up a commercial operation in the New World. Charles Towne Landing is where, in 1670, the new colonists set up their first settlement. The idea was to grow crops, ship that and wood to Barbados in exchange for sugar and then ship that back to England for sale and profit. Charles Towne Landing is actually inland, off the main ocean trade route because the settlers were afraid of attacks by the Spanish, who had declared this land as theirs, and Indians. After 10 years, they moved the settlement to what is now Charleston, on the ocean trade route.

     Charles Towne Landing is now a State Park to preserve the site of the first settlement of what would end up being the State of South Carolina.

     The actual site is nothing but a field with markers indicating where archaeologists think things, like a fort, might have been build. Little evidence has been found to support their findings. Actually they can say anything they want, and who would know.

     Here is a replica of a small trading ship that moved supplies from the colony to Barbados and back.

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I caught one of the residents change color from green to brown as I photographed him:day 69-70 (22) day 69-70 (23) day 69-70 (24) day 69-70 (25)

 

The turtles were having a convention at the water’s edge:day 69-70 (34)

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Day 68

 Camper (11)

     Now that we have more experience backing into sites, and more comfort traveling off the main expressways, we are venturing out. Our last 3 campsites have been on lakes. At Savannah South, KOA, we were actually on the waterfront. This was our view from The Sphinx:

These sites are more spacious.

Camper (12)

Camper (14)

Richmond Hill, GA. to Mt. Pleasant, SC.  141.7 miles

11.5 MPG

3 hours 10 minutes

Diesel $2.38

 

Savannah, Georgia

Day 66

     Although we have been to Savannah in the past, Barbara wanted to tour some of the homes, this is the Davenport House:

Day 66 (13)

     We also toured Andrew Low’s house, whose nephew married Juliette Gordon Low, who was the founder of the girl scout movement.  All these house look alike to me.

     She also wanted to see the flowers in the squares:

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    We took the trolley tour of Old Savannah:

Day 66 (16)

Then back to our campsite to relax Day 66 (1)And contend with our neighbor

Day 66 (2)

 

Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia

Day 64

Walked through the Okefenokee Swamp. Day 64 (46) Day 64 (132)

 

Then took a boat Day 64 (119)ride through the Swamp.

 

 

 

 And, this is what we saw:Day 64 (115) Day 64 (43) Day 64 (6) Day 64 (26)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every 20 years or so the swamp has a drought and dries up allowing lightning to start a fire that will burn through the swamp. The last such fire was in 2011:Day 64 (128) Day 64 (92) Day 64 (134)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evidently this is needed to rebuild the swamp as these tree seeds need the fire heat to germinate.

Lots of lily pads, not one frog on them. However, they were flowering today.Day 64 (65) Day 64 (64) Day 64 (72)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did see a frog as we walked through the swamp.Day 64 (148)

     Also went to Chesser Island, which is a home of a swamp family. The dossier was also a swamp person, but since the Swamp is now a National Wildlife Refuge, all the Swamp people have been booted out.

     We had our own wildlife at the campsite as there were free roaming guinea birds. Day 64 (3)

 

St. Marys, Georgia

Day 63

     We followed the rabbit down the holeDay 63 (2)

    St. Marys, Georgia, was established in 1787.  We went to the grave yard, we love graveyards, but the oldest we could find was 1815. All other older ones had their markings eroded.Day 63 (16)

     We walked the town, which had the usual old homes of the South. This was before the Church denied it was making money:Day 63 (3) Day 63 (4)

     Went to their radio museum. Saw peg leg, again.Day 63 (1)

     Their submarine museum was underwhelming. 

     I really did not know a missile was loaded when I pushed the periscope fire button.Day 63 (6)

Is that a rat in our drawer?Day 63 (5)

 

 

 

Just kidding.

Country Oaks RV Park, Ga

Day 62

     We are taking a day of rest today, after all we are retired. I will take this opportunity to answer some of your questions on the RV lifestyle.

How do you find driving a 40 ft RV?

     Actually, it is 39′ 10 inches. I do not find it as difficult as I thought. Remember, I have driven fire engines for 28 years. The thing to remember is that when I make turns, the 5th wheel will cut into the turn. To compensate for that, I make a wider turn than I would make with my car, sort of like the tractor trailers. Our main learning curve is backing up the Sphinx into a campsite. Although we are getting better, we have not got it down just yet.

In one of your posts you indicated you had to be self sufficient. What does that entail, and how long can you do it?

     It means that we do not have to be hooked up to water, sewer, or electricity to maintain ourselves. For electricity, we have four 6 volt batteries.  Supposedly that will provide our electricity for a week or so, not using the air conditioners.  We have a 69 gallon fresh water tank, and three 40 gallon waste tanks, one for the toilet, one for the bathroom shower and sink, and the final one for the kitchen. We testing living without hookups for 3 days with no problem. At one campsite their water supply was contaminated and we used ours for 4 days with no problem. We did supplement that with bottled water. We also have a 5 KW generator to run the air conditioner and recharge our batteries. The generator runs off our propane tanks, which are two 30 pound tanks.

When you are traveling down the road, how do you keep the food in your refrigerator cold?

     For the first few weeks of our adventure the weather was so cold we had no problem, so long as the doors remain closed. Unfortunately, we did not realize that the refrigerator was not level and the doors came open during transit. The lettuce rolled around the RV. After leveling it, we also had to put tension bars to prevent items from rolling around inside the fridge. Even leveled, we have to secure the doors to prevent opening while jostling The Sphinx down the road. Now that we are in the South, and the temperatures are in the 90’s, we have an inverter that converts our battery 12 volt DC power to AC 110 volt power. This is for the fridge only, and works great.Camper (9)

The red box is the inverter, below that you can see 3 of the 4 golf cart 6 volt batteries.

How do you get your mail while traveling?

     We don’t. Prior to leaving I convert all bills and notices to electronic form. All my banking is electronic, and all my bills are paid through the bill pay of my bank. We even got our absentee ballots from Harford County electronically. We did have to mail the actual ballot in, but since they are in PDF format, I printed them out at the campsite office. All our taxes are done electronically, as well as keeping all my records. I have the laptop that I use to publish this blog, plus I have a scanner to convert all receipts that I get on the road. I then discard the paper receipts. With the exception of my credit card, all value cards, like food discount cards, have been converted on my I Phone to be electronic. The cashier can scan that electronic bar code as if I actually had the card.

What do you miss most now that you are no longer living in your house?

     Nothing. We had to make adjustments in our lifestyle, but we anticipated that. We keep in touch with my father and other relatives by phone and messaging. We keep in touch with Chip and our granddaughters through face-time. Barbara wants to look at them on her tablet. Works great. My granddaughter just had her braces taken off, and Barbara can see her new smiling face. They also have an app on their smart phone that tells them exactly where we are. The purpose of this blog is to keep our friends and family informed of our whereabouts. We have adapted well to full time RVing.

     Oh! I see by the great electronic clock on the microwave, it is time for my nap.

     Feel free to send me any other questions, I will be happy to answer them.

Silver Spring, Florida

Day 60

Since the late 1800’s Silver Springs, Floridaday 60 (1) has been a Mecca for those seeking warm climate from the harsh north and those looking for medicinal remedy in the warm Spring waters. From the 1920’s until Walt Disney showed up, it was the biggest tourist attraction in Florida.

We took a tour on a glass bottom boat. day 60 (19) day 60 (5) day 60 (6) day 60 (4) day 60 (7) day 60 (12)The tours in these vessels have been going on for the last 100 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saw turtles both below and above the waterday 60 (9) day 60 (8)

 

 

 

 

 

The depth was an average of 25 feet. With the deepest part, where the spring actually begins, 85 feet.

They say if you have your picture taken on this looped palm, you will have 5 years of good luckday 60 (11)

 

 

 

We had several pictures takenday 60 (15)

 

 

 

 

 

We then walked around the springs

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and relaxed in the beauty

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I sat with Chief Osceola. day 60 (17)He did not call himself a Native American. He called himself a Seminole Warrior. He was responsible for defying the Indian Relocation Act (not Native American Relocation Act) and keeping the Seminole’s fighting the US.  Osceola led the war of resistance until September 1837 when he went to a US fort for peace talks. While under a flag of truce he was captured. He died a short time later in captivity.

Of course, we had ice cream. I live by two maxims: Chocolate cures everything, and you must have ice cream every day.

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Back at the ranch, we watched a beautiful sunsetday 60 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

After which Barbara slaved over a hot fire making dinner

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For desert, we made s’mores

Does life get any better than this?

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Bee seeing ya.

Ocala, Florida

Day 59

History is written by the victors. – Winston Churchill

Day 59 (1)

     As we crisscross back and forth through Florida, we have stopped at some of the historical places and battlefields of the Seminole Wars. Although the statistical information varies depending on who’s side you are listening to, the general consensuses is that “white man speak with forked tongue”.

     One of the key spots of the war was Fort King, now Ocala, Florida. The only remains of the Fort is this marker:

Day 59 (2)

      The Seminoles burned the Fort down, twice.  If Major Dade had reached the Fort today (see Day 49) he would be amazed. With modern technology I hold my I-Phone up to any one of 23 markers and I get a narrative of what happened at that site and how the war, over 40 years, was progressing.

     The narrator pointed out that after the War of 1812, the United States had defeated England, twice, and was considered to have the best trained military force in the world. However, the Seminoles defeated that army over and over again.

     Nevertheless, each of the wars caused large casualties, on both sides. Many Seminoles after the 2nd war were tired and agreed to move of Oklahoma in accordance with the Indian Relocation Act issued by President Andrew Jackson.

     Finally, as stated in an earlier blog, the US decided for the few Seminoles left in Florida it was not worth the cost and declared the Wars over. According to the narrator, the US Military was not beaten as badly again until over a 100 years later in Vietnam. He pointed out that both wars were “gorilla wars” in which one side was defending it’s home in the jungle, and the other was not. 

 

 

Brooksville, Florida

Heinz Day

     The Florida Blueberry Festival is held each year in front of the County Courthouse in  Brooksville, Florida.

The Courthouse hosts a statue in tribute to the confederate soldiers.Day 57 (9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had blueberry shortcake for breakfast.

Day 57 (1)

 

Turkey leg and cheese steak for lunch

Day 57 (4)

     

Barbara had some blueberry vodka, she did not like it and chased it down with blueberry bourbon.Day 57 (7)

And then we had blueberry pie for dinner

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 Of course we had to add ice cream_DSC2147

It’s a tough life we lead.

Crystal River, Florida

Day 54

Travel

     We took a boat ride on the Crystal River through the estuary toward the Gulf of Mexico. Day 54 (7)This area was inhabited by the Indians from about 2500 years ago to 500 years ago. The changing climate, which attracted them in the first place, was also the reason they left.

     Left behind were “mounds” of their trash, from which archaeologists have been able to assemble their eating habits, religious habits, and politics. Part of this State Park is dedicated to teaching archaeology. Unfortunately that teaching section was closed today, but you could still walk the area.

     The interesting thing about this area is that the water in the Crystal River is fresh, but as you go through the estuary it begins to mix with the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico. This allowed the Indians to harvest both fresh and salt water fish. The most abundant sea life was oysters, which made up a majority of the “mounds”.Day 54 (101)

 

 

 

QUIZ  (What, you didn’t study?)

What is the difference between these two birds? (Click picture for enhanced view)

Day 54 (47) Day 54 (32)

 

 

Hint: One is an Osprey and the the other an American Eagle. Can you tell which is which?

 

 

Left: Osprey  Right: Eagle

After the boat ride, we walked the woods through the areaDay 54 (118)

and came across interesting wildlife.

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      For the first time we saw snakes. They were called Southern Black Racer, a harmless snake, but they did move so fast I could not get a picture. One was about 3 feet and the second about 5 feet. It was hard to see, since Barbara jumped into my arms blocking my view.

Technical Stuff

      Back at the Ranch, we were inundated with thousands of caterpillars. Day 54 (3)They especially like my tires. Day 54 (4)We were told they would be around for a couple more weeks. We did not come across them in any of our other travels in this area.

Withlacoochee Trail, Florida

Day 53

     The Withlacoochee State Trail is a paved walk/bike trail stretching 46 miles from the Withlacoochee River to Owensboro. We were actually taking the day off and were looking for a restaurant that was recommended in the State Park. Did not find the restaurant, and decided to hike 3 miles of the trail. Because this section was close to the highway, we saw no wildlife, and therefore no pictures. Unless you want to see our feet walking on the paved road. I didn’t think so.

      We try to walk between 1 and 5 miles every day (averaging 2 -3), as our main form of exercise. After all, we have to work off all the ice cream and pizza we are eating.

Bushnell, Florida

Day 52

     The Florida National Cemetery Day 52 (2)is a United States National Cemetery located in the Withlacoochee State Forest, approximately 50 miles north of Tampa near the city of Bushnell in Sumter County, Florida, about 3 miles from our camp site. Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 512 acres, and just began interments in 1988.

     I found the most notable graveDay 52 (1) (actually a memorable marker, as most were) to be that of Major David Moniac, who fought in the 2nd Seminole War. He was in the 6th U.S. Infantry, Alabama Mounted Creek Volunteers. In 1822 he was the First Native American Graduate from the US Military Academy. My understanding of the history is that the Creek Indians were driven out of their lands in Alabama and Georgia and joined with the Seminoles in Florida. It appears this guy joined the US Army and fought with the white man against his own people.

     I am finding the Seminole Indians and the 3 Seminole Wars quite fascinating.

Dade Battlefield, Florida

Day 49

    Major Francis L. Dade, for whom the County and battlefield are named, was an early causality of the the battle that led to the 2nd of 3 Seminole wars. It appears that after the War of 1812, General Andrew Jackson was ordered to remove the Seminole Indians from Florida to Oklahoma. Evidently, he was quite brutal in his efforts. When he became President, he continued this endeavor.

    We visited the Dade Battlefield in Bushnell, Florida, where Major Dade was leading a US military force of 107 men from Fort Brooke (now Tampa Florida) to reinforce Fort King (now Ocala Florida) when he was attacked by 180 Seminole warriors. Only 3 of the soldiers survived, while the Indians only suffered minor casualties. The Seminole’s considered it a major victory.