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


Ashland, Virginia

Day 245

     Finally, we are back on the road. I was hoping to leave right after the first of the year. Actually, I didn’t want to come home at all, after all, we do have Skype and FaceTime. But Barbara wanted to see her family. 

     It was nice that a lot you came over for a tour of The Sphinx. 

     The delay of leaving was mostly Barbara meeting with friends and relatives. Now we are back on the road, trying to escape the cold weather. Our first stop, Ashland Virginia is about 20 degrees warmer than Fallston. We will stay here a few days until the rain stops, then further South until we get to warm weather. I am exhausted from all the holiday parties and visiting with friends and relatives, so I am taking these few days to just to lay around and do nothing. 

     We did map out our proposed itinerary. This is a general outline as we do not hesitate to change our plans if something cool shows up. Our general destination is New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We will be stopping to see some of Barbara’s relatives on the way. From New Orleans to Florida where we will meet our son and granddaughters at Disney World. Then to St. Augustine, as Barbara has never been there. From there we will meander toward home for a Wedding in May. Then off again toward Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we have campground reservation for the Hot Air Balloon Festival. We just made arrangements to join 20 other RVers in Montana in May 2018 where we will caravan for 3 months to Alaska and the arctic circle. Other than that, we will probably just lay around and do nothing. After all, we are retired. 

     Some of you did not understand my numbering system. The day listed at the top of each post is the day number we traveled from February 20, 2016, our first day on the road for our 5 year journey.  It does not include the days we spend in our driveway when we come home, although we still live in The Sphinx. So our last day on the road in December was 244. Although we spend a month home, today, back on the road is day 245. It’s actually the Flux Capacitor. 

Technical Stuff:

Fallston, Md. to Ashland, Va. 177.1 miles

3 hours 59 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: 2.39


Staunton, Virginia

Day 243


     This area was first settled in 1732 by John Lewis and his family. The town that ultimately grew up in 1747 was named in honor of Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife to Royal Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Gooch.

     The town is most noted as being the birthplace of Tommy Wilson on December 28, 1856. He did not start using his middle name, Woodrow, until college. 


     We visited his home and museum.


     His favorite car, a pierce-arrow, was on display in the garage. 


     His house was actually a parsonage, as his father was a Presbyterian minister, as was his grandfather and nephew. 

     Woodrow became a lawyer, but found it distasteful. He then went to John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore and received a Ph.D. in History so he could become a teacher. 

     His run for President was unique in that it was a 3 way race: The Republican Taft, the Democratic Wilson, and Teddy Roosevelt trying to make a comeback by forming the Progressive “Bull Moose” party. The 1912 Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. You remember that, don’t you?

     After the World War, Wilson traveled the country garnering support for his League of Nations, which had fallen in the House, and was up for a vote in the Senate. During that trip he had a stroke from which he never fully recovered. His second wife, whom he married while President, Edith Wilson, began to screen all matters of state and decided which were important enough to bring to the bedridden president. In doing so, she de facto ran the executive branch of the government for the remainder of the president’s second term. She, therefore, was really the first female President of the United States. Supposedly, Edith was a descendant of the Indian Princess Pocahontas. 

      An interesting part of the museum was a recreation of a World War I trench.   


day-243-staunton-va-9288_fotor    And you thought someone else came up with the phrase. 


Walnut Hills Campground, Staunton, Virginia

Day 238

     Traveling to within striking distance from home, we are in Staunton, Virginia. It is pouring down rain, and is expected to last most of the week, also calling for snow showers. We are 219 miles from home. We were going to stay here a few days then move one more time before arriving home on the 13th of December. But with the weather, we might stay here a week and just go home.

     Our campground was a plantation in the 17 & 1800’s. It has hundreds of sites, but only 5 RV’s are here, as it is now out of season. The temperatures are in the 30’s. When the rain stops, it is predicted to go into the 20’s this week with highs in the 40’s during the day. We have been requested to disconnect our water in the evening so the exposed hose does not freeze. 

     Although we have the fireplace and a space heater in the Sphinx, we still must turn on our propane heat if the temperature goes below freezing so it heats our water pipes under the RV to prevent them from freezing. 

     No pictures, it is pouring down rain.

Technical Stuff:

Wytheville, Virginia to Staunton, Virginia  141.5 miles

2 hours 50 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel $2.30

Wytheville, Virginia

Day 235

     We decided to take 81 North to Virginia rather than 40 South to North Carolina  because we did not want to go through the fire area. Although all the fires are now out, there is still damage and cleanup, plus damage from the tornadoes. 

     Wytheville, Virginia is located in the western part of Virginia, just over the Tennessee line. North Carolina is just below us, with West Virginia just above. The city’s motto is “There’s Only One”, as no other town in the United States has the same name. 

     Wytheville (pronounced WITH-ville) was founded in 1792 as Evansham on 100 acres of land. That name was to honor prominent local citizen Jesse Evans. However, the town burned down in 1839 and was renamed for the first signer of the Declaration of Independence for Virginia – George Wythe. 

     Wytheville has the world’s larges pencil:


     We attended Wytheville’s annual Christmas Parade. 

     We had a Skeeter’s famous hot dog, a baby coke, and watched the parade in front of that building, where Edith Bolling Wilson was born, wife of Widrow Wilson. 


     After the parade, we ate dinner in a house built in 1776. 



Technical Stuff:

Kodax, Tennessee to Wytheville, Virginia:   171.2 miles

3 hours 24 minutes

11.3 MPG

Diesel: $2.03