12.  Remembering history with friends, and discovering America again.

After leaving North Carolina and the Outer Banks we made it to an Elks Lodge in Norfolk, Virginia.  When we arrived, we thought we were in the wrong location and that our GPS lead us astray again.  Little did we know that in back of the low income housing projects and road machinery equipment which was protected by a big chain link fence with barbed wire on top, was a 7 acre plot of land where an Elks lodge was.  We were met by another older couple who was staying there at the Elks.  It had a nice big field for us to park right next to them.  (We had to share the power plug and water.)  We met Bob the 85 year old that took care of the whole 7 acres.  He said he couldn’t do it all anymore, so Kelly helped him that afternoon with hauling branches and cutting up a tree.  We also met the lady in charge of the Elks and she told the story about how they got the property really cheap and at the time it was all pasture and their big building.  Now no one wants to come to that neighborhood anymore and the Lodge there is dying.  It is such a nice facility but only has 20 members left.   A big contrast from some of the other Elks lodges we stayed at.  The Elks in Ephrata Pennsylvania, has a trust and over 800 members!  

We also stay at Supercenter Walmarts when we traveling between locations to help off set the KOA campgrounds fees.  The most expensive KOA we have stayed at was the one in Townsend TN campground in the Smokey Mountains for $85 a night!  We have joined a membership camping club with Thousand Trails but a lot of their locations are out of the way from the places we want to go.  We will use the Thousand Trails at a later date.

We did get to stay at our friends home in Virginia.  Larry and Judy Nelson are former Seaside residents who went to our church, and we have known them for 30 + years. Larry also taught our son Andrew at Gearhart Elementary School.  Their daughter Heather, built a beautiful home on several acres of land in Virginia.  Larry and Judy decided Virginia might be a good place to live and be near their daughter.   They built a cozy cottage behind Heather’s house.  Their oldest daughter Holly was also visiting with her two adorable children, so we got to see them as well.  We had to reluctantly leave a little sooner than we wanted due to an approaching storm that Kelly did not want to mess with pulling a 38′ fifth wheel.  We will just have to come back!  Larry and Judy are the kind of friends that you can just pick up where you left off and not miss a beat.  We miss seeing them at our church and in our community.  Heather started a program called Reining Hope on her ranch.  This is a program for children that need a little extra love and attention or might be developmentally disabled.  Heather sets up sessions with them and they can ride horses, help garden, feed chickens or do anything else on the ranch.  The volunteers in turn can minister to the children and talk to them about Jesus.  The focus is on Equine therapy and many good things are happening with this ministry.  Check out the website at  www.reininghope.com.  Thank you Nelson family!

Fun times… having dinner with Larry & Judy.

Taking the Jamestown Ferry to historic Williamsburg.

The towns folk staying in character.  We saw the leather maker, blacksmith, candle stick maker, wig maker, gunsmith, wood worker just to name a few.  All of the workers were doing their trade as it was done in the 1770’s (Revolutionary War Era).  

On our tour of the Governor’s Palace with our guide.  Colonial Williamsburg was the capital during the American Revolutionary War.  Most of the buildings have been rebuilt and  the town is like a living history museum because of community organizations and the financial support of John D. Rockefeller Jr.  (Son of the founder of Standard Oil)  The Rockefeller family has done so much for the preservation of museums, libraries and other history projects like Williamsburg.  They were very good stewards of their money!

Original site of the church were John Smith and Pocahontas were married in the Jamestown Colony.

Part of the old fort walls in Jamestown.

Kelly’s distant relative King James IV of Scotland.  Do you see the resemblance?

Play day at SixFlags America in Maryland.

And away he goes…. 0 to 55 mph on the Apocalypse ride.

The states are so close together that in an hour or two you are in a different state!  Heading for the Amish country now.

We were the only campers at the Ephrata Elks Lodge.  The people were so nice. I played Bingo with them and lost every time for 10 games.  The local women sitting next to me during the game felt sorry for me and said, “We are going to get you some chubs to take back with you.”  I asked what chubs were and they told me bologna.  I did not tell them I hate bologna, but to my surprise they were like Hickory Farms summer sausage.  They “won” them for me by playing another game of chance that the lodge organizes for its members.  The money is then split 50/50 with a local charity. Two more people bought the scratch off tickets and “won” two more chubs for us!  All three chubs were different and good.  It was so cute to see them all working together to give us something from Pennsylvania, so we would remember them!

In downtown Ephrata, they honor all their military vets by posting these large banners around town.  It was very touching to see.

So many historical and beautiful homes in the town and all over the Northeast.

The bingo ladies told me we had to go to the town of Lititz.  It was founded by members of the Morovian Church and was named after a castle in Bohemia.  For a whole century, only Morovians were allowed to live in the city.  They had created like a commune with many large buildings.  One building was used as a hospital during the American Revolution and some were used as part of the oldest all girl boarding school in the United States.  The town is also home to Wilbur Chocolate Factory and Keystone Pretzel Bakery, and a large artist community.  In 2013 Budget Travel named Lititz “America’s Coolest Small Town.”  What more could you want!

 One of the many master gardens in Lititz.

Every kind of chocolate to sample!  The photo above was part of the chocolate museum.  Wilbur has been making chocolate since 1848!  YUM!

We arrived in Lancaster Country on Labor Day weekend.  We did not think the Amish would take Saturday and Monday off, but they did.  The only places that were open were a few places until 2 pm.  So we ate lunch at an Amish buffet “Yoder’s”, and went to Kitchen Kettle for some retail therapy and then took a long drive in the country.  These buggies were common to see on the roads, but make sure you don’t let them see you take their pictures.  They want to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they left, not by physical appearance.

  Since it was one of the only places open, it was really crowded!  Time to move on.

From one extreme to another and only 200 miles away!  We made it up to Woodstock New York.  Even though the famous rock concert was actually held in a town 60 miles away in Bethel, the concert was originally planned to be held in Woodstock so it kept it’s famous name.  Kelly was “hip” hanging out with the Blues Brothers.

A wax masterpiece at a local Woodstock candle store.

Catskill mountain and frontier men, Kelly and Daniel Boone.

A short drive from Woodstock is the town of Saugerties, New York.  Several months ago on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallen said that he tweeted that his childhood home was up for sale.  He said he wanted it to go to a cool buyer because it was such “a great place to grown up.”  Well since we were so close, I made Kelly stop by and take my picture of the house (on trash day.)  LOL

We had a short hike at low tide to this unique lighthouse.  You can actually stay here on weekends as a bed and breakfast.  The lighthouse keepers stay in the other part during your stay.  It is $250 per night and includes a really nice breakfast according to the young couple we met on the deck that were staying the weekend there.

It has a nice picnic area and two canoe to use during your stay.

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In the morning while it was relatively cool, we decided to go on a hike called Overlook Mountain.  The hike was rated as moderately difficult and was a 5 mile round trip hike up a mountain.  I decided to go for it.  Kelly was excited to take on the challenge.  The trail was an old carriage road that led up to a hotel.  It was a steady climb up to the peak of the mountain (3,140 ft).  I had to take several breaks checking my Fitbit every so often because my heart rate was up there.  I have a high heart rate anyway.  We finally made it to the hotel, then the ranger station, onto the rock cliff lookout and then climbed a fire tower!  As you could see my hair was wet with sweat!  What a workout and view!  Even Kelly was sore the next couple of days.

On the top you could see 5 states, the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains.

Across the street from the trail head was a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery called “Karma Triyana Dharmachakra”.  I bet you can’t say that name three times!  

We moved on to the capital of New York, Albany.  It is a very old city with amazing buildings everywhere you look.

This is the outside of the capital building built in 1899.  After three architects were fired, the fourth architect kind of finished it. The building really is not complete, some pillars and artwork are still left undone because when Grover Cleveland was elected as governor he said NO MORE!  It is the most expensive government building of its time.  Even more than the Capital building in Washington DC!  The cost in today’s dollars would be over $711 million!

The special Sandstone throughout the building was imported from Scotland.  The artists carved each area of the building differently.  Even put their own family members and pets into some of the designs.  One sculptor was fired for taking to long, so one night he broke into the Capital and carved a small image of the devil into the Sandstone.  Our guide showed us the 3 inch carving that was finally spotted many years later.  Also some of the marble in the building was cut by state prisoners at Sing Sing.  I guess they wanted to make up the costs by getting cheap labor.

The carvings were endless!  Everywhere you looked!

This staircase at the time cost a million dollars.  

We hiked down a path to see this pretty pond.

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Kelly toured Fort Ticonderoga, which was known for it’s role in the American Revolutionary War.  This view was taken from the Fort William Henry at the South end of Lake George.  It was a British outpost to protect the colonies in the South and to hold off the French who occupied the North end of the lake at Fort Carillon.  It is a very big lake!

Lake George has a marina and “Million Dollar Beach” that is surrounded by mansions built by wealthy New York City weekenders who come up to enjoy the beautiful lake.

We happened to be there on one of the busiest weekends.  The 28th Annual Adirondack National Car Show which has on average 1500 cars on display each year.

This was one of my favorite cars at the show.

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We also went rafting with our guide Dillon down the North River and met a great young couple John and Danielle from Rochester New York.  That is all for this segment of RVHAVINGFUNYETBLOG.   Next up-  Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

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11. On the Road Again.

After spending just a few days at home in Seaside to catch up on things, I flew back to Knoxville Tennessee to join Kelly.  He was on his own in Kentucky and drove to Bowling Green.  The city was the capital of Confederate Kentucky during the Civil War and has the Corvette assembly plant there.  Kelly took the tour and saw how each car was assembled.  He said it was very interesting.  They also had a Corvette museum that some of you might have heard about on the news in 2014.  Right in the middle of the museum a 40′ wide and 20′ deep sink hole opened up and swallowed 8 cars in 2014!  After that he drove up to Cumberland Falls which is also known as the “Niagara of the South.”  He also toured Mammoth Caves National Park which is the longest cave system in the United States. He said he was good now and did not need to go spelunking for awhile.  Must have been some kind of cave system 367 miles that have been mapped plus more that are undiscovered!

I think Cumberland Falls has a long ways to go to catch up to Niagara Falls! 

The first night back at our Smoky Mountains KOA, the moon had that a slight haze around it creating an amazing look to the moon.  

So many pretty views along the trail we hiked.  I even found a very old railroad nail!

In the morning, we thought we would be able to on an 11 mile bike ride through Cades Cove  in the Smoky Mountain National Park.  When we got there we found out that we had missed our opportunity.  We had the right day but they only let bike riders in until 10 am then it turns into a one way road that is only open for cars.  It still was a gorgeous drive.  This cabin in the woods was home to the first permanent European settlers.  The first Winter was so harsh they survived by eating dried pumpkin that the Cherokee Indians gave them! 

The Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church.

Grist Mill and other old tools of the trade.

OK this shot is for Cousin Pam again.  On our way to Gatlinburg, we went on a 2 1/2 mile hike though forests to a waterfall.  Our Oregon waterfalls and mountains are so big compared to Tennessee’s.  I think we are all spoiled, but it still was pretty.  It just on a way smaller scale.

Kelly was rock surfing.

A picture of a picture.  I could not wait until the Fall season is here, to post this beautiful photograph.

This is downtown Gatlinburg.  Kelly wanted to hike more and I wanted to ride my bike into town.  After 15 minutes, as you can see, it started to rain.  A lot!  It is very touristy but fun to look around.  Kelly got soaked but I stayed dry in an indoor mall.  They call these rain storms “pop up” storms and it usually includes lightening and thunder.  They happened almost every afternoon and if you are in a body of water they strongly suggest to GET OUT!

This was the site that my 4th great grand father Issac Denton helped start this church. The building has changed but the “new” Baptist church stills stands in the same location in Severville TN.  It is pronounced “Severe val”.  The neighboring town Marysville is pronounced “Merv val”.  If you say it the way it is spelled they know you are “not from these parts”.  LOL  It was strange though to feel somewhat connected to that area because of my “kinfolk” living there at one point in history.

Then we headed south through South Carolina and made our way to Savannah, Georgia. Our new home was called Red Gate RV Park.  It was just a few miles away from the city so we decided to drop the fifth wheel and go right downtown.  We headed for River Street, the oldest part of Savannah.  Some of the buildings are still standing from the 1700’s.  

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River Street is full of restaurants, shops and night life.  The port of Savannah is only 18 miles from the Atlantic ocean.  It is one of the busiest ports in the South for cargo ships. 

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We encountered this bunch of young ladies celebrating the future marriage of the girl in the Aqua dress.  They were trying to take a selfie so I helped them out.  

The Spanish Moss hanging off the trees is in all the live Oak trees in the southeastern part of the United States.  The moss is not even in the moss family and it is not from Spain.  My sister wanted to take some home with her the last time we were in Savannah but the the plant is full of little red Chiggers.  Chiggers are small bugs that can embed into your skin and cause an itchy rash.  Not something I would want to bring home!

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Savannah was the first planned city in America by General Oglethorpe.  The city has twenty two squares.  Each square has has either been named after a person or a historical event and many contain monument, markers, memorials, statues and other artwork which makes this city one of the most beautiful in the United States.  They all have their own gardens or artwork in each square as well.

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Sunday, we went to the First African Baptist Church right in the middle of town.  The year it started was 1773.  After the congregation decided to build a church, many of its members would come after their day jobs and work several more hours because of their commitment to their church.  Many just earned a very modest income but always set extra aside money because having their own church was the most important thing in their lives.  True dedication!  Going to the church service was another memory I will cherish about this trip.

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We took the history tour about this church after we had lunch in the City Market which was right across the street.  The guide told us about the church history and as we went down into the basement I asked about these holes in the floor.  Little did I know that this church probably was part of the Underground Railroad.  The holes in the floors were there so that the hiding slaves could breath easier while waiting for their chance for freedom.  It was hard to comprehend all that they had to endure.

The next day, we did a self guiding tour of one of the oldest cemeteries in the country, the Bonadventure Cemetery east of Savannah. Not only did they have famous people like composer Johnny Mercer (who wrote”Moon River” and “Baby its Cold Outside”), but also there were war hero’s in history buried there.  It is also was one of the oldest cemeteries in the Nation.  At 100 acres, their are so many unique headstones, but they still have space available as you can see in the picture above.  

The most famous was the one below of the little girl Gracie Watson.  It is the most visited grave in the cemetery.  The 6 year old Gracie died suddenly of pneumonia and her father was so consumed by her death that he commissioned an artist to make her headstone the exact likeness of Gracie.  Her father was the manager of one of the most famous hotels in Savannah and Gracie was known to dance and sing for the hotel guests and she was like an ambassador for the city.  People would come to the hotel just to see her.  Her parents never returned to her grave.  127 years later, people still bring her gifts and flowers and leave them near her headstone.

After the cemetery, we drove further East to Fort Pulaski.  It claim to fame was that in 1862 during the Civil War, the Union Army successfully tested rifled cannon in combat.  It was the first cannon that could really do some damage to its target.

The moat around the Fort kept enemies out and Confederate prisoners of war in.

We also decided to go on a Gospel Dinner Cruise.  The music was loud and upbeat.  We also went up to the next floor and they had pop rock playing with a DJ.  On the  very top  top floor they had classical music playing and offered better food.  I realized that each floor was a different type of cruise with different prices.  An interesting way to market a single cruise down the Savannah River.

I was sad to leave Savannah, one of my favorite cities, but we had to head North towards Charleston.  Our KOA campground was very nice and had nice views of the lake. The view in the picture above is called the Avenue of Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation.  Some of the trees that line the driveway were planted in 1743 and are 3/4 of a mile long.  It still is one of the oldest working plantations in the United States.  The original cash crops were cotton and pecans and now are replaced by tomatoes and strawberries. At Christmas they even sell Christmas trees. 

The mansion is an Antebellum era style design, which means it existed before the Civil War (1861).  It also has the original slave cabins that were used dating back to 1790!  The Boone Hall Plantation has been used in many movies and TV shows.  The most famous movie was “The Notebook”, “North and South” mini-series starring my favorite Patrick Swayze, “Queen” mini-series starring Halle Berry and soap opera, “Days of Our Lives”.

The slaves made the bricks for their homes with the clay from the river banks on the property.  Some of the clay had rocks and shells in it and you can still see bricks with the slaves finger prints in it.

The plantation also had a program on the slaves and their special language Gullah.  It was a combination of Creole and African dialects.  It was developed so that could communicate to each other in like a code talk, so the slave owners could not understand them.  They also sang songs in the fields and certain words in the lyrics meant different things.  Like “Gospel train” meant the underground railroad, and “heaven” meant Canada.  So interesting and so sad that African Americans were treated so badly by their slave owners.  Gloria the woman above gave us a very interesting program and we learned so much from her.

A view from the estuary near the plantation.

That night we watched the sun go down and got a spectacular view from our campsite.  We also saw an alligator head swim by!

The next day we headed in for downtown Charleston.  We took a carriage ride in the hot  afternoon sun.  Our guide was terrific and told us about the beautiful bay front homes.  He also told us about how much schooling (over a year)and testing is needed before you can become a licensed guide for the city.   In between rides the horses had to be cooled off with water and big fans.  This summer has been the longest and hottest summers of our life.  We kept going into record heat.  Kelly also toured Fort Sumter and I looked around downtown.

One of the most famous rod iron artists was in Charleston.  His name was Phillip Simmons.  The city of Charleston from end to end is truly decorated by his hand.  His trademark is a heart.  He learned his trade in blacksmiths shops and was the one of the first African Americans recognized for his talent in the art of ironwork.  

I can’t give you a full picture of the South without talking about the bugs.  At the KOA I took this picture so you could see how big the cicada is.  I was told some can produce a loud mating call that is 120 decibels, which can actually hurt the human ear.  Sometimes they were so loud I could not hear Kelly taking to me!  They are gross!

This is the trail near the lake at our KOA.  The staff warned Kelly about the alligators in the area if he ran around the lake.  Kelly decided to take his chances.

This was enough to keep me away!

We went on our way up the coast to Myrtle Beach and then to the Outer Banks Islands of North Carolina.  A tropical storm was just forming in the Caribbean and later it flooded parts of the Outer Banks.   We went into the ocean and Kelly got stung by two jellyfish!  The lifeguard told us the warmer waters made them come closer to shore.

I wanted a healthy meal and looked it up on my Yelp app.  The Tiki themed restaurant was good and Kelly also got his deep fried Coconut shrimp.

Kitty Hawk was the next stop and we got to see where the Wright Brothers made their first flight.  

Here was a model of the plane that flew 59 seconds and 852 feet.

We climbed to the top of the hill where the Wright Brothers attempted their flights over and over again for thousands of tries until they had that one successful flight that changed the world.  Our RV park was just down the street from the monument.  The church we went to was also just down the street from the RV park.  Kelly was riding his bike before church and met the pastor because he had car troubles.  Kelly helped him out and we got to know him and other church members.  We loved that church and hope some day we can come back and visit.

We tried to take a selfie in front of the famous Cape Hatteras light house.

This is an outdoor theater that depicts the plight of the Roanoke Island and the Lost Colony.  The Lost Colony was a group of 115 English colonists that basically got dropped off from England to settle and area near North Carolina.  When they came back to check on them (3 years later)  the only clue to their disappearance was a carving on a tree that said “Croatoan”.  That was the name of one of the local Indian tribes.  The mystery still remains…

Our last day at the beach and Kelly is enjoying the ocean with his toys!

 Next post will be starting in Virginia and seeing friends Larry and Judy Nelson.  The adventure continues….