Friday, March 29, 2013

Williamsburg, Virginia

The state of North Carolina has some very nice museums – art, history, and science, and all free!  We went to these on Saturday and Monday, delaying our departure from Raleigh until Tuesday because of inclement weather.  It was hard to leave anyway, my sister lives too far away for me to see her very often.  But we said our goodbyes (my niece was especially sad to see Okie leave) and headed for Williamsburg, Virginia.  We stopped along the way at the Petersburg National Battlefield, site of one of the large final battles of the Civil War. 
Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places (I’ve been before) because of all the history that is so well portrayed here.  I think it is somewhere every American should visit in their lifetime.  There are many historic buildings to visit, some original and others reconstructed, from the time of the Revolutionary War.  All the workers are costumed in the 1700’s styles and play the parts of townspeople of the era.  There are many trade shops with tradesmen to show how their craft is done.  We also learned about the legal system and daily life of the colonial time period.  We saw General Washington review the troops in anticipation of the looming battle against Cornwallis, and heard the fife and drum corps play.  A couple of the highlights were listening to George Washington discuss the events taking place that were leading the colonies toward war, and Thomas Jefferson discussing his ideas about government.  The actors did an excellent job conveying the concerns of their era as well as instilling a greater appreciation of what they accomplished.  But some of their concerns such as debt, taxation, size of government, and liberty are some of the same issues we still face today.  An important message of Williamsburg is to learn from history so that mistakes of the past are not repeated.  This area is part of the Historic Triangle, with two more important historical sites to visit before we leave.  If you don’t know what they are, tune in next week!
Petersburg National Battlefield

Williamsburg Colonial Governor's Palace

inside Governor's palace

fife and drum corps

General Washington arrives

Colonial troops fire their muskets

George Washington addresses crowd

touring the town by carriage

printer shows his trade

yoked oxen

soldier, Lady Randolf and her slave

Colonial Virginia Capitol building

Friday, March 22, 2013

North Carolina and Biltmore Estate

Saturday we made it to my sister Nancy’s house in Raleigh, NC., and are enjoying a nice visit with them.  We drove to Asheville on Monday, about a four hour drive into the Appalachian Mountains.  On Tuesday we spent the day at the Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned house in the US.  Built in the late 1800’s, it is almost 180,000 square feet and 250 rooms in size.  It is a beautiful, impressive mansion built with money from the Vanderbilt fortune.  We ate in the Stable Restaurant, so named because it occupies the former stable building along with several shops.  Then we walked around the gardens (although they are not in bloom yet) and greenhouse and drove to the part of the estate that now is a winery and shops.  Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside the main house, so I only have pictures of the other areas.  On our way back to Raleigh, we stopped in Winston-Salem to walk through Old Salem.  This historic district has a combination of original and restored buildings.  The community was founded in the 1750s by the Moravians, a Protestant sect from Eastern Europe.  Nancy and I also toured the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, which has furniture, textiles, ceramics and silver from the region going back to pre-revolutionary days.  A local Southern lady guided us through the rooms to explain the history of the items on display.  It was a uniquely interesting museum.
Today Nancy and I worked on some family history using  Tomorrow we plan on going to the Raleigh Art Museum, then on Monday we’re off to Williamsburg, Virginia.  We continue to have below normal temperatures; I hope that situation improves soon so we can keep heading north.
Stable Restaurant

Biltmore greenhouse

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore acreage

Old Salem building

Old Salem house

Friday, March 15, 2013

Myrtle Beach, SC.

Myrtle Beach is a very nice place for Spring Break or a summer vacation.  But we hear it gets very crowded, so it was nice to be there before all the traffic hits.  It would have been nicer to not be having below normal temperatures, but we enjoyed it anyway.  Our RV park was right on the beautiful beach called the Grand Strand, and we took long walks along it every day.  Dogs are allowed too, so Okie really enjoyed it even though he couldn’t catch a seagull.  I collected lots of nice shells that were in abundance along the beach.  We also enjoyed walking the boardwalk and having lunch there.  We also walked the malls and played a round of miniature golf (there are about a dozen mini golf places to choose from).  We avoided the many seafood buffets and dinner theaters.  
On Thursday we drove to Fayetteville, NC, home of Fort Bragg.  There is an excellent Paratrooper & Special Ops Museum that we enjoyed today.  Tomorrow we head to Raleigh to visit my sister, brother-in-law and niece.
If you know me very well, you’ll know that I like numbers.  So here are some from our trip so far.  We’ve been out for 17 weeks, through 12 states and stayed in 24 RV parks.  We’ve traveled 4060 miles with the trailer, and about that many more exploring the areas we’ve visited.  In my spare time I’ve read 18 books and we’ve watched the first season of “Castle” and “Parenthood”.  Season 2 of each is waiting at my sister’s, thanks to Amazon.  It is now warmer in Utah than here, so we’re hoping spring gets to the east coast soon.
Myrtle Beach from pier

Myrtle Beach boardwalk

Myrtle Beach looking north

Apache Pier

Myrtle Beach looking south (low tide)

Okie and me on the beach

one of the seagulls Okie wanted to catch

Paratrooper and Special Ops Museum

Friday, March 8, 2013

Charleston, SC.

We ended up staying in Charleston until Thursday because of winds too strong for travel, but that gave us the chance to see a couple more Charleston historical sites.  We started the week by visiting Charles Towne Landing, the site of the original settlement in 1670.  Now it is a state park with a museum, gardens, ruins, a reconstructed ship and buildings.  In 1680 the settlement moved across the river to the peninsula location of the current city of Charleston.  In the city we visited the Charleston Museum that had a very complete history of the area from the beginning rice plantations through the wars, Revolutionary, Civil and World Wars.  We also visited the Aiken-Rhett House that had belonged to a former governor and congressman.  This house was interesting because it was not restored, but preserved in its original condition.  The next day we went to Karpeles Manuscript Library, housed in an old church building.  It is now owned by a collector of documents of historical interest.  Most of the ones on display were from the 14 presidents of the United States before George Washington (WHAT??  Wasn’t he the first president, you ask). From 1781 until 1791, the new colonies functioned under the Articles of Confederation, and the president was elected by the Continental Congress.  George was the first president under the US Constitution.  That part of history usually is glossed over quickly, but some of the names from that period are well known such as John Hancock.  By the way, he always signed his name in large script.  After that, we went to the Old Exchange House and Provost Dungeon.  The tour there takes you into the basement area that served as a British prison during the Revolutionary War. The main floors have interesting exhibits about the historical events that took place in the building. 
Thursday we left on Charleston, destination Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  We decided to go there because the weather is better than inland.  But it is colder than usual still.  I’ll talk about Myrtle Beach next week.  Have a good week, y’all.
Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing cargo ship

Aiken-Rhett house slave quarters & livery

Aiken-Rhett House

Karpeles Manuscript Library

Old Provost dungeon

Old Exchange & Provost

Old Exchange interior