We VOTED today

10.31.2018 Today we voted. Operation anniversary

This is such an important day. Every two or four years every citizen has the right to make themselves heard by exercising his/her right to vote. This year is especially important. Many are adamant that some tweaking is needed at all levels of government. If the changes don’t take place the way I’ve voted I can at least say I made the effort to alter the course of local politicians, the House as well as  the Senate.
This voting by mail is so simple and intelligent. Our ballots are mailed to us in a timely manner, we have more than ample time to complete the form and, most importantly, we have the option to Google, for a clearer interpretation of the amendments. Even, should the day come that we decide to stay planted, we will continue to vote by mail.

10.31-Anniversary of my cancer operation

Twelve months ago I underwent a duodenal Whipple operation. It’s been a long twelve months as I continue to get back to normal. After twelve months I don’t feel I’ll get back to “normal,” but rather I should concentrate more on accepting the way things are, my new normal. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that things have gone as well as they have. The alternative was not an option.  It’s just that there are days in which I don’t feel the doctors did not quite put me back together after seven hours on the table; but it is what it is.

Rose Bay RVP in Port Orange, FL

10.30-Arrive at Rose Bay in Port Orange,FL
We spent last night at the Walmart in Kingsland, GA. It was much quieter than we were anticipating. Temps dropped to the low fifties and, inside the coach, the temperature was at 64 at 3am this morning. I wasn’t to concerned since I was sleeping soundly, except for Scoots climbing on me on the bed looking for shelter under the bed cover from the cold. I decided to just turn on the electric heat, oops! Forgot we were boondocking; therefore no electricity. Normally I would just turn on the generator, but we’re sharing this parking lot with eight other RVs all in close proximity. Generators are noisy. My neighbor in back of us made his feelings felt when he came to the coach last night to ask us when we were planning to turn it off.

This was one of the two signs that we’ve been looking for. We’ll spend a little time in Georgia but the sign we are really looking for is Florida.

I was a little taken back by the question, since a Walmart parking lot has no rules, you get what you pay for, and your not paying anything, you have to accept the conditions as they present themselves. We went without the generator; just snuggled up a bit more. We arrived in Port Orange after travelling 136 miles right around 1pm. We got a nice site with good Wi-Fi and Satellite. We are having a small problem with the electricity but that should resolve itself. We’ve called Carla’s sister a couple of times and we’re waiting for her to call back. Tomorrow morning it’s blood work, Walmart (fix light) and it’s time for us to get haircuts. To the left is a schematic on this campground. We will be here for two weeks and it’s a Thousand Trails “Trails” facility. Basically it’s a freebie.

Awesome highway/bridge infrastructure in Jacksonville, FL.
The “Bow Tie Bridge.” We cross this bridge and we’re welcomed by the St. John’s River Bay.

St. Anthony’s CC Ridgeland, SC

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Saturday means, of purse, Church, Pizza and Beer. St. Anthony’s is in Ridgeland, SC about a 20 minute ride from here. I really hate traveling on Saturdays, since it’s Mass night and we’re not always that organized coming into a new location, finding a church and getting there, but we’ve been there before.

This is a picture of the inside of the church. Evidently I never took a picture of the outside, hope to fix that tonight. Off to church we go…

The Oaks in Yemassee (pictorial)

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10.27 Saturday-Travel to The Oaks in Yemassee, SC
We woke up a little earlier than usual this morning and for that reason we were able to get on the road by 8:30. The trip would be longer than usual around 260 miles. Surprisingly we got to The Oaks a little after 1pm and we’re all settled in in 1:30. We are here for only 2 nights and will leave Monday morning for Florida. Excellent travel day temps around 55 with bright blue skies. This is a Thousand Trails property which means it’s another freebie.
I don’t think in two days I’ll get around to take another bunch of pictures on this campground but I’ll give you a link to visit the blog I did on this place on Oct.  2015, almost exactly three years ago to the week.
goto: The Oaks TT RV Park

Chattooga Distillery

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10.24 Wednesday-
This trip will ultimately bring us to three separate venues.
We were just casually driving on our way to the next waterfall when this sign jumped out at us. I mean, could you just drive by without checking out some “Moonshine?” The first of the three venues was this typical general store. It sold everything from grass seed to liquors.

We were there only a few minutes when the storekeeper told us of their other location was bigger and had a better selection; so off we went.

Just up the road from the country store was this very symbolic western town. It wasn’t just a façade, all the storefronts were occupied. Some of the units had, sheriff, barber shop, ammunition and a restaurant/B&B. Below, I’m not sure. A little to small for a “tiny home!”  I’ll let you contemplate other options.
The views from this part of the world are awesome! We’re up high enough so we can see for miles. Below is the second venue.

This property is years of creative building and plantings. Above is a silo with an herb garden in the forefront. Rows and rows of grape vines, not to mention other plantings.  This is the area in the back of this building. Mostly used for large group meetings and weddings.

The storekeeper back in the original location was right. Much more stuff to look over and purchase. Jams and liquors are very noticeable. Yes, we did not leave empty handed.

Below is another gathering area, smaller than the outside area. The fireplace was awesome.

The views are as awesome as the plantings around the property.

Our third and last venue in this area was just up the road, where else, was a distillery. Ben was the barkeep. The storekeeper gave us his name.  I have a feeling this is one very bi family operation, I might be wrong, but I feels like it. More vineyards below.

Last time we saw Llamas was n a farm in Maggie Valley. What is it about Llamas?

Our last look of mama Llama. It’s time to leave. Off to our final destination which would be “just down the road.” For more information on this venue: goto: Chattooga Belle Farm

Ann Cunningham-lunch

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Applebee’s in Seneca, SC. We had a delightful lunch with Ann Cunningham this afternoon. We met Ann a few months ago and promised to touch base with her on our travels back to Florida. She’s not a full-timer yet, best reason for that would be the beautiful home she has here in South Carolina. As nice as it is though, I’m still set on the lifestyle we’re enjoying.

This is Ann’s home. It’s no wonder she is not a full-timer RVer.

The mariner which only charges $700, not a month, but yearly for dockage; awesome!

Just outside of her development  is a neighbor.

She lives on a twenty plus mile, not acre, lake…

Issaqueena Falls, Walhalla SC

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10.24- Wednesday-

The road to this location was very relaxing and would be awesome if we were more timely with the foliage.

The couple in this RV were from Lake Placid, FL. Lake Placid is known as the Mural City. They were not full-timers but did spend a good part of the year traveling. I did a blog on Lake Placid about three years ago.
The Legend] of Issaqueena
Many versions of the story of Issaqueena exist. One such tale tells us Issaqueena was a Cherokee girl who fell in love with an Oconee Brave, while another regales the story of a young girl named Issaqueena who was captured by the Cherokee and given the name Cateechee.

“Cateechee” then met and fell in love with a white trader named Allan Francis. Yet another variant has Issaqueena falling in love with a white silversmith named David Francis.

This is a covered bridge that spans the stream leading to the falls. This is a very small narrow stream. How it manages to transform itself to such a beautiful waterfall baffles me. Early on we begin seeing the beginnings of the falls not to mention the beautiful sounds of water falling freely

As you walk through the covered bridge to the other side you come to an observation area looking down to the stream and looking out over the hills.

Regardless of who Issaqueena fell in love with, the numerous adaptations all end roughly the same way.
Issaqueena overhears her tribesmen planning a surprise attack and sets out ahead of the braves to warn her lover — naming the local landmarks of Mile Creek, Six Mile, Twelve Mile, Eighteen Mile, Three and Twenty, Six and Twenty, and finally Ninety Six along the way. The towns of Six Mile, Ninety Six and the creeks still exist.

She then marries Allan/David/Oconee brave and starts a family. The family then builds (depending on the story) either a “stumphouse” home or a home on Stumphouse Mountain, just north of what is now Walhalla. Her tribesmen, still seeking revenge for their spoiled attack plan, finally track down Issaqueena and chase her through the woods. She eludes her pursuers by leaping off a nearby waterfall.

The tribesmen, believing her to be dead, call off their chase and Issaqueena, who had actually landed on a ledge and hid out of sight behind the great wall of water, was able to return safely to her family and live happily ever after.

The rendition with the Oconee brave has them both throwing themselves over the falls rather then die at the hands of the Cherokee while the narrative with David Francis has the happy couple ending up in Alabama.
The Legend of Issaqueena is a prime example of local lore shaping an area but historians frequently disagree about how much (if any) truth is surrounding the story.

The trail to the falls is steep at times but not dangerous to most visitors. I, on the other hand have recently become a klutz at walking, and am slightly more cautious than most.

The downhill path Harkins the thoughts of having to walk this same path, next time, going all the way uphill.

For one, according to local author and Cherokee language historian John Currahee, the name “Issaqueena” is actually the transplanted Choctaw word “isi-okhina” meaning “deer creek.”

“(The legend) may have some vague factual basis but the Indian maiden’s name was not given until 1895 when she was called ‘Cateechee’ in an essay,” stated Currahee. “It was not until 1898 that Cateechee became Issaqueena in a poem, the duality explained by saying that Issaqueena was a Choctaw captured by the Cherokee and given the name Cateechee among the Cherokee.

“Both the poet and the essayist owned up to inventing the two names out of thin air, although the poet seemed to know that Issaqueena did come from the Choctaw language,” Currahee said.
The poem Currahee was referring to is the epic “Cateechee of Keowee” penned by J.W. Daniels in 1898.
No matter which — if any — version of the legend a person chooses to believe, the 100-foot waterfall itself is truly a fantastic sight for all and should not be missed.
Story credit – Easley Progress online

What it looks like from the top of the falls

Brasstown Falls, Long Creek

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10.24 Wednesday-

This area is peppered with large estates, homes and so many log homes. The road to the falls is just a tad bit wider than our HHR car.

The roadway finally does come to a parking lot, or at least a parking area. We were told to take the easier path to the left, however, I see only on path. About two-hundred feet along the path we were given a right and left choice, we went left, of course

We begin our trek down this narrow path. In the distance we can hear the falls, or at least we think that’s them.

A beautiful stream is to our left and if you look carefully you’ll see Carla in the picture above, in the distance. I’m trying to keep up.

The path here is cleared of debris, but it is loaded with tree roots. Finally the falls come into view.

The falls are in full view, but to get better views we do have a slightly treacherous path.

We hang out for a short time and take a few pictures then decide to go back to the car. On our walk here was mostly downhill but the way back we must go up.

Along the way are cleared area for campers. Not the type of camping we’re into. The path is still going up but we’re sure we’re getting closer to the parking area. Below our trek comes to a close

Stumphouse Tunnel, (pic)

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10.24 Wednesday-

No lights in here but plenty of water. We did walk in quite a bit, but I hoping for more.

Looking out from the tunnel.

I uses they had rail service. This is a pretty steep mountain to get up here.

Carla is looking up because we hear voices; just a family doing a hike.

Carolina Landing (pictorial)

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This is a schematic on the Carolina Landing RVP.
Trip to Fair Play, SC










Fr. Murphy-built St. Margaret’s

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10.20.2018 Fr. Michael Murphy, builder of St Margaret of Scotland Church
This will be a very shot blog on the history of Fr. Michael Murphy. Michael Murphy, prior to becoming a priest, was a businessman. He came to North Carolina in 1950. He was also a wealthy man. In the years that followed he financed and built several churches in the towns surrounding Maggie Valley; he was known as the “Apostle of the Smokies.” Long story short in time he bought 33 acres of land in Maggie Valley. On these 33 acres he built a 25-unit motel. Shortly thereafter the Bishop gave him permission to build another church. In 1969 the new St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church was dedicated.
The name was chosen in honor of his mother Margaret Murphy. The name, which was a second choice, was chosen because “She always fed the poor and he always fed the poor.” The facility was built to accommodate 200 parishioners at one service. The parish, at that time, was hardly big enough to fill the church, even if it wanted to. In reply to the size of the church he commented, “I did not build the church because of the demand, I built it for the future- strong so it will last for ages. Someday, it will be full every Sunday.” The Bishop there at that time often urged Michael Murphy to become a priest.
After some thought Murphy enrolled and studied at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and was ordained on May 11, 1972. Now, Fr. Murphy, was age 80 when he was ordained. News of his ordination sped around the world. Fr. Murphy, believe it or not, continued to operate his Falling Waters Motel. In 1981, with help from the Bishop, it was converted to the Living Waters Catholic Reflection Center. Even to this day it continues to be a popular retreat spot.  Within a year after his ordination he was assigned to be Pastor of the St. Margaret of Scotland Church, which he had constructed.
Fr. Murphy presided over this parish until his death. He was 99 years old. The parish hall he had built on the land he donated to the Church, was named Murphy-Garland Parish Hall. St. Margaret’s has a strong push to try to have Fr. Murphy Canonized. In the “book for the sick and departed” a message reads that “should your request be fulfilled, please call the parish office.
The Internet has much more on this awesome person, I have only provided some of the highlights on his life.

Upon entering a new church I always look for the “book for the sick and departed.” A parishioner pointed it out to me. She also quietly mentioned that it is a miracle book. Not having the time to inquire why, I just took her word on it. There it was smack dab at the foot of the Alter area, in the front of the church. The church is now half full and praying the Rosary. I hate standing out in a crowd, but did it anyway. So many are ill and so many are no longer with us. After five-years of doing this I have it down to almost a science; basically immediately members of the Ozdarski/ Grenier families and then family members needing special mention; even get a chance to add a couple of non-family individuals as well at times. The purpose for this in so many churches is both altruistic and self-serving. So many are forgotten with a few weeks of their passing. Purgatory is probably over crowded with “forgotten souls.” Should either Carla or I go, I know we’ll have each others backs after the fact. My self-serving interest is that should I survive Carla, I dread the thought of being one of those forgotten souls. I have no doubt I’d be forgotten shortly by any remaining family members. For this reason it’s a matter of self preservation after death. Even though many of the us listed in these dozens of churches have not departed yet, I feel we could all use a prayer or two from time to time.

I have provided a link to this fine person, it’s a quick read and much more organized than what I have written. goto: history of Fr. Murphy

Maggie Valley, town of

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 10.18.18- I write this blog on Maggie Valley with mixed feelings. Those who know me know that I have always had a very strong affection for Littleton, NH. Long story short, it will always be tops on my list. Next would, most likely be the New London, CT area. Not that we had lived in NL, but not that far away. Carla and I spent many weekends at Crocker’s Boatyard on our boat. Thirdly I had placed Maggie Valley in that spot.  It too has many memories, especially of our weekends spent in our cabin up there. We’ve been back tor or three times over the last five years,

but this time I’ve been having mixed feelings on this beautiful piece of America. As you can see from the pictures the valley is surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains.

Back in the day of Cobbler’s Cabin we would drive nearly nine hours from Florida before we encountered this road sign. The only other welcome sight would be the cabin itself.  Always liked this shot of Cobbler’s Cabin.

Oh ! Above is Abby enjoying her first taste of snow.

Back to my mixed feelings. As you’ll see in some of the pictures to follow, Maggie Valley does not have an actual downtown, never realized that before. Waynesville, on the other hand has a very definitive downtown, but like MV is inundated with strip shopping centers. Not sure if I could keep myself busy if we were full-time residents of MV; especially in the winter months. Almost think I would have to be involved in a local business to make the time go by. Definitely not working for someone else, I don’t do well with that. Many log cabins like you see above dot the mountain sides. Best to see them in the evening with the glow of their lights and the sight of smoke coming from so many fireplaces.
Ingle’s above is to MV and NC as Publix is to Florida and Stop and Shop is to Mass. The store, inside, is so beautiful, almost makes it a destination. We still have difficulty in passing up an ice cream shop.  We’ve been in here before but never realized they serve “Blue Bell” ice cream and it was so good. Not only that, a steal at two sugar cones for $3.49.

Yesterday we ventured away from the coach, got our ice cream then decided to try to find a cabin we almost bought before Cobbler’s. It was a very narrow road which was, as with most mountain roadways, very steep.  I was just telling Carla, hope no one is coming down the mountain. Within ten seconds pops up a van. We slid over to the side  as far as we could and he likewise was way over on the right side. We passed by each other with inches to spare. This is not atypical. A four-wheel drive vehicle, for us, would have been more beneficial. As you might have suspected we sadly could not locate that log home.  On our way back down the mountain we came across a Llama farm; never thought I’d see that in MV. At the bottom of the mountain was a Christmas Tree Farm. Thousands of trees. Christmas trees are a big business in MV and NC in general.  

Abby’s Art Creations

10.18.18-This is Abby Pfister. NO! She’s not family, but there’s rarely a day that goes by I’m not concerned about her well being. Not a daughter but definitely a surrogate daughter. As I’ve mentioned in the past she’s been part of our lives since 20o5. Since graduating from HS she’s been working hard at developing her talent as an artist. Her artistic talent has grown exponentially over the last ten-years. I have provided a link to her art work and gallery.

goto: Abby Pfister, Art Gallery

Below are just a small portion of some of her works. If there’s something here you like or something you’d like to have her create for you should be able to contact her at:

contact Abby





Trip to Maggie Valley,NC (pic)

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10.15- Trip to Maggie Valley:

What the pictures above and below do not show are the overcast skies we left at Forest Lake in Advance, NC.

Carla loves flowers, especially wild flowers. Virginia devotes a great deal of highway to natural coverage.

We’ve been in North Carolina for a short time but the road and landscape had not changed much. Seeing the sign for the Blue Ridge Parkway was very reassuring.

In the picture above look at the car in the distance. This dude got pulled by five state trooper cars. Being caught by one state trooper is bad, five is indescribable.

The mountains in the far distance begin appearing on every corner we take. Below is the sign we’ve really been looking for. We find ourselves reminiscing on a couple of trips we took we Abby back in days gone by, when we had the log home.

Pride RVP, Maggie Valley (pic)

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10.15.18- Pride RVP is a privately owned park, not a Thousand Trails Property. For that reason we must pay to stay. Visiting Maggie Valley was very restful but in the future I’m going to recommend staying no more than 3 days, just to expensive.




St. Francis of Assisi Mocksville,NC

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10.12.18- Saint Francis of Assisi in Mocksville, NC

Today we’re planning a trip into Advance, NC to go to a Wells Fargo Bank, then it’s Mass, pizza ands bear get the weekend going. The Church is St. Francis of Assisi.

Total capacity might be barely 200. Around here we don’t talk about cities, more like towns or villages. Regardless the Pastor gave an excellent homily and the parishioners are very friendly.

12.13.18 Saturday-Fr. Eric Kowalski

10.14.18- Sunday.
At Mass yesterday, I was fortunate to speak to Fr. Eric Kowalski. I mentioned to him how, last week, he spoke of how fortunate this parish is for having, not one relic, but two. I knew every church had the one relic, but why two.  St. Francis, as some might know, was cremated. The Roman Catholic Church has his ashes. The Bishop, I believe, offered to give this parish a second relic, that is, ashes of St. Francis. In the picture, to the left, is a statue of St. Francis. To his right and above is a small wall stand. It is on this stand that his ashes are displayed. The first relic is embedded into the alter. The parish history in a nutshell. Way back in 1958 the parish was established. It had a total of three families enrolled as parishioners. Long story short by the year 2000, under very frugal leadership, the parish was able to free itself of all its mortgages on the buildings and the associated lands. In 2010 the parish had over 300 families. In 2017 Fr. Eric joined the parish as the parish’s new pastor. He came from a very big parish and relishes his new life shepherding the parishioners in his new home. In the picture above is Fr. Eric Kowalski.

Hurricane Michael

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10.12-Friday-Hurricane Michael is gone.
Yesterday, as the storm was in our area, we took a ride to Mocksville, NC.

Over the course of the trip we counted over a dozen huge trees that were taken down through the might of this storm, even though the storm here was just a lot of water and some, not that strong, winds. Half the trees had fallen in the roadway blocking one full lane or more, everyone proceeded cautiously, warning on-coming traffic of the impediment. On our way home, about 1000 feet from the entrance to the campground another tree came down. We sat patiently, in the car for about an hour, waiting for the obstruction to be remedied.

Today we’re planning a trip into Advance, NC to go to a Wells Fargo Bank. Around here we don’t talk about cities, more like towns or villages. Sat. we attend Mass at Saint Francis of Assisi CC.

Our time here is quickly coming to a close. We have nothing worth mentioning planned the next couple of days. It’s jacks-up on Monday morning, and heading to Pride RV Campground in Maggie Valley. goto: Maggie Valley
I thought I had pictures of Maggie Valley, the town, but I don’t. Only have pictures of the campground. Hopefully we’ll fix that next week. This link should get you to my Maggie Valley blog back in October, 2015. It’s a beautiful place to visit even in a blog. By using your “page-back” key after visiting this blog of the past, this page-back key should bring you back to this Journal.

Childress Vineyards (Race-car)

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10.9 –

As I have done in the past the text presented in bold/italics
is courtesy of TripAdvisor.  All texts in “plain type”
would be my own comments.

By opening the doors to Childress Vineyards in 2004,

NASCAR team owner Richard Childress fulfilled a longtime dream that grew from the days when he first began racing in California and visited wineries with friends.

This is the Winery Store Room. They also have a couple of clubs you can join for, what thought, was quite reasonable; around $200 to $250. These clubs come with many benefits, especially if you’re into wines.
What began as camaraderie and good times soon became an engaging passion for world-class wines and then the vision to build a world-class winery.

The Banquet Room used for weddings mostly.
After looking at options in California and New York, Richard chose farmland in Lexington, NC located less than five miles from his RCR Racing operations.

This is the Bristol Room. I was pleasantly surprised at the menu prices. I imagined them to be much more expensive than they were.
The location situated Childress Vineyards as the gateway to the Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), North Carolina’s first federally designated region for grape growing.

Walkway at the beginning of our Winery Tour. The gazebo below may be used or rented for special occasions.

  Childress Vineyards is one of the most prominent wineries in the state’s re-emerging wine industry that has grown from 21 to more than 100 wineries since the year 2000.

This is another Bristol venue for big events. As our tour guide said, everyplace in the winery may be rented except for Richard Childress’ office.  Below is the first step  in the processing of wines; the removal of stems and exterior skin coating.

The building we were in originally was over 35,000 square feet in size. We are now in the basement of that building. Wine is store in these aluminum vats for as long as six weeks. Temperatures down here are really chilly. This enhances the fermentation process. Below the holding tanks are being cleaned out and eventually sterilized prior to new wines enter them.

The aluminum containers store most of the wines they produce. The better and more expensive wines are stores in the wooden kegs. Each of these wooden kegs cost about one-thousand dollars each and may be used only once.

Above is Mark. He runs and controls almost every process in the wine making business at Childress.

This room is for their top of the line wines. Each of these kegs is being exposed to the ground which, once again, enhances the wine fermentation process. Below is the Childress Library of specialty wines. This room is always locked and very few enter as well.

One acre of vineyards can produce four-thousand bottles of wine.

For more information on Childress Vineyards
click on the following link:Childress Vineyards

Forrest Lake RVP (pict.)

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10.7 Sunday -Relaxing at Forrest Lake with a cook-out.
Could not imagine the steaks would come out so good. We took our time and let them sear for quite a while. After about thirty-minutes time was up and it was time to serve up the potatoes and carrots.

As you can tell this is a very big campground and for the next five days it is 100% sold out. It’s amazing we got such a great site. more to come.

Camp lake and mini golf park.

This is the adult lounge.

This is Hairston Hall. It’s a small venue for church services and meetings.

This hall is the Forest Lake Store and Grill. Also serves as a youngsters lounge with gaming machine, pool (also pool table in the adult lounge) and even an air hockey table.

Friends of ours, Adventure detour ahead, are full-times and just moved up to a Solitude fifth-wheel.

At this point our quest is for a historical site. This would be a quarter-mile walk in an mosquito infested forest area. This is the first time in five years that we’ve had to deal with mosquitos.

It took a while to find this historic site. It’s actually an original structure. A tobacco barn. After walking almost forty-five minutes we noticed the tobacco barn was just a minute walk from our coach, going in another direction.

Finally, we’re home again. Now it’s time to download the pictures and finish off the RVP blog.

Trip to Advance, NC-Forest Lake

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10.6 Tripping to Advance, NC

Above is just a very small sampling of the incredible beautiful farmlands we view every time we get up and drive off to another location. Not sure how early in the morning these folks get up to prepare for these yard sales. No lack for patrons, every yard sale has a good amount of shoppers.

When we drove by this sign, I told Carla, would anyone rent a Porta Potty thanks to this sign? Within five minutes this truck drove by us, go figure!

As we made our way south I needed a break and we pulled into the Caswell County Rest Area. This place is so pretty it’s almost a destination. Below are two chairs; we call “Coke” chairs. We had a cocktail table with tow tall chairs at our log cabin, a $600 expense, but guaranteed to last a lifetime. They have been constructed from recycled Coke bottles.

 We spent about twenty enjoying this venue. Chairs, tables and benches are generously located all over this property. The inside of this building was as nice as any beautiful home could be. Below- This is a very big, clean and sold out park. Many of the  campground roads are paved, Awesome!

The trip to Forest Lake Preserve took about three-hours but three very pleasant hours. We got here safely and not that tired.

Appomattox Nat’l Park (pictorial)

10.2-Tuesday- Appomattox National Historic Park
Today looks to be another beautiful day with temps reach no higher than 77 degrees. Our destination is Appomattox Court House (2-words) and Museum. To explain the 2-word item. “Courthouse” refers to just that a court house while a “Court House” makes reference to the county seat; FYI!
This is the actual looks of the McLean House. It was in this house and location that the signing of the surrender of General Lee took place with General Grant.

There’s so much to this venue this is just an intro to our visit there. I should have a blog or possibly a pictorial on this venue in the next day or so. I’m fairly certain that the plaques below will reintroduce you to this part of our history.

In April in 1865 as many as 65,000 troops were encamped on these grounds.
Below just a little history on this part of our history. It would have been to much of an ordeal for me to try to summarize what the National Park Service has already articulated in the text to follow. The NPS text is in bold / italicized print. If the print you see is not BOLD and not italicized then those words are mine commenting on the pictures either above or below my text.
General Robert E . Lee realized that the retreat of his beleaguered army had finally been halted, U. S. Grant was riding toward Appomattox Court House where Union Cavalry, followed by infantry from the V, XXIV, and XXV Corps had blocked the Confederate path.

The field just about a half mile from the McLean House when up to 65,000 troops were encamped both on this side of the road and the other.
Lee had sent a letter to Grant requesting a meeting to discuss his army’s surrender and this letter overtook Grant and his party just before noon about four miles west of Walker’s Church (present-day Hixburg).
Over to the right in this field is a path that we’re directed to  experience.

Grant, who had been suffering from a severe headache, later remembered that upon reading Lee’s letter the pain in his head had disappeared. He stopped to prepare his reply to Lee, writing that he would push to the front to meet him.
A monument dedicated to the Confederate soldiers, mostly North Carolina, in the battle in this area.
The location of the meeting was left to Lee’s discretion. After reading Grant’s letter, Lee, his Aide-de-Camp Lt. Colonel Charles Marshall, and Private Joshua O. Johns rode toward Appomattox Court House Marshall and Johns rode ahead of Lee in order to find a place for the generals to confer.

In those times, around 1865, those who died in battle were generally buried where they had died. In the 1960’s the government decided to have a special cemetery plot for those that died. As you can tell they could only find the remains of a little more than a dozen men. All but one were Confederate soldiers. You’ll notice the first monument which bears the Union Flag was a Union soldier.
As Marshall passed through the village he saw Wilmer McLean in the vicinity of the courthouse. He asked McLean if he knew of a suitable location. Then McLean offered his own home.

Above. The picture on the left is the McLean house in 1865, the one on the right is the current version of that house with 150 years of improvements.
After seeing the comfortable country abode, Marshall readily accepted and sent Private Johns back to inform General Lee that a meeting site had been found.

At first I thought this was an early picture of the Surrender Event, then I realized that “colored pictures” would be way into the future. But, none the less, as you enter the McLean home to the left is this room. It contains many of the original furniture but the signing desks are reproductions. The real stuff is in a national museum.
Lee arrived at the McLean house about one o’clock and took a seat in the parlor. A half hour later, the sound of horses on the stage road signaled the approach of General Grant. Entering the house, Grant greeted Lee in the center of the room.

The day after the Surrender signing it was decided that the Confederate soldiers should have parole papers for his men to carry with them so as not to be assumed to be deserters. So the immediately got three presses, 2 are shown, and began drawing up over 35,000 forms for the confederate men.
The generals presented a contrasting appearance; Lee in a new uniform and Grant in his mud-spattered field uniform. Grant, who remembered meeting Lee once during the Mexican War, asked the Confederate general if he recalled their meeting.

A Parole Pass for C F Watson. This picture is the best I could do, remember this pass is over 150 years old.
Lee replied that he did, and the two conversed in a very cordial manner, for approximately 25 minutes. The subject had not yet gotten around to surrender until finally, Lee, feeling the anguish of defeat, brought Grant’s attention to it. Grant, who later confessed to being embarrassed at having to ask for the surrender from Lee, said simply that the terms would be just as he had outlined them in a previous letter.

The surrender meeting happened in April but prior to that Grant and President Lincoln had a meeting. In that meeting had asked General Grant to be considerate to General Lee. They both knew that the Lee surrender was going to happen the question was how much longer. The Confederates were basically starved into surrendering. It was Lincoln’s attitude that the surrender terms would go along way in re-unifying the country. Lee had only two personal choices; win or disperse his army. A result of dispersing all his troops would reek havoc on the locals. He wanted a good outcome that his men could accept willingly.  The only choice was to contemplate surrender.
The terms would parole officers and enlisted men but required that all Confederate military equipment be relinquished. The discussion between the generals then drifted into the prospects for peace, but Lee, once again taking the lead, asked Grant to put his terms in writing.
Some of the other room in this historic home. Most of all the furniture is authentic to the house.

This is a personal likeable picture. The unit is so small that unless you were looking for it you might not see it. It’s a scaled down wood cutting table with saw for the nearby fireplace” FYI!

Below is the formal eating area with the best of the family dishware. Above is reality. This is where the family, most likely, ate most of their meals. This is a “Neo-Clasical” home, meaning that as you climbed all those stairs in the front of the house you actually walked in onto the second floor of the home. The dining table above would be found on the bottom level.

Once again above is the informal eating area. Below is the kitchen. In that time-period it would be normal to find the kitchen area located to the side of the home. The reason for this would be in case of fire.

When Grant finished, he handed the terms to his former adversary, and Lee — first donning spectacles used for reading– quietly looked them over.
This picture, to the left, only merits a small entry since the NPS person was just there to be helpful so Carla needed some help on the local bugs. As his dissertation went on he got into kitchens. Having been exposed to this information years ago with our Gettysburg trip on how and why kitchens were not usually part of the living portions of a typical home, he began talking about fires. He mentioned the majority of fire related burnings began in the kitchen. He then went further on to say; the majority of deaths for women were related to fire. The heavy clothing with multiple layers made it very difficult for a woman on fire to disrobe and shed her clothing in order to save herself, sad!
When he finished reading, the bespectacled Lee looked up at Grant and remarked “This will have a very happy effect on my army.” Lee asked if the terms allowed his men to keep their horses, for in the Confederate army men owned their mounts. Lee explained that his men would need these animals to farm once they returned to civilian life.
Once again, I asked the NPS gentleman, about the little teepee structure to the left of the main home. (For what it’s worth, I already knew the answer.) I knew he would tell us that this structure was used to preserve foods keeping them cool by letting a stream of water flow through the structure. He was nice very forth coming with his answer. It was an “ice house.” That’s not what I had expected and I told him. He confirmed my understanding but enlightened me by explaining that Virginia has very few underground streams do to all the rock, slate and marble in the ground, therefore no stream cooling. Inside the ice house a hole would be dug, possibly as deep as 20 to 24 feet deep. During the winter season chunks of ice would be cut up and carried to the ice house. Once filled with enough ice to last the hot summer months the ice would be covered with hay to shield the ice from the summer heat.
Grant responded that he would not change the terms as written (which had no provisions allowing private soldiers to keep their mounts) but would order his officers to allow any Confederate claiming a horse or a mule to keep it. General Lee agreed that this concession would go a long way toward promoting healing. Grant’s generosity extended further.

The partially grassy area in the center of the picture is the original Lynchburg to Richmond Road. Why is this worth mentioning? In order to get to either destination you had to go through Appomattox. For years this brought a great deal of commerce and settlers to Appomattox, until! The railroad. Prior to the railroad taverns, eateries and rooms to board were all doing a very nice business. ( Just think of it, in 1865 sixty-five thousand Union troops walked down this road to Appomattox.)
The towns folks fought bitterly to have the train station located in this general area, but the powers to be had their own opinion. The RR Station would be three miles from this location. Three miles may not seem that much since we can drive there in about five minutes but back then people had to walk. Mot everyone on the train would, from that time on, stay on the train until their destination, and the town had to remake itself. The picture below is the current Lynchburg to Richmond Road. Needless to say both Lynchburg and Richmond grew exponentially thanks to the railroad.
When Lee mentioned that his men had been without rations for several days, the Union commander arranged for 25, 000 rations to be sent to the hungry Confederates.
In addition to feeding the Confederate Soldiers, this day since they were hungry, this parole pass would permit them to eat at no charge at any and all government installations these soldiers came across as they made their way back home.
After formal copies of the surrender terms, and Lee’s acceptance, had been drafted and exchanged, the meeting ended.
Before he met with General Grant, one of Lee’s officers (General E. Porter Alexander) had suggested fighting a guerilla war, but Lee had rejected the idea. It would only cause more pain and suffering for a cause that was lost. The character of both Lee and Grant was of such a high order that the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia has been called “The Gentlemen’s Agreement.”
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Lincoln a couple of years ago and the South was not accepting it. This surrender hopefully would unify the North and South and hopefully allow the Emancipation Proclamation to be further enacted. Lincoln would not live to see this happen. Only two days after the signing President Lincoln would be assassinated.
Courtesy of the National Park service

The McLean home.                                                   This was the local jail.

 Another picture of the County Courthouse with its Knee and hip killing steps.
This would be the General Store, and then some. It’s a regular Ace Hardware Place. 
Yes, this is also the post office as well as a Pharmacy. The little yellow shed to the right is an attorney’s office.

All kinds of stuff from dishes to fireplace needs, even some farming supplies.

Once again, the Lynchburg/Richmond road right through the center of Appomattox. The gentleman above is a retired doctor with a great deal of time on his hands. We sat and tolerated him for twenty minutes and he was still asking folks who they were and where they came from. If I wasn’t certain that the Kentucky Fried Chicken Colonel had died, I’d be certain this was he.

This volunteer was really good. Got right to the facts. He saw that most of us were seniors and we did not have time to spare. He went into just enough detail, but not overly so, to paint an awesome picture about the logistics of the Union forces and of course the confederates as well as the impact the railroad had on the town. He was a pleasure to listen to.