Friday, March 30, 2007
Yesterday, we visited the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park which preserves a good portion of the areas where the battle for Chattanooga took place in 1863. These were crucial and viciously fought battles that ultimately saw the Union Forces prevail. The battles at Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge were among those with the heaviest losses of combatants of the war for the number of those engaged. At the first engagement at Chickamauga, one Union Brigade lost more than 50 percent of its troop in two days of battle. One Confederate company was wiped out as it tried to assault a Union position equipped with muskets. It was its misfortune that the opposing Union troops happened to be one of the few equipped with the new repeating rifles that could fire seven times more rounds in the same time period compared to the musket. They refer to this as the fortunes of war.
In the end, temerity of the Confederate Commander and the vastly superior numbers of the Union forces finally defeated the Confederate forces at Missionary Ridge. This victory of the Union forces would soon allow the capture of Atlanta and control over much of the south by one of the Union Commanders at Chattanooga, General Sherman. He would become infamous in the South for his scorched earth policy. It would also be the beginning of the end for the Confederate Army led by General Lee.
Both sides suffered devastating losses in the battles fought around Chattanooga. After the war, veterans groups from both sides began erecting monuments. In all, over 1400 monuments are located on the battlegrounds. The U S Congress recognized the importance of preserving these sites and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park became the first of a number of such parks dedicated to the battles of the Civil War.
Even after 150 years, it is still possible to feel the immensity of these struggles and wonder at the commitment of the average soldier who fought and died for what they believed in.
As part of immersion in this trip, I have been reading a book entitled: The Personal Reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee. It is very interesting to read what General Lee and his senior commanders were thinking, as we visited the sites of the battles and have the advantage of historical knowledge of the outcome that they could not know.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Next stop on our journey was Decatur, Al, where Anneke’s Aunt and Uncle reside. Another of the advantages to travel in an RV is the ability to spend some extended time with family without putting a strain on those visited. We camped in a metro park with very good facilities and also only minutes away from family. This park also had a bike trail along the river, which provided good exercise and a chance to see some local wildlife.
We enjoyed a very pleasant reunion, with great meals and a chance to catch up on what is going on. This visit also afforded us the chance to spend some time with Anneke’s cousin and her family as well.
I also took the opportunity to help with a few chores like splitting some fire wood. It was my first time using a log splitter and I am glad to say that I still have all of my fingers. The power of that machine was very impressive. We also visited an RV store to search for a part for their camper. Anneke’s Aunt and Uncle are also a bit of inspiration for us, as they spent six years on he road in an RV seeing their adopted country and loved every minute of the adventure.
We concluded our visit with a BBQ dinner at the motorhome with the obligatory campfire, despite the fact that the temperature was in the mid 80’s. A good time was had by all.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Saturday we decided it was time to hit the tourist trail again. We were planning on visiting Mud Island and revisit a place we went with the kids 21 years ago. Then we found out it would not open to 15 April. With some reluctance, I agreed to go to Graceland-Home of Elvis Presley. While I enjoy some of his songs, I am not what you could call an entertainer groupie. Overlooking the steady attempts to separate you from your money by the many gift shops at every stop, the carefully orchestrated tour was well handled and kept everyone moving along. We viewed the home as it was during the seventies. All I can say is I am glad that styles have moved on.
The tour included a warm and fuzzy overview of his life and career, which included a lot of his movies, record accomplishments and display of his costumes, cars and many music awards. The entire tour took several hours to complete.
The huge attention he received during his lifetime, which ironically contributed to his early demise affected him after his death. He was initially buried in the local cemetery next to his mother. But due to security concerns caused by his overly eager fans, he and his mother had to be moved to Graceland grounds for reburial.
I would say if you have any interest in Elvis, the tour would be worth your time. In my case, once was certainly enough.
Friday, March 23, 2007
After leaving Buffalo, Texas we spent one night in the fairgrounds in Texarkana, AR. It was close to the road and had necessary hook-ups. A good place to stop one night but had little else to recommend it. It was largely filled with construction workers that were apparently working on a local bridge project. I guess it would be safe to say that they had little interest in maintaining their surroundings
Then we pressed on to West Memphis, AR just across the border from Memphis, TN. We read about a campground in another RV blog that recommended the Tom Sawyer campground with sites right on the Mississippi River. It is always interesting when entering a new area and campground with no personal previous knowledge. In this case, we lucked out, as this proved to be an excellently laid out campground with spacious and level sights. And as advertised, they were right on the river with great views. It is certainly in the top few campgrounds of our entire trip.
We have spent the day lounging around and watching the considerable marine traffic. Tomorrow we will head into Memphis and take in a view of the sights.
As the sun was setting we finally agreed to share a bottle of wine we purchased from a small winery in Arizona. This was a special bottle that was more than we normally would spend on a wine, but was suppose to be for Valentine’s day, and then my birthday, but my better half was concerned that it did not have enough rest after the road trips each time. So today, throwing all caution to the wind we shared the wine and celebrated our son in law’s birthday-Ryan –who is in Iraq and probably not able to have much of a birthday. Oh yes-It was very good!