Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy hour with Halley

One of the things we miss about not being full time on the road is the regular opportunity to meet fellow RV'ers and share a happy hour conversation.  Halley on the other hand seems to be quite happy with the idea of just the three of us partaking in this early evening ritual.

So it was this evening.  It was a gorgeous day with mild temperatures and a nice sunset in the making.  We set up on the back patio and enjoyed the pre-sunset quiet.

As soon as Halley realized there were to be no more treats, she retreated to the last of the sunset rays to be found in the backyard.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A historical detour

We said our goodbyes to our family and decided to head for home.  We made an overnight stop at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL.  It is very close to the interstate and makes for a convenient stop both for the Famcamp (campground)  and the base stores.  We were lucky enough to get a spot with some shade and a level pull through site. I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered the article about the lunar eclipse that was occurring overnight, so I decided to take a quick look.  Despite the dense fog in the area, the moon was visible and I managed to get a couple of shots through the fog.  I can understand how earlier civilizations were fearful of these events without the knowledge of what was really occurring.  Luckily, I just found it very interesting.

We also decided that we were going to take a bit of a detour on the way home to absorb some history.  First, we were going to take the National Historic Trail between Montgomery and Selma, AL.  In the sixties, the civil rights movement was growing across the country. In Selma, AL, there was unrest over depriving Black Americans their legal voting rights.  Dallas County, AL was the wealthiest county in the state.  Farming of land owned and controlled by wealthy whites made it very difficult for the African American lease holders to make a living.  These owners did not want their farm tenants to vote, as this would certainly reduce their profits and perhaps cause them to lose control of the political process.  In Lowndes County, AL in 1965, just eighty six white families owned ninety percent of the land in the county.

The stage was set for what was to become a key part of the Civil Rights movement in that decade. 18 Feb 1965, a small group declared that they were going to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the death of a peaceful demonstrator . They were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the river in Selma by the State Police, who proceeded to drive them back with tear gas and then chased them down on horseback into the streets of Selma where the police continued to beat participants. This came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

Bloody Sunday became a rallying call for those seeking justice.  Martin Luther King and others began a new campaign to gain the attention of Gov Wallace and the government in Montgomery.  This resulted in the march of thousands starting on 21 March, 1965 from Selma to Montgomery with protection from federal troops ordered in by President Johnson. The march to Montgomery took five days.

We drove the historic trail , otherwise known as AL route 80 between the two cities.  There is very little to see of historic interest along the route.  But located along the middle section of the route is the National Interpretive Center with artifacts and historical information about the march and the civil rights movement.  They also have a very informative short documentary film.  This center also notes that after the passage of the voting rights act, many of the tenant farmers were forced off the farms by the landowners and for some time were forced to live in what came to be known as tent cities.

Our tour of Selma itself was a bit of a bust.  The streets were very crowded and had limited parking.  The one place that was high on my list was the Old Live Oak Cemetery located on the west side of town.  Unfortunately,  there was no parking anywhere near the cemetery and we decided to move on.

One of the things that we have found over and over in our travels is that you can nearly always find something interesting that we have never even heard of before getting to an area.  One of the brochures we picked up was for Old Cahawba. Old Cahawba was the first state capitol of Alabama.  The site was approved by the territorial convention in Nov 1818, even though it was just wilderness and located along the banks of the Cahaba River where it met the Alabama River.  Once approved the town was laid out in grid formation with the lots selling out to the highest bidders quickly.  Most of the buildings including the state capitol, businesses and homes were completed quickly.  Almost immediately, there were groups demanding that the capitol be moved.  At times of flooding, there was often no access to the town from the outside.

It became the functioning capital in 1820, but was not popular with many of the state's residents due to its reputation for flooding and unhealthy "airs".  In 1825, there was a major flood with portions of the capital building collapsing along with damage to many other buildings.  In early 1826, the Capital was moved to Tuscaloosa. It remained a county seat until the end of the Civil War.  Later it was occupied by newly emancipated slaves. Soon after that is was suddenly and mysteriously abandoned.

Today the town is considered an archeology site, as nearly all above ground evident of the town is gone.  It is a bit eerie to drive the streets with map in hand to observe where many large buildings once stood and now just land and a few hints of what once existed. We walked some of the streets to get a feel for the town, but at one point we were walking along a small road to the oldest burial ground before there was a formal cemetery, when a worker stopped his truck to advise to keep a sharp eye for copper head snakes.  He said he had killed a large one very near where we were standing and that they were all over the place.  We continued walking for a bit, but since we were in shorts and sneakers and no walking stick, we went back to the motorhome and drove to the rest of the sites and always carried the walking stick as we hiked the various points of interest.

Remains of a river plantation along the Cahaba river:

The Capital area:

Brick church and schoolhouse:

 1852 face well head:

 Burial ground-this was located at the far east of the settlement and I could find no explanation about it.  Since some of the graves are dated after the establishment the "new"cemetery, I believe these may be the graves of slaves and former slaves who may not have been allowed to be buried in the cemetery.  This is a large area with graves sort of scattered around, so we only went a short ways along the trail due to the snake warning.
The "new" cemetery was opened in 1851 and has been vandalized over the years.

A wooden church had collapsed, but the wood and bricks were recovered along with pieces of stain glass from the windows. The church has been relocated and reconstructed near the entrance to the town.

Lastly, one building remains mostly intact.  It was originally slave quarters.  This property and the surrounding lands were purchased by a Confederate soldier named Samuel Kirkpatrick, who was a farmer by trade after the war.  He removed buildings from the other properties and returned it to farm land. They lived in the plantation house and the family owned the property until 1940.  In 1935 the main house was destroyed by fire.  The family added columns to the remaining former slave quarters and lived there until 1940.

The end

Monday, October 06, 2014

Georgia visit

As we were making plans to visit our grandson Aleister and family in GA, we received an e-mail from friends that they were camped at Doll Mountain ACOE campground and were in the site we recommended to them. So we adjusted our plans to spend a few days with them.  This campground is just a short drive from where our daughter's family lives.  Enroute to Doll Mountain, we stopped at Chewacla State Park, which is just off I85 near Auburn, AL.  We really enjoyed our last stay.  Unfortunately, when we awoke in the morning, we found lots of sugar ants climbing the wall next to the bed.  I found that they were everywhere.  When we left the park, I mentioned to the gate attendant that we were taking several thousand of their ants with us. He smiled and said they have had a real problem with them due to the dry weather.  It would have been nice if they would have told us that on the way in, so I could have taken defensive measures.  It took several days to rid ourselves of these freeloaders.

When we arrived at Doll Mountain campground we set up in the site next to our friends Tom and Sally for a three day visit.  We have known them since 2006 when we met them at our first Winnebago Club rally after buying our full time rig.  We spent so much time talking that for two nights in a row, we ended up eating in the dark, having lost track of time.  Since it was getting close to the GA apple festival, we wanted to visit one of the orchards before the huge crowds started arriving. It was a great visit and we have made tentative plans to meet up next year at a rally. 

Our visit with Aleister and family has been a lot of fun.  Aleister has spent all weekend in our motorhome, including a sleep over on Saturday night.  He also took his first ride in the motorhome when we made a quick trip to a local store. It has been easy for him to spend so much time in the RV since we are again parked in their driveway. Their dog "Blue" was seriously ill with heart worm when they adopted him from the Humane Society last year, which the Society knew about but misrepresented.  They decided to keep him anyways and after lots of treatment is now over the heartworm and enjoying life in the country.  We discovered that he likes apples and is very attentive when we are sharing one with him.

We all had some brisk exercise with a walk in Civil War historical park just a few minutes from home. 

The ranch across the street has added a couple of donkeys, I think to help control the  weeds in the pasture.  Aleister has become friendly with them.  By the noises that Blue makes, he is not so fond of them.

Tomorrow, we start for home and the planning process for our next trip where we will be heading west.