Plans, What Plans? (Part 1 of 3)

Well here we are at last writing about our most current travels rather than apologizing for being behind. We set out from Cape Lookout National Seashore in late March with 6 weeks to reach our Summer 2018 destination at Grand Portage National Monument in northern Minnesota. Before we even left our plans had changed several times as we tried to figure out how to get our small boat to Minnesota. Finally we realized that this purchase was not one of our brightest ideas and it was unnecessarily complicating our lives. We donated it and moved on.

As we write this edition to our blog we realize we packed a great deal into a few weeks. To make our posts more timely and easier to read we will break up our travels into three sections, all of which revolved around getting repairs done, done well and dealing with having to be out of your home in the process. This is the downside reality to all of the wonderful times we enjoy as full time travelers.

Our first stop would be at Pocahontas State Park near Richmond, Virginia. We’d been here about four years ago and realized there was much more to see and do. Since then we’d added trying to tour all of our state capitols. So that’s where we would start. As luck would have it we met up with RV friends Janice and Dave for the tour and dinner at The Village Cafe, a Triple D stop.

The Virginia Capitol March 2018

The Capitol Dome

George Washington Statue Made From A Life Mask

The Village Cafe, A Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Stop

Also while visiting the Richmond area we toured the Museum of the Confederacy and the Confederate White House. The museum has one of the most extensive collections of original artifacts and should be a stop for anyone with interest in history. Having toured the Jefferson Davis home in Biloxi and knowing his post war story, it was a great comparison to tour the Confederate White House.

On Tour At The White House of the Confederacy

Davis Children’s Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our history blitz continued with day trips to four more National Park sites: George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. While at the G. W. Birthplace we learned how the first Washington ancestor to arrive on our shores did so literally by accident. He had invested in a merchant ship that was wrecked and stayed. Just think of the alternative history potential if this hadn’t happened and George was British General! Ever hear of Thomas Stone? Can’t say we had either. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a moderate voice in the discussion. Weather was not good during our two days exploring the widespread Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania Battlefields. However the campaigns here shaped our history and are most interesting. Lastly we learned about a fascinating woman, Maggie Walker, a woman of color who rose to prominence when neither her race or her gender were given their due. I kept wondering why I’d never heard of her during either Black history month or Women’s history month.

A Barn At The Thomas Stone NHS

A home Used As A Hospital At Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania NMP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie Walker Portrait

As if our brains weren’t already busting with new information, we made a trip to Jamestown, VA to see where it all started in the first permanent English settlement in the USA. The museum is extensive and very well executed as is the reconstructed village. Little did we know at the time that fellow volunteers we’d meet at Grand Portage NM live in the area and have volunteered at Jamestown for several years.

Voyage To Jamestown

A Replica Ship

Living History At Jamestown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chari Sports A New Look

 

 

 

 

 

And now it is time to move on to Pennsylvania where we will drop off our 5th wheel for repairs in Greencastle, PA and visit family in Chambersburg. We had a long list of things needing work but the most pressing was our leaky roof that despite two other attempts at getting fixed still left us with using a bucket during heavy rain. Keystone RV suggested we do a special test where air is forced through the roof and leaks not easily spotted can be found.The special test is not covered by our manufacturer’s warranty but we just want the leak fixed so agreed to the $300 cost. Also on our list was the persistent problem of the bedroom slide not closing properly. We would also finally repair our ding to the front cap from making too tight a turn. The repairs would take a week.

We visited with Steve’s mother and sister in time for Easter where we saw other family from New York. His mother had recently turned 90 and looks great. Our one week stay became two when the RV dealer had their fork lift die and couldn’t get our rig into the shop. You know the 3 day rule about fish and company having stayed too long? We all joked about it but by the end of 2 weeks we all were anxious to return to normal.

We did some local sightseeing, went to Harrisburg to see the Pennsylvania Capitol Building and toured more NPS sites (C&O Canal, Catoctin Mountain and Antietam NB). The Pennsylvania Capitol is the most elaborate one we’ve visited. That’s saying something as we’ve seen some gorgeous ones. We hope you don’t mind all of the photos but art was everywhere here. The floor tiles depicting everything from early settlement to industry cover the entire entry floor. Another excellent and free tour.

Pennsylvania Capitol In Harrisburg Has 2 Domes

Artwork Begins Outside With Sculptures

Art Continues Inside On The Walls, Ceiling and Floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handcrafted Floor Tiles

Inside One Of The Domes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The View From Above

One Of The Legislative Chambers

We visited Antietam on a rainy day so just did the drive and stopped at a few spots. If I’d only known then that my great grandfather had been in that battle, I’d have looked up his regiment. Thank goodness he survived or I wouldn’t be here! At Catoctin Mountain we did a short hike and tried to peak through the trees to see Camp David as we drove along. It is posted “Do not stop.” I do think they are serious. C&O Canal has several Visitor Centers. We visited a smaller one nearest Chambersburg. I’d love to go back to see the main center and do a bike ride on the towpath.

To Those Who Fought And Fell

Battle On The Stone Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peaceful Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve And Opal Along The C&O Towpath

 

 

The Three Of Us At Catoctin Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally the RV repairs were done. The bill came to $2600! Gulp! That’s after the things covered by warranty. So much for keeping the credit card under control this month. Due to the delay we’d cancelled our stay in western PA until our next visit. So off we head to Ohio thinking we were all fixed. To be continued in Part 2.

An Interesting Mix In Year Six

Wow! Can we really be coming to the end of our sixth year on the road? We don’t feel we’ve even scratched the surface of things to do and see!

From May 2017-May 2018 we covered many miles as you can see in our route map below. We almost made a spoon shape route. We went from the Rockies to the Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes while juggling health and RV repair issues. Challenges… yes. Adventure galore! Drop dead gorgeous scenery… you bet! Good eats … mmmmm.

We are starting a new composite map for years 6-10 as continuing to layer our routes would make it unreadable. However just for fun we’ll post a composite so you can see what 180,000 miles looks like.

Join us for Year Seven as we explore summer in northern Minnesota, head back to Indiana for (we hope) our last major repairs and on to a glorious winter in Arizona. See you on the road!

 

Our 6th Year On The Road

 

Composite Of Our First Six Years

Where Next? #12

When we arrived at Cape Lookout National Seashore in early November 2017 we thought that staying in one place for almost 5 months sounded awfully long. It would be our longest stay to date. Yet here we are with only two weeks left. Time has flown and we’ll be on the road soon. Our feet are beginning to itch with the travel bug.

Our plans have changed several times but (We hope) this is our route from the seashore of eastern North Carolina to the shores of Lake Superior and our summer volunteer job at Grand Portage National Monument. We’ll travel for about 5.5 weeks seeing family and friends, adding 2 new states and seeing several National Park sites. Our arrival in Minnesota will be the second week in May.

Here’s the Google Map of our route.

 

Where Next #4

It looks like we’re due for another Where Next post as we look ahead to the next six months. These locations are a general plan but as always subject to change for a variety of reasons. First we head over to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a photography workshop on nighttime photography. That’s an area totally new to us so we’re really excited. Then (brrrrr!) we go north to celebrate Thanksgiving and an early Christmas with family. Back we come to NC for a major repair on the trailer (see Attack of the Tree Branch in June 2013). With trailer and ourselves all refreshed and repaired we finally head south for some fun in the sun. Spring will take us to a new area of the country and many new adventures. Remember, if you want to view this full screen, click over the picture.

Google Earth, travel, RV, Florida

RV Travels November 2013 – April 2014

Where Next #3

Now we begin our second year as full time RVers.  Many of our stops will be taking us into populous areas and/or popular vacation areas in the northeast and Canada so we opted to make reservations well ahead of our arrival. It’s a good thing we did. Canadian parks are set up for smaller RVs and even at 35′ our rig is considered to be extra large. There are limited sites for this size. Steve and I both have been to the Maritime Provinces for short vacations individually before we were married. This summer we will spend two months there. If any of you reading this blog have suggestions about this area, please let us know. Then we will return to Maine briefly, back to Canada and over to New York State for (we hope) some beautiful Fall color. As we move south once again we will be visiting Baltimore, Richmond and the Outer Banks of North Carolina where we will participate in a photography workshop.

Here is our proposed itinerary.

Homeless And Loving It Travels For May-Dec 2013

Homeless And Loving It Travels For May-Dec 2013

We’ve Hit The Road Jack… Ain’t Comin’ Home No more, No More

H  A  P  P  Y     A  N  N  I  V  E  R  S  A  R  Y     T  O     U  S  !  !

Today marks one year since we drove out of our driveway in Charlotte, NC to begin a new life as full time RVers. It’s gone soooo fast! We can’t believe it’s been a year already. The DreamChaser has traveled approximately 31,000 miles through 12 states. We’ve moved 35 times to 7 Federal/ Corps of Engineers parks, 4 private parks, 3 county parks and 20 state parks. We’ve added many lapel pins to our collection which now hovers around 250. We’ve visited several National Park Service sites but we have only seen 17% of them so there’s lots more in store.

What will we do to celebrate? Since we are on the coast in Salem, Massachusetts it seems fitting that we should fulfill one of our Bucket List items by taking a sunset sailing cruise aboard the Fame. Cruises don’t begin until Memorial Day weekend so our celebration will be a bit late. We have just arrived at Winter Island Park for twelve days. When we called to make reservations we were told the park didn’t open until May 20th. I mentioned we were full time RVers and would need to find another spot for a few days. The manager then offered to have us come in early if we didn’t mind being there by ourselves without office staff. Mind having a campground overlooking the water all to ourselves for three days? I think we can handle that. So we will celebrate tonight with dinner out and then sit in the gazebo with a glass of wine  and watch a beautiful sunset. This really is the perfect life!

Here’s an overview of our travels May 17, 2012-May 17, 2013. Remember if you want to see a picture full screen, just click over it once.

RV, full time RVers, travel

Our First Year Travels

We are looking forward to many more new places and new faces as we move on up the coast and back down again in 2013. Then we’ll say goodbye to the East for a while and turn the DreamChaser west.

Thanks for traveling with us! Sit back and leave the driving to us as we begin Year Two of Homeless and Loving It! 

Arlington National Cemetery

HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD

HERE RESTS IN
HONORED GLORY
AN AMERICAN SOLDIER
KNOWN BUT TO GOD

March 28 was a cool and blustery day, and we decided to visit Arlington National Cemetery.  Again, we parked the truck at the Vienna Metro Station and took the train.  As Chari has mentioned, it’s a clean, efficient system, and really the only way to get around in the D.C. area.

We’ve visited a lot of cemeteries since we’ve been on the road, and we love wandering and looking at the old tombstones and markers, some centuries old, and wondering about the lives of the people interred there.  Sometimes we’ve visited military cemeteries, usually at the site of a National Battlefield, like Little Bighorn or Gettysburg.  It’s different in these places.  The battlefield graves are not of people who lived out their natural lives, but are of men and women whose lives were cruelly interrupted by the horrors of war and who never returned to the arms of their families and friends.  Other graves in these military cemeteries are of veterans of all American wars who survived their wartime experiences and were able to return to a normal life.

But this is different.  This is Arlington.  This place is special.  You feel it as you enter the gates, along with thousands of other people, both citizens of the United States and citizens of the world, who come to pay their respects.  This is not just another military cemetery, although in some respects, it is just that.  Veterans of all of our armed conflicts are eligible for burial here, and as at the others, you feel a profound sense of respect for those who lie in the thousands of graves.  But this is Arlington.  This place is special.  This is where we honor our greatest heros.  Arlington.

Arlington1

The first thing you see as you enter and look to the top of the hill is Arlington House, with the American Flag flying at half-staff.  Arlington house was built for George Washington Parke Custis, the step-grandson of our first President and only grandson of his wife, Martha Custis Washington.  Custis’ father, John Parke Custis, bought the 1100 acre property in 1778, and after the death of his grandmother, Martha in 1802, decided to build his home there and name it Mount Washington.  Family members convinced him to call it Arlington House, after their ancestral home on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  An English architect, George Hadfield, who also participated in the design of the U.S. Capitol, designed the house.  Custis’ only surviving daughter, Mary, married her distant cousin Robert E. Lee, and in 1857 inherited the home.

At the beginning of the Civil War, President Lincoln offered command of the Federal Army to Lee, who declined and resigned to join the Confederate Army.  He reported to Richmond, and almost immediately wrote Mary advising her for her safety to leave her home due to its proximity to Washington.  Because of its high ground position overlooking the city, within days of her leaving it was occupied by Union troops.

View of Washington DC from Arlington House

View of Washington DC from Arlington House

General Irvin McDowel used the house as headquarters for his Army of Northeastern Virginia, and in 1864, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs, a Georgian who had served under Lee in the days before the war, believing Lee had made a treasonous decision in fighting against the Union, had Mrs. Lee’s prized rose garden dug up to bury twenty-six Union soldiers.

After the end of the Civil War, Robert and Mary Lee chose not to contest the Federal Government’s decision to confiscate the property during the war for “non-payment of taxes.”  But in 1870, when Robert E. Lee died, his oldest son, George Washington Custis Lee, who would have inherited the estate, sued to regain the property.  It wasn’t until 1882 when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.  In 1883, in a signing ceremony attended by the son of Robert E. Lee and the son of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln (then Secretary of War) the estate was sold back to the Federal Government for $150,000, about three and a half million in today’s dollars.

So much for the history of the estate.  Now on to the cemetery itself.

“BENEATH THIS STONE REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS GATHERED AFTER THE WAR FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK.  THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED, BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS.  MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.  SEPTEMBER A.D. 1866”

“BENEATH THIS STONE REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS GATHERED AFTER THE WAR FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK. THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED, BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE. SEPTEMBER A.D. 1866”

We took the bus tour through the cemetery.  The driver/tour guide spoke of various monuments and facts throughout the tour, but we only made three scheduled stops, at the John F. Kennedy grave, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and finally at Arlington House.  We were free to wander on our own at each stop, and then pick up another bus to continue the tour.  Since, as I mentioned, it was a chilly and blustery day, we didn’t spend a lot of time on our own, but someday we’d love to go back and spend the entire day wandering and exploring the cemetery.

THE ETERNAL FLAME AT THE GRAVE OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY

THE ETERNAL FLAME AT THE GRAVE OF PRESIDENT KENNEDY

AND SO, MY FELLOW AMERICANS,  ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY MY FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, ASK NOT WHAT AMERICA WILL DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT TOGETHER WE CAN DO FOR THE FREEDOM OF MAN

AND SO, MY FELLOW AMERICANS,
ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU
ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY.
MY FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, ASK NOT
WHAT AMERICA WILL DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT TOGETHER
WE CAN DO FOR THE FREEDOM OF MAN

Today’s politicians, of both parties, who profess to revere Kennedy, would do well to remember these words instead of pandering to those looking for a handout.

From the walkway not far from Kennedy’s grave, I saw the back of a stone for Michael A. Musmanno, whom I had never heard of, but I was intrigued by reading that he was a presiding judge at the International War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg.  I looked him up on-line afterward, and found he led a very interesting life.  He served in the Navy in both World Wars, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral.  In civilian life after World War II he served as a justice in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania until his passing in 1968.  He must have been quite a controversial character, as in his tenure, he himself wrote more dissenting opinions then in the previous fifty years of the court combined!  I only saw the back of his stone, but was able to find a photo of the front on-line.

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The quote on the front of the stone reads:

“There is an eternal justice and an eternal order, there is a wise, merciful and omnipotent God. My friends, have no fear of the night or death. It is the forerunner of dawn, a glowing resplendent dawn, whose iridescent rays will write across the pink sky in unmistakable language – man does live again.’ 

The final words of Michael A. Musmanno in his debate with Clarence Darrow, 1932.”

I found another stone quite interesting.  Again, from my position I was only able to see the back, but it indicated that the person buried there was a veteran of the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II.  A long military career indeed!  There was a number on the back of the stone, so I did a bit of research on-line and found his name was Frank Fletcher, and not only did he serve in those three wars, he was a Medal of Honor recipient for heroism in the Mexican Campaign in 1914.  He was Task Force Commander at the Battle of Coral Sea in World War II, the first battle in history fought between Aircraft Carrier groups, and the first battle where opposing forces were out of sight of each other.  Two destroyers bore the Fletcher name.  The first, DD-445 was named for his uncle, the second, DD-992 was named for him.

This is all I saw.  Note the number at the top of the stone.

This is all I saw. Note the number at the top of the stone.

I found this picture while researching the number.

I found this picture while researching the number.

For a very interesting internet article about Admiral Fletcher, see:     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Jack_Fletcher

There is a memorial to the Battleship Maine, which exploded in Havana Harbor in 1898 and was a cause of the Spanish American War.  Was it truly sabotage, as the American press professed?  Or was the cause of the explosion a fire in a coal bunker?  The controversy goes on to this day.  Admiral Fletcher, by the way, at one point had served on the Maine.  The actual mast of the Maine is part of the memorial, as well as the names of the 261 fatalities carved into the monument.  I found it interesting while looking at the names of the marines and sailors that several of the sailors had rates which no longer exist.  Like John T. Adams “Coal Passer” (I envision a bare chested, sweaty man covered in black coal dust with a large flat shovel piling coal into a boiler), Charles Anderson “Landsman”, and Bernhard Anglund “Blacksmith”.  And how times have changed from when Orientals served in the American Navy as cooks or servants.  Suki Chingi “Mess Attendant” and Yukichi Katagata “Warrant Officer Cook”.

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We saw a memorial to the Challenger Astronauts.

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And a tribute to the Americans who lost their lives in the failed attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran in 1980.

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But by far, the most impressive sight at Arlington is the Tomb of the Unknowns.  There are unknowns buried at most battlefield military cemeteries.  In wars up to and including the Civil War, the only way to identify a dead soldier was if someone who knew the man could identify the body.  Or if he had some personal belongings such as a letter or a bible on his person.  By World War I most soldiers were wearing some sort of identification, but oftentimes these were lost and the bodies remained unidentified.  After “The Great War”, it was decided to create a monument to The Unknown Soldier, thus honoring every soldier killed in battle whose identity was forever lost.  The soldier chosen would be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The process of choosing a particular person to be so honored was quite complex.  The custom was followed for World War II and Korea, and again for the conflict in Vietnam, although by Vietnam, means of identification were much improved, and the remains selected were eventually identified and returned to his family.  For an extremely interesting internet article about the selection process, please see:  http://www.456fis.org/THE_SELECTION_PROCESS_OF_THE_UNKNOWN_SOLDIERS.htm

The Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater

The Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater, location of the Tomb of the Unknowns

STANDING GUARD

STANDING GUARD

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Inside the Amphitheater is a small museum, housing artifacts relating to the Unknown Soldier Tomb.  Honors from countries all over the world are on exhibit.  One I found very interesting was a letter from the King of England in 1921 thanking the American people for bestowing on the British Unknown Soldier from World War I the Congressional Medal of Honor, and so honoring ours with the Victoria Cross.  The flags that draped the caskets of each of our soldiers, from WWI to Vietnam are on display, along with the Medals of Honor issued to them.

LETTER FROM KING GEORGE

LETTER FROM KING GEORGE

MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION SIGNED BY PRESIDENT REAGAN AND CASKET FLAG FOR THE VIETNAM UNKNOWN

MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION SIGNED BY PRESIDENT REAGAN AND CASKET FLAG FOR THE VIETNAM UNKNOWN

Quite by accident, while visiting the rest room, we happened by a soldier explaining to a family including a young boy, probably about twelve years old, about the proper procedure for placing a wreath at the tomb.  The lad was extremely attentive, and I found out later he was being instructed because he was going to place a wreath there.

We were privileged to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and it was very moving.  Although there was a crowd of a couple of hundred people watching, including many children, there was dead silence.  You could hear a pin drop.  The following video lasts for about six or seven minutes.  It’s a bit shaky in places, I was holding my small pocket camera, but turn on your volume and note the silence and respect of the spectators.

And please, as an American, please make the effort to visit Arlington.