Sunday, March 19, 2017

Eastern Tennessee - David Crockett Birthplace State Park

Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park

The main reason for the visit to Eastern Tennessee was to visit my good friends, the Love Brothers.  I met these guys while working bike races, and these guys are legendary.  Eastern Tennessee is their stomping ground, and their family has been here for generations.

John Love picked us up in the morning, who along with Keith gave us a day long tour of Greene, Washington, and Unicoi Counties.

We couldn't have seen this area in any better way. We drove past farms and homes that played a large part in their growing up here. We visited Erwin, Unicoi, Johnson City and Jonesborough.  Spending the day driving through the hills and valleys of Eastern Tennessee and seeing early spring here was a pleasure.




Lunch was at Scratch Brick Oven.  http://scratchbrickoven.com
Keith says it's the best hippie style pizza in town. It looks like this small restaurant was built around
Brick Oven
the large brick oven made from what looks like River Rock. It is 9 feet deep, and 6 feet high and the pizza was great! 


Keith insisted we sample local soft drinks. Dr Enuf, http://www.drenuf.com or Vitamin E as one of his desk sergeants called it, and Cheerwine  https://cheerwine.com, a robust Cherry Coke like drink.  

Jonesborough established in 1779 is the oldest city in Tennessee, and once served as the Capitol for the lost state of Franklin.  We learned the story of John Sevier and his move to establish Franklin in areas that are now North Carolina and Tennessee. After a short battle, John Sevier surrendered, but would only do so to Col. Love, (an ancestor of John and Keith) because he was an honorable man. Later Sevier served as the first Governor of Tennessee and in the US House.

We stopped and sampled at the Tennessee Hills Distillery, located in the Salt House in Johesborough.  The Salt House is where the Union Army stored salt supplies during the Civil War. The owners have restored and repurposed the building, and distill their liquor traditionally. We tried the corn liquor and rum that they had on hand. We liked the Dark Roast, and are looking forward to pairing it with Buffalo Trace's Bourbon Cream.

The evening was capped of with John and Mary and dinner at Fatz, and a St Patrick's Day Concert at Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  The concert was “An Irish Heart” that included Chloe Agnew and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra. Agnew toured with the Celtic Women before starting a solo career. She was joined by an Irish Tenor, Dermot Kiernan and Celtic Dancer Scott Porter.

A highlight of the evening was listening to Kiernan sing Danny Boy.   We returned to home through a hard rain storm, and fell asleep to the rain falling on the roof of AIROSMITH.

While here we stayed at the David Crockett Birthplace State Park.  This campground is located along

the banks 
of the Nolichucky River that flows from the Appalachian Mountains.  The rain over the past several raised the water level by about 2 or 3 feet.

Limestone Marker











The park in Limestone, Tennessee is where Davy Crockett was born.  As a Colorado boy, it is interesting to see this area
Nolichucky River
as territories included in the great westward expansion.  While North Carolina was one of the original states, Tennessee and parts west were Territories.


Replica Cabin

We really could not ask for a better time here in Eastern Tennessee, and the hospitality of the Love Brothers is in matched.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kitty Hawk - The Death of Impossibility

Wright Brothers Monument
One of the primary reasons for visiting Kitty Hawk and the Outer Banks, especially this time of year was to tour the Wright Brothers National Memorial.  Early March is not the best time to plan on getting a lot of beach time.  Though my Bride and I did manage a walk on the sand, with the sea wind to our backs.


Kitty Hawk was the location of the first manned flight of an heavier than air aircraft.  This happened on the cold, windy, and lonely dunes of the Atlantic coast.  A significant piece of world history for sure.

The Wright Flyer


However it wasn't until I listened to the interpretive Ranger explain what happened on that cold day in December of 1903 that I understood that what happened was much more.


Orville and Wilbur Wright were self taught engineers, digesting information from other's work, incorporating that into their own theory and design.  Only after several years, and a thousand flights using innumerable models from the top of Kill Devil Hill did they succeed.




First Flight Boulder




There is a large granite marker, called the First Flight Boulder at the end of a 60 foot runway/rail which marks the start, and another small monument 120 feet to the north that marks the end of that 1st 12 second flight on December 17, 1903.  These are followed by markers for the second, third and fourth flight that day.











December 17, 1903 Sculpture
The Ranger talked about how many see the First Flight Boulder as only a memorial to that first manned flight.  Although he talked about how he also sees it as a tombstone.  A tombstone for the death of impossibility.  Because until that day most people on earth believed that it would be impossible to rise into the air and fly like the birds.  But when Orville took that first 12 second flight, impossibility died.  And in a real sense, everything became possible.  Between that first flight and today man has walked on the moon.  And with enough knowledge, imagination, work and thought everything and anything is possible.  I like that idea.


















Sunday morning marked the beginning of Daylight Savings Time (much to the irritation of my sweet Bride), AND a full moon.  I so much wanted to capture an image of the 60 foot Wright Brothers Monument atop Kill Devil Hill, with the full moon in the background.  I would also like to tell you that the weather prohibited me from getting that image.  Or, that the angle was all wrong.  Or that my iPhone was not up to the task.  I would love to have any of those excuses.  But the truth is that AIROSMITH was just too comfortable, and I remained inside with another glass of wine.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Nine Miles and One Hundred Sixty Nine Years

Historic Jamestowne is only nine miles from Colonial Williamsburg.
Towards the South and West, on the banks of the James River.  Yet the two settlements span one hundred sixty nine years of significant history.

Jamestowne settled on May 13, 1607 began the English colonization of North America.  Colonial Williamsburg, where in the spring of 1775 the colonists ran the British Governor out of town.  There began Virginia's move to Independence along with the remainder of the thirteen colonies.  Interestingly, both were governed by an elected represtetitive form of government.  We  visited both within a days time.

We began our tour with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg and quickly realized that we would see only a small part of the city.  This is a living history museum and every day would provide something new to explore.

It is a nomadic lesson to learn, and to learn quickly.  Do and see only what you can, and know that you will never do or see enough.  Don't let that bother you.  Understand that it provides the perfect excuse to return and visit again.

Governor's Palace
Out tour began at the Governor's Palace.  This house was the center of British rule in the Virginia Colony.  Lord Dunmore was King George's representative.  While Virginia was the largest of the colonies, Lord Dunmore preferred his original post in New York.  New York was more developed, and more sociable than the more rural Virginia.
King George's Coat of Arms

He got in trouble when in the spring of 1775 he removed the gunpowder from the armory.  The powder belonged to the King and the colonists were getting restless.  The citizens soon ran the good lord and lady out of town, and began to gain independence for the colony.


The palace tended to reflect the power and authority of the King, in many ways.  The weapons were for protection, but the appointments to the palace displayed status.


The palace stored the weapons, the armory stored the gun powder.  With over 1000 muskets, pistols and swords, it takes caretakers over 5 hours to replace them all, when they are taken down for cleaning.  They fill the entry hall, and stairway to the upper living quarters.

Beyond the weapons, the real symbol of status was the red wall coverings, in Lady Dunmore's sitting room.

Status Symbol
Once the Dunmore's were run out of town, the Lady returned to Scotland.  Lord Dunmore rounded up an army, and showed up for the fight.... about a month after Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington.

After Lord Dunmore fled, Patrick Henry was elected Governor.  While he moved into the palace, he put up the Lord and Lady's personnel possessions up for public auction.

Just down the street from the Governors Palace, is the George Wythe House.  Wythe was a man of enlightenment, he was a lawyer, professor of law, the first Virginian to sign the Declaration of Independence.  He was a mentor to Thomas Jefferson, and hosted George Washington, among others at his home.  The house is one of several original buildings in Colonial Williamsburg.  It is a house where you can walk the same halls and climb the same stairs as the likes of Washington, Jefferson and Wythe.

I enjoyed visiting the kitchen and watching the cooks whisk egg whites with a birch branch.

I also liked watching, and talking with the Wheelwright as he worked in his shop.




On the opposite side of the Duke of Glochester Street stands the Colonial Capitol.

Colonial Capitol
In this building, first the colonial government, and then the new independent colonial government did their work.  The building housed the House of Burgesses, The Governor, and the General Court.  The building is the third that stood on the site.  It was here, on May 15, 1776 that Virginia became the first colony to declare their independence.

General Court
Under British rule, the Governor sat on the General Court as the Chief Justice.  His offices were also in the Capitol and the Burgesses served at his pleasure.  You see the problem here don't you?

Much of that changed, for the better in the Spring of 1776.

Walking up the Duke of Glochester Street, you pass period shops, homes, taverns, and tradesmen.  I was interested in the Courthouse which sits about halfway down the street.  This is also one of the original buildings.  Built in 1770 it was used, as a courthouse, until the early 1990's.  It was here that justices heard misdemeanors, and small civil claims.  The more serious crimes and claims were heard in the Capitol.
Courthouse

Two boxes stand at either side of "The Bar" and is where the Sheriff (standing in the left box) and his Undersheriff (standing in the right) kept order.

Walking the streets here allows you to go back in time... if you ignore all of the people visiting the place.  Though there is much to see, and not nearly enough time to see it.


A citizen and his Briard
Once finished with Colonial Williamsburg, you can drive the Colonial Parkway to the Historic Jamestowne.  This is where a group of about 100 men and boys established the first European colony in North America.

This was primarily a business venture.  Established to make fortunes for wealthy men back in England.

The pioneer colonists needed to have the skills and daring to undertake such an adventure.  At first it did not go well.  Established as a fort, many of the early settlers succumbed to disease and the harsh conditions.  Later they met their demise at the hands of the natives.

Memorial Church
Much of this site includes the graves of those unfortunate souls who did not survive the first years of the colony.  A small and old church remains as a testament.  It is sobering to make out dates on gravestones from the 1700's.

Much of the park is busy with the excavation of these, mostly men an boys, and it is fascinating to read about how much they have learned about who was buried here, and what they know of them.

It was also here that a troubled history began with the European's relationship with the Native Americans.  Captain John Smith credits Pocahontas with saving his life.  She was the daughter of Powhatan, the principle chief.  Later she was kidnapped, at seventeen years of age, later marrying her kidnapper.  She was taken to London, to be presented to society.  She died there at age twenty-one.
Pocahontas




 


It was in 1619 that the first Africans were recorded in the colony and marking the begining of English slavery in North America.  Nine miles, and so many years.  So much to think about.

Tercentenary Monument

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Assateague Island National Seashore

One of the first books that I remember reading was Misty of Chincoteague, a children's classic written by Marguerite Henry.  My grandma Page suggested I read it.  I was not much of a reader back then, but the image of swimming ponies captured me.  I think that it was then that I began planning on how I could get a pony.

While I never got the pony, I had always wanted to visit the Island.  I first did so twenty years ago while I spent some extended time in Virginia.  Virginia, by the way, where many here still refer to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression!

Waterfront
After picking up AIROSMITH, we selected Chincoteagure Island as our first stop.  It was a four and half hour drive from Lakewood New Jersey and seemed to be a perfect shake down drive.
Tall Pines Harbor Waterfront Campground

Pocomoke Sound
Several weeks ago we began looking for a suitable park where we could stay.  We quickly learned the "seasonal" nature of the area.  A lesson reinforced by the cold front, driven by cold hard winds, that followed us from New Jersey.  We found a park, Tall Pines Harbor Waterfront Campground, that opened March 1st before any of the others on the island.



We arrived on March 3rd.  AIROSMITH's furnace got a good workout for the three nights we stayed.  The park was virtually empty leaving us almost by ourselves.

Tall Pines


We were staying about twenty minutes from the Virginia side of the Assateague Island National Seashore, where one can access Chincoteague Island.

We missed the spring pony round up which occurs later in April.  The Annual Pony Swim  takes place in July.  The wild pony herd is managed by the Chicoteague Volunteer Fire Company (Home of the Saltwater Cowboys) as a fundraiser.  They manage about 150 pony's of the southern herd on the Island.

We spent a day exploring the Island, starting at the Tom's Cove Visitors Center.  While standing on the beach, cold wind blowing, it struck us how fortunate we are that within the span of several short weeks we have set foot in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Atlantic Ocean
Wild Ponies











We walked the mile and a half Woodland Trail, where we saw a half dozen ponies that came out from the shelter of the woods if only for a few minutes.

Followed by a drive along the Wildlife Loop, seeing many water birds including several Great Blue Herons.

Snow Goose Pool


Assateague Light House
We took a final walk to visit the Assateague Light House, before returning back to camp, and the shelter of AIROSMITH.