NORTH of the Mason Dixon...Tales of Discomfort, Survival and eventual FREEDOM
"If A is a success in life, then A = X + Y+ Z. Work is X; Y is Play; and Z is keeping your mouth shut." Einstein
"Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man's character give him power." Abraham Lincoln
This past weekend we left So. Carolina and started our journey North. Passed through Virginia, after spending a night near Roanoke, then drove through a tiny swath of W. Virginia and finally to this weeks destination. Patapsco Valley State Park 14 miles outside of Baltimore, Maryland.
The mountains of Va. were strikingly beautiful. Very much like Western North Carolina, very dense, lush, green tree-covered rolling hills. Again, NO water shortage here! Roanoke, like so many Eastern towns, has a beautiful historic district and a charming and vibrant historic downtown. Right now, we're in Maryland, Laura's hometown. Her mom and twin brother still live here. As mentioned above we'll staying in a State Park, that's really private, quiet, and forested. A real treat! Surprisingly, it's one of the nicest campgrounds we've stayed in, really! We say surprisingly because we've consistently found that as you find Campgrounds close to big cities you expect to sacrifice beauty and forest for what generally amounts to something akin to glorified "parking lot" accommodations. Sounds about right, right? This park is definitely an exception. We'll be here for a couple of days then heading to Bethany Beach, Delaware and the now almost annual tradition of the Penn Family Reunion, 20+ people, for a week. Her brother David has a beautiful home a few doors from the Beach and the family has also rented the adjacent home as well > adults/parents in David's home and the "kids" in the other. Just can't imagine why David "offered" his home to the adults…
The Mason-Dixon Line, surveyed between 1763 and 1767 (Civil War fought 1861-1865) by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to resolve the border disputes involving the British colonies of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware in Colonial America. Border disputes had been ongoing for over 100 years until these guys were commissioned to finally resolve it. Historically, it also, culturally, represents the border between the Southern US and the Northern US > Slave vs Free States. The 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery was finally ratified in 1865. The Mason-Dixon Line was marked by stones every mile and "crown stones" were laid every five miles, using stones shipped from England > of course. Today, some of the remaining original stones are still visible, resting on public lands and protected by iron cages.
FYI: On Dec. 20, 1860, South Carolina delegates voted unanimously to secede from the Federal Union - in Nov. Lincoln, known to be strongly anti-slavery, had just been elected President with no support of any of the Southern States. Their justification, "Declaration of the Immediate Causes of Secession," listed Lincoln and the North's hostility to Slavery as their major justification. And, the rest is history…
We really loved our 7-months in the South. Well, most of it anyway. It's really an amazing, culturally rich and very diverse part of the USA. I will say the Civil War remembrances are alive and well. We saw and visited so many historical sites including: The Jefferson Davis home, he was the 1st president of the Confederate States of America and his "Presidential Library" in Biloxi, Mississippi; the Middleton Plantation (beautiful gardens) outside Charleston; lots of confederated flags; numerous Civil War Museums, Tours, reenactments and Battlefields. Is there really hope the South will rise again and long live the "Daughters of the Confederacy"?
After leaving Charleston, we headed north to Gaffney, SC. and home of Freightliner. Freightliner is the largest truck chassis maker in the USA. So you'll probably thinking, who cares? Well, for one, we do! Our motorhome is on one of their chassis'. So we wanted to visit and I wanted to take a class, really! First the tour of the factory was amazing. Their 1000 employees work in a very high tech assembly line and turn out a completed chassis, including engine and drive train in about 13 minutes. They make most or all of the UPS and FedEx chassis'. I was there for none other than, "Camp Freightliner."
For two full days I learned all about our chassis, including the diesel engine and the environmentally friendly gadgets. I know this sounds boring to many of you; it did in the past to me as well. I was NEVER a grease monkey; in fact, I purposely avoided all hobbies that included an engine. But when it's your home, things change. The class was actually very cool. Kinda like Vet school since I learned a lot of anatomy, physiology and disease, but just in "car speak." I just had to rethink animal species and convert to 'mechanical' species. After a few days there, including getting maintenance work done on 'our' chassis, we headed North, first stopping in Virginia as discussed above.
FAST, LAST & LOOSE:
The "Old Slave Mart": it was really weird and very much 'eye opening' for us to walk by this old building where you could still read the sign on the wall out front. Constructed in 1859, this is the last slave auction facility in So. Carolina. Today, it houses a Museum. Can you imagine standing out front and thinking my great/great granddaddy was sold to another guy in this building…
Fort Sumter National Historic Monument: In Charleston Harbor and visited via a Tour Boat was where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861. The Confederate Army fired on the Federal Troops stationed at Sumter and won their first conflict of the war - The Union was defeated and evicted from this Fort. As a result, the Confederacy began the war with a lot of confidence…
Outside of Charleston at our RV Campground we were sitting outside one pleasant evening watching a movie, "Home Sweet Alabama" (very fitting!!) on our outside TV set when at the very end of the movie we were "ambushed" by a swarm of mosquitos! Got bit up as we were running for safety inside our motorhome. Just another exciting evening in the good 'ol South.
Charleston, SC, except for the weather, has it all. Sez me! Steeped in history, amazing food, vibrant-hip downtown, and seashore/boating. Highly recommend visiting.
Befriended an ER physician in class. He just retired, bought the exact same motorhome we had and like us, they are driving around the country, seeing our Country… He and I had several good laughs cuz the teacher was always talking above our heads. "Teach" you first gotta slowly tell us exactly what this does or that does, then where it's located, before telling us how it works and how to fix it when things go wrong. Hmmm, hooray for a little common sense…
Watching workers on the assembly line was fascinating for Laura and I. The floor just keeps moving the chassis right along and you just gotta keep up. For us, it was pretty intense and something we just wasn't accustomed to seeing in action.
Heading to Bethany Beach, Delaware now for our next adventure. More about this in our next blog.
All the Best
Happiest Father's Day to all our friends!!
Gary & Laura