Sunday, June 28, 2015

Southeast Road Trip, Days 12 and 13

After waking up in Birmingham and having a quick hotel breakfast, we were back on the road and in Mississippi by lunch time.
6 years ago, we drove through here and had a fun time at Planet Playground in Meridian, so we decided to pick up lunch and hit the playground again.

Josh and I sat down at the picnic tables to blissfully eat our lunch in peace

And the kids ran around until they were ready to sit in the air conditioned car again

Unfortunately, the playground has not had the upkeep it needs, so I would no longer endorse it as one of the coolest playgrounds around.  There were several things broken and lots of wood that needs to be replaced.

Near the end of the day, we pulled off the highway to stop by Vicksburg National Military Park


We arrived too late to see a cannon demonstration, but they were just starting a rifle demo.  First step, get out a cartridge
Bite off the paper on the end
Pour in the powder and bullet
Use the ram road to push it down into the gun

Replace the ram rod....with your pinky.  Cause the army can't have you blowing off your whole hand if the gun goes off, but you'll get by just fine without a pinky (not sure how accurate that is pre-antibiotics, but that was the thinking, anyway)
Then it was time to prime the cap and fire

After a quick loop through the small exhibit section inside, we asked about visiting the USS Cairo.


 The rangers told us that due to being so close to closing time, the best thing to do was drive through town (instead of the park road), so we took off.



We arrived just ahead of a storm and they were closing off the pathways around the ship, so we didn't get to get too close, but it was still really neat to see


We hung out inside while the storm rolled over.  There's a really cool little museum with all sorts of artifacts they found in the wreckage.
(yes, someone had changed the date on the stamp and I didn't catch it.  Rude!)
Once the lightning stopped, we ventured outside for a few pictures before dashing through the rain for the car


After jumping back on the interstate, we crossed in Louisiana

And Sedona practiced her shotgun duty skills to find some snacks for everyone so we could put off dinner until later
After another Cracker Barrel dinner to put the kids in a food coma, and another night of driving hotel to hotel before finding one with a room, we finally got some shut eye in Shreveport.

The next morning it was just a few more hours to home!  I missed the Texas sign, but I just barely caught the old sculpture at the border.
We called in a pizza order and had lunch at HOME! Only 13 days, 11 states, 7 national parks/sites and 2,800 miles later!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Southeast Road Trip Day 11

Had to take a posting hiatus thanks to the remarkable idiocy of our internet service provider.  Back to our regularly scheduled program!

On day 11 of our trip, after breakfast and a few more pictures, it was time to head home.  We didn't have a whole lot of time to cover the 1200 miles, so there were not quite as many fun stops, but we did still need to keep the kids (and therefore ourselves) sane.

Due the aforementioned obsession with national parks passport stamps, I suggested we go slightly out of our way to visit the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
This is a Revolutionary War site


When we arrived, we were immediately stopped by an overly eager volunteer who wanted to start a 10 minute video for us.  The kids were facing many many hours of sitting still.  The last thing they (or we) wanted to do was sit and watch a video.  He was oddly persistent.
We made our way over into the exhibit part of the building and were happily exploring the displays on our own
Until we got to the fife and drum.  Overly eager volunteer hunted us down (we had turn a few corners at this point), singled out Sierra, and told her ALLL about how boys her age would be the drummer and signal to everyone when it was time to shoot their guns.  Since the drummer was key to keeping everyone aware of the commander's order, the drummer would be singled out to be shot by the enemies.
This story wasn't related in a quiet, calm manner either.  Lots of shouting "BOOM!" to indicate shots, or "RAT-A-TAT-TAT"ing out drum cadences.  Look dude, you're an excited reenacter, we get it.  It's your job to share information about the site, we get that too.  Many, many times we hang around and chat with rangers.  We love when they're accessible and let us know that they're there to answer questions.  But it's just plain creepy when you follow people around.  And perhaps your little, "you'd have been marked for DEATH!" story would have been sufficient if you'd left it at "target of the enemy" and then follow the parents' or child's cues if more questions were asked.
We once again (successfully, this time) removed ourselves from over eager volunteer.  They have silhouettes in the woods that you see through the windows
And the usual assortment of things found in the area
Revolution-era amputation....fun times.
There was a Chick-Fil-A nearby, so we stopped for lunch.  Right about the time someone decided it was a good idea to put the cow costume on some poor hapless employee.  In general, my children are TERRIFIED of characters.  Sierra and Sedona immediately started to do whatever they could to occupy the same space Josh and I were occupying.  Secora (the child that won't have anything at all to do with new people) took one look at this spectacle and decided she finally had something she could hold over her sisters.  She summoned up her most superior, "I'm better than you" voice and said, "sisters, what are you scared of? I'M not scared, it's just a cow.  I'm not scared of cows", then she had the cow come over and give her a hug.  Baby sister's first victory.

We got back on the road and before long, we were in South Carolina
Kings Mountain National Military Park is just off the interstate, so we decided to stop in and hope the volunteers were a little more reserved.
This is another Revolutionary War Site.  It's actually right next to a state park and just from the bit that we saw, looks like a really nice place to stay.  We'd like to camp there some time.
Really nice volunteers here that offered up information and happily let us go on our way when we were ready too

The museum is a really neat set-up, the walls are covered by curtains to make it look like you're in a forest
One exhibit shows this cabin with a family and an audio clip explains everything the man is carrying
Then the lighting changes so you see through the screen and into the "cabin" and it explains what the woman's life would have been like at home during the war
Around the corner, more forest to explore.  Each tree has different information to explore

After some shopping in the gift shop (they had a really good book section), we were on our way again.

South Carolina water tower!
Prettiest cloud ever.  Or.....maybe I was starting to lose my mind from all the miles traveled.  it seemed like a REALLY pretty cloud at the time though.  I felt a bit like Donkey in Shrek, "I like that cloud, that is a nice cloud"
And before we knew it, we were in Georgia!
Sierra insisted on a serious picture at the welcome center.  Little sisters had other ideas, they ran in just so Secora could pose and Sedona could be distracted by something...
We were too late and the welcome center was actually closed.  The bathrooms and a lobby area with this giant dog were still open though.  I'm not sure what Sedona is saying to the dog, but it must be serious.  Secora's contemplating whether it's wise to ever get in a car with us again...
The Georgia welcome center has a good geocache.  Awesome, yummy looking berries are growing there too, but we weren't sure if they'd been sprayed with anything since they were on the edge of the woods where they maintain a lawn area
Last geocache of the trip!!
After dinner at Cracker Barrel (stuff kids full of pancakes at the end of the day and they'll fall into a food coma and sleep soundly in the car) and the realization that we'd cross back into the central time zone, Josh and I made the insane decision to drive on through to Birmingham.  This is the Alabama welcome sign.  You'll have to take my word for it, it was something like 11pm.
After a slightly stressful episode of missing an exit we needed in Birmingham because a sign said the two right lanes were exiting, but then another lane was added at the last minute, we got to the area we planned to stop.  And there were no vacancies at the inn....

We did find a hotel with a room finally.  We ended up with one king bed and a twin sized pull out couch (who knew those existed?), so we had to blow up air mattresses and lay out sleeping bags.  The girls pretty much slept through it all.  We tried to get the big ones to walk in, but after the third stumble, I realized Sedona was walking with her eyes closed, so she got carried.  When they woke up they had no idea was state they were in, much less which city.  Ahhh.....it's just not a road trip until you forget what state you're in.

One more post! We were almost home!

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