Tag Archive | Georgia

Atlanta 2018: Georgia Capitol Museum

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, I took the subway to the Georgia Capitol Museum.  According to TripAdvisor, they had some interesting free exhibits.  The State Patrol Officer running the security screening seemed surprised when I told him where I was from and why I was there though – apparently this little exhibit doesn’t get much of a draw.  Hey, it’s free and I had some time…

The exhibit is displayed in cases on an upper floor of the capitol building, so as I was wandering around the floor looking at things, state capitol staff were going about their business up and down the hallways.  There were cases dedicated to the flora, fauna and minerals of the state capitol, and the history of Georgia.  There were also some interesting Georgia political stories and anecdotes, including a disputed election in 1946, a dead guy and a couple of men who were both very interested in having the outcome go their way.  It became dubbed the Three Governors Controversy.  You can read about it here.  Fascinating stuff really!

Seeing the inside of the capitol building was pretty cool too.  There is some really nice architectural detail there to check out.  It was worth the stop, even if the exhibit was small.

I walked back to the hotel from there, since it was a warm day and it was really only about a 1 mile walk, through an eclectic part of Atlanta.  I enjoyed it – there was so much to see!  Not to mention I walked down Peachtree Street from the Five Points district in Atlanta, which is mentioned repeatedly in Gone with the Wind.  It was interesting to see the real thing, and not just the reference from the book – it sure looks a lot different than Mitchell describes it though!



The Grand Tour – Day 9 – Ocmulgee National Monument

Our last day in Georgia, we slept in and got ready to go at a leisurely pace. We didn’t have much in the way of a “must-do” itinerary, so we decided we would visit the Ocmulgee National Monument, which is a site that preserves another group of Indian Mounds. In addition, there is evidence of over 17,000 years of human habitation at the Ocmulgee site.   The Visitor’s Center there was started in the 1930s, in the Art Deco style, but due to World War II it wasn’t completed until 1952. Inside there is an exhibit featuring artifacts that have been found on the site and displays about the tribes who once inhabited the land.

We walked outside from the Visitor’s Center and first we came upon an Earth Lodge in a mound; it is at the site of the oldest Ceremonial Lodge in the Americas. The Earth Lodge was found in ruins  and reconstructed on the same site, using evidence they found from the ruins.  The floor is the original floor, constructed by the Ocmulgee people in 1015 A.D.  You enter through a tunnel the way the Native Americans did.  I had to stoop to go through the tunnel and they have even raised the height of the tunnel during the excavation and preservation of the lodge!  For reference, I’m 5’3″ tall, so these must have been some very short people!  Inside, the Earth Lodge would have seated about 50 people and there were seats molded into a platform for the leaders to sit.

Me In Front of the Ocmulgee Earth Lodge

Further on you come to 3 more mounds; 2 are ceremonial mounds and a third is a burial mound.  The walk isn’t that far, but you can drive to all 3 mounds if you aren’t inclined to walk.  The tallest ceremonial mound on the site is 55 feet tall.  Scans of the tallest mounds have revealed that this one had a spiraling staircase leading to the top.  The site is also unique because the mounds were built a bit further away from each other than other mound sites – scholars believe that this was to provide additional space for public space and residences around the mounds.

Two Ocmulgee Temple Mounds

Sadly, one of the ceremonial mounds was sheared in half in 1843 when the railroad came through.  Further damage was done in 1874 when the railroad cut was widened substantially, destroying a large portion of the funeral mound. The railroad line still runs through the site today, and when you are walking, you actually cross over the cut on a pedestrian bridge. It makes me wonder how many historical artifacts were carted off by railroad employees and construction workers of the day. I’m glad that there is a bit more awareness of the need for historic preservation today.

If mounds aren’t quite your speed, archaeologists have also found Clovis Points on the site, which date back about 13,500 years.  Clovis people used the points to hunt for game, and they have been found at sites all around North America.  It is pretty neat to think that this site has supported human life for so long.

Also on the site of Ocmulgee National Monument is a plantation house, which used to be the house for the Dunlap Plantation. The Civil War battle of Walnut Creek was fought near here, and the Confederates built an earthworks in the yard of the Dunlap house that remains today. We walked to see the earthworks, which are entirely unexciting, but you have to imagine what it was like 150 years ago. Given the heavy cannon firing during the battle of Walnut Creek, it is hard to believe there weren’t more casualties. The Confederates had 1 killed and 2 wounded, while the Union had 9 wounded.

If Case You Couldn’t Tell, This is a Civil War Earthworks

This was a lovely stop to explore a part of US history that I didn’t know much about, plus I got some more stamps for my National Park Passport!

After Ocmulgee, we made the drive back to Atlanta, and Jon found an independent record store he wanted to visit. He would have to tell you about his experience himself (he was like a kid in a candy store!), because I find it difficult to entertain myself in indie record stores. 99% of the music they carry is stuff I have never heard of. Let’s just say I like more “commercial” music. But Jon was happy, so it was a nice ending to a great trip!

We headed to the airport, got checked in, went through a terribly long, slow line at security, and finally got settled in for the long flight home. Although I had a fantastic time the whole trip (well, except for that one fight during the traffic jam…), I was ready to sleep in my own comfy bed.  Of course, after a couple days back at home, I was ready to travel again!  Now we just need to save up for the next trip!

The Grand Tour – Day 8 – Andersonville Prison

We got up and while I got ready to go, Jon enjoyed some time down at the exercise room at the Windsor Hotel (he did say it was too hot though).  Then we checked out of the hotel and since the hotel restaurant was almost done with their breakfast period, we asked where else there was to get breakfast in the area. The manager recommended Carter’s, which he said served an authentic southern breakfast. We checked it out. It turned out to be Carter’s Fried Chicken, and they did have a breakfast menu. I’m not exactly sure I would describe it as authentic though – or at least authentic southern breakfast isn’t much different than all the authentic northern breakfasts I’ve had. Scrambled eggs, sausage, Wonderbread, and substitute grits for hashbrowns. Carter’s breakfast was decent but nothing fancy, cafeteria style, served up on a Styrofoam plate with plastic utensils. But it filled us up and we were on our way.

Like I said before, our destination for the day was Andersonville, the confederate Civil War prisoner of war camp. It was called Fort Sumter during the war, but in the later years it became known as Andersonville, named after the closest community. It was located there because it was sufficiently remote as to prevent much chance of a Union raid on the camp, and the community of Andersonville only had about 20 residents during the Civil War, so there wasn’t much chance of their complaining too loudly about having a POW camp in their backyard.

We got to Andersonville close to 10:30 in the morning, and went to the Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center has a museum honoring Prisoners of War from all conflicts that the U.S. has been involved in, from the Revolutionary War to the present. We started out by watching their half hour film from the perspective of POWs. It was a very powerful collection of interviews with people who were POWs going back to World War II, detailing their experiences, both the horrors they lived through and the joy they experienced upon their release.  The museum there is well done and offers a lot of information on the POW experience throughout the ages.  It is a National Historic Site (and I got a stamp!), and it is all free of charge!  They do welcome donations, for the fantastic work they do to preserve this history for future generations.

Andersonville National Historic Site Visitor’s Center

After the film and our visit to the Museum, we checked out the free audio tour from the Visitor’s Center and headed out to see the prison site (just ask for the audio tour at the front desk). The audio tour has a tour of the prison and the cemetery, so you can head over to the cemetery after you are done with the prison and get some good information there too. I’ll talk about the cemetery in my next post.

Fort Sumter was located in this remote area of Georgia to prevent Union troops from being able to easily mount an assault on the prison to free the POWs. The site was originally 16.5 acres, with a boggy creek running through it to provide a water source for prisoners. The camp was designed for about 6,000 people. A few months after the prison opened in February 1864, officials realized that the original 16.5 acre site was not large enough, and the camp was hastily expanded to 26.5 acres. Unfortunately, there was no new source of water in the expanded area.  The expanded prison was intended for about 10,000 prisoners, but by June 1864, there were about 26,000 prisoners housed there.  At the height of overcrowding, the population was 32,000 prisoners.  In all, 45,000 prisoners passed through its gates in the 14 months that it was open.

During construction of the prison, officials reasoned that prisoners could access the upstream area of the creek for drinking water, and use the downstream portion for their latrine. What the officials didn’t count on, however, was that the water had already been tainted by kitchen facilities upstream, so the water was polluted by the time it ran into the camp.  So much for that idea…  The camp was constructed with a stockade wall and guard towers built along the wall for guards to monitor the prison population.  19 feet within the stockade wall was a light fence that became known as the ‘deadline’, because if you were seen on the other side of that fence, you would be shot on sight.  Therefore, of the 26.5 acres of the camp, a significant section of the real estate was not even available to the prisoners.

This picture shows the entire 26.5 acre prison camp – Camp Sumter – Home to 45,000 Union soldiers over a period of 14 months

When the Confederates were building the camp, they cut down all the trees that were on the site, both to use for the stockade walls, and to prevent the prisoners from being able to use the trees as cover for an escape. The unfortunate consequence was that there was absolutely no shelter from the elements on the camp grounds. Prisoners could use whatever they could get a hold of to build a shelter for themselves, but there were not a lot of available resources. As we drove around the site and got out of the car to explore more, it was apparent that this camp would have been unbearable in the hot summer sun. And it would only get worse as the summer got hotter. And the Georgia winter would not have been pleasant either, dressed in rags with no shelter and inadequate food.

A Reconstruction of the Stockade Wall – Jon is Reading the Sign

Re-Creations of Prisoner Shelters – They Called the SheBangs

Due to a combination of polluted water, inadequate food and nutrition and lack of shelter from the elements, prisoners began to die in large numbers shortly after the camp was opened. In all, almost 13,000 of the 45,000 prisoners at Camp Sumter died during the 14 months that the camp was operating. If you were lucky enough to be healthy for awhile, you still had to contend with the Andersonville Raiders, a gang of immoral prisoners who weren’t above using theft and violence to obtain additional resources for themselves.  They were armed mostly with clubs, and would steal food and valuables in order to survive – killing the weakened soldiers who tried to resist.

Eventually in July 1864, the Andersonville Raiders were captured by their fellow prisoners, and the camp commander Henry Wirz allowed the prisoners to arrest and try the Raiders, sentence them and carry out their sentences. Sentences ranged from minor punishments like being put in stocks, to more severe punishments such as running the gauntlet – I had to look this up – it is where you have to run back and forth between two rows of soldiers while they strike you with clubs or sticks as you run by.

Apparently some of the Raiders who were made to run the gauntlet got off with only a few blows to the head, but a couple of them were beaten so badly that they later died of their injuries. Six of the Andersonville Raiders were hanged.  The prisoners refused to allow the Raiders to be buried with the rest of the prisoners who died honorably, so the Raiders’ graves are separated in the cemetery from the rest.  At least after the trials and punishments, prisoners didn’t have to worry about being victimized by their own fellow prisoners.  I’m sure it was small comfort.

As the situation with the water got worse, prisoners prayed to God and were blessed with a natural spring that was unearthed in August 1964 by a lightning strike during a torrential thunderstorm. Providence Spring, as it came to be called, had cool, clean water that flowed at the rate of about 10 gallons per minute, enough to provide enough clean water for everyone in the camp. It continues to flow today, and it is now enshrined in a granite building. Ironically, park rangers have marked the spring as having unpotable water – I’m not sure if that is just to limit liability, or because the structure contains lead pipes, or because the spring has been polluted now too. I didn’t test the waters, so to speak.

The Building Erected Around the Providence Spring by Veteran's Groups in 1901

The Building Erected Around the Providence Spring by Veteran’s Groups in 1901

A View of Providence Spring From the Stockade Wall

Sadly, although Sherman’s troops were within about 20 miles of Camp Sumter during their March to the Sea, the prisoners were not liberated at that time. In fact, they had to endure another miserable winter (1864) and were not released until April 1865 when the war ended. Although conditions had improved somewhat, it was still considered a horrific experience.

Henry Wirz, the camp commander, was the only ranking officer who was executed for war crimes after the Civil War. People were outraged when word reached the north at the end of the war about the conditions the prisoners were subjected to. Lincoln had just been assassinated, and there was not a lot of sympathy for Wirz’s claims that he had done the best he could with the resources he had available. To Wirz’ credit, he had sent a letter signed by many of the prisoners requesting that the North re-establish prisoner exchanges, but the Union would not.  At one point, the Confederates even offered to release the prisoners, if only the Union would send ships to the Georgia coast to pick them up.

Ironically, New York’s Elmyra prison had a similar death rate among the Confederate soldiers who were imprisoned there, but the South was in no position to punish the North, having lost the war. I also learned that many of Andersonville’s prison guards suffered the same malnutrition and exposure to the elements as the prisoners, and many of the guards died too. You can draw your own conclusions about whether you believe that the Confederates intentionally starved the soldiers, or if was a cruel result of the circumstances of the time, with even Confederate soldiers and citizens going hungry.

Andersonville prison and cemetery is now a very peaceful place. I wrote about the cemetery in a separate post; you can find it here.  While we were there, we saw only about a half dozen others touring the grounds.  Actually, I was surprised that there were so few people there. On the grounds – it is very quiet; you can only hear the sounds of nature – there are no sounds of traffic, industry or city life. If you didn’t know what happened here, you would never be able to guess that a place that seems so serene now could have been the site of so much pain and suffering. It was a humbling place to visit.

The Grand Tour – Day 7 – Americus, Georgia!

After Fort Pulaski, we got on the road to our next destination – Americus, Georgia. Americus is a small town of about 17,000, which is only about 10 miles from Andersonville National Historic Site. Yes, the Andersonville of Civil War Prisoner of War camp fame, which was to be our destination the next morning. The long drive was a collection of boring freeways and picturesque back roads. We passed lots of cute brick homes with front porches, lots of singlewide trailers, a Mennonite Church, and one house that appeared to have been struck by a tornado. The entire front half of the home was sheared away, and there was furniture and debris all over. It made me glad we don’t have very many tornados in the Northwest (although we do have a few).

Once we got to Americus, we checked into our home for the night, the Best Western Windsor Hotel. The Windsor is a historic hotel, built in 1892 to attract folks from the north who wanted to winter where it was warm. It originally had 100 rooms, but after the renovation, it has 53 guest rooms, none of which are alike. The hotel has a grand 3 story lobby, and you can walk around the landing on the upper floors and look down at the lobby. Lots of famous people have stayed there over the years, including former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eugene Debs (the labor leader), Jessica Tandy and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife.  The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places too.

Windsor Hotel – Built 1892 – Victorian (Queen Anne) Architectural Style With Moorish Elements

The Lobby of the Windsor Hotel

Rumor has it that Al Capone also stayed there, and had an armed guard posted at the base of the turret suite where he stayed. And it has some ghosts. Floyd Lowery was a doorman who worked at the hotel for over 40 years and is still around. Apparently he is a friendly ghost, still wanting to serve the guests who see him.  Although Floyd didn’t drink, the pub at the hotel is now named for him.  And a woman and her daughter were murdered in the early 1900s, pushed down the elevator shaft from the third floor. It is said that the woman’s reflection can be seen in the mirror in the hallway of the third floor, and the little girl can be heard running up and down the hallways playing. We didn’t see or hear anything in our third floor room, although it was on the opposite side of the hotel from the elevator.

The Windsor Hotel Still Has its Original Phone Booth!

The hotel is gorgeous – the renovation did a good job of preserving the historic features of the hotel, and was nicely appointed with a down duvet (actually a bit hot for the weather though!). We enjoyed our stay, having dinner in the pub restaurant, where I had the best fish burger I’ve ever eaten! The patty was made from lobster, crab and fish, and was just full of big chunks of seafood! Jon had the salmon satay with apple slaw, which was also delicious. We sat out on the pub’s second floor veranda and watched the thunderstorm from beneath the veranda roof.  The lightning was incredible – it was so close and we had an excellent vantage point!  It was a nice end to a great day.

The Grand Tour – Day 6 – Savannah and Colonial Cemetery

Today was our full day in Savannah! We didn’t really have anything on the itinerary other than a ghost story walking tour in the evening, so we got up and got breakfast at a more leisurely pace. The Marshall House has a fantastic continental breakfast included in the price of the room, with baked breakfast quiches in addition to all the usual fare. And a big bowl of fresh cut fruit! Yum!

After breakfast, we set out for the day. We checked out the riverfront again, this time during the day.  Most of the buildings on the riverfront used to be cotton warehouses, where the cotton was stored while it awaited shipment to the North and to Europe. Slaves loaded the cotton and were chained in the warehouses at night, as legend has it, so of course they are haunted! During the day though, there the riverfront area is a bustling tourist area, with restaurants and gift shops, and it really doesn’t give away too much about its cruel past.

Next we wandered up into an area above the riverfront that has a couple of antique shops, and Jon let me have my fill of browsing. They had some neat old bottles, but nothing that I had to bring home with me. We also went to the City Market, which is full of touristy art galleries and gift shops. Jon loved the portraits of Big Lebowski characters (in bright, psychedelic colors of course) that we found in one art gallery. He made me take a picture after I let him know in no uncertain terms that the Big Lebowski portrait would NEVER be decorating one of the walls in our home!

Big Lebowski Portrait

There was one wine tasting room named Meinhardt’s Winery in the City Market, but a prominent sign was displayed that proclaimed “NO SHARING!”  (the all caps and the exclamation point are their emphasis, not mine).  To be honest, we were a little miffed by that, and decided not to try their wines. Let’s be honest – wineries give a sample of the wine to show people how it tastes and to get people interested enough to buy the wine. You are going to offer the same 1-2 oz. sample, why do you care if one person drinks it all or if 2 people share it? Not to mention, this wasn’t a free tasting – you had to pay for it, so if I had to BUY that 1-2 oz. sample of wine anyway, doesn’t that mean I own it and can share it with whomever I like? I can certainly understand that this was a tourist area and you probably get a lot of people who aren’t going to buy, but really, if you are that worried about it, why would you set up shop in the middle of the tourist market!? Ok, I just had to get that out there… I’m done with my rant now… moving on… The shop had fruit and muscadine wines, and while it would have been interesting to try them, the muscadine cider the day before hadn’t blown my mind.

At this point, I was already starving, so we stopped at Anna’s Italian restaurant for lunch. I ordered a mushroom Swiss burger (Jon thought I was crazy for ordering hot food, because it was really hot that day, but it just sounded good!) Jon had a shrimp salad. Both our meals were good, although nothing spectacular.  Mom and I had been to the same restaurant and had tapas for dinner, and they were really good, so I would still be willing to go back and try the tapas if we are ever back there (which I hope we are).

From City Market, we continued on our way, stopping here and there to look at historic homes, meander around squares, and take in the Colonial Cemetery. Colonial Cemetery was Savannah’s second cemetery, the first one having been filled much earlier than the founders expected (probably due to those pesky Yellow Fever epidemics) and eventually covered over with buildings as Savannah grew (and yes, they did leave the bodies in the ground – just built right on top of them!). Colonial Cemetery was used by union troops as a campsite during the Civil War (only the officers got to stay in the nice historic homes I guess), and during their spare time, they took to re-carving the headstones.

One of Savannah’s Beautiful Squares

Savannah’s Colonial Cemetery

If you pay attention while you wander through, you will find some genealogical impossibilities. We found one where a boy, aged 11, died in 1820, his wife, aged 17, died in 1823, and their son, aged 12, also died in 1820, just a few weeks after his father. See where I’m going with this – the son would have been born before the father!

A Re-Carved Headstone in Savannah’s Colonial Cemetery

The cemetery is full of these tricks (or maybe Savannah just had a lot of time travelers), and if you are the patient type, who reads all the headstones, you can find dozens. I could wander around cemeteries for awhile, but Jon was getting bored, so we continued on our way.

The Grand Tour – Day 1 – Atlanta to Etowah

We flew out on the red eye from Seattle on Thursday, June 7, and arrived at the Atlanta airport about 6:50 am on Friday, June 8. The flight was smooth and completely uneventful, and we were both able to get some sleep. Jon had taken a couple of Xanax that his doctor prescribed because he is nervous about flying, and when we got off the plane, he was like a zombie. Walking… really… slow… It was a little bit annoying actually, because I was ready to start our vacation and get our tourist on!  We got Jon a tea to wake up and went and picked up our rental car. We got a Dodge Avenger – I’ve never driven one of those before – kind of sporty! At this point, Jon thought he was ok to drive. Um… NO!

Our Wheels for the Trip - a Dodge Avenger

Our Wheels for the Trip – a Dodge Avenger

I got behind the wheel and we headed out and plugged our first destination into the GPS – Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Along the way, we got some breakfast at one of my favorite chain restaurants on the road – Cracker Barrel.  Jon had his first taste of grits, and I had some of their delicious baked apples.

Our Breakfast at Cracker Barrel

Kennesaw Mountain is 20 miles from Atlanta and was the last big mountain (more like a hill for us West coast natives) that the Union had to either assault or go around in order to capture Atlanta. General Sherman tried to outflank the Confederates and maneuver around the mountain first. When that didn’t work, he planned a direct assault up the mountain, with his 100,000 men against the Confederates 50,000.  Due to the Confederates dug in position at the top of the mountain, the assault meant heavy casualties for Sherman, 3,000 casualties to the Confederates 1,000. After the direct assault didn’t work, Sherman moved around the mountain and got the Confederates to engage on the route to Atlanta.

Even though the battle took place on June 27, 1864, Atlanta wasn’t captured until September 2, so clearly the Confederates still had plenty of fighting left in them. We hiked up the mountain (hill) and pondered the horror of what happened there (at least I pondered – I think Jon was mostly wondering why I was going so slowly – he had woken up by now!). It is a very peaceful place now. The hike was about a mile up to the top of the hill, but it felt longer because it was steep and humid. I can’t imagine trying to climb up under cannon and rifle fire!  It is interesting to see the photos of the battlefield online and see how different it looks now, with the trees grown back and the ravaged land healed.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

The Visitor’s Center has a great 20 minute movie on the battle, which I hadn’t studied much prior to our trip.  It was very informative, and had historical photos and quotes from soldier’s intermixed with the narrative.  There is also a small museum documenting the battle and the players involved, and showing some of the artifacts that have been recovered from the battlefield.  One thing I thought was really interesting was a section of a tree with several cannonballs embedded in it!  Plus I got a stamp for my National Parks Passport.  I know it’s kind of nerdy, but I got a passport that the National Park Service sells, where you can get a stamp at each National Park and National Historic Site that you visit.  A neat souvenir of our travels!  I got my passport a couple of years ago, so I didn’t have any Southeast stamps yet.  Until now!

Cannon at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park

The View From the Top of Kennesaw Mountain

From the top of the hill, you can see Atlanta in the distance, and imagine what the soldiers went through, fighting battle after battle in an attempt to make it to Atlanta, 20 miles away.  It gives me an appreciation for how easy things are for us now, as we walked back down the hill.

After our Civil War foray, we drove a short distance away to the Etowah Indian Mounds for a step further back in history.

Planning for the Grand Tour of the South – 2012

Jon suggested that I include a post on the planning process for our vacation, so here I go…

We made the decision to visit the South because I wanted the opportunity to get back to see some of the more historical areas of our country. When you live in the Northwest, history is either the history of Native American settlements (which tend to be rather sparsely documented, due to the transitory nature of a lot of these settlements, and the fact that the tribes did not have a written language), or history of European settlement in this area that goes back at the very most about 150 years. In our city, the oldest building we have was built by George Pickett (of later Civil War fame) in 1856.  After that, there really aren’t any other homes until the 1880s. The Pickett House has been extensively remodeled/updated (although many years ago, and now it seems very dated – think flowery wall paper and old carpeting), and the Northwest weather has taken its toll, causing the home to smell significantly of mold. Oh my, I’ve already gotten off topic!

The George Pickett House – 1856

Interior of the Pickett House – Note the Floral Wallpaper

Jon, without my intervention, would plan every vacation to California, so I put my foot down several months ago and said that our next trip would be to Civil War Battlefields! Jon, although he loves history, wasn’t all that excited about a trip of exclusively Civil War battlefields (I’ll keep working on that though), so there had to be other historical interest in the places we picked. That wouldn’t be difficult, considering anyplace with Civil War battlefields will have other historical sites too. We settled on seeing Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. I had been to Savannah before, and loved it, and had been to Charleston for one afternoon, but have always wanted to see more. We originally planned to fly into Charleston, but plane tickets there were running about $650 per person! Savannah was about $100 less per person, but still pretty pricey! So, we settled on Atlanta, where we could save almost $300 per ticket and rent a car for $240 for nine days.

As for the rest of the itinerary… We pondered the Biltmore Estate for awhile before we decided to drive out of our way to see it. Asheville isn’t really on the way to anything from Atlanta (unless maybe you are heading to Knoxville, Tennessee), but the Biltmore is one of those ‘bucket list’ places for tourists, especially history nerds like me. Plus my mom was enthusiastically encouraging the Biltmore detour, since she has always wanted to see it too!  And Andersonville National Historic Site. I know many of you will find that morbid, but you can’t be a Civil War buff without having an appreciation for all aspects of the war, and certainly the Civil War was bloody and gruesome even without POW camps. I had an interest in seeing it when my mom and I visited Georgia in 2004 and didn’t, so I figured I shouldn’t pass it by again.  I knew that would be a lot of driving, but Jon says he likes to drive!  And I’m always willing to drive too, although he rarely lets me.  So with those being the four corners of our exploration route, we were set!

As for lodging – obviously, I would love to do a trip where I stay in all historic hotels in the historic areas of all the cities I visit. Spa massages and gourmet meals would be on the wish list too… But until I get that anonymous benefactor, we’ll have to continue to compromise. We decided we would stay just outside downtown Charleston, and in the historic district in Savannah. While researching hotel options, I also found a neat historic hotel that was reasonably priced in Americus, Georgia too, so that went on the list too.

Jon isn’t that great about deciding what he wants to visit, but I knew that if I did too much of one thing, he would start to rebel. I could do every historic home tour I come across, but for Jon, he gets trompe l’oeil and antique furniture burnout. So I tried to find a mix of different things along the way. Native American history sites, Civil War stuff, and some nice antebellum architecture thrown in too.  And National Parks.  With some good food and wine. And some ghosts. So I researched, and gave Jon some options, and he said he didn’t care, so I picked! For the most part, we stuck with the original plan even! Except I planned to go swimming more (but it was the rain that changed my plans)! So stay tuned for future installments of the 2012 Grand Tour of the South!

The Hiatus…

Don’t worry, loyal blog readers… (all half dozen of you!)  I have not abandoned you!  Jon and I took the last 9 days to do a “Grand Tour” of the South, with visits to the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. I had intended to do some mini blogs along the way, and get some comprehensive posts ready for when I got home, but karma had its own plan.  Jon’s laptop bit the dust on the first day of the trip!  And since it is pretty tough to type much on my Kindle, we ended up with a rather low-tech vacation!  I had brought a paper (paper of all things – CRAZY!) journal with me, so I took notes and started devising my blog posts to share all of our adventures!

So bear with me as I sort dirty laundry and try to get the spray on sunscreen stains out of my ivory sweater (yes, that was another minor mishap…) and I promise I will transcribe and photo-accessorize our entire eclectic vacation itinerary to share with you.  Lots of history, dead people (ghosts and otherwise) great food, long drives, full memory cards (and a bit of a panic when the new one didn’t work!), thunder and lightning storms, and sore feet but no sunburns!  Small towns, big cities, merchants, slaves, soldiers, and some Native Americans!  We had it all!  I just need to do a lot of typing and uploading of photos.

Just let me unpeel this cat from my lap so I can start another load of laundry first…