Saturday, February 25, 2012

Carter, Gone With The Wind and Cyclorama

While here we had to go to the Carter Presidential Library, located in downtown Atlanta.  It is very nicely done, with lots of inter-active stations set up to travel along with them and to access the documents and photos in the library.  It was all very nicely done and can actually take quite a few hours if you want to really go in depth.  Worth the stop if you are interested in doing Presidential libraries, as we are.

view of downtown Atlanta from library garden

entrance to library and museum

As we came out, it was already after 3pm, so decidedly hungry.  While Fred was getting out his phone and Urbanspoon to find us our next stop, I asked a security guard if he had any recommendations.  We ended up just a block and a half away at a local eatery, Manuel's Tavern.  As the guard said and it was indicated outside, this place had been here since 1956.  Whew, whew!!  Well it looks like all kinds of locals, politicos and film folks have eaten here and signed photos for the owner.  Oh, by the way, the owner died in 2004 and is now in an urn on the mantle over the bar!  I love it, especially since I always tell my kids that I want to be in urns on their mantles......
Food was really good and atmosphere friendly.  The end of another good day in Atlanta.

Saturday, we went off to hunt down the inspiration for Tara.  We found it in Jonesboro, Ga - Stately Oaks.  This house was in Margaret Mitchell's neighborhood and was part of her inspiration.  She grew up in this area and heard lots of Civil War stories from the old folks who had lived during the times.  Yes, some of them were still alive and living in the same spot.  The house had been built in 1839 a few blocks from its current location.  It was moved to where it is now, when the land it was built on was sold to a Ford dealership.  Modernization was happening in Jonesboro.  Anyway, the house was saved and all the furniture was donated to the house.
It was nice, not anything on the grand scale of what we had previously visited in Louisiana and Mississippi.  We toured the house with a bus load of tourists from Norway!,_Georgia

After Jonesboro, we headed back to Atlanta to see the Atlanta Cyclorama.   This is an enormous painting that was done about the battle of Atlanta, specifically one day, July 22, 1864.  It is enormous, 5 panels of floor to ceiling painting mounted in the round.  You sit in the center of the room on a platform that moves you around to view the whole painting.  It is actually a diorama, with story and music playing as you are turned to view it.  Quite a visual undertaking and worth seeing.  In the museum part there is another video showing the work to do some restoration that took place in the 1970s.  Very interesting.

And surprise to us, the other train in the Great Train chase, the Texas is located in this museum.  So we completed the circle of that story. (see previous posting for more info)

Another good day in this area.  There is so much to see and do in this area, it is chock full of history.

Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two Presidents and a General

Now in Georgia, in Norcross which is a suburb of Atlanta.  Holly cow, what a lot of traffic on the roads here!  There is a constant back up going into and even around Atlanta, makes no difference if you go straight through or use the ring roads, it's bad!!!  And forget about the speed limit, no one does the 55 or 60  posted, it's all 70+ mph....if you do the speed you run the risk of getting rear ended, so keep the peddle to the metal when driving here.
One of the things we have learned to do when arriving into a state is to stop at the Welcome Centers, which are usually the first rest stop in each state.  There we seem to have been able to get a state book, maps and a variety of good brochures of what to do.  Oh, by the way, Georgia rest stops do not have the 24hr security that we had in Mississippi and Alabama.

So, when we arrived at our RV park, we spent some time looking over all the handouts and deciding what we should see.

First stop on our dance card - Warm Springs and the "Little White House" that was built by FDR.  It is in the woods and is just so cute.  Just a little cabin in the woods really.  This is where he came and did hydrotherapy for his polio.  It is also where he died in April 1945.  He was seated in the living room and having his portrait painted at the time.

interesting view- looks out on woods; FDR had a tub facing a similar window

Second stop was Plains, Georgia to see where Jimmy Carter started and currently lives.  Great display set up in the former high school where both Jimmy and Rosalynn went to school.  Displays and stories of both their childhoods through current times, with lots of information about their humanitarian work.
Took a short drive out of town to see his boyhood home and on the way passed their current house.
It is a wonder when looking at Plains, that someone from there would even begin to imagine he could be President.  It is VERY, VERY small, but very lovely with lots of white columned large porches on homes that have been around for a very long time.

arriving into Plains, Georgia

former high school now museum

main street Plains

boyhood farm

A quick bite at a spot we found on the road back, to end a long day.  This was a 300 mile, 7hrs since neither of these are close to Atlanta, but worth doing.

Today, we went to see the General.  It is located in the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.  So, now that I have you wondering.....the General is a Civil War train engine that was taken by some Union spies in what was known as Andrews Raid in 1862.  This was an attempt to sabotage the rail lines to keep the Confederates from getting supplies.  Walt Disney even made a movie out of this story staring Fess Parker.  Quite an interesting tale.
The actual engine is in the museum in a place of honor.  I have attached youtube links to the little movie we saw about the General. Quite a funny thing to see.
The museum is a really good place to get an overall glimpse at the southern view of the Civil War.  Lots of photos, this was the first time photography was used to capture war images.  Really quite interesting.

This museum also houses the Friendship, Merci, Train that France sent to Georgia. Each state received a train from France.  We saw on the display that the one for Washington State is located in Yakima.  Check it out next time you are there.  Included are some of the items that came with the train.  There were a few medallions that I had recently found in our home in France.  I will have to investigate them a bit more.
We took the rest of the afternoon off, since we are both tired and need a break from being tourists.  We have been "touristing" every day, other than when moving to a new state, everyday since we left San Antonio.  Enough already!  We will need to reevaluate what else we want to see and do while we are here.  Tonight we had dinner in a Peruvian restaurant.  Seems there is a large community in the Atlanta area.  This is a really diverse culture city.  This morning we sat at Starbucks, yes we have one near us again and heard an Asian couple speaking in excellent Spanish on the phone.  Our guess is Peruvian also.
More later.
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Alabama time

We are in Alabama, just outside of Birmingham.  Weather was rain all day during our drive here, about an inch, with flood in many areas of the state.  Driving up here was again rolling hills with pine forests along the road. Very pretty and would probably seem more so if the sun had been shining.
The camping is in a parking lot right next to a baseball field in the town of Hoover.  South East Conference ball games are played here, for those who might be interested.  Games will be later in May.
These are all full hook-up sites, no restrooms, so you have to be self-contained as we are.

Today we woke up to just a bit of rain, which ended late morning.  We have a Starbucks just a mile down the road from us, so started off there.  Then a bit of grocery shopping since we never found a grocery store in the areas of Mississippi that we were in.  Not sure what those folks do...
Since it was Sunday and not a lot of traffic, we went driving around Birmingham.  This is a nice city, in spite of its bad history.  Right away I was aware of the women, old and young, keeping up on the latest fashions.  We also saw many areas of town that were high income areas, leading us to believe that there is money in Birmingham.
The town did not actually start till after the Civil War.  Founding fathers realized that it was at a railroad intersection and there was coal here.  It also soon became a steel industry town and was a company town.
The white families owned the businesses and controlled the money, the black families did the labor.,_Alabama

We went to the one antebellum house still standing in Birmingham, Arlington, which is in one of the oldest parts of the city.  The house was undamaged during the Civil War, though it was used by Union General Wilson (Wilson's Raiders) to plan the destroying and burning of southern supplies and the University of Alabama.
The house was refurbished in the early 1900s by a new owner to include electricity and central heating.  The heating works great, the house was very warm and we truly appreciated it since the temperature had dropped and it was very cold out.

silverware holders

We next went to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  This is an incredible place to visit to get a history of the segregation issues in Birmingham, Montgomery and other areas in the south.  There were many black families visiting and a few whites, probably tourists like us.  It was a horrible history to revisit.  I found it interesting to overhear a conversation that a young black mother was having with her 7-8yr old son and trying to explain what this was about.  There was no " they did this to black folks" in her explanations.  Just trying to explain how people sometimes hurt each other, black and white.
At the end of this tour, I told Fred I almost expected someone to turn and slap me just because I was white, in retaliation for all that we (whites) did to them(blacks).    One startling item was a large wooden cross that had been partially burned on the lawn of an mixed race couple in 1990.

Directly across the street is the 16th Street Baptist Church, which had a major role in the civil rights movement.  The church was established in 1832 and is still in use.

  Across the street from both is the Kelly Park, which is where the police used hoses and dogs to stop a peaceful demonstration.

All of these are must see locations if you are here.

Second day we went on the backroads to see what we could see.  Actually, our destination was Talladega RaceTrack and Museum.  Driving out of the Birmingham area continued to be rolling hills and pines.  Also lots and lots of McMansions.  Birmingham has hills like in Seattle, though not a steep as downtown Seattle and the area around is like being in Bellevue and Issaquah.  Houses were priced in the $300,000 close in (according to the promo posters) and then gradually going down to $80,000 the more into the country you get, about 70 miles from Birmingham.  The areas were all very pretty with rolling hills and pines.  Did not see the grinding poverty that we had seen in our little view of Mississippi.

On the way to the race track we spotted a sign about a covered bridge and grist mill.  Was closed today, but I got to take some nice pictures.

On to the Talladega Race Track.  We did the combo tour here, museum and drive on the race track.  No, I did not get to drive it, they have a little 12 passenger bus that they take you out along the track.  You do go the whole way around.  It was actually more amazing than I expected, since you really get to experience the banked walls on the turns.  The tour guy told us that the first turn is banked to equal 4 stories high.  It was quite impressive and there is no way I ever understood this by watching any race on TV.
Inside is a collection of mainly racing machines, cars and motorcycles, plus displays of the gear worn, engines rebuilt and all kinds of guy stuff.  The best part for me was the drive on the track.

love the knit cap!

M&M take them with you in your race car....

a bullet machine

Dinner was found at a nice roadside restaurant and then back to the Roulotte.  We have already loaded the Passat on the tow dolly and tomorrow we leave for a week in Atlanta, Georgia area.  We are looking forward to a more leisurely pace, since we have not only lost track of the date, but we keep checking with each other as to which state we are in.  This 3 days in one location is just too quick, so we will be making a few changes to what our itinerary was.  For now, we continue to Atlanta, then Nashville, then Memphis.  Tabitha will be joining us for her spring break in Memphis.  We are really looking forward to her visit!!!

Stay tuned,
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!