Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Swanning About

May 23-25

This trip is just about over. It’s Thursday and I’m at a Comfort Inn in North East, Md. I’m about 10 miles from Delaware and 25 from New Jersey. 

That puts me on the edge of the old neighborhood. Everything from here on in is familiar, so I guess this last stretch doesn’t count as travel any more.

Dinner will be at Woody’s Crab Shack or Steak & Main, down the highway from here in the old town of North East.

I have driven more than 1,500 miles so far, but didn’t get to the far end of Highway 15. The road through South Carolina has a lot less to see than Virginia and North Carolina do.

There are a lot of abandoned buildings and store fronts. 

When I stayed in Sumter, S.C., Tuesday night, there didn’t seem to be much to do in the area. I picked it because a selection of motels shows up in a Google search, and it was a short jump from there to I-95 to begin the return trip.

My fortunes changed at the Quality Inn. The hand towel and washcloth had been folded together to resemble a swan.

Above it was a card that told the story:

“This swan, made with your towel and face cloth, represents Sumter’s Swan Lake Iris Gardens, the only public park in America that is home to all eight known swan species.”

According to the story, the iris gardens got their start when a frustrated gardener threw his iris bulbs into the swamp. They wouldn’t grow in his yard, but they bloomed in the swamp.

I got directions during dinner at the Cajun bar. A man stood thinking about ways to get there. Then it struck him. We were already in the neighborhood. 

Turn right out of the parking lot, go to the first light, make another right, and take Alice Drive to the end. I tried it Wednesday morning. It worked.

You drive through the gate that says “buses only” to park next to the other cars in the lot. 

I walked past one curious tree, covered with evergreen needles and Brussels sprouts. I had no idea what it was.

More of them were growing in the middle of the lake, rooted under the water. A sign told me they are cypress. 

The park also has little pillars with a button to push. When you do, you hear what’s supposed to be the tree’s voice. “I’m a sweet gum,” one says in a very folksy accent, and then goes on to explain how the seed balls are a nuisance in your lawn but cardinals love to eat the seeds.

As advertised, there were indeed eight species of swans, including a black strain native to Australia.

It was a morning of stop-and-start light rain. Dampness brings out aroma, especially from the pines, and even one lady’s perfume.

And also the roses blooming in a garden patch designed for the blind. Plants chosen for aroma or texture range from lilac to pussy willow.

There is also a chocolate garden, which has not only a little bush labeled chocolate, but also a wide variety of plants that smell like it or resemble it.

I was using the Rand-McNally U.S. Road Atlas for South Carolina. It covers the broad strokes, but lacks detail.

It did show one site worth a detour, several miles south of a town called Manning: “F. Marion Burial S.H.S.” 

Wow, that’s the Swamp Fox. I read a biography about him when I was a kid. I think Disney treated him in Davy Crockett style—televised adventures and a theme song—but of course he wasn’t played by Fess Parker so it didn’t catch on.

Many roads on the map were unidentified, just faint lines connecting heavier lines. 

This looks hopeless, so I have to try it.

Wandering led me to state highway, 260. According to the map, it goes vaguely in my direction. 

Actually it goes nowhere. It splits at the end. 

The right goes into the parking lot of a run-down motel. A sign says they will prosecute you for trespassing. 

I risked prosecution only long enough to turn the car around.

The left fork takes you to a boat landing.

I stopped at a gas station for directions. The man behind the counter was from the other side of the world. Literally. East Asian with heavy accent, he had no idea what I was talking about.

One of everything down here is named Marion: Lake Marion, Marion University, Marion County.

First he thought I was asking about a motorcycle dealer. 

No, the Revolutionary War hero. Francis Marion. He’s buried near here.

Then he suggested that I look in Florence, where the university is.

It was raining at a good clip. I wandered a bit more before I gave up.

On the way north I made a brief stop at a place everybody on the East Coast has heard about, South of the Border.

I had been on this section of I-95 twice before, the trip down and back when Matt graduated from boot camp at Parris Island. We didn’t stop at South of the Border.

It has the same comic feel that Wall Drug has. It even has dinosaurs. Only this theme park is a lot bigger. It includes two gift shops, east and west, each of them about the size of Wall Drug’s main building.

Billboards tout the place all the way up the highway. One shows a matador with a long curling mustache: “Pedro no shoot ze bull.”

God, how can they get away with that? I remember the colossal outcry over the Frito Bandito.

Everything at South of the Border seems to be red and yellow, even the car repair shop. There is an amusement park. Something that looks like an old parachute drop is topped by a bright sombrero. 

Next came a serious decision: Wilber’s or Ralph’s for barbecue?

I’ve been to Ralph’s several times in the past few years, but it may be 15 since I’ve been to Wilber’s in Goldsboro. Not since Matt left Camp Lejeune.

I had plenty of time to make the detour from I-95 to Goldsboro, so I chose Wilber’s. 

A lot can change in 15 years. I remembered a small brick building on U.S. 70, on the right if you’re heading east.

What I hadn’t counted on is how much the town has grown, and how confusing they have made it. You know how often the old U.S. route through a town becomes the business route when it’s replaced by a high-speed bypass. 

Goldsboro does that one better. It has a Business 70, a Bypass 70, and a Highway 70. That makes three highways with the same number.

And the Goldsboro inset on the official North Carolina road map doesn’t show them all.

I started looking for a Holiday Inn that had been advertised on a billboard outside town. It took me an hour of trying this 70 and that 70 to find it.

Once I was there, though, they told me that Wilber’s was not only still in business, but was just up the road.

Two things to eat in North Carolina that I really like are Brunswick stew, usually made with chicken, corn, lima beans, and a few other interesting ingredients. I also enjoy pulled pork barbecue. 

Wilber’s has a platter with both of them. Along with hush puppies. As usual in Q joints, the strongest drink was iced tea.

No collards or black-eyed peas on the menu. Dinner came with green cole slaw and yellow potato salad. 

The potatoes were very soft and had mustard in the mix, so it tasted like the filling for deviled eggs. Very nice.

I hadn’t eaten since morning.

After I polished everything off, I stopped at a convenience store for some local beer, an IPA from Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem. It was a good American IPA. Six were enough.

I drove from Goldsboro to Fredericksburg on Wednesday. It took me about four hours, a little longer than Google Maps predicted. I stopped for a while at the Virginia Welcome Center.

I checked into a Quality Inn right next to I-95, then drove downtown to take a walk.

Historic Fredericksburg is a charming town of 18th and 19th century buildings—eateries, clothing stores, antiques shops, a few art galleries—and red brick sidewalks. Hugh Mercer’s apothecary shop is there. 

I stopped at the Welcome Center and got a town map. The lady showed me where the Capital Ale House is, a couple of blocks away.

Capital had run out of its red IPA, but had another IPA called Expedition, made byAdventure Brewing Co., right in Fredericksburg.

One of the better IPAs, with a very good floral fragrance, something I’ve been missing in IPAs lately. It had the IPA piney flavor, too.

I had only one, because it was going into an empty stomach. 

I turned where a sign pointed the way to I-95. Then there were no more signs. So of course I turned the wrong way and wound up in another town.

It wasn’t a waste of time, really, because I got to see Hugh Mercer’s statue and the Kenmore Plantation house. A few log cabins, too, including an old schoolhouse.

Eventually I found Route 1 south, and got into the old town again, and made my way back to Hugh Mercer’s statue. I turned around and went the other way to the end of the road, and there was another sign pointing to I-95.

Dinner was at a place new to me, Cowboy Jack’s Saloon. It’s next to the motel. It was also a mistake.

The bar has 14 or 16 taps and no local brews on draft. They have bottles, but no beer list.

I had the house ale, a Goose Island IPA, and a bottle of an OK IPA whose name I forgot.

It was $2 burger night, and the ground beef was good. They serve it “pink” or “well.” 

Lucky for me I had a six-pack, a West Coast style IPA called Graffiti House from Old Bust Head Brewing in Vint Hill, Va.

This was a pretty good one, too. Not as good as Expedition, but to my taste better than, say, Lagunitas, which has a slightly sweet edge.

Thursday brought me north to Maryland. I-95 is busy everywhere all the time, but the stretch from Fredericksburg to Baltimore becomes intense. It also periodically becomes a parking lot.

So getting this far was work enough for one day.

I’m starting to get hungry. Thirsty too.

The beer drinking will commence shortly.

Love to all and best wishes. And I can’t think of anything wise-ass to add.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Equal Time for Federalists

May 21-22

I spent about three hours at James Madison’s plantation, Montpelier, on Sunday. It’s only fair. I’ve been to Monticello a couple of times.

I read Madison’s record of the Constitutional Convention a few years ago and have been a James Madison fan ever since. 

When the nation was tanking under the Articles of Confederation, he wrote a letter to John Adams outlining a plan that would largely become the U.S. Constitution.

I only learned about Montpelier on Saturday morning when I looked at the map and saw that Highway 15 passed close to it. That’s why I stopped at Orange, Va.

The house has been partly restored to the state it was in when Madison retired there after his presidential years. The building had been extensively enlarged after the Du Ponts bought it at some point in the late 19th or early 20th century.

The house is open only to groups on guided tours, but that’s OK. I learned that Thomas Jefferson was a frequent guest at Montpelier. That surprised me, because Jefferson had quite different political ideas from Madison’s. 

I don’t think he was a Federalist, like Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. He had no hand in the framing of the Constitution, for instance.

I learned that the bronze of James and Dolley Madison outside the visitor center may not have been in reduced scale. The figures are small, but the docent said Madison in real life was 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed a hundred pounds.

A huge Cedar of Lebanon on the property was a gift to the Madisons from the Marquis de Lafayette, another house guest. 

It stands near the gate to a formal garden. The Madisons had a garden there, but the current one was developed when the du Pont family owned the estate. They also built a race track that you pass on the way from the highway to the house.

Inside the house, the entrance hall is hung with picture frames. Many have pictures in them. Many others, perhaps half, are empty save for a brief description: storm at sea, landscape, etc.

A detailed inventory was taken of the paintings at Montpelier when Dolley Madison, in reduced financial straits, sold the place after James Madison died. 

According to the docent, conservators are researching to see if they can identify and recover the missing paintings. If they can’t, then substitutes of similar subjects and of the period will be installed instead.

A reproduction of a log cabin is called the stable quarter. It was built on the site of an original cabin. Lafayette may have visited an old slave there, a woman age 104 whose daughter and 70-year-old granddaughter lived with her.

The slave cemetery was discovered because of depressions in the ground, and has remained untouched. The family cemetery, where James and Dolley Madison are buried is near the site of original farmstead, built by James Madison’s grandfather early in the 18th century.

It was right on the border in those days. Across the nearby Blue Ridge was Indian territory.

I drove south from Orange to Durham, where I saw a La Quinta franchise on a hill. I went there.

When I checked in, I asked the kid at the desk about places to eat. I had seen Red Lobster. What else is there. He mentioned Chili’s.
Something local would be more fun. 

He paused for a few seconds and then said there is a Carolina Ale House about a mile up the road.

He gave me directions, but down here everything is very complicated. There is a U.S. 15, which I took, and U.S. 15 business, which I should have taken.

Suffice to say, I found the place on the second try.

Unless you are somewhere that serves pulled pork, Brunswick stew, or Krispy Kreme doughnuts, the food in North Carolina is uninspired. 

I got a reasonably palatable rib-eye, with some garlicky mashed potatoes.

Despite the name of the place, there were very few Carolina beers on tap. 

But I managed to find a couple that were good.

Appalachian Mountain Brewing in Boone, N.C., was on tap with Groaty-Oaty pale ale. The description on the menu said it had a suggestion of oat flavor from the hops. Not sure I detected that, but it was an enjoyably crisp pale ale.

Abby’s amber from Double Barley Brewing in Smithfield, N.C., is a dark concoction, a little sweeter than the pale ale, but not too much. It went well with the steak.

The best brew of the evening was a four-pack of Appalachian Mountain India pale ale that came from Target.

Monday was semi-boring compared with the previous three days. But that’s all right. It kept me on the move, and that by itself feels great.

And it had some high points.

On the way south, a billboard told me, “Visit Fayetteville.” All right.

The town was the subject of a Jeopardy question one night. The TV game gives players an answer and they have to come up with the question.

I forget the exact phrasing, but it was something like, “It was the first town in the U.S. to name itself after the Marquis de Lafayette.” The right question was “What is Fayetteville?”

Alex Trebek, the moderator of the show, explained that the townspeople who proposed the name thought the Marquis was de la Fayette.

Actually, now that I’ve had time to check on it, it seems the name may be right both ways. on one page gives his full name as Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette and also uses Lafayette.

Brittanica and Wikipedia have the name both ways. 

His signature, reproduced on Wikipedia, is one word, Lafayette.

I had seen his cedar. Why not his first town? Fayetteville seemed worth a detour.

And may indeed be, but I never found out.

Even the map was hard to follow. I wound up at Fort Bragg, and had gotten so lost that I had to give up and retrace my route.

One piece of arcana turned up on the road that made whole the side trip worthwhile. 

On the way down, I had sped past a historical market headlined “Flora MacDonald.” Say what? That’s the name of the main squeeze of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Stuart Pretender, who enlisted the Highlanders to attack England in the 1740s.

That’s colorful stuff, “Master of Ballantrae” material. Could it be the same Flora?

I found the marker on the way back. It’s in front of a Baptist church, which makes the whole thing even stranger. 

Yes, it was the same Flora McDonald. She visited her half-sister who had a plantation not far from that spot in the 1770s, about 30 years after Prince Charlie’s rebellion failed and he escaped back to France.

Who knew that Flora MacDonald ever came to America? Obviously somebody, but not me, for sure.

The sign calls her a “Scottish heroine.” She was the girlfriend of the last guy who tried to restore the Catholic monarchy in England. 

If the Baptists know that, it’s pretty tolerant of them to leave the sign up in their front yard.

At this point of the trip, I had lost Highway 15. Three U.S highways—1, 15, and 501—unite at one point in southern North Carolina. I missed where they split up and stayed on Route 1. 

Just below a town called Aberdeen, they cross again, and I was able to get back onto Route 15 south.

It’s just as well, because Route 1 took me near a charming little town called Southern Pines. Having failed to find Fayetteville, I detoured to Southern Pines instead.

It’s a cute little place with an old railroad station, and several streets of preserved, restored, or maybe replicated shop fronts. Most of them, including the welcome center, are closed on Monday.

But that’s all right. I wasn’t shopping for antiques or clothes. 

I’ve been in a number of places like this. It’s a little more boutiquey than New Hope, Pa. It’s a lot like Southampton, N.Y. 

Rehoboth Beach, Del., which I saw last December, also comes to mind.

It was a pleasant place to stretch for a half hour or so.

Some time later I was in South Carolina. I had checked out Sumter and made for that, where I’m at a Quality Inn.

There is a Cajun restaurant in the motel. The gumbos I’ve had in New Orleans and at one of Larry’s parties are better than this, but it was still enjoyable.

Alligator balls are ground alligator meatballs breaded and fried. Strange flavor. Don’t know that I’ll order them again, but am glad that I did at least once. The hush puppies were great.

I was drinking red wine because that’s what I am drinking in the room. I brought a bottle with me. Didn’t care to start with beer and shift to wine.

The people are very friendly. A man just started talking to me at the bar. He commented on my hat. He enlisted the stranger on his right to help me with directions to a sight I want to see tomorrow.

The bartender was a cute youngster in short shorts and a pullover that showed some cleavage. She has letters tattooed to her right shoulder, and I had to force myself not to try to read it. 

That could have been embarrassing, my reading her shoulder and she thinking I was staring at her boobs.

When I asked her what red wines the bar had she brought over several, including one called The Big Easy. Wait. Louisiana doesn’t make wine, does it?

This was from the Fess Parker Winery in California.

“Davy Crockett,” I said.

She had no idea what I was talking about. So I had to explain: Disney World on TV, 1950s, Davy Crockett, Fess Parker, coonskin caps. 

A musician came in and played a short set that included a jazzy blues version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” He had a straw hat on too.

It was a great evening.

So long for now, everyone, and don’t forget your hat.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Stonewall: The Origin Story

May 19-20

OK. The headline told you where I am.

Back in Virginia to collect more Stonewall Jackson lore. I don’t know why it has taken me so long since my last run down here. 

I’ve finally stood on the hill where Jackson earned his nickname. What’s more, I got there pretty much by accident.

It all began a couple of weeks ago with a wave of nostalgia for the Interstate Highway System. I hadn’t traveled much of it this year. It had also been a long time since I had enjoyed hush puppies or pulled pork, so the Carolinas became the destination.

Joanna and her son Christopher are away for a few days to visit her brother and sister-in-law. So I decided to head south for a week.

Instead of traveling and returning by the same route, I-95, a wide loop seemed more interesting. U.S. Highway 15 runs from Painted Post, N.Y., to somewhere in South Carolina. I had only driven short stretches of it here and there, so most of it would be new to me.

I don’t have all the route worked out yet, and that’s part of the fun.

The trip started with four Interstate Highways: I-80, 287, 78, and 81. I picked up U.S. 15 across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg, Pa., and went south.

I stopped at a rest area to look at the map and, damn, the highway runs right through Gettysburg. When was I there last? It could be more than 40 years ago.

My parents and my sister Cindy were there at the time, and somehow we had arranged to meet at Devil’s Den.

Anyhow, Gettysburg was a must stop.

I got to Gettysburg National Military Park in the middle of a sweltering afternoon, shortly after a rain shower. Steam was rising from the pavement of the parking lots at the Visitor Center.

I got lost right away, to get that out of the way. I had a map of the park, but no sense at all of direction. 

Wandering around outside was not getting me anywhere, so it was back to the Visitor Center, where a ranger gave me detailed directions. You go out the back of the building, down a ramp, turn right at the sidewalk and, when you come to the fork in the path, take it. To the right.

That took me past the house that the Union commander, General Meade, used as his headquarters and then to Cemetery Ridge, where the center of the Union lines stood.

There is a monument every 50 feet commemorating a regiment, brigade, corps, officer, or event. They have been put up by states, the federal government, and private organizations. One of the most elaborate is the Pennsylvania monument.

You can look out across a broad meadow cut by a highway called the Emmetsburg Road. Somewhere beyond that road the Confederates were formed up.

This is where the most intense fighting took place, when General Pickett led a disastrous charge against the Union center on the third day of the battle.

More than 10,000 men died in the three days of fighting. Another 40,000 were wounded, captured, or missing.

I walked around for at least an hour, and when I got back to the car, even my jacket was wet with sweat. I hung it on the back of the front passenger seat to dry and turned on the air conditioner.

I drove to a spot near the south end of the park.

I had been traveling all day through lush green country dotted by occasional towns.  The route is like that almost from the start in North Jersey.

South of Gettysburg, though, the ground gets rocky. 

In some places there seem to be more boulders than grass, until you come to a pile of rocks filled with crevices, tiny caves, and passages. The locals named it Devil’s Den.

The Union Army was there first, but somehow the Rebels managed to capture it. The Yankees retreated up the steep slopes of a hill called Little Round Top.

I was looking for one thing at Devil’s Den, the Sharpshooter’s Wall. And I couldn’t find it. I must have climbed that hill three times with no luck.

It was hot. My shirt was soaking wet. I had left my walking cane in the car. I was disappointed.

I drove slowly up the hill and suddenly had proof that my search hadn’t been as thorough as I thought. 

The Sharpshooter’s Wall is in a three-sided pen formed by huge boulders. The side to the road is open, so that’s how I could see it. There is a gap in the rocks facing Round Top where the Rebels put up a short wall of flat stones to give cover to a sniper.

A photographer named Gardner photographed the body of a dead Confederate soldier at the wall a few days after the battle. Gardner called the photo “Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter.”

The man is lying on his back with his rifle nearby. 

When I met Cindy at Devil’s Den, she may still have been in high school. I took her to the wall and asked her to stand where the body is in the photo. Then I showed her the photo, which is reproduced on a sign nearby. 

She couldn’t decide whether to be creeped out or pissed off. 

I made a circuit to come back to the parking lot at Devil’s Den and walked up the road to the wall. There I learned something new.

There was a second photo of the dead Rebel. He was lying on the hillside, where Gardner had found and originally photographed him. Gardner and some helpers moved the body and posed it by the wall.

So don’t despair. Fake news is not unique to our time.

I couldn’t get a room in Gettysburg. The first place I tried was taken over by a weigh-loss convention. 

The perfect place, though, was downtown, right across the street from a pub advertising craft beer. I wouldn’t be touching the car. I wouldn’t have to behave.

It was booked up. And so, I was told, was just about every place in town because it was reunion weekend at Gettysburg College.

I continued south on U.S. 15. Part of it is the Emmetsburg Road, that runs through Pickett’s charge. It also passes General Pickett’s Buffet, which a sign will inform you, is right behind the Gettysburg Battle Theater. 

The next place with lodging possibilities was Frederick, Md. Joanna and I had visited the town about five years ago. We saw Francis Scott Key’s grave, the Barbara Frietchie house, and made a photograph of Joanna standing behind a rock fence, which she dubbed “Stonewall Joanna.” 

I found a Comfort Inn right next to the Red Horse Steak House. 

The steak house was fantastic. They had raw oysters, and I was in need of potassium after all the sweating I had done that afternoon.

They also had escargot. I was surprised. Snails are bar food in Maryland.

So I stayed with things without backbones for dinner.

I had a sauvignon blanc called Oyster with the oysters. According to the coaster that the bartender put in front of me, the winery donates money to oyster preservation for every bottle sold. 

Eat’em up. Drink’em up. They’ll make more.

I had two glasses of a California pinot noir with the snails. Then I had lots more glasses.

This is the reason to sit at the bar when you eat alone. I got into conversations with a couple about travel. The man commutes from Frederick to somewhere in or near Washington at some ungodly hour of the morning. And there is still heavy traffic, even before 5 a.m., on the Interstates.

Before that, they had been talking to the bartender about food they planned to make. The lady discussed some of her recipes. One included Grand Marnier or something.

She told the bartender: “I can’t seem to cook without booze.”

After they left, I got to talking with another man who came in for a drink. I have only faint memory of what we talked about. Maybe the president. I’m not sure. I had been at the bar for quite a while by that time.

Saturday morning dawned cool and gray, as Accuweather had promised. And also as promised, there was no rain.

U.S. 15 goes through a town called Orange. I had never heard of it, but the Virginia road map says it is home to the James Madison Museum and his plantation.

That was going to be my next stop, until I passed a directional sign pointing left to Manassas.

Long before you reach the town, the road enters the Manassas National Battlefield Park. I don’t know why the U.S. Park Service calls the battlefield by its Confederate name. 

It’s Bull Run to those of us loyal to the Union.

I had recently read a detailed description of the First Battle of Bull Run in a biography of Jackson. It’s one of a few on my Kindle, so I have them close to me always.

My fascination with Jackson started almost 50 years ago, when I learned there was a Stonewall Jackson Shrine. 

So far I’ve been there, where he died; to Lexington, Va., where his house is a museum; and to Chancellorsville, where he was shot down. 

And of course, anywhere in Virginia, you can expect to find streets, highways, convention centers, and just about everything else named for him.

The Battle of Bull Run was the first large engagement of the American Civil War. 

Early on, a brigade or two of the Army of Northern Virginia were driven in disarray from their position by overwhelming forces of the Army of the Potomac.

Jackson had moved his brigade into a well-chosen position behind the original Confederate line. When the Union Army came over the hill to chase the retreating Confederates, they met Jackson. He was able to hold his position long enough to give the broken units time to recover.

One of the generals of the broken brigades was named Bee. He rallied his troops by saying:

“There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Follow me.”

In a few minutes he would be dead.

The place is called Henry Hill, named for the family who owned the property. It’s right by the Visitor Center. The hilltop is covered with replica cannons and caissons where the two sides put their artillery, maybe 300 yards apart.  

There are also monuments, of course, including a life-size bronze equestrian statue of Jackson with Bee’s “stone wall” metaphor on the marble base.

This day it looked like Stonewall was riding with his head in the clouds.

I got to Orange too late for the museum and will do that tomorrow.

I stopped at Eva’s, which does “down-home cooking like Grandma’s.”

Hush puppies, collard greens, corn soup, and mumbo wings. OK, not exactly like my Grandma, who was a crackerjack cook, but Northern. (After all, her grandfather was in the Union Army.)

But if he had served on the other side, maybe in Jackson’s stone wall or something, the menu might have been different at her house. 

The roast chicken and roast pork might be the same heart-warming goodness, but the sides would have run more to cornbread and collards.

I’m at a Holiday Inn Express in Orange right now polishing off a bottle of wine because the strongest drink I could get at Eva’s was iced tea.

But good night, y’all, and stay well.


May 20

I must say you have quite a memory! Good on Gettysburg, not so much on your grandma. Or maybe we had different grandmas?

I enjoy Civil War history and remember that weekend well. It was July 1968, the 105th anniversary of the battle. Creeped me out then and every other time I've been back.

Nanny a crackerjack cook? I must disagree! She existed on marshmallow fudge, candy toys, cheese curls and malted milk balls! Once she found out what you liked, you never got anything else to eat. Baloney (maggot meat) for you, ham for Jamy, and hamburgers for me. Okay, I'll concede her vegetable soup was terrific!

Happy trails and enjoy yourself away down south in Dixie.


May 23

Also animal crackers, hot cocoa, and baked beans with every dinner. Funny, no food at all comes to mind with Grandmom T....did they ever eat?

Happy trails!