Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Our mascot, Dusty

We arrived this afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina. With the high winds and rain forecast for Jekyll Island for the next few days, we decided to play it safe and stay a bit further north. It's sunny, dry, and low seventies today in Charleston. Our campground is Lake Aire RV Park, off the beaten path but only about 10 miles outside of the city. We first stayed here on Great Adventure, spending Easter in 2003. We usually stop by and see Amber & Chris, the lovely young couple who have worked to make this a delightful campground. Best of all, we get to stay 1/2 price because they accept our Passport America RV Club membership.

Dusty is the third cat that we've taken traveling in the RV, and she's the only one who actually enjoys riding on the dashboard while we're going down the highway!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Colonial Williamsburg, VA

On our third and final day in Williamsburg, VA, we toured the re-created village of Colonial Williamsburg. John D. Rockefeller funded the restoration of the historic town. Today, it is a living history museum where actors in period costumes bring the events of the Revolutionary War time period to life.

Prior to beginning our tour, we watched a 38 min. film at the Visitor Center called "The Story of a Patriot". Jack Lord (who played McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O), portrays John Frye, a young Virginia assemblyman, who watches the events unfold that lead up to the colonies declaring independence from Britain. The film puts the historical time frame in perspective and shapes the political as the personal. We see how Frye wrestles with the decision because of the impact it will have on his family.

From the Visitor Center, we took a tram over to the entrance to the village green and the Governor's Palace.

The streets are paved (a concession to modern times) but there are no cars allowed, just horses and carriages. Watch where you walk!

The village is lined with homes and shops, many of which are open to the public. The shop keepers are in character and dress for the time period. Visitors can watch them at work and ask about silver-smithing, barrel-making, etc.

Some kids tried out the stocks, for fun.

For the last six years, scholars have been investigating the site of Charlton's Coffee House that served Williamsburg residents from 1755-1759. An odd collection of watch keys, dissected human vertebra, and bizarre home-remedy accoutrements have been unearthed. Architectural historians are working to determine how the building actually looked.

At the opposite end of town from the Governor's Palace lies the Capitol building. Notice the flag, the familiar red and white stripes but with a small Union Jack instead of the blue field of stars. You'll have to click on the photo to enlarge it in order to see this.

As we watched, the Governor arrived to issue a proclamation. He announced that in order to quell talk of independence, he was dissolving the House of Burgesses and sending the elected officials home. But they continued to secretly meet in taverns and homes.

His wife and daughter, dressed in Colonial finery, stood with the crowd as he spoke.

Patrick Henry, famous for the speech "...give me liberty or give me death...", addressed the crowd after the proclamation.

The Fife & Drum Corps led us to Raleigh's Tavern, where the staged drama continued.

In the evenings, Colonial Williamsburg hosts events such as "Cry Witch", a reenactment of the 1706 witch trial of Grace Sherwood. Ed & I attended it last time we were here and would highly recommend it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jamestown, Virginia

The day after we visited historic Yorktown, VA and the site of the 1781 Siege, we went back in time to 1607 and toured the nearby archaeological site of James Fort, the first English settlement in Virginia. Until 1994, scholars believed that the original fort was washed out to sea and lost. But recent excavations have uncovered a wealth of relics from the colonists and the local Algonquian Indians. Due to the rain, the sites were covered with tarps during our visit. But an Archaearium, constructed next to the fort site, displays many relics, including the skeletal remains of two people along with compelling evidence of who they might be. This fascinating museum also displays pottery, coins, buttons, arrowheads, and much more. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited James Fort in May of this year to commemorate the 400th anniversary of its founding. Her state gift of a chair, made with wood from both England & America, is on display at the Archaearium. Under the seat is a carved image of one of the three original sailing ships that founded the Virginia Colony. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs of any artifacts in the museum building, including this magnificent chair.

The original triangular James Fort site encompasses only about an acre. This sign posted in the fort display shows an overview of the fort's original layout.

As you walk through the gate, a church and tower stand to your left. The church was not a part of the original fort. A clear view of the tower can be seen in the photo of Capt. John Smith, further down the page.

Just inside the gate, young girls posed with the statue of Pocahontas. I though that was great! How many historical statues of a woman have you ever seen? Pocahontas was kidnapped from the Indians, converted to Christianity, and married John Rolfe. The marriage helped ease tensions between the Virginians and the Indians. Pocahontas deserves much of the credit for the colonists' survival.

The fence and the framing for the barracks have been reconstructed. The barracks was probably done in "Mud and Stud" with a thatched roof, a common construction method in England.

Near the river's edge stands a statue of Capt. John Smith, leader of the colony.

The official web site for Historic Jamestown, administered by the National Park Service is http://www.nps.gov/jame/index.htm. This is a separate entity from Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum, which is run by the state of VA.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Yorktown, Virginia

Another chapter of Protech RV Travels can finally begin! We left CT on Monday, October 22, heading south and west down I-84 to I-81, avoiding all the major cities along I-95, including New York City, Baltimore and Washington. We stopped overnight in Harrisburg, PA and Charlottesville, VA, where we decided that we would spend a few days in Williamsburg, VA. It's raining all up and down the eastern seaboard, so rather than fight it and dodge raindrops with the motorhome, it's nice to be in an area with lots of interesting things to see and do.

We're staying at the Colonial Williamsburg KOA campground. Not cheap, but off the beaten path, nicely maintained, and it has free WiFi (excellent for updating this blog) Yesterday we toured Yorktown Battlefield, site of the last major Revolutionary War Battle in October 1781 before America gained independence from Britain. The Americans, with help from the French, laid siege to British troops holed up in Yorktown. Washington's army defeated Cornwallis' army that was twice its size.

The battlefield consisted of wide open fields with trenches dug for the siege lines.

The National Park Service ranger that led our walking tour pointed out that the French navy provided pivotal assistance by delivering a dozen of these cannon, whose 24 lb. cannonballs could penetrate earthworks for fourteen feet. The British cannon couldn't compete with this firepower.

Terms of surrender were negotiated at the home of Augustine Moore, owner of the local grist mill. The house was pretty badly damaged during the battle, and agin after the Civil War, but has been restored. The interior was not open on our visit.

Arms were laid down in this field, now called Surrender Field. General Cornwallis called in sick that day. He sent his second-in-command to turn over his sword.

Yorktown is a very small town with few permanent residents but a number of historic homes and building are still standing. The Nelson House has been preserved and still boasts its original floors.

The Yorktown Victory Monument stands sentry in this park along the bank of the York River.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Off Topic: "Black Hawk - The Story of a World Class Helicopter"

I am taking a break from writing about RV travel to address another subject near and dear to my heart. Those who know me may recall that my Dad, Brian Carnell, worked as a crash-worthiness engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft for the majority of his career. His primary project from the 1970s until his retirement in 1992 was the Black Hawk helicopter. Over 3000 Black Hawks or variants of it have been produced. They serve in all branches of the US military, were used to bring aid to victims of the tsunami in Asia, and to rescue an estimated 35,000 flood victims during Hurricane Katrina.

Ray Leoni, who led the engineering design and test activities for the Black Hawk and was awarded the patent, has written a book called "Black Hawk - The Story of a World Class Helicopter." He explains how Sikorsky developed one of the world's most successful helicopters against daunting odds and how it changed the company's destiny.

I am extremely proud that my Dad's contributions to the safety of the Black Hawk design are referenced in Ray Leoni's book. Dad is cited on page 92 as becoming "the key motivator for creating the Black Hawk's crashworthiness features." In addition, he is pictured on page 95 "strapped in a troop seat supported by energy-absorbing reels attached to the cabin ceiling." Dad's seat designs contributed significantly to the survival of troops involved in crashes. In addition, he worked to reduce post-crash fires, also saving significant numbers of lives.

After Dad's retirement from Sikorsky, he continued to work as a consultant until 2006 with his long-time friend and former Sikorsky colleague, Dave Fansler. Dave is also referenced in the Black Hawk book on page 104, for his leading role in ballistics design for the Black Hawk. As consultants, Dad and Dave continued to analyze crash data, proving the soundness of the design and always searching for ways to improve the safety and survivability of of this incredible flying machine!

A link to purchase the book through the online bookstore, Amazon.com, is provided at the top of this page. Readers will benefit from the unique insights into the challenges of helicopter design and development, as well as the individual technical achievements, and highly successful management strategies presented in the book. I am not an engineer and am certainly a non-technical person if there ever was one, yet I found the story fascinating. It's a great read!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dinner at Marguerite & David's Home

Marguerite & David hosted a dinner at their home, giving our family a time to be all together before we head south. The girls, Catherine (5) and Meredith (2 1/2) are a delight. Meredith is talking up a storm, clowning around, and loves to crack herself up by being a goofball. After dinner, she took turns sitting on Uncle Eddie's lap, Grandpa's lap, and Auntie Camille's lap. Marguerite took this sweet picture of Meredith with her Grandpa.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Travel Plan

As of yesterday, the RV Toy Shoppe is closed for the season and I worked my last day at Long View RV until the Spring. We are preparing to depart Cha-Wi-Ma Camp next weekend. On Sunday, October 21, the water will be turned off. OK, we can take a hint! It's time to head south with the snowbirds.

Our plan is to make a bee-line for Jekyll Island, Georgia. We'll spend a week or two there and arrive in Orange City, FL (near Daytona) for our nephew's wedding on November 10. We'll have a month after that to enjoy the Atlantic coast side of Florida. Our home base for the winter will be Southern Aire RV Park in Thonotosassa, FL, just outside of Tampa. It's 8 miles from Long View RV in Dover where I'll be working Jan-Mar. Ed will set up shop with Protech Mobile RV Service & Repair for local RVers. Check back soon for new posts as we get underway with our travel adventures!