Kennesaw Mountain & Martin Luther King Jr NHS
Atlanta, Georgia was a key location in the Unionists’ path south during the Civil War, as it was at the crossroads of 4 main trainlines that would supply the Confederates on their battlefields. Right before the city from the north lies Kennesaw Mountain which was a great protecting barrier, and thus important for the Unionists to battle it out. Needless to say after some hard fought battles around the mountain, Kennesaw was taken and from there on the march along Atlanta and out to the sea started. Again… this was of course the most important battlefield of the Civil War ;-).
In the meantime Sven is taking on 60 kms of the Silver Comet rail trail by bike, to get some more exercise in and work on his stamina for when we come home again. The trail is beautiful and the weather great for a bike ride, but unfortunately halfway through he is delayed by a flat tire! As we are also delayed at Kennesaw Mountain and get stuck in traffic, so we end up in our meeting place only 5 minutes after each other! After a short break for lunch we then drive into the city center of Atlanta.
The center of Atlanta has the Martin Luther King Jr Historical Park in it, which is our next stop for the day. After a few days of civil rights, going here is a great summary of the initiatives and actions we have seen along the way. The museum is quite impressive, with a good movie showing MLK’s life, and an exhibit explaining the broader context of the civil rights movement. We spend a few hours exploring and walking the grounds where the church and grave of MLK are located as well. Happy with the boys’ badges we leave Atlanta late in the afternoon to head on further east.
Arabia Mountain NHA
Just outside of Atlanta is a National Heritage Area called Arabia Mountain. With multiple things to do we plan to explore the better part of the day here before making a bigger jump eastbound. First stop is the nature center where we meet some really nice rangers who give us the ins and outs of the entire area which comprises of trails and historical sites. Today is about being outdoors, so we start the day with a short hike up the Arabia Mountain which is not so much a mountain as it is a hill made of granite. There is a great view at the top after following the cairns up with a bright blue sky.
Next up is biking spree, where mom is taking the 15 mile bike path that has been laid out through the area. It is a beautifully paved bike path rolling through the hills and through the woods with some decent climbing and descending. In the meantime the boys head out to the MTB trails in the area where they meet Sean and his amazing two sons with whom they hit the trails together. There is quite a bit of flow and great berms, so the track is challenging but very fun. Thankfully mom can join halfway through for a round as well so we all finish up together at the RV with a coffee and lunch.
After saying our goodbyes to the MTB crew, we pack up our things and hit the interstate through Georgia to the state of South Carolina. It is a long drive, but it ends at a nice and quiet boat ramp outside the city of Columbia. We need to have a good night sleep without highway noise, and preferably no trains, and this seems to be the spot to do it :-). Fingers crossed!
Congaree NP & Charles Pinckney NHS
A short drive from our nice and quiet boat ramp sleepover, we drive into the park road for Congaree National Park. Coming down the floodplains in South Carolina, Congaree is a park that protects one of the last old growth forests of the US. We decide to take the boardwalk and the extra Weston Lake loop to make it into a 5 mile loop through the marshes and woods which is a nice and leisurely stroll combined with some Junior Ranger scavenger hunting. We actually find the scary looking spider right beside the path, that we saw in the park video, and plenty of squirrels throughout.
As we get back to the boardwalk through muddy marshes, the walk is covered in the animals tracks that live here; raccoons, otter, squirrel. While cold, the weather is really nice, so we enjoy the outdoors fully, even adding a short walk through the bluff woods behind the visitor center as we exit for lunch. There we were looking for a different type of squirrel, the Southern Fox Squirrel, much larger and funny looking than its cousin we run into everywhere. Unfortunately it turns out very elusive and our extra loop did not get us a sighting…
After lunch we continue east to the coast of South Carolina, the town of Charleston to be exact. Here we visit the home of Charles Pinckney, one of the founding fathers of the US and co-signer/author of the first constitution. It is very interesting to see how he came to his conclusions (one of the least popular being that slavery is not wrong at all) and dedicated his life completely to politics in different positions both state and federal. Driving through the fields of cotton, the difference between North and South becomes all the more apparent again, which of course culminated in their Civil War.
Fort Sumter & Moultrie NHS
We have a relaxing day around the site of Fort Sumter and Moultrie, as the sun is creeping out a bit and we have little on the agenda. Fort Sumter is THE place where the first shots were fired that started the Civil War, and thus a must-visit in combination with Fort Moultrie (where the shots were fired from :-)). We decide to stick to Fort Moultrie, as it already has a lot of history, and a beautiful beach and the weirdest looking lighthouse we have ever seen. We go around the fort checking out all the remodeling that has happened over the centuries, which are also told in a great way through the movie in the visitor center.
After getting our work done in the fort, we head out to the beach and immediately get hit with a pod of dolphins passing the beach! Then there is a freight ship passing by so close you can almost touch it, which is a really cool experience. The beach is filled with funky looking jellyfish and pelicans are flying by (moms favorite bird) as we make our way to the lighthouse. The houses on this side of the island are stunningly beautiful, it is really gorgeous and we can imagine how scary the hurricane season is here. The boys test out their new kites that they got at the Tuskegee Airmen site while we relax out in the park. A day well spent!
Reconstruction Era & Fort Pulaski NHS
After a very noisy Walmart night (turns out they leave the music on over the speakers :-(), we take a first visit of the day around the corner at the site where Reconstruction started, even during the Civil War. Interestingly this location ended up in a Union vacuum where the slave owners left their estates and their slaves behind when the Union came swiping through. This meant there was an opportunity for the ex-slaves to be able to have a start and build on the opportunity.
The next stop of the day is the gorgeous Fort Pulaski, perched on an island in the river right by the coast, the fort has been fantastically preserved as it has been very well built. At the time of the Civil War, this is the place where the Confederates were surprised by the next big thing in artillery: the rifled gun. Feeling very secure in this great fort, the rifled gun turned out to be able to penetrate the impenetrable. This resulted in a waving white flag 30 hours into battle, which was truly unprecedented.
We take it all in, look for alligators while we are at it (none found) and stroll along the island for a bit before getting back into the car. We are in desperate need of a shower and a quiet night sleep, so we decide to go out to a county park campsite that offers that for free, a bit off the beaten track. It literally gets us down a sandy road with sometimes VERY soft sand, and in the end a very small track that we can not get through in our RV… guess we found a bit of adventure! Backtracking and going around gets us to the campsite in the end after dark, but it makes the hot shower feel even better… 🙂
Fort Frederica NM & Cumberland Island NS
We manage to get out fine over the sandy hill and are on our way to the coast again! This time we drive onto Sea Island, where the site of Fort Frederica is, which this time does not have a military theme perse, but focuses more on the colonial history of British settlers coming in. The Fort was set up as a defense against the Spaniards as well, but the fantastic Junior Ranger booklet shoots the kids across the site finding different people that live there to prepare for an imminent attack by the Spaniards. They are also given a ‘haversack’ filled with goodies like a compass, a handmade candle, and other stuff that guides you through all the different places.
It gives a great sense of how these little settlements were set up and how it worked if you came out here in the 1700’s. Combine that with dressing up and weather that is getting warmer, and we have a great start of our day! The east coast is absolutely beautiful, with Spanish moss hanging from the trees and all the waterways/islands/tall bridges that we cross traveling through here. We also find out it is colder than it has ever been, so we hope we can get those shorts out soon!
With a bit of a drive to go, we fill up on gas and snacks at Costco – for those unaware, Costco has these stands where you can try different things, YUMMMMM – and continue to drive down south through Georgia to the end of the state; St Marys. It is the jumping off point for the Cumberland Island Seashore, so we roll through the visitor center exploring it, and then find ourselves a perfect spot to park across the street in a park where we can stay the night right by the water. It is a great place, and we are in for a nice and quiet night at the coast!
With most of the things closed in the US for Thanksgiving we decided it is the perfect day to do some DIY-ing on our RV before we sell it. After living in the RV for 1,5 years, some of the paint could do with a touch up, and other small fixes to make it look even better than it already did! We are parked next to a park and playground, so the boys entertain themselves all day – even when a few showers pass us – while the parents get going on the work that needs to be done.
We thankfully we run into no mishaps (ignoring the minor splash of paint in the wrong place of course), and get a good amount of the work done in a day. As we finish up and clear out the gear, we decide we all earned a night out, so we head out to the cinema for a new Disney movie ‘Strange World’… I guess with one more week to go, we should get into the Disney mood a bit!
Next week: Florida – State no50!