|Chef Curtis Beebe at Pearl in the Grove|
We are now traveling with the Mary Joan III. Hopefully, this will be the last in the series. She is 3 feet longer and much more luxurious than any of the previous iterations. The added length and weight is noticeable. Negotiating intersections requires more planning and concentration. Accelerating and braking are significantly affected by the additional 1,700 lbs.
With a few days before the new owner of the MJII would arrive, Sarah and I went to Cape Coral to visit with her aunts and uncles, Marge, Sally, Ed and Jim. We enjoyed going to the farmer's market and making delicious meals with the produce we acquired there; homemade mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and delicious tomatoes allowed us to make a wonderful caprese salad. Revisiting the Prawnbrokers restaurant was a treat.
|Farmer's market in Cape Coral|
|Aunt Sally, Uncle Jim, Aunt Marge and Uncle Ed|
At the marina near Marge and Ed's was a sailboat that Ed said was for sale. He believed it was being sold as abandoned and could be purchased for the cost of its storage. I concluded that it was a Gozzard, which is a very well made passage capable boat. It was unusual in that it was a ketch. The rumor was that it was available for $12,000. Sarah instantly became enamoured and insisted we investigate further. She seems to have amnesia about what it takes to restore a classic boat. Fortunately, the rumor was just that. The boat is not for sale.
The TV (tow vehicle) passed 45,000 miles and was due for an oil change. Sam Galloway Ford in Fort Meyers gave good service and the best price yet on an oil change.
Now we are truly on a northerly heading. Leaving Cape Coral, we stopped at O'Leno State Park just north of Gainesville. The oldest state park in Florida, O'Leno's attraction is the San Juan river. This crystal clear river ripples through the park over rock and through small pools until it abruptly ends in a large pool. The river then descends beneath the earth and emerges several miles away at River Rise.
|A rose by another name|
|Sculpture depicting CCD worker|
|Now that was a stimulus package that put people to work|
|The San Juan River where it disappears below ground|
The next day brought us to Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park. While I was completing the registration process, Sarah learned that the park had a Frisbee Golf course. We bought a couple "drivers" in order to try our hand at the game. After settling in at our campsite, we took off for the course. We played the game with just our "drivers". It was a lot of fun and I think we are hooked. We just need to complete our club selection.
Andersonville, Georgia is a place I have always wanted to visit. We came close last year but couldn't quite get it onto our itinerary. This time I was determined to visit this hallowed ground. Also known as Fort Sumter this place was a POW camp for captured Union Soldiers at the time of the Civil War. Intended to hold 6,000 prisoners but designed for 10,000, at its peak, it held nearly 32,000 Union prisoners on 16.5 acres of land. Thirteen thousand prisoners died during the 14 months that the prison existed. The National Park Service has created a POW museum here. The museum is well executed. The architecture successfully evokes that of a prison. Inside, the ordered nature of the exhibit that depicts the stages a POW experiences during his or her capture allows the visitor to understand that ordeal. We saw more than one person who was emotionally overwhelmed.
|The architecture at Andersonville evokes that of prisons everywhere|
|Looking west across Fort Sumter. The white stakes on the right indicate where the walls were and those on the left demarcate the death zone.|
Clean water was difficult to obtain since the stream that ran through the middle of the camp was polluted before it even entered the prison. During a terrible storm, lightning struck the ground and water was released from a spring just inside the death zone. It came to be called Providence Spring.
|At first prisoners used sticks with cups attached to gather water from the spring, eventually they were allowed to divert water from the spring into the prison.|
We could not tour the National Cemetery because an internment was taking place. Sadly, we left Andersonville and headed for Florence Marina State Park.
On the way to the state park, we passed through the town of Plains, the home of President Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States. We stopped to visit the Jimmy Carter Center. Plains is not unlike so many small towns through which we pass on the back roads. Except for the signs informing us of its most famous citizen, it would have been just another pretty small town.
|Jimmy Carter's Class Room|
Given the biggest headline of the day, North Korea's nuclear threats, the exhibit that discussed Carter's negotiations with Kim Jong-Il caught our attention. While Carter clearly blindsided President Clinton, the "treaty" he negotiated but George W. Bush rejected, could have prevented our current fears.
|Nobel Peace Prize|
|Brother Billy's Gas Station|
At Florence Marina State Park, for the second time during our travels through the south, we were forced to take shelter when a tornado warning was issued for our area. Living in an aluminum trailer is not comforting when the warning is issued. We took shelter in the concrete block bath house until it was certain that the threat had passed.
Before continuing our migration north, we left the MJIII at Florence Marina State Park and drove back 8 miles to Providence Canyons State Park. We learned about this place from another camper at Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park. Sometimes called the Grand Canyon of Georgia, it is an amazing place. Unlike the great canyons of the southwest that are tens of thousands years old, these canyons were carved in just 160 years. Farmers cleared the land and erosion began and continued until it was unstoppable. The result is canyons 150 feet deep.
|Poor farming practices that began in the early 19th century allowed erosion to create these 150 foot deep canyons to develop in less than 150 years.|
|Abandoned cars now part of the landscape|
Our next campsite is at Wind Creek State Park in Alabama. It is a huge campground. With over 600 campsites, it is the largest in the Alabama park system. We were assigned site B15 that is right on the water. As usual, the setting is beautiful.
|Wind Creek State Park|