Thursday, March 24, 2016

   Back into my normal routine now that I have been here in the Floyd area for a couple of days. Yesterday was spent running those errands that are hard to do while on the road, so the first thing on the list was a much needed haircut.
    On to some grocery shopping afterwards and then back to the farm to finish up a project I had started the day before.Wednesday I had gone out to a local farm store here in the Floyd area and picked up a new chain saw and assorted other gear. It's a Stihl 'Rancher' model with a 18" bar. It seemed like the best fit for what I need a saw for, though it was hard not to go for one that's 'bigger and better'. The important thing though, is that I now have the tools I need to go cut down trees and clear more of the old fence lines in the pastures.
    Getting home too late that day meant putting off any chainsawing, so it was on to another priority project on the list, which was the demolition of an old sheep shelter located near the house and right where the fruit orchard is to be planted. Put together out of odds and ends of lumber and some rolled metal roofing, the hardest part of the deconstruction was pulling all of the old nails out of the boards as they came off the structure. None of the wood is good enough to use for building anything new, but there may be some use for them as material for blocking or as some new bird houses. Either way it will all be reused until there isn't any more of it left.
   For now though, it's time for a little lunch and then outside for the rest of the afternoon.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

    Made it into Floyd Virginia yesterday afternoon and even had enough daylight left to get the trailer unhooked and set up out by the barn. I had been up early in order to get it packed up and ready to go by 9:00 in the morning, and even though it was a cold morning I was lucky enough that it had at least stopped raining.
    The drive was almost due west on Hwy 58 out of Suffolk. At about 270 miles it took me a little more than 6 hours to do the trip, including stops for gas and lunch. A beautiful, sunny afternoon by the time I pulled in to Rima's place where the trailer has its own little space that it likes to live in while here. It only took a little time to get it backed into it where I could unpack a few clothes and bathroom stuff, grab my computer and Kindle and head down to the house.
   Spring has started springing here with many of the fruit trees blooming. The daffodils, crocus and grape hyacinths were also out in all of their glory including many of the ones that Rima and I planted last fall. I had just a little time to walk around and work the kinks out of my legs and butt before Rima got home from work.
   So fun to see her again after nearly 6 weeks of being apart.We seem to be able to pick up right where we left off when we meet up again so that meant going into town for some food. Went to our favorite restaurant in Floyd, Micky G's, of course. There are always so many different choices to be had including several specials on most days. Rima did get a special involving ravioli which was delicious, but I opted for one of their individual pizza's since I had been craving that for weeks. Good food and good company.... it doesn't get much better than that.
  Rima is off to work already today and won't be home until after choir practice in Roanoke this evening. So I'm on my own until nearly 10:00 at least. Still cold this morning so I think I'll do some paperwork stuff and then head out to the local hardware/farm store to see about buying a new chain saw. Rima has one that we have been using hard these past couple of years, but it is a little under powered when it comes to cutting down 16"-24" thick hardwoods. After consultation it looks like a 'Stihl' brand saw with a 20"-24" bar should be the ticket. With any luck I'll be able to go get one and still have time this afternoon to actually use it.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

      Spent the morning putzing around the trailer before finally getting my act together just before noon and jumping in the truck to head south. My destination for the day was a little town in North Carolina called Edenton. Located on a bend in the Roanoke River, my purpose was to go down there and see if I could find and photograph a Lighthouse that I had read about.
   The Roanoke River Lighthouse had originally been located down river near the mouth of the river and the sea. But years ago the Coast Guard closed it down and built a new automated light to replace it. Luckily someone had the foresight to buy it and then move it up river to it's current position. (All of that is actually talked about in one of the pictures posted below).
    I did find the lighthouse of course, it was located in the beautiful little public park that the city of Edenton had built right along side the banks of the river. I spent more than an hour there taking pictures and sitting on the benches on the dock overlooking the water. Unfortunately the lighthouse wasn't open when I was there, but it appears like it often is, so maybe another trip to see it at some distant time in the future.
   I think it is a pretty little lighthouse even if it no longer has its Fresnel Lens up in the lantern house. I took lots of pictures and the ones below are, I think, some of the better ones.
    After the lighthouse I spent a couple of hours wandering the streets of the town itself. Lots of Pre-Civil War houses and other buildings, most of which were still occupied and in good repair. I found a cute little cafe there by the water front late in the afternoon, and even though it is St Paddy's day, I ate fish tacos with my beer instead of corned beef and cabbage. I'll just have to have some of that next week I guess.
   It's already late here though, and I want to be up pretty early tomorrow so I can go see Colonial Williamsburg...... so enjoy the pictures below.

Roanoke River Lighthouse in Edenton, NC - March 17, 2016

A cute little structure, I understand that this design was pretty popular in spots where the water is shallow, such as at an entrance to a river.

Since I didn't get a chance to go inside I can't say with exactitude what the little roofed bump out structure on this side was for, but since it overhung the side directly over the water, I can make a pretty good guess.

I really like the covered porch that ran around nearly the whole structure. Of course where it was originally placed would of been completely surrounded by water with out any access ramp to the shoreline. Everything, including the people, would of been brought in by boat and then hoisted up. It must of been some ride when a hurricane passed by.

A sign that explained a little bit of the history.

I don't think there is any light of any kind in the lantern tower any more, but there may be a small one there that I couldn't see that would mark the entrance into this small harbor.

There were a couple of people sitting on the front porch there when I arrived. As it faces out on the expanse of the Roanoke River it would be a nice place to sit and watch the sun go down.

You can see some of the public park in the background as well as a few of the boats moored in the harbor.

The old part of downtown Edenton is located just behind the red buildings in this shot.


You can see part of the screw jack system that the structure was built on in this picture. Evidently they would pound a series of wooden piles into the mud and then mount the metal jacks onto them. They could fine tune the height by turning a screw mechanism on top of each leg.

One last picture.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

   Had a terrific day today visiting the old Jamestown Colony site. I had to get up a bit early in order to do it, but all in all it was worth it. I left the trailer this morning at 9:30 in order to drive over to it from where I am just south of Suffolk. Because of the James River being in the way, my GPS, Emma, took me down through Newport News and then back towards the NW on Hwy 64.
   I was meeting a friend of mine there at 11:30 and despite driving to another "Jamestown" site first, we finally connected up at the real place with several minutes to spare. I should emphasize that we were at the "real" original site of the "real" original Jamestown today, and not next door to it where there is evidently a whole recreated Jamestown just waiting for you to show up and spend money. I'm not going to say that it isn't worth seeing that site because I haven't actually been there myself, but good god, they have reproductions of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria docked there on the James River. Anybody want to tell what reproductions of the boats Columbus sailed on have to do with the Jamestown settlement? Jeez!
    But the real thing is pretty cool if that is what you like to look at, and for me it is. We wandered around some of the old ruins, there isn't really a lot of the original stuff left, just holes in the ground where they excavated, but there were signs to read and bits and pieces to look at.
   We did that for an hour or so but it soon felt like lunchtime, so we grabbed a sandwich and a beer at a little cafe there and took them outside to a table overlooking the James River. The sandwich was good, but the beer..... oh my did that go down well. A local beer brewed and bottled in Richmond, Legend Breweries signature Porter was pretty darn good.
   Another couple of hours looking through the actual Museum where many of the excavated items were on display took up the rest of the afternoon. Two items of interest stood out to me in looking and reading through all of the displays, the first was that there was cannibalism going on during at least one winter when the colonists ran out of food. They know this because of human bones they found that had signs of cut marks on them the same you would see if you were using a knife to cut up a steak with. With over 2/3rds of the colonists dying during that year it makes sense that people would get desperate. But one of the victims was a young 14+/- year old girl, no way to tell how she actually died, and another was the pregnant wife of one of the men who confessed to killing her. Just goes to show what hunger can be like at times.
    The other interesting fact was a little blurb that talked about where the saying 'bought it over the counter' comes from. It was known that the people of Jamestown, at least those that had some education, were as likely to use Roman Numerals, X V III etc, as they were to use Arabic ones, 1 2 3 etc. The use of Roman numbers made it hard to add, subtract or multiply or divide so a counting board was often used. A counting board was a flat piece of wood with 4 lines drawn on or etched into the top surface. They corresponded to 1, 10's, 100's and 1,000's and small buttons or coins were used as place holders, very much like an Abacus but easier for some reason. Merchants would have this counting board located on top of a flat surface so the beads wouldn't fall off, and all transactions would therefore be done 'over the counter'. Pretty cool uh!
   By the time we were through with all of that it was nearly time for the park to close so we headed into downtown Williamsburg where my friend, Brenda, knew of a pub we could get something cold to drink at. It turns out they also had ice cold 'Legend' beer there so after sipping one of those down we had a nice dinner along with one more beer. A short walk through part of old Williamsburg before we called it a day and I then headed back home to the trailer.
   There is an actual car ferry there near old Jamestown, so I drove over and got onto that without to much of a hassle. It crosses the James River and goes across every 30-40 mins, so it wasn't that long of a wait. The most pleasant surprise was finding that it is also free for some reason.
    It still took nearly an hour and a half to get home to Jessica, but most of it was in the light thankfully. I have to admit that I'm tired tonight. We did a fair amount of walking and my feet certainly hurt so tomorrow I think it will be time to go on a drive in search of Lighthouses. I will leave going back to Williamsburg until Friday at least.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

   What a wonderful spring day it was here in the lowlands of Virginia. It rained for more than an hour last night, so it was rather cool this morning when I woke up, but by 10:00 most of the fog had burned off and the temperature was finally starting to climb.
    I left the trailer around 11:30 and headed in to the town of Newport News to visit the Maritime Museum they have there. Along the way I stopped at a local Taco Bell for some lunch so that hunger pangs wouldn't drive me out of the museum before everything had been seen. It must be noted that Taco Bell is not one of my favorite places to eat, but it should also be noted, that even they find it hard to screw up a basic bean tostada and bean and rice burrito, so it'll do in a pinch.
   The museum is one of the better maritime ones I have seen, and there have been quite a few of them that I have visited. It is actually privately funded, but seems to make enough money in donations and fees that it has a pretty good collection of all things nautical. It's main claim to fame is as a repository for most of the original archaeological finds from the ironclads Merrimack, aka, the Virginian, and the Monitor. There is so many items, artifacts and information about the whole 'ironclad' industry that sprung up around the Civil War, that the museum devotes one whole wing to that subject alone.
    I spent more than two hours wandering through that wing looking at all of the displays, reading the cards, watching the movies and playing with the inter-active stuff. It was fascinating to watch a movie about the discovery of the original Monitor where she sat in more than 250 feet of water, and the subsequent recovery of the turret section and other parts of the original boat. A joint effort between the Museum staff, NOAA and the U.S. Navy, they used their deep sea dive team, as well as others, more use to working on offshore oil platforms, it was amazing to watch as they uncovered the wreck and worked to get the turret and its contents safely to the surface.
   You can now see an exact replica of that turret, along with all of the original gunk, including guns and human remains, in one part of the museum. The original anchor, propeller and part of the drive shaft, as well as numerous smaller items are also on display there.
   Also in that section is a mock up of the inside and outside of the Souths, (CSS), ironclad, Merrimack. A little history on that goes like this; with the north about to launch its first ironclad, the Monitor, the South was determined to have their own version built in time to meet her. So they found a sail/steam ship that had been set on fire and sunk, the Merrimack, and decided that the bottom hull and her engines were still in good enough shape to use as a base for their new ironclad. Even though she had been under water for more than a month at that time. So they raised her enough to cut everything above the waterline off of her, reconditioned the engines and started building the ironclad superstructure on top of her. In the end they had their own iron boat that was more than 300 feet long, sported 4-6 cannons on either side and had steal armor more than 2 inches thick on top of more than 14 inches of hardwood, oak, and softwood, pine, substructure. (see photos below). They christened her Virginia because of where she was built, but most everybody knew her by her original name, Merrimack.
    Of course the rest of the museum is worth seeing also, so I spent another couple hours wandering around there. There are a few photos below that show some of the wonders to be seen, but really you need to see it in person to really get the feel of how well done it is.
    It was finally closeting time at 5:00, so after picking up a shot glass from the museum store it was time to head back to the trailer. There was a short side trip in order to pick up a few groceries and assorted other items for the trailer. I got a roast chicken for dinner tonight and I splurged, I should never go grocery shopping while hungry, on some Twinkies. So I had a wonderful meal tonight and now it's time to finish this up and then do some reading. Tomorrow the plan is to head over to Jamestown and visit that historical site and meet up with a friend of mine.

Maritime Museum at Newport News Virginia - March 15, 2016
A few hours spent exploring one of my favorites, a maritime museum. This one concentrated on the story of the US Monitor and CSS Virginia, the 1st ironclads to engage in a real battle. As well as other exhibits showing old wooden figureheads, ships models and navigation instruments. It should be noted that these photos are from a visit I made to this museum several years ago. Everything in the pictures is still there though.

This stunning ships figurehead once graced the bow of the steam frigate USS Lancaster. Weighing in at 3,200 pounds it has a wingspan of over 19 feet. It must of been stunning at the bow of a ship.

This is the actual ships anchor from the ironclad ship USS Monitor. The 4 fluke design was by the same man who designed the ship. It was the 1st large iron object brought to the surface after the wreck was found. It took more than 3 years for preservationists to clean off all the 'gunk' on it, (they use more scientific terms on the sign), stabilize the metal and get it ready for display.

 One of the original guns from the ironclad CSS Virginia. This gun had the tip of the barrel blown off in it's fight with the Union Frigate USS Cumberland. After hours of battle and hundreds of rounds fired from each ship, this was pretty much the only damage to the ironclad while the wooden ship was on fire and finally sunk

A full size mock-up of the bow of the ironclad CSS Virginia. The hull above the water was made up of heavy layers of wood scantlings inside, covered with 4 inches of steel sheathing on the outside. The angle of the structure is something under 30 degrees. Calculated so that iron shot would glance off the side and shoot over the top. It is the same design as is still used on the US M1A1 Abrams tank. The hatch showing would of been where one of the guns was located. 

 I had often read about 'ships of the line', fighting vessels, moving guns weighing several tons around using just block and tackle, ropes and lots of manpower, but could never quite envision how it was done. Now I know.

 A cross section of the upper superstructure. it consisted of, from interior out, 16" thick pine laid vertically, 4" pine laid horizontally, 4" oak laid vertically, 2" of iron plate laid horizontally and 2" of iron plate laid vertically. It's a wonder that it still floated, but actually somewhere they actually mis-calculated the total weight and they found that it floated higher than expected. Not a good thing since their steel plating only went below the surface of the water a small distance. Below that, and the waterline, was wood with no protection to it.

 One of the guns that would of been used on many of the standard wooden ships of that era. This shows the complete tackle used to move the gun in and out. I would imagine OSHA would have a field day with this kind of set up these days.

 They had a full size mock up of the gun turret from the monitor as it looked after bringing it up from more than 250' below the top of the ocean. This mock up is so accurate that they actually posed it like they found it.... upside down. In the background, next to the gun, they found the skeletons of two of the crewmen. By using modern visualization techniques they were able to recreate what their face's would have likely looked like and matched each of them to one of two missing crew.

A life size view of what the turret would of once looked like. In this view you see one of the 'Dahlgrens' gun. Another new type of weapon, this one used an 11" exploding projectile with a timed brass fuse.

The USS Monitors actual screw. (propeller). In the lower right corner is a section of the actual propeller shaft.

 The museum has one of the biggest collections of ship figureheads anywhere in the world. Here is one from a US east indiaman type ship.

 This one from the H.M.S. Edinburgh, an English 74-gun ship of the line.

 This room alone was worth the price of admission. More than 20 exactly scaled models of large ocean liners with full information about them as well as a couple dozen more figure heads on the walls.

 A model of the real first ironclads. This is a Korean 'Tortoise ship' built between 1592 and 1598. It had armor plating on the top and sides as well as spear points sticking out all over to repel boarders. It evidently worked really well against the Japanese.

 This is one of those rare ship models built on board ship by one of the crew using pieces of ivory and bone for all the structural components. It amazes me to see all the detail, but then they would of been surrounded by the real thing.

 There was another whole room that just had models from this one guy in it. All of these were built from the keel up exactly as a real ship would of been. He even had every wooden plug in a deck shown. If you can bring some of these photos in for a closer look you can see some of the detail he had in them. This one shows all of the ribs even with some of the outside sheathing left off.

 Take a look at this one and notice all the 'stuff' going on along the sides, then go on to the next photo.

They had it set up so that there were some magnifying areas in some of the cases. Here you see a close up of the detail on the aft end of the last ship model.

 One last thing that caught my eye. This would of been what most sailors in the world would of been eating, day in and day out, as they sailed from one ocean to the next, sometimes for years at a time. The interesting thing to me is that it was evidently enough, as there weren't a lot of stories of men dying in large numbers from their diet


Monday, March 14, 2016

   Spent last night in a rest area just inside the South Carolina border. Jessica and I did just fine there even if we were parked only 50 feet or so from the interstate. To tell you the truth though, I was tired enough that it didn't really matter where I parked the truck and trailer. It had been a long 7 hours of being on the road, and between the rain storm in Georgia and the 3 hours of stop and go traffic, my mind was kind of mushy and my tush was suffering too. Fortunately the only real problem was not being able to plug my CPAP machine in. I seem to do okay without it for short periods of time, in other words I didn't seem to wake up to often last night, but I must of snored like a banshee all night cuz my throat was pretty dry this morning.
    I was up and on the road pretty early morning. There were still more than 350 miles to go so it was going to be a long haul. Thankfully it was on the cooler side and cloudy for most of the day, so I didn't need the air conditioning very often. I pulled into my campsite just outside of the town of Suffolk Virginia around 4:30 this afternoon, and after checking in, got Jessica parked and all set up for the week. I did a short walk around the campground here and found that it is pretty nice as far as a commercial outfit is concerned. It certainly isn't as pretty as the state park I was at last week, but it does have a few things going for it, one of them being a onsite WiFi signal so there isn't a need to go to a local burger joint to get on line.  
   But really, I don't plan on spending a lot of time here at the campground anyway. Tomorrow I'm headed off to a Maritime Museum down in Newport News, as well as trying to find a lighthouse out on 'Old Point' in the town of Fenwick.
    Wednesday looks like it will be off to Jamestown where I hope to meet up with a contra dancing friend of mine for the day. She seems to be pretty knowledgeable about the site and it will be fun to see her again and maybe have lunch or dinner with her.
   Thursday it will be on to Williamsburg for the day and then Friday; maybe another lighthouse down in N. Carolina. Still have a few more things on my list after that, but we'll just have to see how motivated I am by then.
    Right now though I'm going to go crawl in bed and read until my book falls on my head..... then I'll know for sure it's time to go to sleep.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

   Will be packing the trailer up and moving north this afternoon. The original plan was to stay until tomorrow morning and then get out on the road, but after making reservations at a RV camp in Suffolk Virginia starting tomorrow I realized that it is close to 600 miles away, and more than 10 hours of driving according to Emma, my GPS unit. Of course pulling a trailer makes it even longer in most cases because I seldom drive more than 65 mph on the highway, and it takes more gas and gas stops to get anywhere.
   So with luck everything will be packed and Jessica and I will hit the road by 3 or 4 this afternoon. The idea is to put in 3-4 hours today and then finish up the rest of the trip tomorrow. So it will be a night spent out in a rest area somewhere along the way.
   Otherwise it has been really calm and easy these last two days. Yesterday was spent hanging out at the campground and reading various books. The only 'exciting' thing was watching the movie 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' last night, and believe me, it wasn't all that exciting. I remember watching that movie more than 40 years ago and the only thing I really remember about it was the big dance scene at the barn raising. That part is still one of the best things about the movie, but the rest of it, concerning the physical abduction of 6 young women, was pretty disturbing. The movie does address that to some degree, but the reality of it was that all of the men involved should of been hanged for what they did. Just goes to show how certain ideas of appropriateness have changed over the years. Enough of that though.... time to go get packed up and on my way.