♪♫ We are Family ♫♪

While Steve did some work at home, we gals spent the day being girls. We did the school carpool run and then shopping and lunch. It was a perfect day (even with all the chaos of getting a kindergartner to and from school).

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach,
because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
-Frederick Buechner

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Pumpkin Carving in Florida...

We are spending a few days in Ocala with my last remaining aunt- Dorothy, my mom's youngest sister.

We are lazing about with family. I was super excited to help Ellen and Jayden carve this year's pumpkin.
Jayden is my aunt's great-grandson or my 1st cousin twice removed. Cool stuff.
When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween.

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From Peaches to Beaches...

We are heading South, having cruised through a couple of states without pause. Today however, we detoured briefly to the little town of St. Mary's, Georgia (1787).

This historic area was first explored in the mid 16th century as part of the settlement of Spanish Florida, with nearby St. Augustine as the established capital. There were lovely homes and old established businesses but we just strolled the streets delighting in their Halloween decorating.

Whenever possible, we find ourselves by water. This was a pretty scenic spot at which to land.
The Peacemaker was stunning, sitting on the horizon. We had to get a closer peek. Steve was a little disappointed that it was built in 1989. Interestingly, it was started then left abandoned for eight years until Twelve Tribes bought it and finished it, beautifully. We know of this religious community due to the fact that they built and own one of our favorite Vista, CA restaurants- The Yellow Deli. Small world!

Some things just crack Steve up!
Okay, best State Visitor's Center yet! Not only did we get tons of travel reading material, but we got free Orange Juice and ample photo opportunities. This is going to be fun!

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Getting DIRTY at Charlotte Speedway...

When we were here in early October, we knew we had to come back.

So here we are for one awesome day of the most prestigious dirt racing event in the country, The Bad Boy Off Road World of Outlaws World Finals. This competition is described as "three days of heart-pounding, clay-slinging action on the lightning-fast, four-tenths mile oval." These Finals bring together the top series in the sport: Sprint Car, Late Model and the Big-Block Modifieds of the Super DIRTcar Series.

"Southern Boys Got Nice Toys"

“Speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary…
that’s what gets you.”
― Jeremy Clarkson

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Old Salem, North Carolina

Continuing on our desired path of history learning, we headed to Old Salem. This quaint village was founded in 1766 by the Moravians–a Protestant religious group that first organized in what is now known as the Czech Republic in the 15th century. This is our second visit to a Moravian town, the first being Lititz, PA.

The Moravians were active missionaries who established an earlier settlement in Bethlehem, PA, before settling “Wachovia” in the North Carolina backcountry in 1753. In the Wachovia Tract of nearly 100,000 acres, Salem was developed as the central administrative, spiritual, craft, and professional town surrounded by five outlying congregations.

We dined in the Tavern and it was uniquely delicious. We had beer cheese soup, a chicken pie along with a basket of delectable baked goods.

This incredible organ (1800) was constructed for Salem by David Tannenberg, a German-speaking immigrant who lived most of his life in Lititz. He had no formal training but created this masterpiece and is sited as the most important organ-builder of his time.
The Moravians have a rich and deep history with music, and certainly continued that tradition in Salem.  Some Moravians came from an area close to Dresden, and so they were leaving an area that was steeped in music by masters like Bach and Handel. As they left migrated, they brought their culture and traditions with them. Our day, here, meandering in 250 year old neighborhoods, eating traditional food and learning more about the Moravian lifestyle was a wonderful history lesson and, like most things, so worth the detour onto the road less traveled.
I have a bumper sticker on my car that states, "I BRAKE for Little Free Libraries!" As we were leaving Old Salem, I spotted this and had to stop. It was one of the prettier libraries and it matched the surrounding buildings perfectly. On the front was a note, explaining its significance. Penny’s Little Free Library "is a labor of love, conceived of and constructed by the residents here as a tribute to Penelope Niven, an acclaimed writer and biographer who died two years ago."

“No one is gone as long as someone calls their name,” wrote Carroll Leggett, one of Niven’s neighbors. I absolutely loved that sentiment and this Little Free Library.

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Appomattox: Where Our Nation Reunited

What a perfect conclusion to our Civil War history lessons- visiting the location where Lee surrendered to Grant. Exceptional!

On April 9, 1865, the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia signaled the end of the nation's largest war. Two important questions about its future were answered. Could the nation survive a civil war intact, and would that nation exist without slavery? The answer to both was yes and a new nation was born.
How did this house become such a piece of history? It's kind of being at the right place at the right time. Lee's Aide-de-Camp rode toward Appomattox Court House (the site of a huge loss for Lee) in order to find a place for Lee and Grant to confer. As Marshall passed through the village he saw Wilmer McLean in the vicinity of the courthouse. He asked McLean if he knew of a suitable location, and McLean took him to an empty structure that was without furniture. Marshall immediately rejected this offer. Then McLean offered his own home. After seeing the comfortable country abode, Marshall readily accepted and informed General Lee that a meeting site had been found. The rest is history!

This was the first of three surrenders yet its importance was huge. This is where the two biggest generals met and really did end the Civil War. Other battles occurred but this moment in history, in a little village in Virginia, really did unite our Nation.
Steve is standing in front of Clover Hill Tavern. Of course our day would find us at a tavern. This one was pretty special. In 1865, the rapidly approaching end of the Civil War changed the prosperity of the Clover Hill Tavern with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to General Ulysses S. Grant.
After the surrender, Grant took the humanitarian approach, and instead of imprisoning the Confederates, he paroled them and allowed them to return to their homes. Approximately thirty thousand paroles for the Confederate soldiers were printed in the Clover Hill Tavern.

I found this man (far left), to be incredibly interesting. Ely Samuel Parker (1828 –1895) was an attorney, engineer, tribal diplomat and a Native American. He was commissioned a lieutenant colonel during the American Civil War, when he served as adjutant to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote the final draft of the Confederate surrender terms at Appomattox. At the time of surrender, General Lee "stared at me for a moment," said Parker to more than one of his friends and relatives, "He extended his hand and said, 'I am glad to see one real American here.' I shook his hand and said, 'We are all Americans.'
This little cemetery contains the graves of 19 soldiers (18 Confederates and 1 Union) who were killed in the last days of fighting here. It seemed the fitting end to our day of the conclusion of the Civil War. For the last few weeks, everywhere we went reminded us of this tragic time in American history. We looked at today as an end to this history lesson.

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