This Endless Search for Historical Markers

Saving history one day at a time

Archive for the ‘Travel Journal’ Category

A foray North and (later) a Missed opportunity

with one comment

Picking up from where I left off, which was . . . was . . . oh yeah: me lamenting that I’m not in a position to get chased by angry horseman in a foreign territory. Yikes. Of all the things to lament about. I dont know who put that tonic in my coffee. But I’ll find out. And then they’ll pay.

I honestly do wish for more adventure (not the x-games variety, though) in my life and I get the twitch in my legs when I come across photographs of a time when mortgage was a foreign word (although I still have a hard time spelling it) and when I was free to get into all sorts of trouble. Recently I came across this gemstone:welsh-mountainsNow, I’m not sure if this image falls under the category of preening, posturing or just straight posing but that is one nice ‘stache eh? This picture is a self shot (I have incredibly long arms) taken whilst on a three or four day solo hike in Wales.54431391507_0_alb31092391507_0_alb10953391507_0_alb Days were spent trudging head down in the cold, blowing drizzle while at night I tried unsuccessfully to lure free ranging sheep to my bivouac with the hopes of either radiant warmth or pirated mutton. 38943391507_0_albIn other words I slept cold, wet and hungrily unsatisfied (my meals were of the canned, cold and perhaps spoiled variety. One can never fully understand the songs of the belly unless they are sung at a particular pitch. In this case the note was a low E, popular with American tourists in Central America as an urgent, sonorous note (some would even say melancholy).

Now then, where was I?

Leaving Statham, Georgia and The Stoneman Raid behind I proceeded West to Winder and on to Lawrenceville, the seat of Gwinnett County. Normally I have only disparaging things to say about Gwinnett County. And this case is no different. There is a massive slogan painted on a tower in North Atlanta that reads: “Success Lives Here” and “Gwinnett Is Great”. 528758426_80034258a5What lives in Gwinnett County is the pervasive notion that any growth is good growth and the more graded, paved landscapes the better. Gwinnett County used to be wooded and rural (sort of) now it is a complex of 4 lane highways flanked, virtually without interruption, by the kind of strip-mall development that most Americans have come to disdain. I know that, to some, these arguments are very trite and overused, but spend a few rush hours in August trying to get around, and see what you think then.

Ugh. I apologize.

Gwinnett County is named for Button Gwinnett, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Georgia Politician and unsuccessful dueler .buttongwinnettbutton-gwinnett-duel-sketch4727

Button had a particularly nasty relationship with a character named Lachlan McIntosh; their feud growing from a military appointment given to Lachlan over Button. The years did not quell their enmity and, apparently, only pistols at dawn could bring satisfaction to their quarreling. Alas! When pride conquers all.

For more information, please see an article written on Button by GHS’s own Stan Deaton in the New Georgia Encyclopedia: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2543. And many thanks to Stan for being a kind editor and not lambasting me over my historical vagaries.

By early afternoon I reached Gainesville, Georgia, searching for the cast bronze tribute to Gen. James Longtreet. Gainesville was the post war home of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s “old war horse”. Growing up, Longstreet was my favorite figure from the Civil War and I felt personally offended when I read that he was criticized for not pushing the action at the conclusion of the first day at Gettysburg. Granted, my impression of the General was partly shaped because he was played by Tom Berenger in the movie “Gettysburg”. fanfav5largeAt the time (I was 12) I was a big Berenger fan. Classic roles in “Platoon” and “Major League” (I was also a catcher and, though he clearly was a terrible baseball player, he nailed the essence of the salty veteran) made him a favorite in my register. And, come on, who doesn’t love a huge fake beard1386-7141 and film full of melodrama and terrible southern accents. The scene below features men born no where near the south playing iconic Confederates. Martin Sheen is especially gothic.

I actually enjoyed the movie, and I loved the book “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara. The book was my first experience with the history of the Civil War and (at age 11) I became enamored by Longstreet and his little utilized belief in defensive warfare. I once met a Englishman who studied military history and it was his opinion that Longstreet was the Father of modern warfare (he said modern warfare but through our conversation it was clear he meant early 20th century modern or trench warfare). Hmm. I don’t know about that, but it is interesting.

The Longstreet marker was missing, of course, but that did not dampen my spirits as I strolled around a surprisingly walkable downtown Gainesville and enjoyed fantastic autumn weather. (see video below)

While exploring I started playing with the shutter functions of my camera and realized that I can take photos in rapid succession. See below for a visual tour of Courthouse Square in Gainesville, GA.

Next: A steep climb, and a sadness at dusk.

Written by 4baldtires

January 15, 2009 at 11:24 am

Posted in Travel Journal

Part 2: Yes, that is a camera around my neck. And I’d appreciate it if you stayed out of my personal space.

with one comment

Apparently there are a couple of blocks in Augusta where one garbed in new camera and folding map should not tread after dark. Yes, I know that I’m an easy target and yes, I may be willing to stay in a situation longer than I should because, after all, intimidation is a bitter pill and, besides, what if it is all bluster? On the other hand a good jolt of adrenaline does help clear the head and my thoughts were crystal when I fled out of there.

Regardless of my close call, I did have a good time in Augusta. The areas that I surveyed were largely full of historic resources, some being renewed and others on the unfortunate side of dereliction (see video below).

The streets were walkable (mostly, see above) and, to my delight, I was able to spend a few minutes at the Confederate Powder Works, which is just west of Downtown in a little, rough, depression-era neighborhood (see photos in gallery below and lament the lack of video). Pink Floyd fans are sure to expect a giant pig to float above this huge historic complex of crenelated brick facades and one giant obelisk of a smoke stack.

The coolest thing about this location though was the Augusta Levee Road that begins at the Confederate Powder Factory and follows the Savannah River north from the city to a lower levee spillway. It always goes that my favorite spots are nature oriented getaways, but this one is especially cool in that, just minutes from the city (and well upstream from the industrial sites south of the city), an Augustan or spirited visitor can find some river solace and stretch their legs all at the same time. And they may not even be accosted.

*Food/Dining Note: Be sure to stop in at the “The Soul Bar” and ask Coco or Jason to put a drink on Tom’s tab (sorry Tom, but you offered).

Written by 4baldtires

October 14, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Travel Journal

9.15 “Where to hide in Augusta at Dusk?” or “The highs and lows of Rural Georgia”

with one comment

At least this time it’s not a Beetle. It’s no pick-up either but, then again, I don’t really pass for a farm boy anyway. It is, however, a shiny black urban crossover with Illinois plates (see below). The land of Lincoln? Not hardly; but it sure is pretty out here.

My first successful stop of the day – the previous stops resulted in four missing markers, many mistrustful looks (a recurring theme, you’ll soon see) and two very helpful strangers – was at Old Town plantation (see gallery below). And I wish the day could have ended there. It was too cool for words, really, though here come several anyway:

Old Town is the jewel of Jefferson County and would sparkle most anywhere.  On the grounds are a beautiful Craftsman-bungalow farm house (all that remains of the original are three brick chimneys), a family library contained in a mini-Monticello, a lovely Brick Water-tower, several county vernacular cottages, a bed and breakfast (how cool), and a confectionary. All encased by the green, green fields of fertile Middle Georgia. Having learned that the owner of this property is a member of GHS, I will be sure to call on her for a more detailed look.

Several hours of surveying later, I arrived at A.H. Stephens State Park in the postage stamp town of Crawfordville. There I was to be escorted by a most courteous park employee to Cottage #2 (see below) where, for the first time, I would be bedding down to stay in one of our lovely state parks.

I then took a pleasant (code for hotter than blazes) 45-minute stroll back to the main office so the wonderful staff could re-unlock the cottage. These days, it seems I can muss up a situation in only 30 seconds, which is exactly the amount of time it took me to lock the cottage keys, my black Chevy HHR keys and my cell phone inside. I did not, however, lose my hiking shoes or my camera (please see exclusive post trauma video below). Aw well, if that’s the worst thing that can happen today then I’m still doin’ pretty well. Ominous, huh? What possibly could these omens portend? It’s probably nothing . . . off to Augusta.

Written by 4baldtires

October 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm