Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Fort Sumter and Folly Beach

On February 16, we decided to head back down into Charleston and take the boat ride out to Fort Sumter. I thought I knew the history of Fort Sumter, but I knew very little of the entire story. We started by going through the museum and information center along the waterfront in Charleston.

This makes #43 National Park or Monument we have visited in the past 4+ years. As we waited to leave, the views around the harbor were impressive.

This is a Canadian warship HMS Montreal. It was just cruising into port.
Right across the river is the USS Yorktown. This is the 4th ship to have the Yorktown name. The 3rd was sunk during the battle of Midway. This Aircraft carrier was put in service late during WW2.  
This was our ride out to the fort.
The boat was about 70% full. The first thing I learned is the island that is visible from the waterfront is not Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter is much further up the river at the mouth. There was a good narration playing while we cruised down the river.

Charleston looking at Battery Park. You can see 4 steeples in this shot.

A cannon that was found and restored at the fort

Excellent and funny ranger talk
 The fort has been built and rebuilt many times. The most famous times are at the start of the Civil War. What I did not know is that the fort was under siege by the Union army for much of the war. The Union Army took the fort late in the war and then turned the guns on Charleston, doing significant damage to the beautiful old city.

A shell still stuck in the bricks.
The large black portion in the center of the fort was added during WW1 and WW2 to act as part of the coastal defenses. 
We really enjoyed the trip and would say it was worth the $26 per ticket price.

The last day in the Charleston area, I decided I wanted to go fishing. We had one other stop on the way down there. I love old trees and this one is special. Here is Angel Oak:

This is a 500-600 year old Southern Live Oak

Pretty girl, pretty tree.
We then headed down to Folly Beach. The traffic was very heavy getting down there. Kim did a little research on her phone and found out they were having a Marti Gras type celebration. We were able to bypass it and get down to the end of the island to an open beach park.

It was a cool and cloudy day and the fish were not biting. It is a bit early in the season, but I was just happy to get a line wet.

That is about it for Charleston. We were tired of the busy city and wanted to get into a more natural setting. Come back to see where we went next.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Charleston, South Carolina

I am writing this on Sunday, February 25. I just can't seem to stay caught up on this blog. We are now staying near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We have been traveling at our normal pace, moving slowly along the coast. This is a part of the country we really wanted to see, so read on if you want to take the tour with us.

We arrived at Lake Aire RV park and campground on Sunday, February 11. It was a 132 mile drive through an area of South Carolina called the "Low Country". This is a flat area along the coast that is filled with old plantations and swamps. This is truly the old south.

Lake Aire is a Passport America park that has some strange pricing. The base rate is only $19 per night, but they charge extra for 50 Amp electric, water, sewer individually. We opted for 30amp with no sewer. I think it worked out to about $24 per night. It is a nice place except for the back row of permanent residents. That looks a bit run down. They have some nice ponds that you can fish in without a license. Overall it was fine. It did rain a few days we were there and the place did get a bit muddy, but not bad.

We had site M2, which is out on a little peninsula
One thing we have noticed is that as you travel east, the chances of having good cell signal and OTA TV increase. We were able to watch the Olympics and have fast internet.

We did have rain a few days and on those days we just chilled out at the park. We made multiple trips into Charleston. It was only about 15 miles away. I will consolidate all of those visits into one post because I can't really remember what we did on one day versus another. We decided to find a place to park each day and then just walk. That really works well for us and we can always use the exercise. We started with a walk in Waterfront park.

I thought that this fountain was cool. All of the jets of water meet to form the column in the middle.

This town is full of historic houses and churches. Many of the houses date back to the 1700's. Much of the city did receive damage from shelling near the end of the Civil War. 

St. Phillips Anglican church

Across the street from the church is a cemetery that is very old. We found the grave of William Rhett. He was born in 1666 and was instrumental in the early days of Charleston.

We later found his house.

The Exchange and Dungeon. Cool Buildings along this street.

Interesting history

Washington Square

Many beautiful churches. They call Charleston the holy city because of all of the church steeples. 

Many old cemeteries in the church yards
Catholic Church

We loved the architecture and history. I took a bunch more pictures, but this will do for now. We also saw some other interesting places. The market place is along market street. It is full of local artisans selling their wares.

At the end of the marketplace upstairs is the Confederate museum that is kept by the daughters of the confederacy. There is no sign, you just have to know it is there. We paid the $5 per person and checked it out. There are many historical items. They don't allow pictures, but they let me take one from outside looking in.

That is a quick recap of much of our time in Charleston. We were very impressed with everything we saw, but no visit would be complete without a trip out to Fort Sumter. I will write about that visit and some other things we found to do in the area in my next entry.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Fort Stewart

When we arrived in Hinesville, Georgia on February 4 we started hearing sounds that seemed strange. At first I thought it was on the TV, but I went outside and I could hear them better. It was a heavy Thump, Thump, Thump in the distance. We also periodically could hear and feel some explosions. I remembered that a 50 Caliber heavy machine gun is fired in three round bursts to get the best accuracy. We knew that Fort Stewart was close by. We had seen signs for the firing range when we were driving in.

Some people may have been irritated by the sounds. I kind of like hearing it. I enjoy military history even though I never had the honor to serve in the US military. I really like military hardware and hearing the weapons in action was very cool. One morning we awoke to jets flying low overhead and more sounds of the machine guns and artillery.

I did some research and found out that Fort Stewart is the home of the 3rd Infantry Division. This is a very old and historical division of the US Army. I found out that they have a museum on base and the public could get a pass and go see it. On February 9th, that is exactly what we did.

We had to stop at the base entrance and go inside to get our pass. They did a quick background check and welcomed us to the base. Just after you go through the gate, you see a M1A2 Main Battle tank, a Bradley Fighting vehicle and a M109A6 Paladin artillery system on display. It is an awesome site, I still can't believe I did not get a picture of them. We followed the signs to the museum.

I got out of the truck and had to have Kim take my picture in front of the building and a WW2 half track  and Sherman tank that was there just sitting in the parking lot.

WW2 era half track complete with a 50 caliber machine gun mounted in the turret

A Sherman Tank - very cool
When we went inside we were greeted by an active duty sergeant, who gave us an introduction and offered to answer any questions. The "Rock of the Marne" is a nickname that was given the division during WW1 in France. The Marne river was a battle ground that was hard fought. Many other divisions failed at holding ground, but the 3rd held their ground and helped in the allied victory. 

The 3rd ID fought in WW1, WW2, Korea and both Iraq and Afghanistan. They did not fight in Viet Nam. They were stationed in Germany for many years. The museum follows the history of the division through all of those conflicts. There is special note to the 55 Medal of Honor recipients of the 3rd ID, more than any other division in the US army.

The display of artifacts is amazing. I was very impressed with the WW2 era German weapons.

Check out the German BMW Motorcycle

Perfectly restored German MG42 machine gun
This display case was amazing. It had all of the German small arms used in WW2.
An M4 light tank

I love quad 50's. I had to take a picture of that.

In the picture above, Kim is reading all about Sergeant Paul R. Smith from Tampa Florida. This is the Armored Personal Carrier that is mentioned in the Citation below.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith's extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division "Rock of the Marne", and the United States Army.

I walked out of the museum in total awe of this division and what they represent. We were told that the 3rd ID is being deployed back to the middle east. They told us that much of the firing in the past few days was the various units testing weapons before leaving. 

We were honored to have the opportunity to find out more about the "Rock of the Marne". The museum is very well done and well worth the time to go see. Our prayers and respect go with them on their deployment. 

The next day we finally left Hinesville to move North and East. Come back to see what we do next.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tybee Island

I am writing this on Saturday, February 17. I have once again fallen behind in writing entries in this blog. We are in the Charleston area now. We have been very busy touring this area for the past 7 days. The areas of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina are amazing. They are full of interesting and historical sites and things we wanted to see. I will try to catch up a bit over the next few days.

On February 7, we decided to head to a beach area south of Savannah called Tybee Island. While we were touring Savannah the previous day, we had read about a cemetery that was called a "must see". It was on the way to Tybee Island, so we decided to check it out.

Bonaventure Cemetery is a very old cemetery. They have graves dating back to the 1700's. They also have many graves of famous people that lived in the Savannah area. I am not sure why, but we like to check out places like this. I really like the history and Kim enjoys finding the oldest graves.

We stopped to check out the military graves. Many dating back to the civil war along with some newer ones.

Then I found the grave of General Robert Anderson. He was a West Pointer and a General in the Confederate Army. He had to make the same difficult decision that many members of the US Army did in 1861. He was the chief of Police in Savannah for over 20 years after the war and worked hard to close the wounds with the north.

And then we have an early US Senator from the early years of our country. I have not done any research on him.

That may sound like a strange way to start our day, but we both enjoyed it. We then headed down to Tybee Island. We drove the length of the island and we really liked the laid back feel of the place. No big mansions, just comfortable beach homes. The beach is clean and beautiful.

Kim walking on a beach

Looking down the beach to the pier. 
We walked down to the pier and looked through a few shops. It was a quiet off season day and there were very few people around enjoying the warm sun.

There was one guy who was braving the cold water to do some kite surfing. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

If you look closely, you can see his board has a foil on it. 

It was pretty windy, but still a nice day. We had some gulls come down and fly right around us. They were actually within just a few feet and they just hung there.

It was a fun day and we really liked Tybee Island.

While we were staying at the Happy Camper RV park in Hinesville, Georgia, we have been hearing some strange sounds. I will write about those strange sounds, and what was causing them, in my next entry.