Thursday, October 16, 2014

Booker T. Washington and Andy Griffith

There were two "points of interest" along our route that Donna and I stopped at on our way to Florida. The first was Booker T. Washington's birthplace near Roanoke, Virginia.
 Best known as the founder of Tuskegee Institute, Washington wrote about his childhood in his autobiography, Up From Slavery.

 This is a photo of the cabin where he was born and lived in slavery. It has been reconstructed on its original site.
The reconstructed cabin. The slave owners' house was very close…right across the dirt path in front of the cabin, just a few steps away.
A peek inside the cabin where Washington slept on the floor with his siblings. 
The "Big House" has not been reconstructed, but you can see the outline of its foundation from the doorway of the cabin.
The plantation owners, the Burroughs family, are buried in the family cemetery on the property.
 A picture of the "big house." It was from this front porch in 1865 that the Emancipation Proclamation was read to the joyful slaves. Booker was 9 years old.
 This is a living-history plantation meant to replicate what life was like in the 1860s. Farm animals used for food and farm work are seen in their natural settings. This pasture has sheep and horses.
 Looking toward the barns.
 Pig pens
 With pigs in residence.
Chicken, duck, and turkey lot.
 Hen yard
 Duck pond
 Turkey pen
 Horse barn 
A view of the slave cabin from the barn area. 
The plantation's only cash crop was tobacco.
 A small tobacco patch is growing.
 Tobacco barn
Vegetable garden 
 There were other trails that we did not take the time to walk, but this was a very well-done exhibit and well worth the stop. The Visitor Center had a museum and a film about Booker T. Washington's life and accomplishments.

The other stop we made was in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith's home town and the town that was the model for "Mayberry" in TV's  "Andy Griffith Show."
 Coincidentally we happened to arrive the weekend they celebrate "Mayberry Days."

 We visited the museum which cover's Andy Griffith's entire life and career, not just Mayberry.
 There were photo ops in the foyer,
 but no photos allowed inside the museum itself. Donna posed next to Goober,

 Next we walked down Main Street of "Mayberry" (Mt. Airy) which takes full advantage of its fame to promote tourism. Tours were available in the patrol cars, but we didn't do that.
 And yes, you can still get a haircut in Floyd's barbershop.
I didn't ask if it was still 25 cents, though. 

 The movie theatre was showing "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken." Our museum ticket would have gotten us in free, but we decided not to stay for it.
 Altogether it is a very touristy town, and I can now say I've been there, done that.
 I think I have one more blog post to do to catch up on my trip south.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The National D-Day Memorial and the Bedford Boys, VA

My RVing friend, Donna joined me at Peaks of Otter campground and got her National Parks Pass. This was her first time driving on the Blue Ridge, so that was quite an accomplishment since she's afraid of heights.
Donna standing by Polly Woods' Ordinary, an historical site at Peaks of Otter.

A view from the trail around the lake.
Sharp Top, Peaks of Otter
We made a day trip to Bedford, a little town in the shadow of Sharp Top. We were going to visit the National D-Day Memorial there.
This is an aerial view of the Memorial borrowed from their website, probably taken when it was dedicated, judging from the crowds. It is quite a large complex.
You might ask, as I did, why the small town of Bedford? This community suffered the greatest loss per capita of any US community on D-Day…20 young men from Company A, most of whom died in the first ten minutes of the invasion on Omaha Beach. 
Recognizing Bedford as emblematic of all communities, large and small, whose citizen-soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the Memorial here.
The men of Company A were the first ashore that day, landing on time, at low tide, and came under a barrage of German gunfire. 
We had a guided tour which began in this area where we learn about the leadership and planning for the Allied Invasion. 
A formal garden was planted in the design of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force shoulder patch, its crusader sword pointed toward the triumphal arch. 
It symbolizes the landscape of England and the planning and preparation that the allies engaged in there. 
Our guide introduced us to each of the generals and other leaders and advisors with historical facts and interesting anecdotes about each.
Of course, the supreme commander was Dwight D. Eisenhower, seen here beneath a map of the D-Day invasion.

Looking toward the arch. 

This central plaza has 5 symmetrical segments alluding to the 5 Normandy beaches represents the landing. 
The structure on the right represents one of the landing craft, and the statues represent soldiers attempting to reach the beach and beyond. Sprays of water represent shots fired on them by German soldiers in bunkers above the beaches.
What it really looked like that day.
Perhaps this soldier represents one of the Bedford boys. His bible (beside the fallen soldier's head) was recovered and returned to the family. The names of 4,413 Allied and American troops who lost their lives on 6 June 1944, are engraved on plaques at the Memorial.
The landing as seen from above. You can see the Peaks of Otter in the distance.
 The triumphal soldier scaling the seawall. 
There happened to be a fall festival in the town of Bedford that day, so after our visit to the memorial we walked around there, visited the museum, and had lunch.
On the way back to the campground we stopped at an apple orchard for fresh apples and cider. 
And neither of us could resist a warm fried apple pie. 
There's a lot to see and do in the area around the Peaks of Otter.