Saturday, October 31, 2009


Another place that we need to come back to when we have time to explore. But I thought these pictures were beautiful of the city.


This guy sits outside the Great Dane Trailer building in Savannah, GA. (Roadside America)


St. John's RV Park - St. Augustine, FL


Going strong in Hardeeville, SC outside Papa Joe's Fireworks store.


The USS Yorktown was the 10th aircraft carrier to serve in the U. S. Navy. This ship is now located at Patriot's Point, SC and is the Naval and Maritime Museum
This was a beautiful ship sailing gently down the harbor.


We took a boat tour to Fort Sumter where the bombardment of the fort was the first military action of the Civil War. (As you can see, it was a cold, rainy day. But that doesn't stop us tourists.)

April 12, 1861 is the day that will forever be remembered as the opening day of hostilities between the North and South of the United States. This date marked the beginning of the bloodiest war in US history that would be called The Civil War, The War Between the States and even The War of Yankee Aggression. On the eve of the Civil War, one of every 7 Americans belonged to another American. Nearly 4 million men, women, and children were slaves.

The first shots took place at Fort Sumter, between Union Major Robert Anderson and Confederate Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard. (Side Note: Major Robert Anderson was Brigadier General Beauregard's artillery instructor at West Point in 1838.) They may have been the first shots but they had been a long time coming.
As far back as the Declaration of Independence in 1776, slavery and states rights were issues. The early fight for State’s Rights began in South Carolina in the 1820s. John Calhoun wrote about “Nullification.” The point of nullification was to give states the right to nullify or void, any acts by Congress or the Federal Government that transgressed upon ANY right the state considered its own.

Then came the election of 1860 when Abraham Lincoln was elected president without the majority vote. This Republican President from Springfield, Illinois was the eventual catalyst for the secession of the Southern states.

On December 24, 1860 South Carolina officially seceded from the Union. The first meeting of the Confederate Congress was held at Montgomery, Alabama on February 4, 1861. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was elected President and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia was Vice President.
Six days after South Carolina seceded, Major Anderson secretly moved his men to Fort Sumter. South Carolina authorities considered this a breach of faith and demanded that the fort be evacuated. President James Buchanan refused their demand. Both sides believed that the first side to use force would lose precious political support in the border states. Finally Brigadier General Beauregard demanded that the Union forces surrender and he cut off the food supplies to the fort. President Lincoln informed the governor of South Carolina that he would be sending supplies to the fort so the Confederate Cabinet issued the order for the attack on the fort to ensure the surrender before provisions could arrive.
On April 11, Gen. Beauregard delivered an ultimatum to Maj. Anderson. In it Beauregard specified that he would facilitate the removal of weapons and supplies from the fort, send personal items to any location desired but Anderson was to evacuate Sumter immediately. Major Anderson replied that his honor prevented him from doing so.

At 3:20 am on April 12, 1861 Confederate officers gave written warning to Maj. Anderson that h firing would begin upon Fort Sumter in one hour’s time. At 4:30 am, Capt. James stationed at Fort Johnson fired the signal gun that told the other batteries to begin firing upon Sumter. The first shot of the Civil War did not hit anything. It was simply a signal. Each of the surrounding batteries quickly joined in but the Union guns didn’t return fire until 7:30 am.

Firing continued through the day and night of April 12th and on into the morning of April 13th.
It was at this time the flagstaff of the fort was shot down and the barracks were on fire. In a strange sense of duty, honor or irony, the Confederates sent Capt. Lee, Roger Pryor and William Miles out towards Fort Sumter in a boat. When they were almost there, a new flag and flagstaff were raised. Deciding to turn back, they once again halted when a white flag of truce was raised.
The Confederates had come to ask Anderson if he needed assistance in putting out the fire. Anderson had only lowered the flag to find out what the men in the boat had wanted. Once the question had been asked, Maj. Anderson politely refused the offer and assured the Confederates his men were well able to handle the situation.

It would take two more attempts before Major Anderson would finally agree to the terms and surrender the fort. On April 14 he personally lowered the flag and evacuated the fort on steamers provided by Beauregard. Of the approximately five hundred and eighty men who participated on both sides at Fort Sumter, not a single life was lost.

For those who enjoy a nice piece of trivia, the United States flag would remain down from Fort Sumter until the fourth anniversary of its lowering, April 14, 1865 when General Robert Anderson, the previous Major Anderson personally raised it once again.


Charleston is known as The Holy City due to the number of churches and the numerous steeples which dot the city's skyline. Also Charleston was one of the few cities in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance to the French Huguenot Church.

This is the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the New Cooper River Bridge, which is a "cable-stayed" bridge. The bridge has a main span of 1,546 feet, the longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere. It has two diamond-shaped towers that are 575 feet high and is 13,200 feet in length. 128 individual cables anchored to the inside of the diamond towers suspend the deck 186 feet above the river. The bridge superstructure is designed to withstand shipping accidents and the natural disasters that have plagued Charleston’s history. The span is designed to endure wind gusts in excess of 300mph and is designed to withstand an earthquake to approximately 7.4. To protect the bridge from uncontrolled ships, the towers are flanked by one-acre rock islands. Any ship will run aground on the islands before it can collide with the towers.


This is the entrance to the aquarium. We didn't go into the aquarium but thought this guy was just too cute.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Okay - this Walmart is bigger than any I've ever seen before. It's located in Concord, NC. So my curiousity got the better of me and when we got home I just had to find out where the largest Walmart in the US is located. It just happens to be in Albany, NY and is 260,000 square feet and on two levels. WOW! This one was big enough for me.


Punchy’s serves Dale's favorite sandwich, a tasty tomato sandwich made just the way Dale liked it. Tomato sandwiches were always among his favorite, a reminder of his beginnings in racing when money was scarce. Martha, Dale’s mom, says she made it with sliced tomato, sometimes lettuce, and Miracle Whip on white bread. It just so happens that one of Jim's favorite sandwiches is a tomato sandwich. Until I met him I didn't know anybody who ate tomato sandwiches. On sandwiches but usually with meat. He really enjoyed this one.


This plaza was established to honor Dale after his death at the Daytona 500 in 2001.


Dale Earnhardt was born in Kannapolis, NC which is just up the road from Lowes Motor Speeday. To complete our racing adventure we drove to Kannapolis and followed the Dale Trail. A lot of the trail doesn't really have much left but they do point out where he grew up and where he spent a lot of time driving around like teenagers do. When I grew up it was called "dragging main". For Dale it was "crusing idiot circle."

However, a gentlemen at the Visitor's Center told us a stop at the Curb Museum was a must. So after a couple of tries we found the museum. We were the only people there at the time and the gentlemen that showed us around was so knowledgeable and had some great stories to tell.

I had no idea who Mike Curb was so I googled him and found out some really interesting stuff. He became California's lieutenant governor in November of 1978 which is he same year that Democrat Jerry Brown was elected governor.
When Mike was young he started a group called the Mike Curb Congregation. Now them I remember. He then went on to become a producer and songwriter and became president of the MGM label when he sold his company to them. Later he established his own label and has such a list of stars that you need to go to his web site to find out which ones.

Mike has also been active for most of his adult life in motorsports. Curb cars driven by Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and others have competed for more than 30 years in the NASCAR circuit and in other major motor sports events including the Indianapolis 500. In 2006, he was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

This is the car that Dale was driving in 1980 when he won his first Winston Cup Championship.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


These pictures were taken on the van tour.
Jim wasn't scheduled to drive until 5:00 pm so we took the tour van of the speedway during the day. If you are ever in this area, definitely a fun thing to do. They give you a tour of all the tracks which includes a couple of go kart tracks, a drag strip, a dirt track, and the NASCAR race track, along with the garage area and also a trip around the race track at 75 mph so you can feel the banking of the track. This tour was only $5 a person and great fun.

At 4:30 we signed Jim in and here are the pictures. There are quite a few of them but this is definitely one of the biggest highlights of our trip so far this year. I've also put some videos on. But first a disclaimer on them. I am not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination. And using the video on the camera was completely new to me. So you will see a lot of ground at the end of some of the videos. Such is the way it goes sometimes. I did get a little better as time went on. So please enjoy. We sure did.

When we had watched the drivers earlier in the day they were driving under the Richard Petty Driving School and they had a lead car in front of them. So this is what we expected for Jim. But the Jeff Gordon Driving Experience runs differently. After everybody got signed in they held a driver's meeting (in the same room that the NASCAR driver's have their meeting). During this meeting they explained everything that would happen on the track. (I got to attend the meeting with Jim.) Things like when to shift and the rpm's for each lap. If you want more details than that you'll have to talk to Jim. A lot of safety information. And then we found out that everybody would be out on the track without a lead car. That is so much cooler. You are in complete control of your car out on the track - not just following another car around the track. However, they do have a "kill switch" on the car if you try to do something stupid.

After the meeting, Jim got his firesuit on and they took pictures in the winner's circle. Then we went down to pit row where he got his helmet and they determined which car to put him in. They tried to put him in a Toyota and you can just imagine how happy that made him. But he finally convinced them he had to ride in a Chevy. So now he's really a happy driver.

They start them out kind of slow for the first lap - about 90 mph. Then each lap after that he got to go faster until he reached the rev limiter at 150 mph. They also let him pass another slower car which was a real thrill for him.

After he finished his laps, he got out of the car and had to turn in his suit and helmet. I wasn't sure he was going to give them back but they were holding onto his driver's license so he didn't have any choice.

NAPA had sponsored a contest for it's shop owners an so we had about 25 of their winners. Because they were there, there was a real well known former crew chief, Larry MacReynolds, who is now an announcer for the races. So Jim was able to get his picture taken with Larry. NASCAR drivers and crews are some of the nicest celebrities. They always have time for their fans.

This is Lugnut's car. He's the Lowes Motor Speedway Mascot. Didn't see any sign of him but his car is sure cute.

So now Jim wants to know when he can do it again. So I told him he had to save his pennies. We would definitely recommend this experience for anyone who likes speed. Do It!