Archive for August, 2008

Savannah Tour

August 31, 2008
Victorian Row Houses in Savannah, Georgia.  June 24, 2008.

Victorian Row Houses in Savannah, Georgia. June 24, 2008.

The day after visiting Fort Pulaski and Tybee Island, Betsy and I went to downtown Savannah to tour the historic district.

Georgia was the last of the English colonies to be founded in North America.  James Edward Oglethorpe is considered the founder of Georgia, although he was only one of 21 persons named as trustees of the new colony.  An interesting provision of the original charter was that rum, lawyers and slavery were forbidden!

England had several reasons for founding Georgia.  Oglethorpe was personally interested in providing relief to the debtors of England and in helping the English poor and  unemployed.  The English crown wanted to remove the poor so England would not have to support them.  Another interest of the crown was to provide a buffer to protect South Carolina from Spaniards in Florida.

Oglethorpe and 120 other settlers arrived in what is now Savannah in February, 1733.  Oglethorpe soon became friends with a local Indian chief, Tomochichi.  Oglethorpe and Tomochichi pledged mutual goodwill and the Yamacraw chief granted the new arrivals permission to settle Savannah on its bluff above the river.  As a result the town flourished without warfare and the accompanying hardship the burdened many of England’s early colonies.

Savannah is known as America’s first planned city.  Oglethorpe laid the city out in a series of grids that allowed for wide open streets dotted with shady public squares and parks that served as town meeting places and centers of business.  Savannah had 24 original squares and 21 of them are still in existence.

I must admit that we didn’t enjoy our tour of Savannah as much as we enjoyed our tour of Charleston, but we did get a good overview of the historic district and are now ready to go back and take a walking tour!

To see more of our tour click HERE.

A Young Ninety-Six

August 30, 2008
My Dad on his 96th Birthday.  August 29, 2008.

My Dad on his 96th Birthday. August 29, 2008.

Yesterday Betsy and I went to Hendersonville to help my father celebrate his 96th birthday.  When we got there he was working in his back yard with my brother and sister clearing some brush.  It’s typical of Dad that he wouldn’t even take his birthday as a day off.

It’s  not often that my brother, Ken,and my sister, Janet, and I can all get together at the same time, so it was rather special to have the three of us — and our spouses — together to celebrate Dad’s birthday.

I’ll have to admit that Dad has slowed down a little bit, and we found out last week that he is now legally blind.  But even that hasn’t stopped him — he keeps doing the best he can.  I’m proud to be his son.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Tybee Island

August 29, 2008
Tybee Island and lighthouse from the walls of Fort Pulaski.  June 23, 2008.

Tybee Island and lighthouse from the walls of Fort Pulaski. June 23, 2008.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that Betsy and I visited Fort Pulaski while on our anniversary trip in June.  From the walls of Fort Pulaski we could see Tybee Island and its lighthouse, and since Betsy is as interested in lighthouses as I am in Robert E. Lee, we had to go over to Tybee and visit the lighthouse.

Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski (on Cockspur Island) are closely connected.  In 1861 Confederates held both Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski.  But in November of that year the Union army and navy captured Hilton Head Island (South Carolina) on Port Royal Sound.  Hilton Head is only about 15 miles north of Fort Pulaski, and using this as a base the Union was able to mount operations against Fort Pulaski and the entire South Atlantic coast.

Since the Confederate troops on Tybee Island were in danger of being cut off by the Union navy, Robert E. Lee ordered that they be withdrawn.  He did this because he felt Fort Pulaski was impregnable. but by doing so he unknowingly gave the Union the only site from which Fort Pulaski could be taken.

The Union army under Engineer Captain Quincy A. Gillmore quickly began to build siege batteries on the only firm ground in the area — the northwestern shore of Tybee Island.  Although this site was over a mile from Fort Pulaski, Gilmore had ten of the new rifled cannon available and he was certain that these cannon could breach the brick walls of Fort Pulaski and force its surrender.

On April 10, 1862, after the Confederates refused Gillmore’s formal demand for surrender, the Union forces opened fire on the fort.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Betsy’s Birds III

August 28, 2008
A male cardinal  on our deck.  August 28, 2008.

A male cardinal on our deck. August 28, 2008.

As I’ve mentioned before, Betsy has become fascinated with birds.  She started with hummingbirds a couple of years ago, but has moved on to other species as well.  She started putting out bird seed on the deck and then got a seed bell.  Since then she has been quite successful in attracting birds onto our deck to have a snack.

We also got a bird bath for the back yard which also attracts its share of ‘customers’.  All in all it’s possible to see quite a bit of feathered activity on our deck or in the back yard.  When Betsy is not watching her feathered friends she is online trying to identify the birds she’s seen.

We’ve seen a pair of cardinals for a couple of weeks, but apparently cardinals are shy birds and we couldn’t get close enough to get a picture.  But it rained all day Tuesday and we had errands to run yesterday morning, so it was nearly noon before Betsy was able to put out her bird seed.  I guess the birds missed some meals and were hungry because we had quite a few enjoying their meal.  And to our surprise even the cardinals showed up for a snack and the male stuck around long enough for us to get the picture above.

I wonder what species Betsy will attract next?

My Favorite Island: Antigua

August 27, 2008
The coast of Antigua from Shirley's Height.  September 12, 2001.

The coast of Antigua from Shirley

This past Sunday afternoon Betsy and I were watching DVDs of our grandchildren when we decided to watch a DVD of our honeymoon cruise in the eastern Caribbean.  We visited several islands — St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados.  It was a wonderful cruise.

Betsy asked which island was my favorite.  That wasn’t an easy question to answer, but I finally had to say Antigua.  The coast of Antigua was absolutely breath-takingly beautiful.  The ocean was a gorgeous blue in contrast to the rocky cliffs.

In addition to rocky shores Antigua also has beaches and history.  In 1784 British Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson established a base on Antigua for use against the French.  We were able to visit that base, Nelson’s Dockyard.

Our day in Antigua began with a beautiful sunrise and ended with a gorgeous sunset.  To see more of our visit to Antigua click HERE.

Fort Pulaski

August 26, 2008
The flag flying at Fort Pulaski.  June 23, 2008.

The flag flying at Fort Pulaski. June 23, 2008.

In the early 1800s the United States constructed a third system of forts to protect the East and Gulf coasts from invasion.  Most of those forts still exist.

The fort constructed to protect Savannah, Georgia, was named Fort Pulaski in honor of the Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, who lost his life fighting against the British at Savannah during the Revolutionary War.

Fort Pulaski was designed to be one of the most modern fortifications ever built.  Many considered the fort’s 7½-foot solid brick walls backed with massive masonry piers unbreachable.  Construction of the fort started in 1829 and required $1 million dollars (that was real money back then!), 25 million bricks, and 18 years of work to finish.

Unfortunately for the designers of the fort technology did not stand still after the fort was complete.  The rifled cannon was perfected which had both greater accuracy and greater range.  Union rifled cannon a mile from the fort breached the walls and forced the Confederates to surrender after only 30 hours of bombardment.

Fort Pulaski was built on Cockspur Island which was extremely marshy.  Before the fort could be built, a dike and drainage system had to be designed and constructed.  The drainage system was designed by a young lieutenant of engineers — Robert E. Lee.  That explains why I was so interested in seeing the fort.

To see more of our visit to Fort Pulaski click HERE.

Fickle Fay

August 25, 2008
Tropical Storm Fay over Florida

Tropical Storm Fay over Florida

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Fay was certainly one for the record books — four landfalls in Florida over the course of a week and 30+ inches of rain in some areas. It was absolutely unbelievable.

Betsy’s cousin Bonnie lives in Melbourne, Florida, and they got plenty of rain from Fay. Betsy did a blog on the river flowing through the street where Bonnie and her husband live. If you haven’t read that blog you can do so by clicking HERE.

For the first day or so after Fay landed on the mainland of Florida the forecasters were expecting it to move north. We were really excited about that possibility up here in dry Tennessee — we need the rain!

But then Fay stalled and stayed over Florida, and stayed and stayed and stayed. All that rain where they didn’t need any more! It was enough to make a grown man (me) cry!!!

Finally Fay started to move — WEST!!! The Florida panhandle, Georgia, and Alabama got rain and more rain. We got nothing.

Fay, by now a depression, finally moved north yesterday — toward Memphis and west Tennessee. Memphis has had above normal rainfall this year!

Up here on the Plateau we really need the rain — we’ve had less than 0.05 inches so far this month. If only Fay had come this way! Why are women so fickle?

Celebrating Monthaversaries

August 24, 2008
Our wedding day -- June 23, 2001.

Our wedding day -- June 23, 2001.

Since I was 59 when Betsy and I got married, we realized we probably wouldn’t have as many anniversaries as some couples do. (Mom and Dad celebrated their 68th anniversary this past May!). So we decided to celebrate monthaversaries on the 23rd of each month as well as anniversaries.

Our celebration usually consists of going out for dinner. It doesn’t have to be a fancy restaurant — just something to remind us of how fortunate we are and how much we have to celebrate.

Yesterday we celebrated our 86th monthaversary by going to Cookeville and eating at the Golden Corral Restaurant (Betsy just loves the cheese-garlic biscuits and the peanut butter cookies). Since we’re both senior citizens the cost was very reasonable and the air conditioning in the car on the drive over gave us a chance to get a break from the hot weather.

It wasn’t a spectacular celebration, but it was definitely special. I’m already looking forward to our next monthaversary celebration.

No Wonder We Think Government Is Broken II

August 23, 2008
The Cumberland County Courthouse

The Cumberland County Courthouse

A week or so ago I wrote about the school situation here in Cumberland Country.  You can read the entire post HERE, but in a nut shell the Board of Education decided to delay the start of school because the budget for the year had not been approved.

The latest news when I wrote that first post was that the county mayor had filed two lawsuits against the Board of Education, the second claiming that the board had violated Tennessee’s Sunshine Law at the meeting during which the opening of school was delayed.

Yesterday the Chancery Court judge hearing the second lawsuit ruled that both special-called meetings held by the Cumberland Country Board of Education were held in violation of the Sunshine Law and are considered void.  The judge said there was not enough adequate notice for the public for those meetings, and the subject of the first meeting differed from what was on the agenda.

The judge then ruled that Cumberland County schools must be open on or by Wednesday, August 27.

Of course, the judge’s ruling does not solve the money problem.  The Board of Education is facing a five million dollar shortfall for the coming year.  Among steps being considered to close that gap:  elimination of the entire transportation budget (no school buses),  cut the Security Coordinator position (there was a shooting in a Knoxville high school yesterday), dropping all advanced placement and honors courses in the high schools (that should help us compete in this high-tech world), and potentially eliminate all extra-curricular activities.

Schools may open next week, but I don’t think the problems have been solved!

Cool Memories for a Hot Afternoon

August 22, 2008
Ozone Falls, Crab Orchard, Tennessee.  February 10, 2007.

Ozone Falls, Crab Orchard, Tennessee. February 10, 2007.

Yesterday was another hot, dry day up here on the Plateau. The weatherman isn’t offering us much hope for relief from either the high temperatures or the lack of rain. I’m sure some of the people in Florida would be glad to send us some of their rain, if only we could figure out a way to get it up here!

Since it was too hot to work outside for much of the afternoon, I worked on some of my digital photo albums instead. One album that I came across was a set of pictures we took at Ozone Falls back in February, 2007.

That trip to Ozone Falls was a great one to recall on a hot summer day. There were icicles all around the falls on that day. It made things seem a little cooler just looking at the pictures.

Ozone Falls is a small waterfall about ten miles from our house. It’s in the Ozone State Natural Area which is really quite a small area with the 110 foot waterfall. The trail to the top of the falls is very short, although the trail to the base of the falls is a bit longer and involves a scramble down a rocky path. But the scramble is definitely worth it.

To see pictures of our cool visit to Ozone Falls click HERE.