Saturday, March 09, 2013

Long Time Passing

It's been a LONG time since I've written anything at all. I can't plead that I've been too busy to write. I haven't. I can't say there was nothing to write about. There was. There really is NO excuse for my lack of writing. I just didn't do it. So I've decided to do a whirlwind catch up and then comment on today.

I'm going to start with today. Mary and I are in Unadilla, Georgia. Yep, I said Georgia. This is a short stop at the Southern Trails RV Resort. We're gradually heading north with the anticipation of being back in Wisconsin (briefly) by March 24. Today, however, we took a trip to the Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville, GA. Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it was officially named, was the largest of many Confederate Prisoner of War camps during the most uncivil Civil War. It is not a pretty story nor a nice one. Unfortunately, it was a story common to both sides in that awful conflict.

As it happens, we picked a Living History Weekend to visit the park. Many reenactors were giving their time to recreate life at Andersonville in 1864-5. We saw a demonstration of artillery, of Civil War era troops drilling and firing their rifles, and of life for the prisoners at Camp Sumter. All in all, an interesting day to be there.

In addition, the museum is a commemoration of all U.S. troops who have been POWs in any of the wars and armed conflicts of the United States. As Mary said, of the museum, this is depressing. Indeed, it is a depressing place, yet it is also inspiring to hear the story of life and death for Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen of the United States who have had the great misfortune to become Prisoners of War. I'm glad we went.

We also drove over to Plains, GA, to visit the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site (which seems to be the whole town of Plains). Jimmy Carter, of course, was the 39th President of The United States. We toured the museum (which is the former Plains School, grades 1-12). That was all we had time for, but it was interesting to see. As with any President, history will make the final judgment as to the way in which President Carter's term in office is remembered, but there were many things of which it was good to be reminded, good and bad, during those years. I will always appreciate the man for his personal integrity and for his commitment to a life of faith lived out in a pubic office. If we wanted to return to Plains tomorrow, we could go to the Sunday School class with President Carter will be teaching at the Maranatha Baptist Church there in Plains. He teaches Sunday School 2-3 times per month.

So how did we wind up in Georgia? Let me back up. When I last wrote, I was at the Sunset Isles RV Park in Cedar Key, FL, and Mary was on Red Cross deployment in New Jersey. She did come home on time the very next week. We finished our month in Cedar Key enjoying new friends in the NuRVers group and making other friends as well. We did some kayaking, took a boat tour of the islands around Cedar Key, and visited a shell mound of the prehistoric native American residents of the area.

From Cedar Key, we moved to Rambler's Rest near Venice, FL, spending two weeks there. There we visited beautiful beaches, saw delightful sunsets, and visited Spanish Point, a historic site with many connections over the centuries of life in Florida. We also visited the SunCoast Cathedral of the Metropolitan Community Church. It was a special day of worship for us and we have rarely been as welcomed in a church of any kind. If you'd like to know more about that experience, feel free to contact me directly. I know that not everyone who follows this blog is interested in my religious thoughts or experiences and that's fine. See me on facebook (Forrest Shelton Clark) or write me on email.

While we were at Rambler's Rest we took several days and went over to see brother Ransom and his wife, Helen. They live in Lake Wales, FL, but we all ran over to Daytona Beach to enjoy a few days at the beach on the east coast of Florida. On the way home, we stopped off in the city of Celebration and went to the Columbia for a magnificent lunch. Thanks, Ransom and Helen, for the hospitality and the fun. It has been a delight to get to spend some significant amount of time with my brother during this winter in FL.

After Rambler's Rest, we moved to St. James City and the Pine Island KOA RV Resort. Pine Island is down in the Fort Myers area, but is an isolated island and it took lots of driving to get anywhere. We enjoyed ourselves, however. While we were there, we got to reconnect with a couple, Danny and Cindy Colbert, we befriended at Sunset Isles on Cedar Key. We had a fun dinner together and a good evening of conversation on a cold and blustery day.

One of the real highlights of our Pine Island time was a one day trip on a fast catamaran from Ft. Myers to Key West, FL. We did not get to see or experience a lot of Key West, but we were there, had lunch at a restaurant on the dock, got to visit the southernmost point in the continental United States, and walked by the Hemingway House. The boat trip takes four hours each way so even a long day doesn't give as much time in Key West as is spent in the traveling. However, I would say that I'd love to take the same trip on the Key West Express and stay overnight for a day or two in Key West.

Oh! The other significant event while we were at Pine Island was an evening trip to Port Charlotte's HAM Radio club where I took and passed the FCC test for a Technician class license in the Amateur Radio service. I am now KC9YMH, portable 4 (that means my license is based in Wisconsin but I am in the southeastern part of the country instead of WI).  My radio enables me to operate on the 2M and 70cm HAM bands. If you're a HAM operator, I'd welcome a call. I try to monitor the national calling frequencies as we travel (146.52 MHz and 446.000 MHz). And if you're not a HAM, all that may mean nothing and that's alright.

We left Pine Island on Feb. 28 and headed into the central part of the state. We spent 8 days at Bee's RV Resort in Clermont.  Part of the trip was a return visit to Lake Wales to visit Ransom and Helen. More good "brother time" for me. I also ran over to Amateur Electronic Supply in Orlando to purchase my first HAM radio. It was a good choice of a place for the purchase because I got some valuable advice from the salesman who helped me. I'll be glad to recommend them for their customer service!

The other highlight of our time at Bee's was completion (I hope) of all the paperwork for 2012 tax season. Two and 1/2 days of our eight days there were spend on this project. We got it all compiled and mailed to the CPA in Madison who will do the hard work for us. Tax paper compilation is not a fun job, but it is a necessary part of life.

We'll be here at Southern Trails until Monday and then we'll head for Mountain Lakes RV Resort, Langston, AL. We'll be there March 11-21.

I won't promise to do a better job and write more often, but I do intend to try to do so. I enjoy telling our story and I hope some of you enjoy reading it. We've been on the road for six+ months now. There are still learning experiences before us, I'm sure, but we've learned a lot and enjoyed a lot and made some new friends that we will look forward to meeting again on our travels.

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