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Genealogy Road Trip 2021 Vol 10

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” –John Steinbeck. North Carolina From Antietam we drove down the beautiful Blue Ridge Highway. It is surrounded on both sides by the ancient, rounded Appalachians, whose leaves are now painted with patches of deep salmon and amber. (see Smokey Mtns on cloudy day). Janice was first vaxed in January so finagled a booster while we were in Rochester, MN at the end of August. Neal had his in Roanoke, VA right before a “travel day.” The morning greeted him with a headache, body aches, and fatigue so Janice drove that day while Neal played disk jockey and navigator. Flat Rock October 2nd-8th Janice’s note: we arrived at our Flat Rock, NC, the home of my cousin, Steven. Steven and I spent part of our early childhood living in the same brownstone our immigrant grandparents owned in the old Polish-Catholic Chicago neighborhood. After a 50-year hiatus, we delightfully reconnected and have since developed a close relationship. Flat Rock was so named as there is a big, flat rock in the center of town. Cherokees used it as a landmark place to trade as in “meet you at the flat rock.” Flat Rock has the Village Bakery, an arts and crafts store and TWO BBQ restaurants, one right next to each other. (see Flat Rock stores pic). There are free ranging chickens in the parking lot. The area is known for its white squirrels. Steve is enthusiastically retired after putting in his time at Merrill Lynch/Bank of America for 40 years. He made a 180 degree change in his life, courageously moving from Chicago and all its urban ills to rural NC. He never looked back. He graciously offered his house for a week. Steven is well read and a great storyteller. He and Neal quickly bonded. Steven lives on a thickly forested hill with views of the Blue Ridge in two directions. We had the privilege to be visited by a flock of wild turkeys (see turkey pic) who found delicious bug meals under the wet leaves. Rain stayed with us most of the week, so he drove us around. The mountains were stunning, shrouded in a rolling mist. (See rainy day /Blueridge Mtn pic) We stopped at the Folks Art Center where we were greeted with walls of hand stitched quilts and lots of good art. Small towns dot the area, with their unpretentious, walkable downtowns lined with mom and pop stores. (see combination grocery, ice cream, and hardware store pic) I bought more local jam and hand-milled soap. We started to appreciate life’s slower pace, simplicity, and the importance of knowing your neighbors. Evenings were filled with BBQ ribs, more stories, and Neal patiently teaching me to play backgammon. Junebug RV Park October 4th and 5th -Steven told us about Junebug RV Park. (see Junebug sign). A couple had the idea of buying, rehabbing, and renting old RVs for the night. For two nights we stayed in a 1960s “Yellowstone” model. (See our aluminum home pic) (see RV chic 1 and 2 pic) The Park can be described as “playful.” It has a huge 2-story treehouse (see treehouse pic) with views, a rope swing (see rope swing pic), and hammocks strung over a shallow running creek (see hammock pic). The Park is also an organic farm and a busy wedding venue. Animals have found a role in our travels whether it’s Luna, the Golden retriever at the Cape; Hamish, the overgrown lapdog in Antietam; or baby cows at the organic dairy. The Park has a resident tabby cat who lives outside most of the year. Her name is Norman and we decided she must be the concierge (though she seemed to ignore our requests to make dinner reservations or have Neal’s suit dry cleaned). Nonetheless, after a rub on the head, a piece of sliced turkey and a nib of cheese, she became our best friend. (See Norman, the cat pic). Asheville October 4th- Today’s artisan culture of Asheville NC can trace its origins to all the hundreds of craftsmen and artists who worked on the Biltmore estate in the late 19th century. Janice and I spent an afternoon walking around downtown Asheville visiting art galleries and craft shops. The many homeless folks, tourists and traffic jams cast a shadow over the city for us. Asheville is a victim of its own success and a lesson to other cities when over-development isn’t controlled. It reminded Janice of Boulder in that respect. She did see some cool murals (see fish mural, see town murals pic). The Biltmore- October 5th -The $80 tickets to tour The Biltmore outside of Asheville, NC are worth it just to experience what untethered wealth can build. The Biltmore was one of late 19th Century’s richest and largest house and estates. It was built by George Vanderbilt (son of industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt) from 1889 to 1895 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Its 250 rooms and 8,000 acres of farms, gardens, vineyards, and outbuildings reminded us that greed has no bounds. The original estate covered 125,000 acres. We drove 4 miles just to get to the front door. If you have a yen to fantasize about what it might be like to live like this there is a hotel on the estate, you can stay in for $1,300 per night. The entire place is still owned by the Vanderbilt family and run as a for profit business. Here’s a short Youtube: The grounds around the estate were designed by Frederic Law Olmsted (designer of New York’s Central Park) who encouraged the Vanderbilts to use scientific forestry management. One of his employees, Gifford Pinchot, became the first director of the new Forest Service in 1905. So, you might say that the Biltmore was a key driver to establish the Service. The Cowpens October 6th- There are very few examples of perfectly executed battles in history, much less in the American Revolution. Janice’s cousin Steven took us to a National Battlefield Park in South Carolina where the January 17th, 1781, battle of The Cowpens took place (so named because it was a cow pasture). If you’ve seen the movie “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson you’ve seen a dramatization of the battle which was the climax of the movie. A veteran British Army (of approx. 1,000 men) under their ruthless commander, Banastre Tarlton is pursuing the Continental Army under general Daniel Morgan leading a combination of veteran regulars, militia, and inexperienced back country woodsmen (approx. 1,000 men.) This was a set-piece battle, modeled on one Hannibal’s victories, that today’s US armed forces still teach. The entire battle was decisively won in less than 45 minutes. If you want to know more about Daniel Morgan’s brilliant tactics and how the revolutionary army virtually destroyed the British veterans go to: This American victory directly led to end of the British strategy in south and finally the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown in September of 1781. So, what can be learned from these battlegrounds that might apply to us today? • The Civil War and the American Revolution both determined the future of our country directly and profoundly. We would not be the country we are today if we had lost either. We would most likely not even have a U.S.A. • Most of the major decisive battles were determined by individual decisions of often flawed men who acted under unbelievable pressure. For example, Joshua Chamberlain, a professor of rhetoric from Maine, at Little Round Top thus saving the Union Army or an impetuous Banastre Tarlton whose arrogance caused him to under-estimate the Americans at Cowpens. Character is law in war as in peace. We finally got the vanity plates for the big, white whale we are driving (See MOBYDCK pic). Still having fun, Neal and Janice “As soon as I saw you, I knew adventure was going to happen.” -Winnie the Pooh

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