Traversing the southern states, ascending the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, experiencing the Civil War ghosts, savouring the southern hospitality and discovering gems along the way, compels me to record my thoughts.
After laying up Bushranger and undertaking all the hibernation processes needed, we set off for the battlefields of Corinth and Shiloh. The interactive centers and preserved battlefields are well maintained and give a clear understanding to this era of bitter conflict. The memorials are graceful and a deep reverence pervades the air. Shiloh, with all the emotions that name conjures, is deep in the American psyche. We toured the sites of the battles in the car with explanation leaflet in hand. A moving experience.
Next, we headed to Memphis, where alas, we said goodbye to David. On Sunday morning we left him at the airport to fly to Las Vegas, while we headed on our epic car trip which would take us from the most western part of Tennessee, Memphis on the Mississippi River, to the most eastern part of North Carolina, New Bern. We thought we would see some stunning scenery and we were partly correct. The weather was abysmal – shocking thunder storms and at one point hail. Not much fun when traveling at 70 mph to be hit by hail stones. We pulled to the side of the road, as did other cars and trucks. The sides of the motorway ended up white as snow!
We arrived in Asheville, North Carolina, after 10 hours of driving. Climbing to this city perched in the Smoky Mountains, we drove along canyons, though mountain tunnels, beside rivers and streams and through valleys thick with low slung clouds. Breathtaking! We visited Biltmore – the home of the Vanderbilts. This French chateau/palace/castle is set in grounds and gardens, delicately sprawled on the side of a hill in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Un-be-lievable! How the uber-rich live!
The next day we drove for a further six hours to New Bern, North Carolina, where the Loopers rendezvous is being held. We have met some very knowledgeable and friendly loopers. This morning we attended a couple of sessions, but this afternoon we truanted. We decided to go on a mission of discovery…
New Bern – rich in American Revolutionary War history; rich in Civil War history; rich in architectural history. And oh, such nice people. New Bern is located at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse Rivers. Our hotel room looks over the stunning river and marina and multiple bridges. The front of the hotel opens up on to an historical city, preserved in its Revolution and Civil War eras.
The city was the original capital of North Carolina and has Tryon Palace – the British Governor’s residence. During the Civil War the Union forces captured the city at the beginning of the conflict without the loss of any buildings and held it has a military headquarters and hospital.
The homes, churches and graveyards are as they were in the bygone era. The historic town is picture perfect, with great detail going into preserving and restoring houses and buildings to their original beginnings. The wrap around porches and Spanish Moss oozes old world charm. I am in love with New Bern. We are definitely coming back here on our looping adventures.
A little known fact is Pepsi-Cola was formulated here! Who knew?
… And did I mention what New Bern has on every street corner?
Such is life! A very charming, southern life!