Okay, the Blue Ridge Parkway was kind of a bust. We tried to drive its entire length, but we ran into a detour that took us off the road for about 50 miles. Then, when we got back on, we realized Spring really hadn’t sprung, yet. There were very few budding trees and everything was gray and wintery. Also, none of the visitor centers were open — so no bathrooms. They were kind enough to leave Port-A-Potties in the parking lots, but beyond disgusting doesn’t even begin to describe them. So after a morning of frustration, we just plugged our next destination into the Magellen. After hours of driving, we were only 15 minutes closer to that destination than we were that morning at the hotel! Ugh!
That destination was Charlottesville, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson’s home is. It’s called Monticello. You’ve all seen that home: its on the back of every nickel. Take a look at the pictures and see for yourself. They’re here.
I learned some very interesting things. First, about the house. I always saw pictures of the house, like what you see on the nickel, and assumed that was the entire house. Not so. The majority of the house is actually in the basement. The construction was ingenious (no surprise, Jefferson designed it himself). The main part of the house that we’ve all seen is where Jefferson lived and conducted his work. Inside are bedrooms, a receiving room, a parlor and a dining room. The rest of the necessary rooms to run a house are one floor below under long walkways that extend out of the sides of the house and then make right hand turns and extend even further from the back of the house. These “basement” rooms include the kitchen, a smokehouse, the ice house, several privies, slave quarters, storage rooms, and more. All the areas are well lighted, well ventilated, and they stay nice and cool. The roofs are covered by earth, but the land drops away so the sides of the rooms are completely open. See the pictures, it was very interesting.
The second thing I learned blew my mind. Maybe I’m naive, but I just never thought about it. You’ve probably heard that after Jefferson’s wife died in 1782, he had a slave mistress for 4 decades with whom he had 6 children (4 lived to be adults). After lots of scholarly debate and some DNA evidence, it is largely accepted that this is all true. What I didn’t know is the woman in question was 3/4 European ancestry and was reported to be exceptionally beautiful, white, and she had long, straight hair. What’s more, she was a half sister to Jefferson’s beloved wife. That means the children she had with Jefferson were ⅞ Eurpean. In fact, when the children came of age (about 1810 to 1825), Jefferson allowed them to leave the plantation and 3 of the 4 passed into white society, married and carried on with their lives. The fourth one identified himself as mulatto and married a mixed race woman. His family continued to intermarry through the generations and his is the only branch of the family that is of color. One of the other sons formerly changed his name to Jefferson and he and his son spent years of their lives working in their state legislatures (Ohio and California), and it was known that they were the son/grandson of Thomas Jefferson.
I found this whole dynamic fascinating. What’s more, the children apparently looked just like Jefferson. On several occasions, guests at dinner looked from the servant to Jefferson and obviously realized the connection. One minister who was a guest at Monticello wrote in his diary his disapproval of Jefferson holding his own children in slavery.
Apparently the lives of all the slaves at Monticello were pretty good. Jefferson’s own children were allowed to stay in the house and were assigned light household duties when they were children. When they became teenagers, they were assigned to their mother’s brother (also a slave) who was a master carpenter, so they learned a trade that they could use to support themselves outside the institution of slavery. His daughter became a weaver.
When Jefferson died, his two youngest children were teenagers and hadn’t been freed yet. Jefferson’s will freed them, as well as their mother’s brothers. It didn’t free Sally, their mother. However, Jefferson’s daughter (the only surviving child that he had with his wife) allowed Sally to leave with her sons and she lived as a free white woman for the remaining 10 years of her life.
The question I had is what was the nature of Jefferson’s relationship with Sally? Did he love her? The general thinking is that yes, he did. Their affair began when Sally traveled to Paris with Jefferson’s daughter as a lady’s maid. Sally and the daughter stayed for a time with Abigail Adams and her husband in England. During that time, Abigail wrote to Jefferson stating the maid who had accompanied his daughter was a handful. I forget the words she used, but the gist was Sally was a hot little number and looking for trouble. She’d need a lot of supervision to keep her out of trouble.
I’m guessing Jefferson wasn’t immune to her charms. 🙂 When Sally entered France, she became a free woman under French law. She could have stayed, it was her choice. Instead, Jefferson begged her to return to the US with him and he promised to treat her well. He also promised to free all her children when they came of age. She agreed and he kept his promises because Sally had an easy life working in his home at light chores.
For more details, see the Wikipidia entries for Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Jefferson-Hemings Controversy.
Okay, everything I said about the entrance fees, ignore me. The Biltmore Estate is worth every penny. It’s an unbelievable place, and you can see my pictures here. It took 6 years to build and it was opened in December, 1895. It was built by George Vanderbilt (the grandson of the railroad tycoon) when he was still a bachelor. It has 205 rooms and 1.4 million (yes, million!) square feet. It is the result of a collaboration between the architect, George Vanderbilt, and the landscape architect—who was the first landscape architect.
George decided to marry about 3 years after the house was complete. Can you imagine coming home from your honeymoon to that house? Apparently all the people who worked on the estate (there were hundreds, maybe more than a thousand) lined the road leading to the house to cheer when they arrived.
There were only about 30 servants in the house but the estate also had a nursery that sold seeds via mail order, an enormous dairy (100s of cows) and it was a working farm. So there were many employees and their families that lived on the estate (although, not in the house).
I don’t have pictures of inside the house because I couldn’t take any, but it is mind boggling. No one knows how much it cost to build, but it had to be millions and millions, even in 1895. It was a huge boost to the local economy at the time. Likewise, all the servants were always paid New York wages, which was way more than comparable jobs locally. Obviously, jobs at Biltmore Estate were prized.
The gardens were spectacular. They were designed by the same man who designed Central Park in NYC. In addition to the gardens, he made plans to convert the 125,000 acres of the estate into something beautiful. He recommended creating the small organized park (which is still beautiful today—see the pictures!), farming the river bottom lands, and converting the rest of the tired farmland to forests. Toward that end, they planted more than 2 million plants and trees on the property. Ironically, the landscape architect’s vision is only now realized after 100 years of growth in that forest. It’s all incredibly beautiful.
The Estate was the Vanderbilt’s family home and they entertained extensively until 1915 when George died. His wife and daughter (who was only 13) continued living in the house, but they moved into a smaller apartment within and closed off most of the rest of the house. When the daughter married in 1924, she and her husband lived there and entertained, once again.
When the Depression hit, the family wanted to stimulate economic growth in the region, so they opened the first floor of the house to tourists. That was in 1931. The last time a family member actually lived in the house was in 1951. Today, George’s great grandson and great granddaughter (who are brother and sister) both live on the estate grounds with their families. They run the businesses related to the house, including the winery that was started by their father in the 1970s.
It seems we are running out of time before we have to be in Boston. We were going to drive the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but after spending some time on it yesterday, we realized that will be a tedious trip. It may be beautiful, but a narrow, two lane road with a top speed of 45 mph is not the way to cover the next 400 miles. So, stay tuned to see what we decide to do next!
Everything was getting green. I really hate my new camera because it doesn’t capture how deeply green the green plants are.
Here’s where the stream is diverted into a flume.
Here’s the flume leading to the mill. This is a grist mill. Grits were, and still are, a staple food in these parts.
I think the blooming trees are dogwoods, but not completely sure.
Yes, our Bob was here, but he was a good boy, unlike the previous Bob.
Here was are in the Smokies!
A view of Gatlinberg, Tennessee, from our hotel room. You can see a little of the water vapor hanging in the air that gives the Smokies their name.
A little chocolate monkey topped with really big guns? Sure, I’ll have one of those. ???
We saw turkeys everywhere. There were three in this group and they were very vocal. Here you can see two of the three.
Lots of beautiful streams are everywhere.
So much potential! I wish I could go back in a month when the other trees have leaves.
Here we are in a higher elevation becuase Spring has barely started.
Did I mention I hate my camera? This area was vividly green, so green it almost hurt. It was really beautiful.
Here’s a little more of the green, but it was eye-popping.
10 people lived in this little house. Part was built in the 1890s and the second part was built in the 1930s.
Here’s Bob : )
This is the steam behind the cabin.
Here’s a little more of the green.
I’d love to come back to the Smoky Mountains. I see the appeal of this place. The beauty here really grows on you. However, this national park is the most visited in the country—even more than Yellowstone. Even this early in the year, it was pretty crowded and traffic was slow.
The park was established with the help of the Rockefellers. Here’s a memorial honoring that fact. We also have the Rockefellers to thank for the fact there is no entrance fee into the Smoky Mountain NP, it was a stipulation of their donation.
The Appalacian Trail! I’ve always been curious about this trail. I have to say, it was pretty treacherous.
The first little bit from the parking lot had a guard rail, but it didn’t go far and the drop off was pretty steep.
And the footing was anything but sure. You had to really watch it. Also, the dirt was pretty wet and everything was slippery.
Here’s Bob on the Appalachian Trail! He was a good sport because this was on my bucket list and he was humoring me. Otherwise, he probably would have skipped it. Especially since the part we were on was steeply uphill. : )
Here we are at the Appalachian Trail. Here, the trail follows the NC/TN border.
Next up was Clingmans Dome and here we learned the meaning of steep incline. It was brutal!
But the top had this nifty tower.
On the ramp to the top of the tower.
The view from the top of the tower.
The Appalachian Trail passes by Clingmans Dome, too. Did I mention there were lots of really serious hikers around? They were intense.
A close up of a bend in the Appalachian Trail. I’m telling you, it can be treacherous! Most of those serious hikers I told you about had two things in common: two walking poles and a folded egg crate to cushion the ground when they slept.
Another view from Clingmans Dome.
4500 miles traveled so far.
After Cocoa Beach, we stopped in St. Augustine and learned a little about the history of that area. It claims to be the oldest continually occupied city in the US, dating back about 500 years. I know the Indians that live on Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico dispute that claim since they have continually occupied their city for 1500 years. You can see my post about them here.
Anyway, we explored a couple of very old Spanish forts and had lots of fun meeting people and talking history. You can see my pictures here.
On Good Friday, we spent the day in the car driving from St. Augustine to Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a really neat city, I wish we had more time to explore it. I was really looking forward to visiting the Biltmore Estate—the home of the Vanderbilts— but it’s supposed to pour rain tomorrow and the tickets are $69 a person! I think that’s the first time an entrance fee has really made me stop and consider whether it was really worth it. It seems comparable to the Hearst Mansion and they only charge $25.
In any case, stay tuned because we’re venturing into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park tomorrow and I hope to have some good stuff to share with you. Just in case you’re wondering: no, we don’t plan to stop in Dollywood. Sorry. : )
3800 miles traveled so far.
We spent several hours exploring the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Did you know they were good friends and next door neighbors? They often collaborated with their other friend Harvey Firestone (yes, the tires) on projects. In fact, Edison spent so much time in Florida that he had an entire laboratory there and it was the primary location for all his efforts to develop a domestic source of rubber so the US wouldn’t be dependent on foreign imports.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. In 1885, Edison sailed down the river and saw a plant on the banks that he thought would be the answer to his search for a long lasting light bulb filament. He bought the property that day and had a house built there within the year. It was quite a feat since it was wilderness at the time and everything had to arrive by boat. There wasn’t even a road. And it wasn’t just a simple house. It was two stories with a couple sections and servants quarters and it was surrounded by a wide covered deck. Then, he had a mirror image of the whole house built right beside the original as a guest house. It’s very impressive, even by today’s standards.
It turned out Edison was right and the bamboo he saw growing on the banks of the river which did prove to be the perfect filament for his light bulb. Years later, WWI inspired Edison to find a domestic source of rubber. If our imports were cut off in another war, the US and its industries would be seriously hampered without a reliable source of rubber. Of course, this project was very interesting to Ford and Firestone, for obvious reasons.
Toward that end, Edison imported plants from all over the world and planted them on the grounds of his home in Florida. Many of these still exist and they make the grounds an incredibly beautiful garden. We really enjoyed walking around because it was so peaceful and colorful. My favorite was the Banyon Tree that Edison planted in 1927. It was about 4 feet tall. Today, the tree is enormous and because of the way it grows, it covers a little more than an acre of ground. Another favorite is the bougainvillea his wife planted in the 19teens. It’s now about 30 feet tall. Pictures of everything are here.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is Edison’s forward thinking. He wanted to develop a battery operated car (way ahead of his time!) and he was concerned about humanity using up its oil resources. He thought our future was in the power of the sun.
After lunch, we drove to Orlando. We wanted to do something interesting for dinner, so we walked over to City Walk, which is sort of the Universal Studios equivalent of Downtown Disney. We ended up with ice-cream instead of dinner, but what are vacations for?
We also ended up at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. What a kick! It’s an incredible place, I just wish it was bigger and there was more to explore. We decided to try the main ride, which is a trip through Hogwarts. We saw classrooms, the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s Study, the Room of Requirements, the sorting hat, the house points tally machines (I forget what they’re called), the greenhouses, and even the talking paintings, including the Fat Lady. There was even an interesting discussion between the portraits of the four founders about letting in muggle-born students. It’s all very well done. The ride itself was fabulous and lots of fun. Hermione casts a spell so you can fly and then you fly everywhere. It was very well done. More on all this tomorow!
3600 miles traveled.
Today we explored a little bit of the Everglades. We drove some of it, we walked lots of it, and we took a 15 mile tram tour. What surprised me most is the fact that the Everglades is NOT a swamp. It’s actually a 50 mile wide, slow-moving, shallow river. It’s so shallow that grasses grow in it and it looks like a sea of grass. The water is slowly moving down the peninsula at the rate of ¼ mile a day. As a result, it is all fresh water, there is nothing stale or stagnant about it. In fact, the water is so fresh, it is used for drinking water in many Florida cities.
Like most rivers, it has cycles. In the winter (now), it’s the dry season so much of the water is dried up and the animals congregate around watering holes. It reminded me a lot of what happens in African savannas. In the wet season (summer) the entire place fills with water, usually 3-4 feet deep. In the past, much of the water has been controlled with dams, culverts, irrigation ditches, things like that. But in 2000, Congress passed a law to reverse much of the man-made intervention. They hope to restore 85% of the Everglades to its natural state, including the seasonal flooding.
There is an incredible abundance of life here. There are alligators, of course, but there are also snakes, billions of birds, many mammals (including panthers), tons of fish, and even crocodiles. One species that’s only been around since the 1990s is the Burmese python. From a hundred pet snakes released by people who could no longer care for them (they start out tiny and cute, but they grow alarmingly fast, up to 23 feet—EEEK!) there are now about 5000 Burmese pythons in the Everglades. As a result, the deer population in the park has dropped by 94% and the panther population has dropped 90%. The rangers hold yearly hunts for the pythons and they capture all the ones they come across, but the snakes reproduce so quickly, it’s an uphill battle.
My favorite spot is where Exxon drilled for oil way back when (I can’t remember when, the 1930s? 40s?) Anyway, they found oil, but it was contaminated with sulphur and not usable. So, Exxon (then Humble Oil Company) donated the land to the National Park Service. That’s how we got the Everglades National Park. The oil rig was converted into a fire lookout and today its just an interesting tourist spot. I have pictures of everything here. As with the Dry Tortugas, most of the details of what we saw are in the captions of the photos. Enjoy!
3365 miles traveled.
Today was a bucket list day for me. I’ve always wanted to see Fort Jefferson on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, and today was the day. It’s really an amazing place. To get there, we had to take a boat about 70 miles due west of Key West. There sits Fort Jefferson. It looks like it is just rising out of the ocean. It is the largest structure built from brick anywhere in the world. It took 16 million bricks and it was never completed.
Fort Jefferson is a five-sided, two story structure that was made to hold over 400 guns (cannon sized) and 2,000 men. It was one of the first major undertakings of the Army Corp of Engineers and certainly the first project they built at sea. Construction began in 1846 and went on for 30 years, until the fort was abandoned in 1874.
The fort is built on a 10-acre sand bar in the middle of nowhere. Why? Why would they build something so enormous and labor-intensive in the middle of nowhere? After all, everything needed to be shipped in. All the building materials, all the food, even the drinking water, had to be shipped. At the time, that meant wooden sailing vessels. So, why?
It all began right after the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the US in one fell swoop. It also gave us the very valuable port of New Orleans and use of the entire Mississippi River as a means of moving goods. That was worth protecting. The location of the fort allowed the US to control access to the Gulf of Mexico, thus protecting our trade routes. Also, the island is the only safe harbor for 70 miles. It has a natural deep water channel that’s perfect for anchoring a boat and that channel is surrounded by shallower areas. In a storm, a boat anchored in the harbor is protected from most of the pounding waves by the surrounding shallow areas. Even today, when a hurricane approaches, the channel fills with all kinds of boats from all over the Gulf because of this protection. In the 1800’s the fort could deny anchorage to an enemy vessel and leave it to the mercy of an approaching storm.
While the fort could, in theory, train 125 guns on any target, no matter the angle of approach, and it could fire a shot 3 miles, it never saw a battle. The closest it came to was in 1861 when Florida seceded from the union. One fishing boat sailed up and demanded the fort (which was a Union post) surrender. The commander allowed the ship to sail away unharmed to spread the word that the fort was under Union control. It was all a bluff because most of the guns hadn’t been delivered yet and the fort was nearly harmless.
The fort is most famous as the prison of Dr. Samuel Mudd, a convicted co-conspirator in Lincoln’s assassination. He’s the guy they’re referring to whenever someone says “his name is Mudd.” Anyway, he was imprisoned at the fort for 4 years when a yellow fever epidemic hit and killed every single member of the medical staff. Dr. Mudd volunteered to help and he did such careful research and kept such detailed notes that later analysis helped the docs in Washington figure out better treatments, and ultimately the cause, of yellow fever. Dr. Mudd’s services were so valuable, the soldiers at the fort petitioned President Johnson to pardon him and it was eventually granted.
Take a look at the photos here. There’s so much to tell you about the fort, especially its construction, that I put most of the details in the captions on the photos. It’s really a cool place.
As you approach the Fort from the sea, it looks like it floats on the ocean.
Around the back are all the docks.
The light house is about 3 miles from Fort Jefferson. That’s how far the guns at the fort could shoot with enough force to sink a ship.
The sand is white and fine, the water a beautiful blue.
Here’s the beach at the fort. The corner of the fort has bastions where guns could shoot along the walls and repel anyone trying to scale them.
Yes, it has a moat. Here’s what it looks like on the land side, later you’ll see the ocean side and how the moat walls act like sea walls.
Inside the entrance to the fort.
A look down the inside of one of the walls.
Here’s the lighthouse that still works to mark the safe harbor for any boat that needs it.
A view across the inside of the fort from ground level. It’s pretty big!
Another look across the parade ground.
The round structure was the magazine, but it was never used. The long ruin that runs in front of the magazine was the soldiers’ barracks. It was a 3 story structure and miserably hot. The men bunked in the second floor rooms in the walls where it was much cooler.
Another view down the inside of the fort’s walls. This was taken on the second floor.
Another view, this one taken from the second story of the fort. Here you can see the ruins of the soldiers’ barracks. It was a huge, long structrue.
More views of the magazine.
Here’s the moat on the ocean side. The wall acts as a sea wall to protect the fort from large waves, etc.
This was taken when we were on top of the walls. The tops were purposely covered with dirt and grass to absorb the shock of cannon fire. It is also part of the system designed to recover and store fresh water for the island.
Another view from the top of the wall. You can see just how long the soldiers’ barracks were.
In our litigious society, the fort really amazed me. There are no guard rails anywhere. You can walk right to the edge of any of those big windows in the wall and fall right off. In fact, you can walk along the top of the wall which is very uneven, and easily slip. Our tour guide said in the 10 years he’s been working at the Park, only 2 people have fallen off the wall and both landed unharmed in the moat.
See what I mean about uneven footing on top of the walls?
The green spot at the end of that narrow strip of sand is Long Key and the spot of green further out is Bird Key. Normally, they are separate islands. In the last 10 years, the sand bars that currently connect them have washed away and built back up twice.
Here’s the story of how the fort was built.
Here’s some info on how they intended to collect and store fresh water. The water was supposed to filter through the dirt on top of the walls and funnel down through pipes inside the walls to underground storage tanks. However, the dirt they used on top of the wall was dredged from the channel, so when the water filtered through, it leached out all the salt in the soil and the water was undrinkable. Also, with settling, 106 of the 109 storage tanks sprung leaks and the water in them rose and fell with the tides. It was an engineering failure, but it was a nice try!
More passport stamps. 🙂
Here’s Bob in a gun port. Can you see the arc on the floor? That was a rail where the cannon’s back wheels sat. It allowed the men to swivel the cannon to aim it properly. You can see by the arcs that gun after gun after gun sat along these walls. There were supposed to be over 400 when the fort was finished—which it never was. It was abandoned in 1874.
Remember the dredged fill on the roof? The salt has leached down is forming stalagmites and stalactites on the roof and floor of the second story. It is very hard, as hard as the cement.
Another view from the top of the wall. Here you can see the two different colors of the brick used to build the fort. At first, the brick came from a brickyard in Pensacola. But when the South seceded from the Union, the brick had to come from Maine. Can you imagine shipping it that far?
Here’s one of the six guns that’s been restored at the fort. It sits on top of the wall.
This is the boat we arrived on.
Another view from the top of the wall. That entrance was the only way in or out of the fort. Originally, it had a drawbridge over the moat.
Here’s what the stairways look like.
The intrepid tourists! Risking life and limb to get some good photos for this blog! (Not really, we would have climbed all over this place just for the fun if it.)
Bob on the sea wall.
The Moat is only a few feet deep. There was a joke among the prisoners that the moat had sharks in it, but it didn’t. However, as a joke, one of the soldiers did put a shark in the moat and it lived there about two weeks.
Those little windows on the bottom were where the guns were. Here, they are covered by black shutters. Those are heavy iron and they are weighted to hang perfectly. When a cannon was fired, the air pressure in front of the cannonball pushed the shutters open and allowed the cannonball to pass. Then, they immediately swung closed. That meant the men inside were only exposed to enemy fire for the brief second it took for the cannonball to pass through. Very clever design. Oh, the indents above the big windows were made to look like gun ports, but they were decoys. To a ship at sea, it would look like there were three layers of cannon, but there were really only two.
Time has taken a toll on the fort. Here the restoration is still in progress.
Another view of the moat and the beach. The fort was supposed to be 3 stories tall, but because it was so heavy and it was settling so badly, the Army Corp of Engineers decided to stop at two.
Did I mention there were pelicans everywhere? They were fun to watch. They looked like a cat pouncing playfully on a mouse. They’d just suddenly hop and dive at a fish in the water. It looked kamikaze.
Happy birthday, Dad! I had the dates screwed up (you may have noticed I had them wrong on this blog) so I called to wish Dad a happy belated birthday two days ago. Oops!
Today we took a trolley bus on a guided tour around the island. It’s got quite a history. It was named by Ponce de Leon back in the 1500s. Since then, its been a military base, most notably, a Union base during the Civil War. Even though Key West is the southernmost city in the United States, it refused to secede from the union.
From 1918 to the 1970s it was the main submarine base for the US. In the early 1900s one of the partners of Standard Oil sold out and sunk $50 million into building a railroad to Key West, which was only accessible by boat at that point. This project included about 40 bridges. He wanted to take advantage of the opening of the Panama Canal and he hoped Key West would be the place where all those ships docked and unloaded their cargo. That railroad later became the basis for the road, now known as Highway 1.
President Truman spent 11 vacations in Key West during his presidency. In fact, we toured the “Little White House” today. I thought it was interesting that Truman had a shot of bourbon every morning with his orange juice—it was on his doctor’s orders. Also interesting is the fact that most of those vacations (all but four) were without his wife. She stayed in Washington because she thought her husband should have a “guys” vacation where he could drink and play poker without her comments. Truman insisted that everyone who traveled with him get rid of their suits as soon as they arrived on the island. They adopted Hawaiian shirts and khakis as their uniform and I think it was the origin for “loud shirts” contests.
Another favorite story involves the U.S. Border Patrol. Apparently, they set up a checkpoint at the entrance to the Keys on Highway 1 (I think this was in the 1980s) and they searched every car—coming and going—for illegal aliens. It meant anyone trying to enter or leave the Keys had to wait in a four hour line and everyone had to carry proof of citizenship with them. This policy killed tourism in the Keys so they asked the Border Patrol to stop. The Border Patrol refused. So, over some cold beverages, the citizens of Key West considered their options. They decided the US government was treating the Keys like a foreign country. After all, the government had established a border, complete with document checks. So, Key West seceded from the union and named themselves the Conch Republic. Then they declared war on the United States. After a minute, they surrendered and applied for a $billion in foreign aid and $100,000 in war reparations. Of course, this was all done in front of the national press and it embarrassed the Border Patrol into changing its policies (especially since they didn’t find one illegal alien the entire time the policy was in place.)
Tomorrow we plan to visit Hemingway’s House. I’ll get some pictures posted tomorrow, too. I’ve been distracted and my heart hasn’t been in touring or taking pictures. I’ll remedy that tomorrow.