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Monday, July 21, 2014

Two Junior Rangers Badges In Florida!

I was looking up National Parks, and I saw Casillo de San Marcos (at St. Augustine, FLA) was only about 4 hours from here.  That is a do able day trip!  Long, but do able. There was another National Park about 15 miles south, called Fort Mantanzas.  We could do both!  The next one down the coast was over an hour south, so that was not a do able day trip. (Canaveral National Sea Shore)
This was the day to go to Florida. I  looked up the weather before we left, about a 60% chance of afternoon thunder showers. We would be gone by then, so it was good.
We left at about 6:15 am. This truck was looking really good to me!
Our first stop was a rest area in Brunswick, Georgia. They have a big cast iron pot there for the claim that this is where Brunswick Stew came from!
Tidbit:
Brunswick stew vary greatly, but it is usually a tomato-based stew, containing various types of lima beans/butter beans,cornokra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrelopossum or rabbit meat, but chickenpork, and beef are also common meats.
At the Fort. We did a little driving down A1A. So much fun I could show that to Lon
The entrance to the Fort
The Fort. We had to get a ticket for the ferry to take us across the Mantanzas River.  It was a pontoon boat. They warned us that if there was thunder and lightening we would have to leave the Fort ASAP because the pontoon boats could attract lightening.
We watched the movie at the Visitor's Center and learned that Mantanza means slaughter in Spanish. It is named for the massacre of the French by the Spanish at this Fort.   The Fort was originally covered in white limestone.  When the Fort came into British hands, they did not bother with the limestone. And when the United States gained the Fort, nothing was done with it and it fell into ruin until the National Park Service took it in the 1920s. They brought it back and have taken care of it ever since.
It is a little place.  It was a warning station for Castillo de San Marcos, just 15 miles up the river.  If an enemy approached,  they could take care of them before they got any farther or at least warn St. Augustine that someone was coming in the back door!
The landscape behind the Fort. I don't think it has changed much since the Spanish were there

Inside the watch tower.  That was part of the work Lon had to do for his Jr. Ranger badge was to tell how it felt to be in the watch tower.
He said it was small and there was not much inside
This was the opening to get to the upper deck.  Lon got to explore up there by himself!
There were two levels, and the roof. The top level was the Captain's Quarters, and the powder magazine. The lower level was everything else. Kitchen, sleeping quarters, etc.
.
Back on the mainland.
Yes, it was HOT
What is that?
It is moving really fast!

It is a little crab! The Ranger said there were hundreds of them all over the place last week!
The oath was taken very seriously at Fort Mantanzas!
Lon did  the extra work to get the Master Jr. Ranger patch too. He had a choice to be an Jr. Enviromental engineer or a Jr. Anthropologist. He picked Jr. Anthropologist.  Two pages of questions on the life of a soldier at the Fort. He also he had to complete ALL the activities in the booklet, not just the 5 required for his age group.
We printed out the booklets at home, and he worked on what he could on our drive down.
This was just a beautiful tree, on our way out.
Time to drive the 15 miles north on A1A to St. Augustine and Castillo de San Marcos!
So easy to find the Castillo! Cross this bridge into St. Augustine and turn right. Can not miss it. Parking at the Castillo is difficult. It is a pay to park city lot. So it is jam packed. Even on a Monday afternoon.  We got lucky and someone was pulling out, just as she is about to pull out, she jumps out of her car and runs to my window and hands me her paid parking ticket. It  had about 45 minutes left! What a nice thing to do. I did have to get another parking ticket since we spent more time in the Castillo.  So when we pulled out, I passed on our ticket to the person who took our spot.
Getting ready to go explore!

Goofy face but a nice picture

In the wall.
Exploring the gun deck. It was good we went up there first, when it started to rain, they closed the gun deck.
Part of Lon's Jr Ranger badge was to interview a Ranger.  He found a very nice lady in a soldier's costume.  She is from Norway, and the adult conversation turned to food.  Now I am craving Lefse!
We learned about the Castillo. There was a Charleston connectoon. When the English were setting in Charles Towne, they were threatening Spanish holdings. This made the construction of the Castillo a priority.  The English tried to capture St. Augustine in Queen Anne's war, but never did. The Castillo never changed hands due to battle, only by treaty.  The Spanish held Florida longer than the United States has had Florida. Lon also learned that Florida means land of the flowers.
Storm moving in
They did not make Lon take the Jr Ranger Oath here. They did check his work. To get his Master Jr. Ranger from the Castillo de San Marcos, he had to write a letter telling people why they should care about this place and why they should visit.  They kept it so they can use it later if it is really good.
We did not want to walk too much in the rain so we drove around to find something to eat. The first place we came to, with parking,  was something called the Village Inn. It is like a Denny's.  It was not terrible.  Lon had chocolate chip pancakes. His meal was good.
We then got on the road !
There was something going on with the road to get to I-95. There were several police cars blocking the entrance. I drove around in a circle so I could ask the police man how to get to 95. He said something about speedway road. I did find it and made it to 95 without anymore problems.
We stopped in Brunswick again for gas. When we were pulling out, we got a beep on the local radio station. It said severe weather alert for Savannah. At highway 16 and I-95. There is very little between Savannah and Brunswick.  The truckers were not pulling off the road,  so I figured it might be okay.
Driving in that storm  it was very similar to a white out. Heavy, heavy rain. You can not pull out of your lane because you are not sure if someone is in the other lane. I had my flashers on to make us as visible as possible.  Everyone was going about 35 miles an hour.   I thought this was the last of the storm.  Then...

Round two. Closer to Savannah.
More of the same heavy rain.  We got though it without any trouble.  Lon was really good, he was quiet as I concentrated on driving.
Once we crossed into South Carolina, no rain at all. High overcast, brighter sky.
It was a fun trip, we learned a lot and had a great drive!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cub Scout Car Wash

Today was the Cub Scout Fund Raising Car Wash!  It was really fun.  We arrived about 10. Mark was there earlier.
There were not many cars when Lon and I arrived, so they washed my car.
It got busier!
They were starting to get a line of people !
Lon is taking extra care washing Mrs. Jen's car!  It was so nice of them to come down !
At lunch time, it slowed down a little. We took a break and got some lunch. The boys went back to washing cars. I got some groceries and went home.
It was a good day for a car wash!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hamsters!

Lon has wanted a pet since we moved.  We all agreed on getting hamsters. Lon did some research and decided he wanted the Robo Dwarf Hamster.  Two of them.
Today was the day we went to get them
Lon was so excited ! It was hard to wait for Daddy to get home so we could go!
He found the hamsters he wanted.  There were a lot of them there, in the pink hiding house.
Picking out the bedding. We decided on bedding with rose petals in it.
Going over the contract. They have a contract they have us sign, it says if anything goes wrong with the pet in 14 days we can bring it back.
Lon signed it and Daddy did too
Building the habitat together
The two little guys ready to go to the habitat!
We were told they were both girls
One of them exploring the new habitat. Lon does not want to call it a cage.
Happy Boys!
All the kids coming to look at the little hamsters
They are now under a blanket, chilling in their new habitat.
We are going to let them relax.
Lon is still over the moon that we actually said yes to hamsters

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kings Mountain National Military Park

Today this Kings Mountain National Military Park was on the calender!  There are some fun day trips coming up for the last weeks of summer.

The road to the park. You have to drive through the Kings Mountain State Park to get to the National Park.
I printed out directions from Map Quest.  They were wrong. I finally called the park and got the proper directions.  Being lost for a bit helped us find our way back to the highway much easier.  It is very easy to find with the right directions!
It is a really pretty place
at the entrance sign, the usual picture!
Part of this Jr. Ranger badge was to get the bag of  Colonial games and play them.  He had to take notes on them, how he did playing them and how he plays now differs from how the kids played then.
We also had to watch the film.  We were supposed to take a hike. It was a mile and a half, and it was 96 degrees. The nice Ranger told us that Lon could do two extra things in the booklet and that would count since it was so hot.
Lon was happy to do that.  He did not want to do a walk in the woods in the heat.  There were also lots of bugs too !
Getting his booklet checked out by the nice Ranger.
We both learned a lot about Kings Mountain. The battle was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.
History Bit:  (From wikipedia ):
The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive battle between the Patriot and Loyalist militias in the Southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War. The battle took place on October 7, 1780, nine miles south of the present-day town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina in rural York County, South Carolina, where the Patriot militia defeated the Loyalist militia commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson of the 71st Foot.
Ferguson had arrived in North Carolina in early September 1780 with the purpose of recruiting for the Loyalist militia and protecting the flank of Lord Cornwallis' main force. Ferguson issued a challenge to the rebel militias to lay down their arms or suffer the consequences. In response, the Patriot militias led by James Johnston, William Campbell, John Sevier, Joseph McDowell and Isaac Shelby rallied for an attack on Ferguson.
Receiving intelligence on the oncoming attack, Ferguson decided to retreat to the safety of Lord Cornwallis' army. However, the Patriots caught up with the Loyalists at Kings Mountain on the border with South Carolina. Achieving a complete surprise, the Patriot militiamen attacked and surrounded the Loyalists, inflicting heavy casualties. After an hour of battle, Ferguson was fatally shot while trying to break the rebel line, after which his men surrendered. Eager to avenge Banastre Tarleton's alleged massacre of the militiamen at the Battle of Waxhaws, the Patriots gave no quarter until the rebel officers re-established control over their men. Although victorious, the Patriots had to retreat quickly from the area for fear of Cornwallis' advance.
The battle was a pivotal moment in the Southern campaign. The surprising victory over the American Loyalist militia came after a string of rebel defeats at the hands of Lord Cornwallis, and greatly raised the Patriots' morale. With Ferguson dead and his Loyalist militia destroyed, Cornwallis was forced to abandon his plan to invade North Carolina and retreated into South Carolina.

Getting his badge! 


Lon still loves Dioramas!  He can look at them for hours.  

We did a little tiny bit of the hike. It was hot.  We might come back in October and try it again! 
The battle site.   
On our way home we passed this country store.  We will have to stop here next time. 
We stopped at a Certified Roadside Fruit and Vegetable Stand. It is called Bush and Vine.  I did not know South Carolina certified roadside stands, but there was a nice sign saying they do!  You could not buy just a couple peaches, you had to buy the whole bucket. So we did.  We are going to make cobbler in the morning. We also bought some huge blackberries, but those will not last long.  They are so good on ice cream!  Lon and I ate a bunch in the car on the way home. 
Can you see the giant bee? 

We had a great day! Made it home before the rain!  Which sort of fizzled out, and did not do much watering of the grass!