Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finally posting about our trip to Texas

Spring is beautiful in North Carolina. The trees are budding, coloring the landscape with brilliant whites, soft greens, vibrant yellows, blushing pinks, and startling purple against gray trunks. I'm enjoying it mightily.

Through my windshield.

It's been a busy few weeks. Good weeks. Productive weeks. Just lots of time getting people where they need to be. I did actually have a little time to blog and such, but it's been tough getting to a computer around here. Mine is in Texas, gremlins attacked the back-up disk and then the Mac desktop (don't worry, both those are back up and fully restored), and my kids keep wanting their laptop. When I do steal their laptop, I end up just playing around a bit before it's off to the next thing.


I now have the pictures from the Texas trip on this computer and I have time to write about our awesome trip!

First, we arrived in Texas where we were promptly snowed in, which was followed by week's worth of visiting with various branches of the family tree. We got to spend lots of time with my younger brother and his wife. Dinner, bowling, laser tag, and late nights of hanging out and talking about everything made it a really neat trip. It took awhile, but my little brother is finally old enough to be interesting ;-) I got to help teach cursive to the class my mom was subbing, the girls got to visit a real classroom, and I found myself back in the familiar doc-in-a-box for the inevitable sinus infection, but I *finally* got over weeks of illness.

At the end of the week, we got up early and took off for Vicksburg with my parents. Our first stop was the Civil War battlefield in Vicksburg. That is a really, really cool place. I would *love* to live close enough to just explore all the monuments and the sites for the battles. It's a huge thing that you drive through while listening to a man on CD explain things. There's simply too much to see and experience that he can't cover it all.

You start at the visitors' center where we were joined by a large ROTC group to watch a movie. There are also large cannons and an example of the breastwork.

The girls got Junior Ranger books and started to work on them, but they were quickly overwhelmed trying to look out the windows, listen to the CD, and answer the questions. Those workbooks were WAY harder than normal, too, so we quickly dispensed with the Junior Ranger idea and concentrated on enjoying the memorials, like this one.

There were so many neat things to see and learn about. There's a Union ship they raised from the riverbed and so many artifacts they recovered from it.

Across from the boat is the cemetery where some of the Union soldiers who died in the battle for Vicksburg are buried. It's sobering to see the many, many graves scattered over the hillsides, so many of them for unknown soldiers.

We stopped at one particularly well-marked battlefield and I tried to get the girls to visualize the battle. We were parked at the top of the bluff on the Confederate line and blue signs showed exactly how far the Union army advanced. A sign told of one hero charging bravely across the field.

You can read about the War Between the States all you want, but there's something about standing on the ground where a battle occurred that makes it so much more personal.

Before it got too late, we left Vicksburg and headed south along the Mississippi to Natchez for another day and another history lesson. We watched Gone With the Wind as part of our Civil War study and I thought they would enjoy seeing that those amazing houses really did exist.

On Saturday morning, we went and got tickets to tour 3 antebellum homes, then we decided to add another impressive one to our day's activities.

Our first home, Monmouth, is now a beautiful bed and breakfast and restaurant with a lovely garden and gorgeous decor.

The girls were taken with this cute little "courting bench".

Our second stop was Dunleith, also a bed and breakfast.

We decided it would be the *perfect* place for a wedding. The best thing about that tour was that the guide had grown up as very good friends with the children who had then lived in the home. He had allll kinds of stories to tell. He was also not one to follow all the rules and let us into closed rooms and showed us things not normally seen on tours.

He allowed the girls to sit on this sofa, only afterward telling me that the set was worth many millions of dollars.

After Dunleith, it was onto Auburn, where L found a tree full of beautiful blooms had dropped a few onto the ground just for her enjoyment.

By that point, Grandad and L were a little bored with the whole house tour thing and they opted to wander around outside while K went with Grandma and I to see and admire.

This house was a little different in that it sat empty for 60 years before a society stepped in to rehabilitate it with the help of the city. Only a little bit is known about it's history, but it's really a very pretty place, especially with this staircase.

Our last stop was the unfinished Longwood.

It's such a neat concept for a house, but the Civil War pulled out all the workers before anything more than the "basement" was completed. The owner soon died and his wife raised the children in the basement, which was really far nicer and larger than most homes.

After a long day of house tours, we took the girls to a local park and let them run off some excess energy.

A highly successful, fun, educational trip. You know, I might procrastinate writing all my blog posts from now on as it's been kinda fun to relive the trip in the telling.

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