Week 27-  March 13 - 19 Week: Wind and Waves

Our time in Charleston included a lot of history.  We spent part of one day in old Charleston.  From the memorial park on the point, we could see Fort Sumter.  This was the island fort that when finally fired upon by the Confederates after a long  period of political jostling, started the Civil War.  We learned a lot at Fort Sumter National Monument… things we should have already known. 

South Carolina was the first state to secede.  As we have learned, the economics of the cotton industry made it virtually impossible for the South to give up its slave labor force.  Truly “Cotton was King”. 

Referring to slavery:  “We have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go.  Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”  Thomas Jefferson 

The issue also became more and more an emotional one as we saw in this quote from one of the SC representatives urging secession: 

“Slavery is our King, Slavery is our Truth, Slavery is our Divine Right.”  J. S. Preston 

Our church service this week was at St. James Episcopal Church, very convenient to our campground.  The congregation dates back into the 1800’s as we saw in the old part of the church cemetery.  We ended worshipping in their contemporary service and really enjoyed the teaching and the current liturgy.  

As we look back on our varied church experiences so far this year, I am so pleased how the kids have seen the brotherhood and sisterhood of Jesus across denominational lines.   We’ve seen that much of liturgy is direct biblical recitation that appears in different ways from Catholic to Episcopal to Methodist services.  We’ve worshipped with traditional and with contemporary music, with congregations of many and of few.  We’ve also had the opportunity to firsthand see the effect that picking and choosing truths from the bible has had on some churches.  Each of our faith journeys is so much richer as a result of this year! 

On a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon in South Carolina,  Brenda and I left the kids at the RV for a couple of hours and went to Magnolia Gardens, on the plantation estate of John Drayton back from Civil War times.  The azaleas and camellias were blooming and we enjoyed the mix of gardening (a love of both of us) and Revolutionary and Civil War period history at our own pace… 

To keep on our schedule, Monday morning was our last time in the Charleston area.  We visited Fort Moultrie, over looking the Charleston harbor.  The National Park program there focuses on the different roles a fort took on from pre-Revolutionary times to after World War II when forts essentially have become obsolete.   

We headed toward North Carolina right from the park and made it partway to the Outer Banks area before doing another Wal-Mart night.  (We’ve ended up with much better experiences boondocking this eastern loop.)  This night was especially significant because the next morning was when Nate’s belated birthday present, “The Incredibles” was released! 

We arrived on the Outer Banks on Tuesday to a sunny, but cold day.  We had decided to choose a more expensive park to treat the kids with an indoor pool, since a cold and wet spell was to hit us.   Hit us it did, as the next two days felt like winter with cold rain and non-stop high winds of thirty to forty miles per hour.  At times we felt we might blow or float away!  The ocean churned and there were times we could hardly walk along it.  When we left the island on Friday, there were parts of the highway where wind blown sand had been plowed off the road like snow. 

The weather added to our experience as this area is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to rough seas and tough navigation.  There are more than 500 known shipwrecks along this stretch of coast.  Also, this area is where Orville and Wilbur Wright developed flight, choosing it specifically for its winds. 

During our time on the islands, we visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the world’s tallest brick lighthouse.  The historic structure had recently been moved upright, in one piece, inland to a location more protected from coastal erosion.  The engineering and techniques used to move the lighthouse were fascinating. 

Once again, the National Parks shone.  The last thing we did on the southern islands was visit Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.  The Junior Ranger program there covered a broad array of the area’s history as the location of the lost colony of Roanoke (the first British attempt at colonization mysteriously abandoned), the birth of Virginia Dare (the first known European to be born in the new world), Roanoke’s function as a safe haven and Freedman’s colony for slaves after the Union captured it in 1862, and the location of the early AM radio broadcast testing by Reginald Fessenden. 

On Saturday, we continued northward to Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk.  Everyone enjoyed seeing replicas of the Wright Brother’s first flying machines and learning about flight development.  The brothers completed much of their wing and control concept development with kites, then with gliders.  Kill Devil Hills are dunes, one of which served as the launching point where they would eventually fly over 1000 research flights.  (The dunes in a nearby state park are still popular today for hang gliding.)

Finally, they attacked powered flight.  In an example of their innovation and talent, when they found that the early commercial engines were too heavy, they developed their own 4-cylinder engine for the project!  It was inspiring to learn how the two brothers worked so well together to attain, what was thought by most, the impossible dream of inventing a flying machine.  Again, I am humbled by the things the historical inventors could accomplish with the crude tools available to them, and how they refused to give up on their dreams.  

Fitting closure for the week was the journal entry from one of the Wright brothers lamenting the wind.  They chose this area especially because of it for flight development but it made life tough, even affecting their sleep with its relentless buffeting.  We could relate after our days on the Outer Banks…