Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Walking America: Huntsville, Alabama and The Jesse Owens Museum


Have you ever founds something on a map and then said, I have to go here? Well, I did this with the Jesse Owens Museum. So the plan is to leave Friday in the RV. Then stay in the Museum Parking Lot overnight. Harvest Host makes this possible. Tour the Museum in the morning. Then drive up to Huntsville to do the American Volkssport Association (AVA) HIstoric City walk there.

Train Depot

So we're off after work on Friday.
We got there a little late, just after dark. Jesse Owens, an American Icon, a mythical figure for me when I was a kid; I never really took the time to get to know his history, now is a good chance. We have the whole park to ourselves during our stay overnight. It was kind of a surreal feeling, alone in the parking lot with Jesse's Olympic statue looking down on us. It was a lovely fall evening in Alabama.

Jesse Owens

We toured the Museum in the morning. Born on the site of the Museum but leaving when he was nine when his family became part of the great migration north due to agricultural advances. We first watch a film of Owens touring the stadium in Berlin where he won his medals. He gave a personal account of each of the 4 medals he won and an account of his friendship Lutz Long a German Athlete. Although Lutz had died in World War 2, Lutz's son Kai Long was in the documentary. Owens was also Kai's best man at his wedding in the 1960s. Lots of artifacts in the Museum with great storyboards and picture displays. It is well worth the 20 mile drive from Interstate 65 just south of Huntsville.

Owens Museum
Long and Owens

After the Museum we are off to Huntsville to walk the historic district. Huntsville has the second-largest technology and research park in America and is one of the most educated cities in the nation. The drive into Huntsville passes NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), which supports NASA space exploration mission.                                                          

The walk that we are going on travels through the historic downtown. This is where the Alabama Constitution was written and was the capital for the legislatures first term. What really put Huntsville on the map was King Cotton and the cotton mills built after the Civil War. One of the sections of the downtown is called Cotton Row. The walk includes many stately homes built in the antebellum tradition. It also passe the Historic Train Depot. Huntsville was the first railroad line that linked the east coast with the Mississippi River Valley in 1855. This made it a strategic location during the Civil War.

Clay House
State Constitutional Convention
This has been a fun trip to some places that we have never been too. Can't wait until the next trip. I have been offered a couple of jobs in Huntsville, working in my professional field of Logistics. Kind of wish now I would have made that move. Oh well, I'm happier now, just traveling and working part-time.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Walking America: Travelers Rest South Carolina

We are on our way home from Charleston.  We always try to get an American Volkssport Association (AVA) walk-in while traveling home.  It's something we have been doing now for a couple of years.  They have walks all across the nation so they are not hard to find on there event search link on their website.
Team Wandering Soldier

Just north of Greenville, South Carolina sits this small crossroads, which was a resting and resupply point for settler s headed west over the Appalachian Mountains.  We decided to stop in Travelers Rest for a walk that goes thru the downtown and the greenway.

This was a relaxing, socially distanced walk through a tremendous small southern crossroads.  Travelers rest has a lot to offer. Some good restaurants, a small historic downtown, and a great greenway/bike path that runs all the way to Greenville.

Old Gas Station Travelers Rest

We get there in the early afternoon, and it is hot.  It was closing in on 90 degrees, but we decided to do the walk anyway.  It's a short walk through the downtown.  Once in the center of town, we cross the street to get on to the greenway that leads us back through town. The greenway continues out of town; you can choose to turn around at the 6k checkpoint or continue for the whole 12k.  Because of the heat, we choose the 6k option. This is a pleasant walk through a lovely town. 

We get up the next morning for a trip home feeling refreshed from the hike the day before.  We look forward to the next road and walk yet to be traveled. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

An Unknown Treasure: New Harmony Indiana

Lewis and Clark Looking for Salt
We are on the motorcycles on our way to New Harmony, Indiana, on a tip. We stop in Shawnee-town, Illinois, just like Lewis and Clark did. They were trying to buy salt, us just lunch. We had no luck on the latter, but we did find a Mexican restaurant in Mount Vernon, Indiana.

The New Harmony Inn
Shawneetown originally a squatters settlement along the Ohio River until it became an important United States government administrative center for the Northwest Territory. Shawneetown and Washington, D.C., are the only two towns chartered by the United States government. We arrived in New Harmoney at about 3 pm, so we checked in the hotel room and then went exploring.

The Labyrinth in New Harmony
Since we ate lunch late, we just took a walking tour of the town. Our dinner reservations aren't until 8 pm; we decided to take the mile walk down to the Labyrinth. So we walked in circles for 20 minutes or so. The Labyrinth is a round maze with several gates to change the solution. The Labyrinth was created by the Harmonist who settled the town in the early 1800s.
New Harmony

The next day we took a walk thru the River Front Park. Lots of sculptures and Nature. The Wabash Rivers that defines the border between Illinois and Indiana harkens back to a time before flood and irrigation control changed the significant rivers in the nation. New Harmony, with a population of around 800 souls, has more parks and gardens than some major cities.

The Working Mans Institute 
We then went thru the working man's library and got the full scoop on this place. Like the story of many American settlers, the Hamonist left Germany after breaking away from the Lutheran Church. They settled in Pennsylvania. They followed an order of piety and humility, which like the shakers, included no sex or children. They seemed to believe the end of the world was right around the corner. The only thing that ended like the shakers was their group.

Harmonist Deeding the Town
This group left Pennsylvania, starting a religious commune here in Harmony. They built the town from scratch in 1820. There leader Goerge Rappi then decided to abandon the place and returned to Pennsylvania, taking some followers with him. He deeded the town to a Robert Ownes, a free thinker in the new University of Indiana system in 1825.

Some very notable events happened here. The town started the first public school system in Indiana and the first and longest-running library in the state. The school system was unique because it let boys and girls attend together. The town became a haven for intellectuals and artists, it retains this Atmosphere today.
The Roofless Church
Last walk before leaving tomorrow. Went down to the arboretum, then stopped at two meditation gardens. It's been a fun time here in this usual slice of America. It was a quiet weekend without any crowds is was very relaxing.

Shawnee-town Bridge at the Ohio River
Made the run home, going over the Shawnee-Town bridge during the trip. You ride thru 3 states in about 25 minutes; Indiana crossing the Wabash River into Illinois, then from Illinois, crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky. From there, it takes about an hour and a half to get to Tennessee and home. Now I got grass to cut and motorcycles to wash.
Motorcycle Route to New Harmony

Friday, September 4, 2020

Walking America: Spartanburg, South Carolina

On my way to Charleston to see our grandchildren, I always like to get an American Volkssport Accosiaion (AVA) walk in.  This time we stopped in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for an eclectic walk down Main Street. 

I have to say what a cool town this is.  Up in the northeast part of South Carolina in the eastern foothills of the Appalachian Mountain Range, this town is undergoing a renaissance.  It's home to Denny's restaurant corporate office.  The building towers over the downtown that is full of restaurants and specialty shops.

The walk starts at the downtown YMCA through some beautiful neighborhoods.  After this, you end up on Spartanburg's long Main Street.  As you approach the center of town, Denny's office tower is visible in the distance. 

At one end of the center of town is a restaurant row, where they have closed the street and offer outside dining because of the COVID crisis.  Near this is a clock tower square that ties the whole downtown together.  From here, the walk continues on the Palmetto Trail part of the course.  This is just part of the trail that crosses all of South Carolina.  Then back to the YMCA for the finish. 

After the walk, I go back to Venus Pie Pizza that I passed on the walk.  It's the best New York Style pizza I've had in a long time.  After stuffing myself with pizza, it off to Charleston.