Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vicksburg History

The Siege of Vicksburg was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate army of Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

When two major assaults (May 19 and May 22, 1863) against the Confederate fortifications were repulsed with heavy casualties, Grant decided to besiege the city beginning on May 25. With no re-enforcement, supplies nearly gone, and after holding out for more than forty days, the garrison finally surrendered on July 4. This action (combined with the capitulation of Port Hudson on July 9) yielded command of the Mississippi River to the Union forces, who would hold it for the rest of the conflict. The Vicksburg Military Park has 1,340 cemetary monuments for primarily Union soldiers.

The Confederate surrender following the siege at Vicksburg is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, the turning point of the war. It also cut off communication with Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department for the remainder of the war. The city of Vicksburg would not celebrate Independence Day for about eighty years as a result of the siege and surrender. (That’s no celebration of Independence Day until 1943!!!) This hill overlooking the Mississippi River has memorials to Military Units of Confederate soldiers. The previous paragraphs of historical information are from Wikipedia.

Driving around town there are many reminders of the Civil War. Cannons seem to be popular at motel entrances.

These momuments commemorating Union military units are at the entrance of a mall. There are streets with momuments of military leaders along them. It makes Roy and me think it would be hard to put the war to rest and move on with so many reminders of the conflict.

This is the current flag of Mississippi. It was approved in 2001. It incorporates the confederate battle flag. The design seems to me to represent north and south as being together yet still separate. Interesting!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vicksburg Casinos

Along the Mississippi River in Vicksburg are several casinos. This is the Rainbow Casino.

Nearby is the Riverwalk Casino.

Here is the Ameristar Riverboat Casino.

This is the Horizon Riverboat Casino and hotel complex.

This is Diamond Jacks. We haven't tried our luck, yet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Here is our hilltop home in a nicely wooded campground just off one of the main boulevards of Vicksburg. We like our big yard, and the cats are once again enjoying birds and squirrels. The campground is called, Battlefield Campground, and the rate is $107 per week. Roy had researched the Vicksburg area prior to our leaving Campbellsville, and had chosen this one. We primarily use rates as our guide, but will look at other considerations, too. The daytime temperatures are from 40-60 degrees with an occasional 70+. Nights are in the 20s to 40s. We're still running our heaters and wearing long sleeves.

We took a walk through the downtown area, and like many downtowns there are as many shops vacant as there are operating. It is very quaint with its brick paved streets and old style street lamps. It has a lot of potential for development.

Some of the buildings have the New Orleans French Quarter appearance.

Balconies are popular.

Here is a cute little one on the side of a building. It appears you climb out the window to enjoy it. I like it!

This is a book I mentioned in an earlier blog. I had hoped to summarize some of the information we learned from it about the Civil War and life in the South today, but it gives such an excellent description that I think it's best that you pick-up a copy to read. I don't think you'll be disappointed. We plan to do some more touring today, so more pictures will be coming!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Headin' South

Amazon started releasing employees as of the 17th rather than the expected 23rd, and Roy was one of the lucky ones to get the early release. The company made the Workkamper experience pleasant, but the physical intensity of the job was tremendous. Roy is happy to be retired again. The first thing he commented on was the joy of not having to live life on a schedule. I agree.

This week I have been researching the San Antonio and Austin area of Texas. The area looks fascinating. There are lots of state and national parks near each other. The landscape is a mix of conifer covered mountains, high desert with Prickly Pear cacti, wildflower meadows, lush fields, sandstone rocks, and lots of water. The picture above is from Blanco State Park. It is my present destination preference. I doubt that it is warm enough there to swim this time of year, but swimming is allowed along this water spillway. There are canoe, tube, and kayak rentals. The park appears to be central to all there is to see in the area. We will be visiting family in Vicksburg, Mississippi for Christmas.

Part of my research into the Texas Hill Country was the possibility of earning our campsite by volunteering with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I learned that if you go to their website and fill out an application, the volunteer coordinator will send the application to parks you indicate an interest in. Here is a link to the website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/involved/volunteer/spdest/
I'm assuming each state has a similar process.

One of the parks I researched is Pedernales Falls State Park. Isn't this serene. I read on the park's website that if you see the water start to rise you should leave the area immediately. Flash floods are common in Texas!!!

Here is a picture taken less than 5 minutes after the serene photo above!!! I decided we don't need to stay here and be playing in the water with the dogs! I found this photo very disturbing in regards to our lack of knowledge about things unfamiliar to us. It got me thinking about other scary things in the western states that we don't know anything about such as tarantulas, scorpions, and a variety of poisonous snakes. I found a great website that gave me some reassurance as to how to handle bites by any of these creatures. The link is: http://www.surviveoutdoors.com/reference/spiders/tarantula.asp Armed with our new information, we are headin' south Sunday the 18th.
Yee Hah!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cold Snap

December 5th-8th Campbellsville's temperatures have dropped into the teens at night and are only warming into the low 30s during the day. Tomorrow it's back into the 40s and cooling only into the high 20s to low 30s at night. We've gotten a few dustings of snow, but it is gone by early afternoon.

With a predicted low of 15, Roy decided to wrap the water hose with insulation. The water spigot is below ground level, so he stuffed a pillow over the spigot for freeze protection. We've left a small stream of cold water running in the sink. Our water has faired well, until this morning (day 4 of the cold snap). Our cold water was fine, but the hot water pipe froze! The answer to that mystery is that the water in the hot water pipes is only hot when running. I didn't know that. Roy was able to fix it fairly quickly.

We have been staying toasty using just a couple of small ceramic heaters. The ones that have a thermostat are nice for setting a temperature and leaving them to do their job. They are reported to be very safe. These little units are under $20. Having an electric blanket is also great for staying snuggly warm during cold nights.

It's time to get out of here and get further south! We're told that December 23rd, when the Workkamper's Amazon job comes to an end, a phenomenon occurs called, "The Parade of Lights". We're told it's about 5 miles of camper lights heading south!!! We're looking forward to being in the parade!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In The News!

We made the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper along with our fellow Amazonians! Here's a link to the article: http://www.kentucky.com/2010/11/29/1542473/amazon-needs-workers-so-nomads.html

I saw this bumper sticker on one of the motorhomes. Isn't it great!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tour of Homes

What's it take to follow a dream?

A premier motor coach with a satellite dish and ...........................

.........a tow vehicle with coordinated graphics?

A customized semi-truck cab pulling a huge 5th wheel and cute tow vehicle? I bet the camper has a built in garage!

A single unit toy hauler for your motorcycles, four wheelers, kayaks, workshop, or more?

A luxury home that you can take with you? If your haven't been inside one of these large units, check them out. They are gorgeous!

A home that seems to be popular?

A classic older home? Nice folks; Joe & June. Otis and June have struck-up a friendship.

....a vintage Winnebago? The name was top of the line in its day, and may still be.

.... a large camper with 2 bedrooms?

....a solar and veggie oil powered modified school bus called, The Rocket? Bettie and Jim, the Rocketeers and independent artists, invite you to take a tour of their home and sample their artistic works at: http://www.suburbanoidfatties.com/

......a 24' camper with two cute dogs? It's a good size for boondocking off the beaten path!

...just a bit smaller, please?

...a camper with lots of sleeping space? This camper has a pop-out on the side and one in the front and back.

...a camper from the 50s, 60s, or 70s?

.........or just the basics? If you haven't seen inside these tiny trailers, you'll be surprised at how well the space is utilized. I've read that single men prefer the smaller trailers.

Look! Here's a spot for you! The point is; whether it be RVing or somethingelse, follow your dreams, for where there is a will, there is a way!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Talking Southern

Hi Ya'll. I have to tell you a funny story based on our dog named Sugar and Sugar also being a southern term of endearment like Sweetie or Honey. I was out for a walk around the campground with Sugar, when at a distance a white haired man with two young grandchildren looked my way and said hi. I had no sooner completed my hi, when Sugar was pulling at the end of her long leash. Without having broken eye contact and in perfect timing to my completing my hi, out came "Come here Sugar". I didn't think anything of my command until I saw the man staring at me with a bewildered look and seeming to struggle with a reply. I can just hear it being told now how some hussy made a pass at him right in front of his young grandchildren! I slunk away with a slightly tarnished reputation, but chuckling all the way back to the camper! I won't make that mistake again! Marilyn :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Settling In Even More

We're feeling right at home in our new community. We've met several people and their pets. Although we haven't found a place for the dogs to run, they seem happy nosing around the campground. Otis enjoys hanging out by the office. He especially likes their Fall decoration made of hay bales, and the bushes in the landscaping. I think he is discovering hunting.

Roy started his new job with Amazon.com on the 15th. It sounds interesting, and part of me wishes I could do it, too. With 10 hour workdays and this being our first Workkamper experience, we're sure my staying home with Prin, Sugar, Charles, and Otis was the right decision. Roy leaves for work at 5:30 a.m. and is home around 5:00 p.m.. He is working Tuesday - Friday with the opportunity for overtime Mondays and Saturdays. My goal during this time is to organize our cabinets, read lots of books, watch lots of movies, research Workkamper opportunities, and get the animals out for walks.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Otis' Movie Debut

Here is Otis starring in a short feature film called, Otis and the Big Storm.

Did you notice he's walking? At 6 months old, he's only been walking independently for a few weeks. When he's outside tackling all types of terrain, he is supported by a band fastened to a leash. He recently advanced from having the band around his waist to having it around his chest. His muscles are strong enough now for him to support himself, and make coordination corrections. :-))

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bootleg Run

A guy gave us directions to a liquor store 6 mile out in the country. When we saw this building, we thought maybe it was a bootleg operation.

Luckily this was just rooftop advertising, and a modern liquor store was just across the county line. They had a drive through window, so I'd say they're used to people making turn-around runs from Campbellsville.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Settling In

We seem to be getting better at settling into our new surroundings, as this time it happened very quickly. We've taken three tours through the streets of Campbellsville, as well as, some outlying areas, and feel we have a general knowlege of where to find things. During our last tour, we started to notice an abscence of bars and liquor stores. Oh no! We're in a dry county! In checking the internet for the seriousness of this; we find we're in the middle of 12 dry counties!!! That's 2 counties deep to all sides of Taylor county except for the north. Thank goodness for liberal northerners! We haven't made the trip to the neighboring county, but it looks like the community of Lebanon is only about 20 miles away. I found a website showing the different degrees to which alcohol can be sold in Kentucky's counties. I put a link to it on our blog. There's too much information to go into here, but take a look at it. It's really interesting.

The other thing we noticed in our travels was the lack of road shoulders for bicycle riding. The tiny road edges we saw had rumble strips through them. Roy decided to stop by a gym. Wow! It was only $30 a month or $5 a visit. Roy is now bicycling indoors! That's probably a good thing with the colder weather coming on.

We don't have cable t.v. at our campground, so we decided to check out whether we could get videos from the Family Video Store. It was another cool find! With just a drivers license and a phone number, we were able to get a video rental membership. Being new members, we get all our rentals for half price the next 30 days, and also received some freebies through a sheet of coupons we were given. This is pretty sweet, as we are only going to be here 60 days. I suspect when we go to the next area, we'll get the same offer again!

The weather has turned windy, cold, and rainy the last half of this week. The weekend daytime temperatures have been in the 40s, and last night got down to 26 degrees! The camper is staying warm. This week the daytime temperatures are supposed to go back up into the 70s and drop only into the 40s at night. I'm glad to see that.

Roy goes to an inservice regarding his new job Monday, and then his work adventure will begin. More information on that later.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Exploring Campbellsville

We were surprised upon arriving in the Campbellsville area that it has the feel of being in the western states. The hills are steep and wooded giving the feel of being in the mountains, and the sky is a high blue dome with distant horizons. The air has a cool fresh quality similar to what Roy and I remember from our years in Idaho. The area has nice homes, and the schools look well-supported.

I would classify the community of Campbellsville, as being medium-sized. It is a mix of strip malls along the highway with all the stores you could want, and an old downtown with narrow streets from the horse and buggy days. We're located close to both.

Some downtown buildings are sitting vacant, but many have interesting shops. The business areas are concise, and then the area quickly goes rural.

We discovered this painting in a memorial park to the back of the Taylor County courthouse. Roy and I were surprised to see Union soldiers portrayed. We thought southern Kentucky would be part of the Cival War Confederacy. My brother, Jim, gave us a book we're enjoying called, Confederates in the Attic. It's by Tony Horwitz. It is full of historic information, as well as, interviews with people in present times regarding their feelings about the Cival War. I'm sure we'll learn a lot. We'll share what we learn in future postings.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Campbellsville, Kentucky

We arrived in Campbellsville, Kentucky November 1st, and were settled in by 6:30 p.m.. Our campground is called Heartland R.V. Park. This is the entrance to the campground. The owner began building it June 1st, so it is very pristine! At the end of the street is the Amazon.com distribution center where Roy will be working November 7th-December 23rd.

Here is a closer look at the Amazon.com facility. It's located in a rural area.

Our campsite is located at the far end of the road entering the campground. We have a roomy lot with a square gravel yard for the dogs. With the truck providing some privacy, it feels like a little courtyard.

Our camper isn't shown in the picture, but is located to the outside of this curve. It gives an open feel. You can see the cut into the hillside that would act as a sound barrier. Amazon can be seen between the two campers at the left side of the picture. It's a good distance away.

This is our view out the window behind the couch. It's kind of pretty, if you keep in mind we're in a work camp. It has an open, clean, orderliness. The other campers have been very welcoming. My impression is that the majority of campers are here for the seasonal work at Amazon.com. We've considered our other camping options and decided we'll stay here. This campground is close enough that Roy can walk to work leaving the truck available for me. Although we're here 6 days ahead of Roy's start date, the campground owner is going to bill Amazon for those days along with our months rent. Electricity is free!

Here are the girls looking content in their new yard. Otis and I checked out places to walk today. He's undaunted by his new environment. He met a couple of 8 year old girls that said they will be staying here through Christmas. They took his picture and promised to get him a present! We're off to a good start! More pictures to come, as we go out exploring!