Palm Trees in southern Florida

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The South

My Question today is about the "The South". Where is it? What is it?

The questions sound dumb but I'm a west coast boy who has found himself living in Georgia.
In my youth (the early 70's) "The South" had a certain 'reputation' & visiting that part of the nation with long hair and west coast licence plates was an adventurous thought. I did that once in 72, it was different but not bad.

I was in North Carolina for a September to Feburary visit & some years later I spent a summer in Mobile Alabama (all via the USCG) so I had a small taste of "The South".
I was not a fan of the humidity and in Elizabeth City NC I saw ice in a river for the first time. "The South" and it's climate was someplace I could pass up,
It would have to be an important reason to come back to "The South", especially in the summer. The reason turned out to be a girl....

When I was stationed in Illinois I had to fly down to southern Illinois/Missouri area a time of two, I heard the "southern accent" there & that got me to wondering where is "The South"? Illinois wouldn't be called a southern state by the way I understood it to work, At the very least you could count the states that seceded from the Union in 1860 to be the south but that was then. The Mason-Dixon line? Where you got grits with breakfast without having to ask?

I'm really not sure where "The South" is today.

I spent a winter in Rockport Texas (Texas is Texas but is it "The South"?) and I've been in northern Georgia for six months now and I'm  not really sure that any of my present gross generalizations about "The South" are close to 'correct'.

The southern accent is still here but not everywhere, I can get grits with breakfast but (so far) they have not shown up without asking for them. I have not been called "boy" by a cop since my Mobile visit in the early 80s and all the grocery store deli's I've been to have the same food I'd find in any grocery store in Washington state or Arizona. Maybe I just Haven't been to the right Piggly Wiggly when looking for Red Beans & Rice?

I did see a bag of collard greens in a supermarket produce section in with the bags of lettuce. I asked a passing mom with 2 small kids (she sounded southern FWIW) what you did with them & she told me how she fixed them & how her "Momma" did it (boiled, she used a pressure cooker & her Momma just boiled them "all day").

I'm thinking that our modern world of corporate grocery store chains, fast food restaurants and the media is blending the country. My girlfriend is a Yankee from Connecticut who has spent over half her life in Texas/Georgia due to working for a major corporation and I suspect her experience is not unique.  FWIW there is a touch of the south in her voice, like a lot of people in the area.

I did not mention flags...  The usual Confederate battle flag here in Georgia or the Texas Lone star flag I saw in Texas. I have to mention that during my visit to the Terlingula TX area the lack of American flags  was noticeable in the sea of Lone Star flags.
These flags are the heritage of the locations, no matter what symbolism the viewer ties to them.

Where is "The South"?  I'm not sure in today's world there is a "The South" but I'll bet if someone describes the civil war as "the war of northern aggression" they can tell you where their chunk of "The South" was.

620,000 Americans died in the 1860's deciding states rights when the south tried to leave the union. 150 years later corporate America & the media have succeeded in evolving an America to where a west coast boy can find himself living in the state of Georgia and be able to seriously ask "where is the south".

Time to go down to Waffle House & have some grits with my eggs  (I'll have to order the grits).

Thursday, August 11, 2016


After I downsized I headed south down the west coast, hung a left at I-10 in Santa Monica and put Zanoni Missouri in my GPS.

Head east from the pier and you'll hit I-10 right quick!

 I spent a few days with a friend then headed for Raccoon Creek WMA in northern Alabama for my first SE GTG.

The WMA sign

It's a Vandweller thing, a get together & it's in the south east rather than the gatherings in Arizona.

The camp

Camp with a good shot of the rain fly

more vans
It's a camp out for people who live in vans-RVs or think it's a good idea. Most the SE GTG is talked about on facebook, some talk in the Vandweller or vandwell-construction groups on Yahoo. This may even be mentioned in the cheaprvliving forum, I don't spent enough time there to really know.

I met several people in person who I'd know on the internet for years & years.
Cuzzin Dick, the gentleman who set this up

I've known SJ from the homestead list days in the early  90's

I met others I was familiar with from facebook & the internet groups and a bunch of new folk.
Sitting around the fire

I made some new friends and at least one amazing new personal relationship.

My life changed after meeting Karen!

Karen & I at the beach

Sitting around the campfire BSing... at least coffee in the morning & often something to eat by a kind soul (or 4) for the group.

Sitting around the fire

The rain tarp

sitting around the fire

The Tennessee river & some fishermen

View from under the rain tarp

This was right on the Tennessee river, the place was popular with local fishermen and there was barge traffic to admire. Once even a Coast Guard river tender went by on it way to maintaining the navigation aids on the river. (I spent 21 years in the USCG so I have a soft spot for all the working coasties I see).

Walks around the WMA were always enjoyable with a wide variety of wildlife sighting possible. I saw deer, turtles, ants & lot's of different birds.

The river along the road

Fields along side the other side of the road

Lot's of wet too!

A great time, a great place and exceptional people.

Nice sunsets

Friday, August 5, 2016

Gizmos & technology

I have a healthy respect for technology, I realize that technology is what allows our society to be what it is... but when I "see" it put to use in some gizmo I'm usually skeptical.

Table top ice makers are a really good example.

Ice machine plugged into the camper in Florida

A table top ice maker? Why?  Why bother?
It just sounded so .... "I want it now".  My first thought was 'what a waste of money".
I'm one of those people who made fun of them even though I'd never actually seen one.

Then I saw one up close & personal. It really works!
It makes ice, it does it quickly, it makes enough and other than adding water when it needs it it just works!
Right now I'm living in Georgia, in the summertime and I've always got ice!
Went camping on the Gulf of Mexico last month, plug in camping at Florida state parks and we had ice.  All the ice we wanted!

For many years in my young adult days my standard joke was that when civilization falls I'd miss the stereo & ice.  I thought I grew out of that as the real world of work & family took most of my time. I'm older now, things have changed a lot.  I have time to think now, that time (and exposure to the ice machine) allowed me to 'remember' things from my past.

I now realize that If I can produce electricity "this' will take care of the ice problem!

The other small piece of technology & it's gizmo is the computer I carry in my pocket. This computer and it's wireless hook up (Samsung Galaxy s5 running on the Verizon network thru Straighttalk)  can not only connect me with all the knowledge in the world but it holds ALL MY MUSIC, can take great pictures and make phone calls! All that for $45 a month!!

The world in my hand! 75% of the world has access to a cell phone

With the technology & gizmos we have today I really think I'm living in the golden age!