March 14-March 20, 2016
South Carolina to Fort Worth Texas:
Range of miles: 4,575-5,780
Days on the road: 23-30
Monday Morning-Oh did we need to sleep in, and sleep in we did! We had two days to get to Fort Worth, Texas and just shy of a thousand miles to travel. So we had a little wiggle room to do some touring. We asked the hotel manager what are the “must see” Greenville, South Carolina attractions. She directed us to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It was just a few miles down the road. We parked and pulled our bikes out of the HTHL trailer.
The Swamp Rabbit Trail is one of those awesome Rails to Trails projects. It weaves back and forth over a muddy creek that stretches about 20 miles. The banks of the sleepy little river were spiced with a fresh-cut grass scent which had a hint of wild onions. The warm breezes that blew at our backs heightened the aroma at every turn.
Catch HTHL on the Road: Episode 5 (Posted next week) on YouTube for a Go Pro view and some factoids from Forrest about the indigenous swamp rabbit.
After our bike ride, we made tracks through Atlanta, Georgia and turned right on Highway 20 to cross the lower southern states. Since we spent the weekend in the convention hall, we really didn’t have time to take in the culture of the south and its iconic beverage that makes my hubby happy…… sweet tea.
We stopped at Marie’s BBQ House. It’s the kind of restaurant that doesn’t have a website and doesn’t need one. The locals put it on the map by filling up the parking lot. The scent of well-fried foods and sweet BBQ sauce with a vinegar twang lingered in the entrance of Marie’s. Forrest couldn’t wait to order his first sweet tea of the trip. Marie uses 25 pounds of sugar a day to keep the neighborhood refreshed and buzzing. I couldn’t do it. Just water for me, thank you.
When Team HTHL wants to taste-test local foodie culture we have a rule, everyone orders differently so we all can have a little taste of everything.
We sampled shredded pork sandwiches, ribs, cole slaw, BBQ beans, fried green tomatoes, and fried zucchini. We slathered the meat with Marie’s BBQ sauce and dove into fried heaven. The locals raised their eyebrows as we took pictures of the food.
Forrest couldn’t resist the butter pound cake topped with peanut butter icing. I thought I saw a tear of happiness rolling down my southern born-and-raised hubby’s cheek when he took his first bite.
We kept our wheels turning while our stomachs slowly whittled down our southern meal to useful nutrients. Forrest turned the car key to the off position at 11:00 pm. We found Southern hospitality extends to their highway rest stops. It was welcoming, super clean, and there was even a security guard to protect us while we slept. Thank you, Mississippi!
Just down the road from the rest stop is Vicksburg Military National Park.
Pictured: Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi
I can’t lie; I was excited to pedal through the park and learn more about this great Civil War battle. We unloaded our bikes and snapped our helmets in place. We rode under the entrance arch, and my heart quickened. Lessons of wisdom were tapping on my heart.
Just like Gettysburg, the town of Vicksburg became the stage for a major turning point in the Civil War. For forty-seven days, American brothers of the South aimed cannon and rifles at American brothers of the North. The Battle of Vicksburg would also be the first time that African Americans would joined the fray and took up arms, proving themselves as brave soldiers in the fight for freedom. The citizens of Vicksburg suffered the effects of war together with family and neighbor in the caves hewn by their own hands.
We rode our bikes on the path that lined both the Union and the South’s battle lines. The dark green grasses swayed with the gentle winds catching and reflecting tiny sunbeams. The surrounding vibrant flora thrives. It’s still nourished by the blood that flowed in sacrifice from years long ago. The very DNA of the soldiers rests in the soil which now brings peace to this memorial place. Symbols of freedom and sculpted scenes of valor adorn the many monuments that outline the clash where carnage and bloodshed once laid.
And finally, a cannon that once was aimed at an American brother sits unloaded and pointed upward towards heaven in peace. It marks the place of the Confederate’s surrender. A place where the desire for peace surpassed differences, and where a dialogue ensued. How will we do life from this point forward?
The past cries to the future. It shouts warnings and commands challenge.
Will I heed the past’s admonishments? What will my DNA say to the next generation? Will my sacrifice invite others to freedom? I thought about all of this. And it drove me to prayer, prayer for myself, my family, and my nation.
Did you know that our nation’s military parks do not allow any battle re-enactments on its premises? It is their mission to preserve memorial moments and allow peace to be the loudest voice.
More Southern Cuisine
Hubby could not (I mean, “does not possess the ability to” ) drive by the signs advertising “Best Louisiana Catfish.” We stopped at Big John’s, another restaurant most would drive by for lack of a neat and tidy outside appearance. We enjoyed fried catfish, boiled shrimp, fried butterfly cut shrimp, sweet potato with brown sugar and cinnamon, and my absolute southern favorite, hush puppies. Or as Captain Knucklehead might say it, “Mmmmm, hush puppies.” Once again, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”
Back on the road, Forrest found a Southern gospel radio station and graced us with some feel it in your soul and down to your toes spiritual songs.
While listening to the radio in the afternoon, we found out that March 16 is DQ’s 75th birthday! And they were celebrating by giving free ice cream to everyone! The first DQ we found, we stopped and raised our cones to wish DQ a very happy birthday. It’s a good thing that we learned this late in the day because we passed, at least, a dozen DQs as we rolled intoTexas. Who knows how many free ice cream cones we could have had if we had discovered this bit of information earlier in the day?
We spent the night slumbering at a truck stop and awakened to a beautiful sunrise outside our car window.
Our hotel allowed an early check-in, and we were grateful. We welcomed the hot showers and comfy chairs in our hotel room. We spent the day running some errands, getting my haircut, and catching up on the HTHL To Do List.
Great Homeschool Convention Fort Worth Texas: March 17-19
Happy Saint Pat’s Day! I decided to wear the green “Mrs. Mora style”. On the way to the convention, we listen to Adventure in Odyssey’s Heart a Fire, The Story of Saint Patrick. We love AIO stories! We set up as usual and then went back to our hotel to change out of our work clothes. We returned just in time for the opening of the doors at 6:00 pm.
Gotta love Texas art! Another homeschool mom and I were admiring it, but we both admitted we shared the same thought, “Who is going to dust all those hats?” Great moms think alike!
Look who I met! Jenny Land, TOS blogger and fan of HTHL! You can read her review of HTHL and follow her blogging adventures here: Jenn’s RAQ (Real and Quirky)
Jenny messaged me after we met….
“It was so great meeting you at the Fort Worth convention. My daughter was kind of geeking out, too. wink emoticon She immediately ran home and told her brother we met you and was insisting on doing our lessons first thing the next morning. :)”
Friday morning had a rocky start. I left my notes for today’s workshop back at the hotel. My hubby came to the rescue! He drove back to the hotel to retrieve my stray notebook. In the meantime, I guarded our parking space that we just paid for, and immediately posted a prayer request on HTHL’s Facebook page. Peace came quickly. Thank you, Lord and thank you, good friends! Thank the Lord, the writing workshop was a hit. One mom told me with tears in her eyes that the workshop gave her hope for her teenage boy.
I’m a sucker for cute kids! And there are a lot of them in Texas! We love giving Knucklehead stickers in return for aaaaaadorable smiles. In my humble opinion, this little boy demonstrated an excellent use of a Captain Knucklehead sticker!
Started the day with leading a workshop for moms and dads with special needs. I love doing workshops with amazing homeschool moms!
It was a pleasure meeting HTHL mom, Misty. Last year Misty and her two boys used HTHL and loved it. She was excited to purchase the Teacher’s Kit with DVDs and student workbooks. “This will make life so much easier for me!”
Misty confirmed for us that our decision to opt out of conventions in 2015 and produce these DVD Teacher Kits was a good choice and will serve many who don’t have a good internet connection or like me, just like the feel of a book.
I loved meeting these two HTHL kids! Together we shouted, “PENCILS UP!” Their favorite project? Poetry Walk! Mom said she wasn’t sure if her kids would get into poetry, but they loved it!
I also met one of my favorite bloggers and her family. Michelle blogs at My Blessed Home and is popular among homeschool moms for her practical advice and her love for the Lord. We met this delightful family two years ago in 2014 at another homeschool convention in Texas. They recently added another little one to their clan, and she’s adorable! They live in the Fort Worth, Texas area, so we made plans to visit their church on Sunday.
We slept in Sunday morning and did our laundry at a coin-op laundromat. To pass the time, Forrest took a spin with Lowly in his apple-car. (Lowly is character from the Richard Scary’s books and a favorite in our home.)
In the evening, we joined Michelle and her family at The Village Church- Fort Worth Texas Campus for a wonderful time of fellowship and worship. I’m a fan of local church history. Their church is three years old and the result of a unique model for church planting called Acts 29. Forrest and I were fascinated by this church plant model. We love seeing the Body of Christ grow! Michelle and her husband have a heart for church planting and are about to help birth another church starting Easter Sunday.
After service, this wonderful family took us out for Texas BBQ where we ate brisket with all the fixings. Michelle and I chatted about everything from blogging to homeschool curriculum to our children. Talking mom to mom always strengthens my heart. For me, our visit couldn’t have been more timely.
Forrest and Michael (Michelle’s husband) numbered the benefits and joys of having a large family. BusyGirl was delighted to chat with all the kids, especially their teenage daughters. We said our goodbyes as Michelle did a head count to make sure all ten kids hopped into their maxi-van. Michael and Michelle’s “blessed home” did indeed bless ours! Visit with Michelle at her blog site: My Blessed Home
Thanks for traveling with us! It’s a pleasure to be sharing the journey with you!
No conventions are scheduled next week. We are headed to Missouri to visit our friends and former neighbors. Looking forward to sharing a cup of coffee and chatting with Karin. We will also share Resurrection Sunday with them. I can’t wait for you to meet this homeschooling family!
From Our Home (On the Road) to Yours,
Follow our journey on HTHL’s Google Map (Click: HERE)