Heading South out of the cold
It was a cold (-2 wind chill), windy day when we picked up this Winnebago unit, a 39 ft Latitude with a 340 hp diesel Freightliner engine. Lots of room even without the slide outs extended. We were pleasantly surprised with the good gas mileage (9mpg) for a unit this size, especially with the price of fuel. The highest price we saw advertised was $3.89.
We chose to take a route south into St. Louis, MO, discovering that we had followed a storm that went through that area the day before leaving up to 10 inches of snow and ice. The trees were covered with ice all the way to the Kentucky border. The interstate had been cleared, but the side roads were snow packed.
Finally some green grass in the ditches, trees are starting to bud, barges are moving in the Tennessee River and daffodils blooming in southern Kentucky.
Driving through the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee we saw some pink blossoms on trees making a nice contrast to the green pine trees. The ornamental pear trees were blooming in the rural areas and cities.
Sunshine and warmth! Found the staging section for Winnebago units at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, site of the RV Show, and checked in.
Lane Packing Company
We drove on state highway and county blacktops on our way to Lane Packing Company. If you have purchased Georgia peaches they might have come from this farm. It was out-of-season, but we took a self-guided walking tour of the facilities, which let you walk over the packing plant and view the machines. The peaches are hand picked at the orchard, put in 18 bushel crates, transported to the plant where they are dumped into cold water to be cooled. Each peach is hand checked and sorted, defuzzed, waxed and stamped with a small label printed with Lane Packing Company number before they are packed in boxes and stored until shipped. All of this is done as the peaches ride on conveyor belts. Some of the peaches that are sorted out are disposed of, some are processed into jams and other food items and some are sold as 2nd grade at their fruit market in season.
Walking through their store we were surprised at all the items that are made with peaches. From salsa to candy to jams to peach cider. That we purchased and are enjoying. Their speciality at the restaurant on the premises is peach cobbler and peach ice cream!
In season they have farm tours, but off-season they have a video showing how they grow their peaches. (and those lovely,I want one,white, high backed wooden rocking chairs for us to sit and watch!) 3,000 acres for growing 30 varieties of peaches that mature from May through August.
It takes 12 years of growth to produce peaches after the 16 inch peach tree twig is planted using a machine that makes holes for a person to plant. Their seed stock comes from a nursery in Tennessee. Another 3 years to have peaches mature enough to pick. It takes 30 leaves to make 1 peach! 80% of the peaches are removed when small in order to let the remaining 20% become large enough to pick. The trees are pruned each year with the twigs chopped and left as a mulch. They are watered often with large tanks and sprayers. It was interesting to learn that if they wanted to change the variety of an orchard they would take a bud of the one they wanted and graft it into the tree, wrap it with a rubber band and the new bud would change the variety.
After the trees become too old to produce they are pushed over and burned. The field is planted with new seedlings.
1,000 acres are planted to pecan trees. New trees are started in a nursery plot then lifted with a huge machine and carefully moved to the orchard where they are spaced further apart. They are watered with a hose/sprinkler system at the base of the tree. Pruning is done each year. Pecans are ready to harvest from October to January. A special machine is placed on the trunk just below the branches and it shakes the tree causing the nuts to fall to the ground along with branches and leaves! Another machine pushes all of these fallen items into a row and a pecan combine comes along and picks it up. Inside the combine the pecans are separated and flow into a wagon. The twigs and leaves are chopped and returned as mulch to the ground. Pecan trees produce for many years.
One of the items that was for sale in their store was Pecan Oil that could be used for cooking, frying, baking,etc. It was expensive. I have this rule of needing 3 good reasons before I purchase an item and could not think of the 3rd one until we were several hundred miles down the road!!! (But I'm ready for the next time!)
Four acres of strawberries can be seen from the highway. They were mounded up with black plastic as a mulch cover, green and one one variety had white blossoms. You can pick yourself starting in April or purchase already picked fruit at their market.
This visit makes me even more thankful for the produce we have at the grocery store and the people who grow it!
Jarrell Plantation State Historic Site
Off the beaten path, but so interesting is the Jarrell Plantation State Historic Site north of Macon.
In 1820 after this land was opened up for homesteaders, pioneers, Blake and Zilpha Jarrell moved their family and two slaves from North Carolina and started a plantation. By 1850 , their oldest son, John, had settled nearby on what is now called Jarrell Plantation with his wife, Elizabeth, their seven children, and 19 slaves. John invested his money in land and slaves and by 1863 there were 42 slaves valued at $37,800, and 600 acres of land valued at $5,280 with considerable livestock (cows, hogs, sheep, oxen, mules and horses)valued at $2,840. The farm produced cotton, wheat, Irish potatoes, yams, peas, wool, honey, syrup, pork, beef, and ginned cotton. With $50 in cash he had a value of $45,770 placing him in the upper third of Georgia planters.
Over the years generations of there family endured through typhoid epidemic, burned buildings and stolen livestock and food by Union soldiers during General William Sherman's "March to the Sea", rebuilding and diversifying by having a store and post office in their house. After the boll weevil arrived, ruining cotton farming the family grew more wheat, corn, rye & sugar cane, added a wheat threshing service, set up a steam engine that was used to gin cotton, grind corn, saw lumber, make shingles, produce sugar cane syrup for themselves and as a business. They terraced their fields to prevent erosion and used manure for fertilizer to maintain production.
Many farmers gave up and and moved out West or to towns to work in the mills. Many African-American families moved to northern cities, but the Jarrell family stayed and worked the land until 1974 when the family donated their plantation and artifacts to the state of Georgia. Today the former cotton fields are forests providing wood pulp, lumber and wildlife habitat.
The weather is mild enough for them to have our "cool" weather garden plants growing all winter. Peas, cabbage, mustard, etc.
Salt was scarce during the Civil War so Mr. Jarrell took his syrup kettles to Savannah and boiled sea water to get salt for himself and to sell to his neighbors.
He used a 1927 Humpmobile car motor to power his first mill and gin before he set up the steam engine for power. (Isn't that the Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang car?)
Corn husk was used for mattress and to make pallets (like sleeping bags). They would take the clean inner husks because they were the lightest and softest. As they dried they would curl up. No insects would lodge in them. The dried husks were placed between pieces of cotton material.
A mop was made by pulling husks from an ear of corn through holes in a board and attaching a handle. The wood floor was soaked with water, sprinkled with sand and the corn husks used to scrub. Then the floor was rinsed with cold water.
A box was on the wall with pieces of newspaper rolled into tight cylinders about the size of our straws. These were used to light the lamps and candles. Only one could be used each nite to light all of them.
A piece of furniture made like a sideboard with long legs called a huntboard. Often the men stood and ate from the top of this while the children slid together on the benches beside the table. The huntboard was originally made for the fox hunters, who did not dismount their horses to eat. It was tall enough for them to ride up and take their food!
The front yard has a flower pit for storing houseplants in the winter and for keeping foods cool in the summer. It is a four foot deep pit lined with handmade bricks and covered with a board.
3,000 acres near Talladega, Alabama are used for the 2.66 mile track, stadium for over 170,000 people and parking. There are 143,000 seats and room for thousands more in the 212 acre infield. The tour bus that took us inside the stadium and onto the track infield did not do a lap of the track! We could see why when we saw the banking on the North and South turns. We were told it was a 33 degree bank, but looked more like a 90 degree when you looked down from the top of the track! You need to be driving 70 mph or you will slide to the bottom of the track. 47 stalls line the Pit Road. The old dirt track is still in the infield and is used by Harley Davidson for testing motor cycles and for some dirt track car races.
"Talladega is considered the biggest, fastest and most competitive motor sports facility in the world.
International Motor Sports Hall of Fame & Museum
This is located adjacent to the Talladaga Speedway. The museum allows you to see the history of racing with the variety of vehicles on display. From stock cars, Indy cars, drag racers, motor cycles,and pick-ups to a world record off shore power boat, turbo-powered(faster than speed of sound)racer, and an airplane.
Personally it was interesting to see the changes made in the safety gear in the cars over the years. I was surprised to see that the cars were low, most only about 3 inches off the track and the driver sits on the floor of the car, just like in a go-kart!!
An unusual Hall of Fame driver: Louise Smith
This is an excerpt from her autobiography:
Louise was borne in Barnsville, Georgia, but her family moved to a farm near Greenville, South Carolina when she was four. When she decided to learn to drive, Louise started her father’s T-Model and had a wonderful time until she realized she did not know how to stop. So, she drove the car through the chicken house and had the first of her spectacular crashes. “Needless to say, the chicken house was destroyed, and the car did not look good either. My father tanned me good,” recalls Louise.
Another story tells about her going to watch the Daytona Beach races in 1949 in the family's new car. But she could not just watch. She entered the race in the family's new car. She crashed. Her hometown newspaper had pictures of the wrecked "new car" allowing her family and the whole town know about it before she got back home.
We saw her 1938 Ford race car with "Jesus Loves You" written on the side at the Museum. Her bio in the Hall of Fame room states that she had broken every bone in her body during her racing career. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 and lived to 90 years of age.
That evening we watched the History Channel--all about safety equipment improvements for race car drivers. The next evening we watched the movie, "Herbie, Fully Loaded",a story about VW racecar and a racing family. We did obey all speed limits on the way home and am thankful for a safe trip even with the snow/ice in Alabama!
A sign in front of a service station in Alabama read, "News Flash: Empty tomb in Jerusalem!" What a blessing for us as we travel the road of "life" knowing that our relationship with Father God is based on our faith in Jesus-- His shed blood and His resurrection!