Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Thursday Travels

Each day we did something that was a short lived excursion. Only because we were on vacation and we really longed to relax some everyday.
Considering we were leaving Saturday, we generally don't do anything on Friday. So, we hit our last destination on Thursday.
Fort Gaines is located on the Dauphin Island side, Fort Morgan is located on the Gulf Shores side. These 2 forts protected the bay area during the Civil War. Fort Gaines is well preserved and a very interesting tour for that morning.

We toured the Fort first thing in the morning. It was a warm day, and we didn't feel like we wanted to be out in the heat for an extended amount of time. We learned about where the soldiers live and how they lived. We read letters from the soldiers, and read about how one died. The boys were interested in the latrine! Ha ha ha. Go figure! But it was an interesting location where they had it. It faced the shore and when the tide would come in, it would clean it out. Kinda ingenius design.
We stopped off at the bakery, and of course the questions came. So, I had to explain that they heated the brick ovens and put what they needed on a wooden paddle and then closed the steel door. The heat from the brick baked whatever was in there.
We went to hunt out the blacksmith. I thought this would be something that the boys would enjoy seeing. I have seen many before considering I grew up in an area that hosted a large amount of history. But they hadn't had the chance to see anything like a blacksmith. Needless to say, this blacksmith was a master blacksmith. He didn't do this as a hobby anymore, he did it as a job. He started back in 1989 as an apprentice and then moved up. He was pretty good too.
We got in there and his apprentice was making small things like a leaf keyring.

He told us that you have to heat to a certain color of heat. We all know that white heat is the hottest you can get. You don't want to reach that point when working with metal.
So, we are sitting there watching watching the apprentice and the real blacksmith walked in. He was very interesting. And he had a list of things that he was to be making. He was making a barbecue set. Pretty cool. It was a Wizard head turner. I can't explain how the tool worked, but it was neat.

He started to work the head on this thing. And step by step he showed us how the wizard was made. It was really cool to watch this piece of plain metal turn into a piece of art. I was impressed to say the least.

We got done in there and walked around some more to finish our self guided tour. We showed the boys how the bunks were set up, how they slept on hay.

No matter what time of year it was, they slept on hay. Showed them the kitchen area with the huge fireplace and the hook that held the cast iron pots. Of course the latrine was across the courtyard, long walk in the middle of winter.
We saw the commanding officer's quarters too. And we saw that they really didn't live any better than the soldiers did. Yes, his quarters were enclosed better, but he slept on the hay also, and most of his quarters were to store uniforms.
Ok, it may not be interesting to you. But the boys enjoyed going into the tunnels, and down the stairs to a hidden room. To learn about the disappearing guns, and to read about the life that they lived. For them to see that life then was not easy, they didn't live on a huge amount of money. They actually got paid $10 a month. They enjoyed the museum that was there. Eric had already learned about the Confederate money and uniforms this past year. But to show PJ the uniforms, the "funny" money, to show them how the people dressed back then. He saw the bullets and the cannons and cannon balls.
To an 8 year old, this was something different to do.

We headed for lunch and woo hoo! the barbecue place was open! We got sandwiches to go, took them back and ate them. Jordan's in Cleveland is better! But it was something different. Nothing special. Nothing like that bakery!
We went back and just sat around and rested the rest of the afternoon.
One more day to go, hold on..... I am just about done!