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Liberty Bell, Philly Cheese Steaks, The Outer Banks and the Cyclorama

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

By this point in our journey we have put the van and ourselves to quite the test. Living in a converted Sprinter Van is not for everyone, it is however, for me. I love it. Have there been moments of frustration? Yes. But I've experienced that in every living environment I've ever had.

Once we left New York we started thinking of where to go next. The Southeast is home to most of my family and luckily they allow us to visit. In addition to family there are plenty of sites to see. My biggest concern is climate. I'm not a warm weather seeker, anytime the temp gets to 72 I get a bit antsy, to say the least.

Philadelphia was next up for a tour of Liberty Center, Independence Hall and of course to eat a famous Philly Cheese Steak. Parking was a snap and central to what we wanted to see. We are not history buffs by any stretch, but we do like to see historic places.

Reading about the history of the Liberty Bell was great but seeing the name STOW on the Bell was the highlight of the day. I can't say with all certainty that there is a genetic connection between my husband and the Stow of the Liberty Bell, but the odds are good.

At Independence Hall we visited the room where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution was adopted by our founding fathers. I wonder (often) what they would think of our great country now.

I searched the internet for the best Philly Cheese Steak in town and we made our way to Jim's South St. Darin opted for a more classic version with cheese whiz...

Personally, I think Cheese Whiz is less cheese and more whiz for my tastes, so I opted for provolone. We both thoroughly enjoyed our sandwiches. While chowing down, some locals came in and sat near us. They were quick to tell us that Jim's is good but by no means the best. We'll have to take their word for it because we left town as soon as we finished. The City of Brotherly Love was nice to visit but we prefer small towns and we had had our fill of big cities.

Lewes Delaware fits the bill! Historic, quaint and not a big city. The Henlopen State Park has an amazing campground with walking and bike trails for miles. We were one of 3 or 4 campers so it was very quiet and clean. Just another bonus for traveling in the winter.

This was our first opportunity to take out our bikes since we left California in December. The weather was perfect for a nice ride into downtown Lewes in search of coffee and a good spot for breakfast. Honey's was the spot! Honey's on Savannah St for breakfast is a must.

We liked Lewes so much we booked an extra night in the campground so we could explore their trails. Mind you, it is still winter, so scarf, gloves and coat were all needed. We wanted to catch the sunset but planning could have been a bit better. Thank goodness we have lights on our Lectric Bikes! By the way, these bikes are amazing! The range is like 25+ miles depending on how much pedal assistance you use. If you put forth any effort at all, they will go even farther. They fold up nicely for space saving if you want or just do like us and remove the front tire and mount them to the floor under your 36 inch high bed.

Since we were in Delaware and headed south, why not visit the Mason-Dixon Line Marker in DelMar? It is historic after all, personally I think historical reminders help teach future generations. Feel free to interpret that how you wish. Finding this Marker was easier said than done, I'm thinking it isn't sought after much. Google and Apple Maps were of no help whatsoever. So we consulted a couple guys on the side of the road.

These guys gave a hearty laugh when we asked but they provided directions and we found the markers. As a 'yungun' growing up in south Georgia, I heard reference to this line often. I have to admit, I am quite shocked they are still in existence. If all of our travels teaches us nothing else, my hope is to learn to be as open-minded and accepting of my fellow human as possible.

From Delaware we made a quick trip into the Richmond Virginia area to visit family. Funny story here, my cousin lives in a condo. We parked near his car and visited for a couple days. One of the neighbors approached my cousin outside one morning and pointed at our van. He said in whispered tones, "People are living in that van!" My cousin responded with, "Yes, they are, say hi next time you see them, they'll tell you all about it if you are interested." Needless to say, the neighbor never spoke to us. See what I mean by hoping I can accept people for their differences?

We only spent a couple nights, and continued our journey south.

Virginia Beach is stunning in the winter. We weren't planning for any particular spot when we arrived but as we were cruising around a very nice coastal neighborhood we found a parking spot that was perfect for the van with a walking trail to the beach. Since we were parked amongst very expensive homes we thought we might get rousted in the middle of the night and told to leave. Nope, not a soul bothered us and we bothered no one that we know of.

The Outer Banks is always a must when we are in the area. Totally different from any other beach community. I love that you can drive on the beach and there are National Seashore Campgrounds... we paid $12 per night! Includes water and electric. We seemed to have it to ourselves, except just a few others that were willing to brave the cold winds.

I'm really glad we went there for selfish reasons. I've regretted not making a purchase last time we were there. I happened into a shop at the ferry in Cape Hatteras and discovered Bogg Bags, but opted to not buy. This time I bought! AND on sale. If you need a strong durable bag to lug stuff then get a BOGG BAG!

North Georgia has a variety of attractions. Helen, Georgia is one of a few we visited on our way to see my other cousin. Helen was platted in 1912, and named after the daughter of a lumber official. The town was incorporated in 1913. Formerly a logging town that was in decline, the city resurrected itself by becoming a replica of a Bavarian alpine town, in the Appalachians instead of the Alps. Helen is a sister city to Leavenworth Washington.

Another north Georgia attraction is Tallulah Falls. This is a fantastic place to visit. The town is only a block long but the Falls are spectacular and we found a little quirky restaurant that served two of the best sandwiches we've had on this journey.

There are plenty of warning signs along the Falls to inform you of the strenuous nature of their hikes. We opted for the 3.5 mile hike after trekking down over 300 steps and back up just as many. Darin and his new hip did great with the steps and the hike. They had a 25 mile option that we may attempt one day, but not today.

The last time we visited our Atlanta cousin they very nicely informed us that a weekend would be a better time to visit. They stay busy on the weekends too. But at least we could participate in the weekend activities. We accompanied my cousin to the Atlanta History Museum while his wife worked on her art.

Inside the Atlanta History Museum is the Cyclorama which is a 132-year-old hand-painted work of art that stands 49 feet tall, is longer than a football field, and weighs 10,000 pounds. This depicts the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. Created at the American Panorama Company in Milwaukee by 17 German artists, The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama took five months to create before it debuted in Minneapolis in 1886. Painted 22 years after the Battle of Atlanta, the painting originally depicted the battle from a Northern perspective as a heroic Union victory so that it would appeal to Northern audiences.

When the painting relocated to Atlanta in 1892, it was slightly modified and advertised as “the only Confederate victory ever painted” to appeal to its new Southern audiences that maintained Confederate sympathies. The 1864 Battle of Atlanta was not a Confederate victory, and most of these changes from 1892 were reversed in the 1930s. Apparently Clark Gable insisted that Rhett Butler be painted into the scene...

Thank you for joining us again and please come back to see the rest of our Southern travels. Here is a photo dump from this portion of our journey.


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