Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pine Mountain

After the party the previous night and the change to daylight savings time, Z and I were up strangely early on Sunday.  We weren't the only ones though - as we came out our door, HangSoon and HwaSoon came out their door as well.  After a brief discussion, we decided to go down to the restaurant for breakfast.  It had a lovely breakfast buffet, with an omelet station I knew my dad would not be able to resist.  After the first cups of coffee had disappeared, my cell rang and it was the parents looking for people.  It straggled on that way for a while, until all the people who had stayed overnight were breakfasted and ready for the day to start.  The parents were actually ready to go home.  I wanted to show Z some of the stuff I used to do when I was a kid coming here in the summers and explore some of the stuff I'd missed back then.  Matt and the ladies went off in their own direction and James did a couple of things and headed back to the farm early too.

Z and I went and drove up the mountain, purchased a state park day pass and started our adventure.

We started with a trip to the Liberty Bell Pool, where I spent many a summer afternoon cooling down from the summer heat.
I always loved the flagstone surrounding the pool - and if you look closely, you can see that the bottom of the pool has the same treatment.  When the pool is clean and open, it's absolutely gorgeous.  As we stood next to the fence, I told my boy about the diving contest between my two brothers, John and Jerry.  It so perfectly reflected their personalities that I still think of it to this day.  John is a very precise person.  He knows the correct way to do things to get the outcome he wants.  Jerry, on the other hand, is a bit more, uh, freeform.  So the contest:  three dives each and the one with the least splash wins.  John went first and his dive was a thing of beauty.  His body was all straight planes and angles - but there was quite a bit of splash on entry.  Jerry just walked to the end of the diving board and jumped off.  His arms flailed and his legs waved.  No judge on earth would have said it was a good dive.  But when he entered the water, there was barely a ripple.  John was incensed.  This was NOT the way things were supposed to work!  Two more dives each with the same results.  It was a pretty bizarre thing, but Jerry won.  John spent much of the remainder of the summer jumping into swimming pools and trying not to make a splash.  I'm not sure he ever succeeded to the degree of Jerry's free-form leaps, which doesn't seem fair, really.

Our next stop was Dowdle's Knob.  We drove up the ridge road and took the turnoff and drove for another mile and a half up.  This was Franklin D. Roosevelt's favorite picnic spot.  He had a barbecue built up there and they carried tables, linens, silver and china up the mountain to picnic up there.  He often came up to spend time reflecting about his life and the state of the country, and used a seat from his car to sit on.

You can't see it in this picture, but the statue of him is sitting on a bench car seat.  There's space for someone else to sit there too, which is where ZBoy is sitting.  This was the beginning of an interesting history lesson on FDR and his role in this country.

Before leaving the hotel, I'd collected the leftover wedding/anniversary cake from the kitchen and it rode around in the back of my car all day.  While we were at Dowdle's Knob, we each had a piece, served not on china but paper plates with plastic forks.  Still, I think FDR would have approved.

Our next stop was the Little White House, located right outside Warm Springs, Georgia.  When Roosevelt visited this area, he loved it so much that he wanted a house here.  The house is small with three little bedrooms (the secretary's, FDR's and Eleanor's).  There was a combination living/diningroom and a little kitchen.  That's it.  You wouldn't think it would feel at all presidential, but it did.  There was also a guest house for visiting dignitaries (also modest) and a carriage house with servant's quarters above.  That's it.  Given the opulence that surrounds our presidents these days, it was lovely to step back in time to when presidents were regular guys with exceptional jobs.

This desk is huge - and is in FDR's bedroom.  The bed was surprisingly small and modest.  This is where FDR slept and where he died.  I suspect much of his life was spent in this little room, windows overlooking the mountain landscape that fell away behind the house.

Just before Roosevelt died, he'd been sitting for a portrait.  While sitting there, he was struck by a blinding headache and went to bed, where he died quietly of an anyuresm.  The unfinished portrait hangs in the Legacy Building on the grounds of the Little White House museum complex.

One of the very cool parts of visiting this particular site is that the kids can participate in a scavenger hunt.  Z got a clipboard and a list of things to find, read, or count as we went through the museum, grounds and Little White House.  It helped pull ZBoy into the history and learn a few things about this remarkable man.

After our tour of the house, we drove into Warm Springs proper and visited the spring itself.  Being struck with polio as an adult, FDR firmly believed that swimming in the warm springs would help him recover the use of his legs.  Being able to exercise so that his muscles didn't atrophy completely did help his mobility, but of course it couldn't cure him of the disease or the damage that had been done.  Still, he made sure that this therapy was available to many and many still believe the waters have healing attributes.  Z put his hands in the trough where the water comes up, then spills over and drains back down and into the pump house.  It was a very pleasant 83 degrees, but he didn't think it did much for him.

The pools are three very large areas with hand grips and therapy tables for patients.  I was amazed at the size and asked if they ever filled the pools up.  Three times a year (the next one being Memorial Day)!  I asked how long it took to fill and was told FOUR HOURS!  Unbelievable.  The rate of flow is apparently much stronger than what I'd thought looking at the little trough of water.  It took me two days to fill the pool in my back yard, so I'm very impressed!

Warm Springs was our last stop before starting the four hour drive back home.  Z took a moment to sit in the bath house to think about all he'd seen and learned that day.

I learned a lot too.  Of course, the way the education system is set up here, students kind of skim over the facts of presidential lives, learning a tidbit here or there but not really knowing anything about the man behind the office.  I have a great deal of respect for Franklin D. Roosevelt - a four term president who remade this country into one of the greatest countries in the world.  What would he think of what's going on in the world today?  Obama is facing many of the same challenges that FDR did, but not handling them nearly as well.  What would FDR do differently - and would he be able to make the same kind of changes now that he did then?  Congress has a different head these days.  It's more about power and contradiction now than about what's best for the country and the people who live here.  It makes me sad, but I don't know that anyone can make it better at this point. 

I'm glad we went.  I wanted Z to know that things change.  What was going on then didn't last forever - and what's going on now won't either.  The method of change may be different - but things never stay the same.


grace said...

looks like you had a fun day with your son!

Anonymous said...

That diving contest was fixed, and some day I'll prove it!



Georgia Girls said...

How funny about the diving contest :) And interesting facts about FDR and his final sitting. When we were in the Florida Keys, we took a tour of Harry Truman's home-away-from-home and found it all very fascinating. Sounds like a great relaxing day.

Sandcastle Momma said...

What a wonderful day! No matter how much work he does on this in school it will be nothing compared to what he saw and did. He'll never forget it and will have a great story about an adventure with his Mom to tell his children.