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Friday, 10 July 2009

Darrell's USA Road Trip

As promised...Words and pics by the one and only, Darrell.

I'm on my road trip (finally, though I had to truncate the original plan.) First stop is USS Texas, BB-35 in La Porte Texas (just outside of Houston.)
So why is this of interest? Well, the USS Texas is the last Dreadnought. Why is this of interest to anyone other than those interested in Naval history? Well lets take a short trip back in time. In 1905 Great Britain launched HMS Dreadnought, a new type of battleship. This ship for the first time rationalized the plan of armament, armor and speed into a package which revolutionized the battleship and upon its launching made all other battleships obsolete. By standardizing on a single large caliber main armament in centerline turrets, a single secondary armament as well as lots of armor plate and powerful engines, this new ship could outperform all others. As soon as Dreadnought became operational all other battleships became known as "pre-Dreadnoughts" and those who developed the plan further (such as the US Navy's Iowa class of WW2) were known as "Super Dreadnoughts." Dreadnought herself was already obsolete by the time of WW1, but other countries, such as the U.S. had seen the value and built their own. Of that first generation of "Dreadnought" type ships, only the USS Texas remains, in all the world. Launched prior to WW1, Texas was in commission until the end of WW2, and underwent many modifications during its life.

Why does anyone other than ship buffs care? In a global political-historical context Dreadnought and her followers not only revolutionized naval warfare in the first half of the 20th century, but as a result of these ships, and treaties such as the Washington Naval treaty which effectively punished Japan for coming late to the Naval arms race, helped set the stage for much of the conflict in the 20th century: Japan was feeling hurt and built ships that violated the Washington treaty, the Treaty of Versailles punished Germany and limited their naval forces, while Great Britain and U.S. were allowed more leeway in Naval design though both stuck more rigidly to the rules as regards tonnage of ships. Since the post-WW1 treaties all were based on punishing the Central Powers (Germany, the Austro-Hungarian empire) and allowing the allies to expand empires (Britain and France got the middle East, Belgium went to Africa, and so on...) the stage was set for much of the later conflicts, right up to today, since much of the Middle Eastern countries that exist today were either created in the inter-war years, or were colonized until after WW2.
Kinda long winded, huh?
You wanted sun? Ok, here's the meteorology for the day: 99 degrees (F), 70% humidity (hot and humid). broken clouds. And 976.4 miles from home, 2 days riding.
Also, a picture of an only slightly racist roadside cafe in Mississippi.



The second part of the trip was to follow the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs from Natchez, in the Southwest of Mississippi,up into Tennessee. I didn't take it all the way to Tennessee, but did about 300 miles on it. The parkway follows and in some cases actually was built on top of, the original pathway which was used by Native Americans, animals, and later settlers for centuries. The parkway itself is a well paved and maintained road, 2 lanes, and has a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, which limits the traffic on it. At various points there are scenic overlooks, Indian mounds, old villages and other historic sites. Unfortunately, due to the construction of the road (raised roadbed, sharply sloping shoulders) I couldn't stop for pictures at some of the more interesting areas. I did get a few showing the parkway, some mounds, some Mississippi scenery, and an old village (French Camp).



More pictures from the Natchez Trace Parkway. French Camp, an old village now used as a training academy (not sure for what) and a reconstructed old farm. Also some Indian Mound pictures from the "Emerald Mound." The mound itself is huge, so only a small bit shows in the picture.



In this chapter we visit the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I'm not a Corvette fan, per se, but this looked like it could be fun. I also stopped at the Patton Museum in Ft. Knox, since I like armor and tanks.



Part 4, wherein our intrepid traveler finds himself visiting an ancient American effigy mound, the largest east of the Mississppi. The mound is approximately 1300 feet long and is in the shape of a serpent, each coil in the serpent equating to an astronomical event, marked by signs for the visitors.
The mound, from ground level, looks like so much raised areas in the grass, and can best be viewed from above. However (ahem) due to my rather severe acrophobia, the highest I could get on the observation tower was about 10 feet, so there are no "overhead" views.



Thanks Darrell, that's a brilliant write up and some great pics. How many miles did you do in total? Don't you guys have km over there though? If anyone else wishes to have their story published on the GBC Blog all you gotta do is email me using cubbiescounties AT aultan DOT com. Obviously you'll change the ATs and DOTs to the appropriate symbols.

15 comments:

Darrell said...

Thanks GBC, I feel so special.....I'm published (online anyway).
Total mileage was just over 3200. The original plan was for much more, but I had to sort of reduce the length a bit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Darrell. Great writeup and superb photos.

U N

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the write-up Darrell, just going to get the map out and see where you went.

Interesting fact that the USS Texas is olny slightly older than GBC at 95 :-)


kawa

Darrell said...

Thanks UN.
Now if I could just get my bike across the pond....

Darrell said...

Kawa, here's the route; Clermont, Florida to Biloxi, Mississippi. Then Biloxi to Houston, Texas. Then Houston to Natchez Mississippi via Baton Rouge Louisiana. Up the Natchez trace to huntsville, Alabama. From there to Louisville, Kentucky where I then went on to Peebles Ohio (for Serpent Mound) then back home via Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South carolina, and then Georgia.
Oh and I am sure the USS Texas is older than GBC. By a bit.

Mrs B.C. said...

Hi Darrell, It's really good to get stuff from other countries. Makes us realise how different things are. I think I remember that someone once said that if you ever got over to Scotland someone would surely lend you a bike? Isn't that so guys? Maybe you should come for Thunder in the Glens at Aviemore, ( you can google that), Brilliant spectacle! August 28th - 3st. I believe. By the way, why do I think you are or were a pilot? I just wondered about the height thing. Good read, anyway, and I was particularly interested in the mounds, which seem to be very like some of the features we have in Britain.

Darrell said...

Mrs. BC, I was never a pilot, but I was an aircrewman in the Navy. I flew into and operated out of Kinloss and Lossiemouth a few times. The height thing is an anomaly.
The mounds are cool, and one reason I like such things is that there are similarities to sites around the world.

kawa said...

Thanks Darrell, that makes it a bit easier.
She says shes 78, so we've got to humour her, just had a thought why she picked that age but better not say
So Mrs BC your a closet HD fan? I bought a new one in 94 but dont tell anyone ;-)

kawa

Darrell said...

78? Wow, she sure is well preserved. But I guess that explains why she never wears a skirt.

Anonymous said...

Nice write up Darrell...and thank you so much for sharing your fear of heights...I don't feel so alone...



BigBob

Anonymous said...

..and by the way..no Patton Museum pics? We have neat collection at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland (not Aberdeenshire) near me...would've been cool to compare..


BigBob

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Blimey Darrell, won't be long before you have more comments on your story than Cubbie gets! Sounds like a great adventure though, and 3200 MILES - pah, you would have made mince meat of the Scottish Counties! Any time you can make it over here you're welcome to a wee shotty of the Famous Cub. But only up the road and back, no Road Trips!

Darrell said...

Bob, I would gladly send some Patton Museum pics, but I felt I had already hijacked our dear GBCs blog quite sufficiently.
GBC, I'm still trying to make it out your way. Time is now the enemy, the money part is resolved.
And I think your approach to the counties was just right, given the chosen vehicle and your predilection for camping (shudder).

Mrs B.C. said...

Darrell, who was it said when you have enough time, you never have enough money, and when you have the money you don't have the time?

And why do I never have either?

You can't make money necessarily, but you can make time. Someone else said (and I should know this) you have to make the time to stand and stare - that is badly paraphrased.

Basically, life is too short, Darrell, so get on with it!

Darrell said...

Thanks Mrs., but the simple reality is that I just came off 3 weeks vacation, it would hard for me to sell my boss on the idea of me taking more time.
But I'll keep in mind the trip to see BC Towers.

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