It was a cold night again and windy at times. We didn’t have enough water onboard for a shower this morning as we’d had problems taking on water yesterday when leaving Smokemont campground in the Smoky Mountains. The good thing was our new auxiliary batteries after some charging from the generator and idling engine performed well and held all the power we needed to run the heating system all night.
It was difficult to know what to wear this morning for our trip in to Atlanta www.atlanta.net , the wind was very cold indeed under a clear blue sky. Would the cold wind drop and leave us with a lovely warm sunny day which would mean our having to carry our coats around with us, or would the wind persist? Not having access to weather forecasts can be quite frustrating at times.
After killing a few more ladybirds we opted to wear our warm clothing and by the time we’d walked to the nearby bus stop were pleased we did. It was only when we were part way in to town on the 74 bus that I realised we hadn’t out of courtesy asked if we could leave the RV in Wal-Mart’s car park, but was sure it wouldn’t be a problem as we were tucked right out of the way in what is a very large car park which for much of the time didn’t seem to get more than half full. I noticed one of those electronic temperature & time digital display boards above a store on the way in to town and it was saying the current outside temperature was 41F (8C), and that was gone 10am. We changed buses in downtown Atlanta for a 113 which ran past the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site www.nps.gov/malu (GPS: N33.755499 W84.373383).
Downtown Atlanta looked pretty sad, there was some interesting architecture but the place was full of down-at-heel Afro-American’s, presumably out of work. It didn’t have a very comfortable feel to it, though as always everybody we spoke to was always polite and helpful. As the 113 made its way to our destination the streets got scruffier and scruffier. The Martin Luther King Jr site was, I think, the only worthwhile complex in the area. First we went to the Visitors Centre where we were told if we wanted to join the tour of MLK’s birthplace and home we should take our tickets for the 11:00 tour and hurry to Fire House #6 just down the road from where the tour would commence. We arrived in time and inside there was an old fire engine of the type that would have been in the firehouse when MLK was growing up.
The house we were taken to was only about 4 doors down (GPS: N33.755253 W84.371154). The tour was very interesting, though again sadly, no photography allowed inside. The National Park Service had gone to great lengths to restore and furnish it as it was when Martin Luther King Jr was growing up there. With the tour over we took photographs of the neighbourhood across the road. On one side there were large houses for the middle classes and on the other side semi-detached ‘shotgun’ houses for the poorer members of the community. We then walked back to the Visitors Centre which had a very interesting museum of pictures, video’s, letters and original documentation around Martin Luther King Jnr’s life, death & burial. We were in there some time before emerging to cross the road and visit the site of his tomb in which his wife is also now interred.
This site was a bit sad to see, I’m sure the vision was for something grand but the tiles in the pools were quite dirty and there were lots of leaves in them which is difficult to avoid in the Autumn but should have been considered in the original design, the fountains weren’t working and there was a workman wading around in the pools trying to clean them up, it all looked a bit neglected. The one good thing was being able to lean over a low railing and warm my hands on MLK’s eternal flame.
The saddest thing of all was the large number of panhandlers and down on their luck individuals who seemed to hang around the site and surrounding area ready to approach tourists. Since there weren’t many of us about today we had to politely decline more often than we’d have liked to. I’m sure this is not the way Martin Luther King Jr intended his fellow Negroes to make a living.
We decided to walk back in to town since it was only about a mile, although there were CCTV cameras around it turned out to be a bit of a mistake as we were stalked by a couple of guys on different occasions trying to become our unwanted tour guides. About halfway back we passed a barbers shop, I paused, looked in the window and the barber seemed to have nothing to do, even though there were another couple of negro guys sitting in the waiting area. The Chef said “You wouldn’t dare”, so in I went, and in she came with me. I asked for a trim and was shown to the chair. The barber and I didn’t get in to deep conversation as I was enjoying listening to him banter with the other two and a third character that came in later. The latter character asked where we were from before telling us he’d been to England once and enjoyed the Fish & Chips which was in the days when they were wrapped in newspaper. The haircut was better than the one I had in Durango, Colorado on the last trip but not by much. When you’re shown the finished job it’s difficult to ask them to stick the hair back on and try again. In the end it was an interesting exchange between two cultures and I bet it’s been a long time, if ever, since he’s cut the straight hair of a white honky. I left wishing them good luck for Tuesday’s Presidential election and hoped their man wins which they seemed to appreciate.
When we reached downtown we were hungry and thirsty and settled for Chinese fast food which was a bit greasy but filled a gap. We then went for a wonder around downtown before making our way home. We didn’t feel entirely comfortable, we’d hardly seen another white face the whole time we’d been in town which we just hadn’t expected, it was completely the opposite of the Smoky Mountain area where we’d just come from. It was only the conduct of the panhandlers at the Historic Site which caused us to be concerned, otherwise everybody, as always, was just fine towards us.
When we arrived back at the RV I set about making a bracket for the new auxiliary batteries which were fitted yesterday. It was important that I get them secured before we hit the road tomorrow. Whilst I was doing this The Chef sat in the front cab reading her book enjoying the sun but keeping out of the wind. She’s nicknamed this area ‘The Conservatory’.
I relented this evening and bought a replacement compact camera, Rosina had to carry around the SLR today and although it takes a better quality picture a compact is far easier and more convenient to carry and use.
The Chef and I have been discussing what to do with the RV at the end of this trip. It was always our intention to ship it to the UK and sell it, hopefully breaking even on the deal, or maybe make a profit large enough to cover the costs of our trips, but we hadn’t planned on the downturn in the economy and the now less than advantageous exchange rate of the greenback against the Gordon Brown pound. It now looks as if we’ll either sell it here or store it until things pick up when we can sell it more easily for a better price or come back out in 2010 and use it again ourselves - because there’s still Canada…………………….
We killed some more ladybirds then went to bed.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Wal-Mart, 2427 Gresham Rd, SE, Atlanta, GA30316.