This blog is a reprint of my internet journal from 2001 to 2002 in which I documented my "vagabond" solo journey in a Chevy Conversion Van tracing my roots. I not only traced their paths and found their homes and final resting places, but I did extensive genealogical research in court houses, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, cemeteries, and talked to the local people. I traveled with a laptop to upload my notes and photos, and use e-mail. It was a fantastic journey which lasted two years. I had no other home except my van to sleep in...just a bed and video player. My household goods were put into storage for two years. My mail was delivered to me at general delivery when I phoned "MailBox, etc." and told them where to send it. At night I stayed in campgrounds, motels, friends' backyards, friends' homes, and those of the few living relations I've tracked down. As I traveled I collected so much genealogy information, that I had to get rid of items that I had originally thought essential to my travels (like a microwave oven). Between ancestral sites, I visited any tourist sites I could find and got to know alot about the USA. This was a trip of a lifetime and I'm still sorting through all the wonderful memories, photos and invaluable genealogical data I found. I will post to this blog as I can - one or a few days at a time of that journey from 2001 to 2002

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Start of my dream trip to track my ancestors 2001-2002

8 May 2001    Tuesday Fayetteville - Ft Bragg, Fayetteville, NC ---- Mt Airy, NC

I planned to “Blow out of Town”, “Get out of Dodge” or otherwise say goodbye to Fayetteville, NC by noon today – 3 months and a week after my Retirement from over 26 years in the Army Nurse Corps. I was only an hour and 15 minutes late. My household goods are packed and in storage.  Always more to do: Fill up the gas tank of my new Chevy Conversion Van  at $1.53/gal, go to the bank, check my mail service box, stop by AAA and load up on travel books for the North Eastern US and driving west to Iowa.

My Chevy Conversion Van
Packing my household goods
 With a Diet Coke and Ice Cream Sandwich, I hit the road via Hwy 87. Northeast to Sanford, then Greensboro (or Goldsboro, or Greenville, never figured all the names out). I had to stop for coffee then, added a spoonful of my instant coffee to the hot coffee I bought, to add a little more caffeine. Not good to be sleepy.

Lots of traffic at Winston-Salem as I passed through the furniture making region traveling from the pine to the hardwood forests. Then Pilot Mountain (Mt Pilot) rose like a sentinel on Hwy 52 in the beautiful forests approaching the Blue Ridge Mountains paralleling the mightier Appalachian Mountain range, which is just to the west.

About 5pm I rolled into the place I had located on the map last night -- Mount Airy. The real home of Andy Griffin and the fabled Mayberry, home of Sheriff Andy Taylor, Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), Barney Fife (Don Knotts), Floyd the barber, Aunt Bea, and Andy’s son, Opie, (Ron Howard). Not that I am the biggest fan of the old TV show, but I might as well see what I can see. Finding the Visitors Center I planned my motel for the night, got brochures and a tourist map of the town. Now 5pm I stopped by the jail of Mayberry RFD, with Barney’s police cruiser outside, the boyhood (1935-1966) home of Andy Griffith, the Snappy Lunch Diner, Floyds Barber Shop, and the Cinema.

"Mayberry RFD" - Andy Griffin show site
I decided on spending $50 at the Comfort Inn, so I could watch "Frazier" on TV and use the Internet. I helped myself to the complimentary “Cappuccino” they were offering between 5 and 7pm. I got a non-smoking, first floor room so I could be close to the van. A note by the phone said all Internet calls are “long distance”. So I decided not to tax my brain by figuring all that out, I just enjoyed the beautiful Spring evening, excellent weather, and walked over to Arbys for a gourmet Roast Beef sandwich and chocolate shake.

I really needed this evening to organize the van. I was able to consolidate containers with my genealogy books, food items, clothing, emergency battery power box, and everything else except my travel brochures; I’ll do that tomorrow. I also postponed figuring out my new GPS (Global Positioning System) unit, and how to activate my “Voice Mail” on my Cell Phone - first time I've had / used a cell phone.

Too tired to do any reading, I was in bed by 9:30 pm.

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