Monday, October 14, 2019

Kennesaw Mountain (family adventure, part 2)

This second part of our little adventure—the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park—was the part we didn't research well. We simply didn't realize that the battlefield was the mountain (though they also have this lovely little field out front):


But Atlanta traffic is such that it's worth it to stop and hike up and down a mountain (even if you're a little underprepared for such an undertaking) rather than be stuck in traffic forever. So we hiked the mountain.


Benjamin was very excited about the cannons. He ran up to one and then dejectedly walked back to us, saying that there was a sign asking people to not climb on them. We were happy he read the sign and obeyed it! And then we told him that there were no rules against taking a picture with the cannon:




We were not the only people to think that visiting Kennesaw would be a good thing to do over spring break. In fact, the parking lot was full and we had to park in the overflow lot (with many, many other people), which is about a half mile away from the visitor's center. No big deal; we walk that far all the time (except we usually have a stroller for Alexander, who is getting rather heavy these days).

When we got to the visitor's center—after walking for a half mile—we saw all sorts of signs informing us that there was no drinking water on trail and that we'd have to pack our own. Unfortunately, we'd left all of our water bottles in the car. We figured we'd be fine to hike two miles without water, given how mild the day was...and how mild the hike was.

I mean, I get that it's a "mountain" but with a summit elevation of 1808 feet (and a prominence of only 800 feet), it seemed laughably small to our children. They've spent the last two years of their life playing in the shadow of Sierra Bonita (or Spanish Fork Peak), which has an elevation of 10192 feet (and a prominence of 5500 feet). So Kennesaw is really just a widdle guy.

Here we are about halfway up when I told Andrew it was his turn to take over carrying Alexander (the kids are trying to see if they can see our house (they can't—but they an see downtown Atlanta):


Some kind fellow-hikers (there were a lot of fellow hikers) asked if they could take a picture of our whole group, so we took them up on their offer:



Benjamin only brought flip-flops, so he wasn't dressed very well for hiking, but he survived just fine.


Here's Zoë racing to Alexander to give him his walking stick:



They'd both picked up sticks after seeing several hikers using walking sticks pass us by, but when Alexander got hoisted onto Daddy's shoulder he had to give up his stick (because he could not resist the temptation to continuously bop Daddy on the head with his walking stick). He was so upset about losing his stick that Zoë promised to carry it all the way up the mountain for him.

He was rather pleased to get his stick(s) back:



This is almost the same picture, but he's looking at the camera instead of his sticks and since I'm the curator of this blog and I think both pictures are cute, both pictures stay:


Here's the hazy view of the city:


We've been going through a bit of a dought—in fact, it hadn't rained in so long that I woke Andrew up at 4:00 this morning because I heard a terrible dripping noise and was worried that we had (yet another) problem with our pipes but it turns out it was just raining and our downspout was working; I just hadn't heard the sound in so long that I didn't recognize it—so we were happy to see these clouds gathering.


At the top, Rachel got out one camera while I had the other and it was fun to see what she took pictures of compared to what I took pictures of. For example, here is a series of pictures I took while trying to get Zoë and Alexander to both smile at the camera at the same time:



It wasn't working out very well, so here's Zoë tickling Alexander's neck, trying to get him to smile (even though she was the one who refused to look at the camera):


And here is a picture that Rachel took of me trying to take a picture of these kids:


Here's a rather boring shot I took of one of the cannons at the top of the mountain:


And the arguably better-framed picture that Rachel took:


It was at Kennesaw that Sherman decided he couldn't keep clean formations, not with the way the Confederates were fighting. As Wikipedia notes, "Kennesaw Mountain was not Sherman's first large-scale frontal assault of the war, but it was his last." Though Wikipedia says that this was due in part to Sherman's desire to keep the Confederate Army guessing about what tactic he was going to use next, his abandonment of clean line formations no doubt was also inspired by the extreme loss of life on Kennesaw (3000 Union soldiers vs. 1000 Confederate soldiers). 

Many trees were felled to create "earthworks" for the soldiers to take cover behind and in the museum there is a section of a tree with a bunch of shrapnel in it, which was interesting to see. I suppose the Confederates were a bit better at fighting amongst the trees than the Union were during this battle.


Along the way we kept seeing sings about various "corps" and Miriam was rather confused by this. Finally she asked, "Where are the bodies?! Are we walking on them?!!" We had to explain that a "corps" was just a group of men and that it was pronounced "core," not "corpse." These were not grave markers (though as we tried to imagine 4000 dead soldiers in this battlefield we figured chances were high we were standing near where some poor soul lost his life).

Also, at some point Benjamin said, "Aw, sucks!" and Miriam snipped to Andrew, "I wish he would stop saying that! It's just a contraction of two really bad words!"


And it really does almost sound like that, but in reality it refers to actual shucks—as in something you might shuck away, something of little or no value (like corn husks). Andrew was laughing about this because it's in Snow White! There's no way a Disney movie would be brazen enough to use "shucks" if it really were a contraction of two very vulgar words!

Gone with the Wind used a much milder swear word (in 1940) and it was a Big Deal. There's no way Snow White would have gotten away with such a thing in 1938—in a children's movie, no less!

I think we convinced her that it's an innocent phrase (but now I fear we'll never be able to hear it that way every again)!

She also wondered aloud about how the soldiers knew whose turn it was to shoot. 

"Oh, honey..." I said. "There's no turns in war..."

I mean, there are certain rules of etiquette. But ultimately, all is fair in love and war. 

So then we reached a sign that talked about "cannon duels" and she said, "Ah-hah! I knew they took turns!"

"What do you mean?" we asked.

"Duels!" she said, as if we'd know what she meant. 

"Yeah...there wasn't turn-taking in duels either," I said. "Each party would shoot at the very same time (that's why they counted first) and whoever hit their target most lethally would win."

"Oh," Miriam said, disgusted at how gruesome war (not to mention duelling—which is dumb and immature) really is.

"You're so naïve about war!" Rachel laughed.

"And you're so experienced?" I asked.

"Well..."

Truthfully we've all lived a rather privileged existence. I thought these couple of quotes featured in the museum summarized it nicely (I think they're both by Sherman):


"War is cruelty and you cannot refine it," and "There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell."

Miriam told me that her ideal war would be one where both sides meet to talk things over diplomatically. "But I guess that wouldn't be much of a war at all," she said. "It would be more like a conversation with the goal of resolving differences."

She's not wrong (and that happens to be my idea of a perfect war as well).

We eventually decided we'd better head down off the mountain, so here are some pictures from our way down:


Alexander wasn't terribly happy about riding on Daddy's shoulders (because he wanted Mommy to carry him), but I just love the look of my babies being held by their Daddy (even if they're not thrilled about it).


Alexander begged to get down so much that Andrew finally gave in and swung him off his shoulders to let him do his own hiking for a while:



He did pretty well, shuffling down the path on his sore leg:



Here you can see his leg is kind of starting to give out on him...


He was proud to have done some hiking all on his own (with his hiking sticks in tow (I'm not sure he knows how hiking sticks are supposed to work)):



But soon he stopped walking and asked to be "tarried" so Andrew picked him up and carried him down the mountain:




I guess there's a road that leads to the top of the mountain (judging by this parking lot at the top) but that road was closed today, so it was all pedestrian traffic up there (and I think I liked it that way).


Alexander wasn't the only one to get tired of hiking (though he was the only one we felt inclined to carry since his leg is sore). Zoë and Benjamin had a hard time making it down the mountain as well and needed a lot of pep talks.



By this point we'd drug them around for about 6 miles (including, you know, up a mountain), so I suppose they had every right to be tired. All of the kids took a tumble going down the mountain, which made them all sad in turn, but they all made it down the mountain. 

And then all we had to do was walk a half mile to our car! 

The little ones almost cried when they remembered this. 

At some point on the hike back to the visitor's center, I had ended up carrying Alexander again, so this left Andrew free to offer Zoë a lift. I'm not sure she's ever been so grateful to be carried in her life!

It was a lovely second-half of our family adventure, even if we weren't quite prepared for a hike up a mountain. (I don't know what we were expecting—more museum, less hiking, I guess.) I think it did us all good to get out of the city and into a bit of nature (even if the city was not too far away and technically still all around us).





Not that we always feel like we live in a ginormous city. In our neighbourhood, at least, we can sometimes forget that we don't live in a secluded mountain cottage. Here's a picture from my friend's house early yesterday morning (the bear would later tip her garbage can over and start pawing through it):


I suppose the wildlife have to live somewhere since all their wilderness has been swallowed by the metropolis. 

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