Meet the Beilers

On September 25, we split up with the Hoffmans, and us Wongs left Virginia and headed down to Texas to meet up with the Beilers. Do you remember the conference we went to a couple of months ago in Wisconsin? There, we met a few people, including the Beilers, and they eventually decided to sell their house and travel with us, but more on that later.

On the way down to Texas, we stopped at a few places. You might recognize Hodge’s Vineyard (a place we’ve been to twice before) in the video below. Another of the places we went to was Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Carl Sandburg is a well-known poet, and the house we visited is where he lived with his family. His wife kept goats at the place, and the exact breeds she had are still there today. We got to pet the goats and walk around the site.

Meet the Beilers. The Beilers consist of Chad and Katrina (both in their twenties), Kaleah (3), Caspian (1), and Clara (the new baby). Both Mr. Chad and Miss Katrina like games and playing music, so we enjoyed that together, in addition to the things we normally do with the Hoffmans.

The Hoffmans came down to Texas a month and a half later, and they stayed in the same RV park us and the Beilers were at. All of us occasionally had meals, sang, and gellowshipped together.

We have also been meeting with the Paynes (our friends in San Antonio whom we’ve known for years now). One weekend, they came to the campground we were staying at and visited for a few nights. Check out the video below to see what else we’ve done with them so far.

Us, the Beilers, and the Paynes have done some things together as well, including celebrating Tanner’s 11th birthday at Main Event.

While staying in an RV park in Hondo, we visited the Medina County Museum. There, we learned about the history of the area, and we got to see a bunch of historical items used when Hondo was founded.

This blog post has been a long time in the making. A lot of things changed these past couple of months, so I didn’t want to release it until I had the situation figured out. At first, we (the Wongs) thought we’d be traveling with the Beilers and Hoffmans together. Eventually, we decided to stay in Texas due to some personal reasons, including being able to minister to someone we met a while back while evangelizing. The Beilers and Hoffmans have moved on together since then, and we (the Wongs) are staying at Ramblin Rec RV Park in Hondo, Texas. I’m not sure what kind of blog posts you’ll be seeing in the future, but I expect most of them to be about us and the Paynes. I’m excited to see what God will have us do next!

Virginia History

On August 9, we moved to Williamsburg, Virginia.  Four days later, we moved to Harbor View RV and Camping Resort in Colonial beach, Virginia.  While there, we went to many NPS sites.

On one day, we went to four places, all of them connected to different Civil War battles.  These places contained stories of Jackson, Grant, Lee, and other historic Civil War heroes.  One of the places led to Jackson’s death, and another is where his arm is buried.  At two of the sites, rangers gave us tours and explained what happened at the sites.  If you want to read about them in more depth, click the links below:

Battle of Fredericksburg

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of the Wilderness

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

Another day we went to Piscataway and Fort Washington Park.  While Piscataway protects natural resources of the area, Fort Washington is dedicated to protecting the historical fort.  The fort was used in defense and training from the War of 1812 through WWII, but before that, other forts took its place.  After the American Revolution, America used the area to build a fort to defend its coast from the French.  Over the years, it was rebuilt, changed, and added on to.

The last place we visited while staying at the RV park was George Washington Birthplace National Monument.  The place has a long history, including George Washington living there and historians from a while ago digging up parts of the site.  As of now, the park isn’t too sure where the house Washington was born in was located.  They also aren’t sure what happened to it.  One theory is that it burned down on Christmas, but they can’t be too sure, since evidence was removed when historians decided a foundation they found wasn’t necessary.  As a result, they dug it up and placed a memorial there (which has been relocated since then).

On August 27, we moved to Picture Lake Campground in Petersburg, Virginia.  We will be staying here for around a month, while we wait for Miss Erin (Hoffman) to give birth to their fourth child.

First Trip With the Hoffmans

On May 20, we moved to an RV park on a private property in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This was our first trip with the Hoffmans, and we caravanned the entire way.

While in Baton Rouge, we got to visit some friends, Mr. Jack and Mr. Ron, who are fellow believers in the Lord.  We also got to meet some people from their church.

Two days later, on May 22, we carravaned to Hodges Vineyards and Winery in Camp Hill, Alabama.  (We stayed here on April 26 as well).

The next day, we carravaned to Poinsett State Park in Wedgefield, South Carolina.  On the way, we stopped at Congaree National Park, where we took a 2.6 mile boardwalk hike.  Congaree was protected by the NPS because of its historical floodplain, once lived in or used (at separate times usually) by Native Americans, escaped slaves, and loggers.  Now, it is a great place to explore the outdoors, hike, and canoe and kayak.

While at Poinsett, we walked to the small waterfall, lake, and playground.  My brothers and Mr. Josh went fishing, and Mason caught a catfish.

On May 25, we moved to Threads Run Thru It, a quilting shop in Rustburg, Virginia (also a Harvest Host).  On the way, us Wongs stopped at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in North Carolina.  This is where, in 1781, the Patriots lost a battle to the British, but ended up escaping almost unscathed.  Meanwhile, the British suffered a loss of over a quarter of their men.  The battle fought here weakened the British and helped win the freedom of America.

After that, we stopped at Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia.  This place honored the African American boy born into slavery who was freed after the Civil War, excelled in school, and became a first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School.  He became an author and orator, looked up to by many people of all races.

We met up with the Hoffmans at the Harvest Host, where we ate dinner with them and stayed the night.

The next morning, we got on the road again and went to Appomattox Court House National Historic Park (in Virginia) with the Hoffmans.  This is where General Lee (of the Confederate army) surrendered, marking the beginning of the end of the Civil War.  The reason it wasn’t the end was because the other generals of the Confederate army still had to surrender.  However, Lee’s surrender persuaded the other Confederate leaders to do the same.

At the Park, we walked around and looked at the different buildings, including a prison, the McLean house where Lee surrendered, and the tavern.

After that, the Hoffmans made their way to the Harvest Host we were staying at that night, while us Wongs went to Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia.  This is where a nine month siege took place, ultimately ending in the Union cutting off Petersburg’s supplies and the Confederates losing.  About a week later, Lee surrendered.

A lot of the park was closed due to COVID, so we only got to see the graves of people who died during the siege (due to clashes between the two sides).

Finally, we drove to Keystone Truck and Tractor Museum in Colonial Heights, Virginia.  We went into the museum and stayed the night with the Hoffmans.  The museum had hundreds of vehicles.  There were tractors, trucks, bikes, and decorations.

The next morning, we moved to Virginia Landing RV Campground in Quinby, Virginia.  At the RV park, we clammed, crabbed, had campfires, and found different sorts of sea creatures like conch.  We went door-to-door in a neighborhood near the RV park.

On Saturday, us Wongs went to Assateague Island National Seashore, a NPS site dedicated to preserving the seashore, island, and wild horses there.  It was a drizzly, cold, windy day, soo most of the time, we stayed in our truck.  We got to see three horses from afar, as well as the ocean and a river (where we tried catching crabs and failed).

We moved after almost a week, but for now, here are pictures of some of the stuff we ate in this blog post:

Getting Things from Storage – Texas

We drove down to Texas to get things from storage, like next year’s school books for us children.  On the way down, we stopped at two different RV parks, a NPS site, and Buc-ee’s (a favorite roadtrip stop).

The two RV parks we stopped at were Tanbark (in Dickson, Tennessee) and Home Sweet Home (in Texarkana, Texas).  Tanbark had very pretty trees in fall colors, and there was a horse that we looked at.  The RV park we stopped to stay at near our storage was called Medina Lake RV Campground (a Thousand Trails RV Park), and it was near Medina Lake in Lakehills, Texas.  There were lots of twisty trees and friendly deer which were used to being fed by humans, and it was hilly in that area.

The NPS site that we visited was Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We went there on October 21.  Central High is where the U.S. began an experiment to start integrating black people into white schools.  The ranger at the visitor center gave us a tour of the outside of the school.

In 1857, Central High allowed ten black students with perfect grades into the school (out of 200 students who had applied).  A lot of white people were upset about it and showed up at the school to protest integration.  In order to help the ten children more smoothly in their new school, Daisy Bates (also black) was chosen to help them.  The night before the ten were supposed to go to school, Daisy called all of their families with a plan, except for Elizabeth Eckford, since she had no phone.  The plan was to escort the children to school, along with both black and white ministers in hopes that the mob would be less likely to attack anyone.  Daisy planned to get Elizabeth early the next morning.

But Dasiy Bates forgot.  So Elizabeth, only fifteen years old, showed up at school the next day on September 4, 1957, unprepared for what she faced.  The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, called the National Guard to block all African American children from entering the school, which directly defied federal law.  They did their duty, and Elizabeth, very confused, walked away from the school with a mob following her.  They called her mean things, spit on her, and threatened to kill her.  Eventually, with the encouragement of a few nice people and a bus, she was able to get away.  However, that day greatly affected her, and she suffers from mental health issues because of it.

Meanwhile, the other nine children went to school as planned.  However, at the door, they were turned away.  For the first time in their lives, these children had missed a day of school.

On September 25, 1957, President Eisenhower sends the 101st Airborne Infantry Division to escort nine out of the previous ten students into the school.  These nine are known as the Little Rock Nine.

On October 1, the National Guard, which had previously been ordered to block blacks from entering the school, took over the 101st Airborne’s duty.  They were sent to keep watch over and escort the Nine to the school.  However, the National Guard was able to be in basically only the school’s halls, so the students who didn’t like integration harassed and even tried to kill the Nine.  Eventually, the National Guard were removed from the school.  The Little Rock Nine went through the school year bravely.

Rather than repeat the previous year, Orval Faubus got Arkansas’ schools shut down, since he didn’t like integration.  This caused the state’s economy to be affected negatively.

Down in San Antonio, we saw our friends, the Paynes at both their house and the campground we were staying at.  We did a lot of things with them, including playing basketball and card games, visiting parks, and reading the Bible and singing with them.

On November 2, we drove up to Hickory Creek, Texas, where we stayed at Hickory Creek Campground.  We visited the Pattons for dinner a couple of times.

On November 4, we moved to Hot Springs RV Park in Arkansas, right near Hot Springs National Park.  On the way there, we stopped in Hope, Arkansas to go to President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site.  We weren’t able to go inside the home, due to COVID, but we were able to read signs about Bill Clinton’s childhood and family in the visitor center.

Afterwards, we drove on to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

When we had set up our RV at the RV park we went to look around the national park.

First, we went to Bathhouse Row, which is a street with bathhouses built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s which use water from the hot springs.  Fountains with hot spring water were scattered throughout the area, and we tried the water.  To me, it tasted like normal but hot water.  There was no sulfuric scent to it, like there had been at other hot springs we’d seen in the past.

We also went on a short walk and a scenic drive, where we could see the city and beautiful fall colors

The next day, we moved to Cross City RV Park in Corinth, Mississippi.  On the way, we stopped at Mississippi Final Stands Interpretive Center in Baldwyn, Mississippi, where we read about Civil War battles.

On November 6, while on the way to a Cracker Barrel in Florence, Kentucky, we stopped at Shiloh National Military Park.  We had visited there a year ago, looked around the park, and done junior ranger books, but we hadn’t been able to turn our completed books in due to COVID.  This time, we turned our books in and got badges in return.

On November 7, we drove up to Zanesville, Ohio to National Road Campground.

Saint Louis – Iowa and Missouri

On August 17, we moved to St. Louis RV Park in St. Louis, Missouri.  The RV park was in the middle of the city, and it had a pool, which my brothers played in.

Before leaving, however, we stopped at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa.  It is where Hoover was born and lived until he was nine and was orphaned.  He became our 31st president, and he was president during the Great Depression.  It surprised me that his family was Quaker, and they lived in a Quaker community.  The site had buildings which Herbert and his family would’ve lived or worked in, such as a blacksmith, their cottage, and their Friend’s meetinghouse.

After that, we went moved to the RV park in Saint Louis.  We set up our RV, then we went to Gateway Arch National Park, which has the iconic arch of Missouri.  The arch itself was closed because of COVID-19 (you can usually take a tram to the top of the inside of the arch for a price), but we were able to view it from the outside, learn about it in the visitor center, and stand inside a replica of the top of the arch.  The replica was a very small sliver of what the arch would be like inside, and it had “windows” on it that were actually screens that showed live feed from cameras up on top the arch.  The screens were bigger than the windows would actually be.  We could even see our truck from the cameras.

The site included the Old Courthouse, where the famous first two trials of the Dred Scott case were held.  The case was about freedom of enslaved black people, Dred Scott and his wife specifically, because they filed suit for their freedom in the mid 1800’s.  In the end, Dred Scott and his wife lost, but it helped bring on the fight for enslaved people’s freedom in America, which eventually gave freedom to black people.  We weren’t able to go there, however, because it was closed.

After that, we ate at a restaurant and drove around the city.

The next day, we went to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.  The site had a home and some other buildings on it.  Grant’s future wife, Julia Dent, and her family lived here.  Grant met her here, married her later on, then lived with the Dents on the property (which was about 850 acres) in the mid 1800’s.  He tried out farming, but that didn’t work out for long, so he rejoined the army (he had been in the army earlier in his life).  He eventually became a high ranking leader in the army during the Civil War, and later, the president of America.  Grant helped to win the Civil War for the Union side, and he valued African Americans as human beings, even allowing them to fight in the Civil War when others wouldn’t, and he fought against discrimination against black people.

We got to take a tour of the Dent house, called White Haven, even though it is now bright green.  We also got to see Budweiser Clydesdale horses, which are a rare breed of horses.

For dinner, we went to Uncle Dean and Aunty Jeanette’s house.  They are actually Daddy’s uncle and aunt, and we hadn’t seen them since we lived in McKinney (years ago).  I met their son, Evan, and his wife, Emily, as well as their son.  We talked, ate, and played Splendor with them.