Moving on – to Gloucester,VA

9/30/14 Tuesday in Gloucester,VA (Chesapeake Bay Campground-TT)

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On our way by 9:45. Short, simple trip today, via Rt 3, US 301S and US 71S.. Both 301 and 17 are 4 lane highways with little traffic and few towns. Pretty smooth pavement as well. It feels like Virginia does a good job keeping up its roads. This is the way to travel in an RV!

We arrived at the campground around 11:30, getting a good spot: level (both slides out), free 50 amp power, water, sewer, satellite (with HD stations). Nice gravel roads, beautiful grounds (spacious campsites). They even have a hot tub and pickleball. Maybe we’ll do less exploring the history here and more relaxing.

I spent the afternoon getting my month’s photos organized, then we drove to Gloucester to get our mail. After that I got to watching tapes of the “Breaking Bad Binge” shows. John hinted that we were going to run out of space because of all my Breaking Bad and Mad Men tapes. I got the message! Naturally he was working on his spreadsheet projects.

Supper was that delicious Chicken a la King with sauteed mushrooms, then, when it was cool, we took a walk. What a beautiful park. Great grass and sandy beach on the river. It reminds me of a Corps of Engineers campground.

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Quiet Day Again

9/29/14 Monday in Colonial Beach,VA (Harbor View Campground-TT/OW)

This morning we were more active: I cleaned house as John watched his TV shows then we went to the King George CVS Pharmacy for our flu shots. I spent the rest of our morning getting our claims reimbursement paperwork completed.

Our afternoon was even less exciting. It started raining, as we enjoyed a long conversation with our son, then got to watching taped TV shows while I tried posting to the blog website. It’s very slow but at least I got onto the Internet this time.

Travel day tomorrow so we just relaxed with TV shows in the evening.

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James Monroe Birthplace and George Washington Birthplace

9/28/14 Sunday in Colonial Beach,VA (Harbor View Campground-TT/OW)

Mass was at a sweet little church built in the 1970’s. The choir was in the back corner, not up in the balcony which is normal when they are in the back.

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We visited the little town of Colonial Beach, enjoying its beach in the warm morning sun.

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On our way home we stopped at the James Monroe Birthplace memorial, created by the DAR.

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We continued on to the George Washington Birthplace. This is a part of the National Park System and much more than what we saw for Monroe. We saw a short movie – he only lived here until he was three, but came to love the land and farming in his ensuing years on land here and nearby. He returned here several times as the land was still owned by family. He spent time going between here, his home at Mount Vernon and Ferry Farm. When his father died the various estates owned by his father were inherited by his half brothers and his mother.

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We dashed home for a quick lunch then went back for further investigations of Washington’s early Colonial Farm  and home.

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This harpsichord has wooden keys, that’s why they’re so dark. I played them some – they actually plucked the hidden strings. So cool! It and the following photos were in the Memorial House. It was built in 1931 as similar to the one George Washington was born in. Later archeologists found that it was not. The foundation above is where the actual house (that burned down completely one Christmas) that he was born in. This Memorial House is more a rendition of a wealthier family than George’s at that time, but it’s in wonderful condition. Beautifully built. The round table under the china is original-from the original house. There is a burial ground of several generations of Washingtons as well, down the road a bit.  Note:  that huge animal is an ox (Lewis).

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Back at home I settled into a nap while John studied his spreadsheets, then I made corn muffins. John made our favorite supper of Chicken a la King. Ah, home sweet home.

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Day of Rest

9/27/14 Saturday in Colonial Beach,VA (Harbor View Campground-TT/OW)

Ah, a chance to sleep in, get my quiet walk and exercise and for John to get his TV (golf). I spent the morning getting my photos organized from the last three very busy days. We took a little walk before lunch and ended up spending a lovely visit with Beth/Barney (one of the couples on our WA DC tour yesterday).

For the afternoon more TV for John while I worked on the blog posts. I can’t actually post them onto the Internet because we’re not getting it here, to put it simply.

We watched an excellent remembrance of Robin Williams that John had taped off of PBS to end our day.

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Washington DC: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington House, Ford’s Theater, Lincoln’s Waffle House, Peterson House, Washington Monument, White House, Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Korean War Memorial

9/26/14 Friday in Colonial Beach,VA (Harbor View Campground-TT/OW)

Traffic was more cooperative today and we all (2 couples from yesterday plus 2 more new couples) go to DC around 9:30am. It was also a perfect sunny, blue sky day. The 4 of us from yesterday got to be dropped off at Arlington Cemetery. I say that because we, in essence, didn’t have to choose between the Capital and Arlington having the good fortune to see the Capital yesterday, instead of Smithsonian activities all day long. Normally you get a full day of monuments for $45 each (discounted 10% for seniors) and a 2nd Smithsonian day for $25 each (same discount).

Arlington National Cemetery: Leila’s tip: take the tour mobile ($8/senior) to save time and walking, so we did. Here we got to see the Kennedy’s grave site and the eternal flame there. Apparently a few weeks before he was assassinated, President Kennedy remarked in a meeting that he would love to spend eternity here, so his family honored that wish. Next we arrived just in time for the half hour changing of the guard for the Unknown Soldier. The Old Guard is the unit responsible for this responsibility. Everything is done with immense precision. Civilians can pay for a wreath to be placed here and join in the placement ceremony. It takes a minimum of 6 months to arrange. Next stop: Arlington House, where Robert E Lee lived for 30 years before he resigned from the US Army (unable to bear fighting his own countrymen of Virginia), then had to live his beloved home. He lived there because he married the step great granddaughter of George Washington. Her father, George Washington Parker Custus owned it. GW Custus was Martha Washington’s son’s son. He built this house as a memorial to GW who raised him as his own. I will let the pictures tell the story of Lee and his beautiful home at Arlington that was taken from him by the US government. While his family was away to fight for the confederacy, a tax was waged on the estate but they wouldn’t let the housekeeper (slave) pay it. They insisted that Mr. or Mrs. Lee pay, so created the opportunity for it to go to auction, then buy it. They originally used the house for the signal corps and a hospital. Later the Secretary of Defense (who hated the Lees) arranged to bury many Union soldiers there.

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Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier.

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At Arlington House:

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This painting was painted by GW Custus then rolled up and kept in another home until someone unrolled it in 1970. The next two images are also by Custus, painted on the wall of his home.

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Mary suffered rheumatoid arthritis, so used these steps to get into bed.

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A little about Lee:

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Now Leila took us to Ford’s Theater, passing out our timed passes she’d picked up while we were at Arlington. Since it was lunch time she encouraged us to have our lunch at “Lincoln’s Waffle House” which was just across the street from Ford’s Theater. It’s a small diner, but good basic morning/lunch food at great prices for being in the middle of a large city. Very good service as well – in and out. So we made it to Ford’s for the time on our passes only to learn that the actual theater, where we’d have seen the balcony he’d been sitting in, was closed today due to some rehearsals. Darn. Still, we did get to see the museum and cross the street to visit the Peterson House, where the stricken Lincoln was taken. The gun you see is the one that killed President Lincoln. It was a .44 caliber pistol, made by Henry Derringer of Philadelphia. One shot was all that Booth had. The gun was favored for its small size – it could easily be concealed inside a pocket. It fired a single, round lead ball weighing nearly an ounce, and was most accurate at close range. This shot changed the course of history because the Vice President who would become President (Andrew Johnson) was not concerned for African Americans nor interested in a forgiving reconstruction, as Lincoln was.

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The Peterson house:

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Mary Lincoln waited here with family in between visits to Lincoln’s bedside. The Secretary of War held council with the cabinet in a room between this one and the one Lincoln died in (April 15, 1865).

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Posted: “There had never been anything like it, the vast, rolling pageant of grief that lasted 14 days and covered 1700 miles. An estimated 7 million Americans (1 in every 3 living outside the former Confederacy) viewed the presidential casket in 11 cities or glimpsed the funeral train as it slowly traced a route similar to the one Lincoln had followed to his first inauguration.” The final image is a tower of books about Lincoln.

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Time to see the Washington Monument. [Note: the small block building near this monument has all the National Park Passport Stamps for the District of Columbia area Parks].  Our 2:30pm tickets were precious-Leila almost couldn’t get them this morning but she sweet talked the Park rangers into squeezing us into this time frame. Imagine the time it would take “regular” folks to walk to that monument, get a timed pass ticket, then wait a couple hours and walk back again to see it. Washington, by the way, was 6 feet, 2 inches tall and the statue inside the monument, opposite the elevator, is his actual size. An imposing man. Such great views at the top!! Note the 2 different colors of marble. They had to stop for a few years (funding) and when they started up again they had to get the marble from a different quarry. At 555 feet it is the tallest free standing mason structure in the world. They built it tall to reflect Washington’s physical and edifying stature. In the first view you see the Jefferson Memorial (south), in the second the Lincoln Memorial with the Reflecting Pool in front of it (west). Next you see the White House on Pennsylvania Ave with the Ellipse near the Washington Monument (north) and finally the eastern view of the National Mall leading to the Capital (congress), with Smithsonian Museums lining the Mall. Note: Mall means gathering place, not shopping! Our capital city was designed by Pierre L’enfant (French aide to Washington). He based it on similarities to Paris and Versailles with spaces for large buildings and very wide avenues, so it would appear imposing. I love it!!

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Another ride, this time to the White House:

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Dropped off at the Jefferson Memorial to walk on to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and Korean War Memorial. The last had change a LOT in the 14 years since we were last here. All were most touching/inspiring. In the Vietnam images you can see John and our US Tour friends John/Jane from Wisconsin.

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Time to head home on our wonderful HOV lanes:

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Once again it was pitch dark and late when we got home. Nice looking forward to a chance to sleep in!

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Washington DC: Capital, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Smithsonian National Gallery of Art West Museum and The Sculpture Garden

9/25/14 Thursday in Colonial Beach,VA (Harbor View Campground-TT/OW)

It was cold, dark and rainy but we were on our way by 6:38am, meeting Leila of U.S. Tours (800-863-6333) at the Walmart in Fredricksburg at 7:45am. This was a great way to see Washington DC. She drives a van, so at the most there are 14 people on the tour. Very personable, funny, flexible. Good times! Because the weather was crummy she gave those of us planning on 2 days of touring to choose the cheaper day of visiting any of the Smithsonian Museums (because we’d be inside) for today and do the 1st day tour (several outdoor sights) tomorrow. 4 of the 6 of us voted to do that. The other 2 only wanted the 1 day. Since that couple chose The Capital for this morning she offered to drop the rest of us there as well. We said yes to that. Normally you have a choice of Arlington or Capital on your first day. This way we got the Capital today and will have Arlington tomorrow. She really takes the stress out – dropping us off with instructions/tips then leaving to get our tickets (many places require timed (free) passes to enter). The Capital and Library of Congress across the street took our morning, then she picked us up and dropped the 4 of us at our Smithsonian of choice and the other couple were taken to Ford’s Theater. We didn’t see her until about 4:30pm when we called to say we were ready to leave DC. Since we 4 were the 1st to call, she picked us up first, then the other couple. We were soon on our way, taking the HOV-3 lanes for Fredricksburg. Washington DC requires a minimum of 3 people in a vehicle to be eligible for their HOV lanes (motorcycles also eligible). She shared that here they have “slugs”. These are people who stand at specific places (commuter parking in the morning, downtown corners in the evening) waiting for someone to offer to take them to/from DC. Both win-those picking up the strangers get enough bodies to use the HOV lanes and of course the others get a free ride. Traffic was thick in the morning and congested going home – we finally arrived at the Walmart at 6:38 pm (12 hours from leaving our RV), getting home before 7:30pm. Thanks heavens for our crock pot chili (plus popcorn). Early night to bed.

The Capital: Such a beautiful building, inside and out. Here is where our Senators and House of Representatives preside. You can take a tunnel from the Capital to the Library of Congress. That place was stunningly beautiful.

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Library of Congress below:

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Smithsonian Natural History Museum where I almost lost John to a shark!

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Smithsonian National Gallery of Art West Museum : The Andrew Wyeth and Degas/Cassatt galleries didn’t allow photography, but other galleries did…

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We walked through an The Sculpture Garden between these Museums. Most fascinating was a colorful house that moved as you walked by. Hard to show in still photos, but most intriguing.

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Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields

9/24/14 Wednesday in Colonial Beach,VA (Harbor View Campground-TT/OW)

After our usual morning routine we got packed up and moved Miss Zanzibar to that better site with satellite TV reception. It went smoothly, no scraping against trees. John came up with a great plan. We could take care of three desires at once. Drive to the Walmart in Fredericksburg where we’ll meet Leila and US Tours. That way we can know for sure where it is and how long it would take to get there. Then we’ll visit the National Parks Battlefields. Because Fredericksburg is directly between the headquarters of the Union (Washington DC) and the headquarters of the Confederacy (Richmond,VA) LOTS of battles happened there. After that visit could stop at Costco for items we needed, then at the Walmart for our grocery items. All in a place over 30 miles from our campground.

Battlefield in Fredricksburg: Over 7 civil war battles were fought here, largely because it sits right between the capitals of each side: Washington DC (Union) and Richmond VA (Confederate).

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Because the Confederates had better defenses (the hill for cannons, the sunken road with it’s walls for protection and the Rappahonnock River), they won this battle. Unfortunately, the Union army devastated the town of Fredricksburg when it temporarily captured it. This Confederate victory dealt a painful blow to the Union war effort-discouraging Union soldiers and intensifying public debate about the war and the wisdom of emancipation. For the Confederates it established Lee and his army as their greatest hope.

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Battlefield at Chancelorville: here Robert E Lee won his most stunning victory but lost his legendary subordinate, Stonewall Jackson to “friendly fire”.

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Battlefield at Wilderness and Spotsylvania: The first clash between Grant and Lee since Gettysburg began 11 months of nearly continuous combat that decided the war in Virginia. Grant instructed Meade “Wherever Lee goes, there you will do also.” Their first collision was in the Wilderness, a forest thick with thickets and trees. It ended in a stalemate but Grant headed south, toward Spotsyvania and Richmond. Both armies met there since it was the most direct route to Richmond. Grant concentrated on a weak area in Lee’s line but Lee bought enough time to built a new line of earthworks, which he was able to hold. But it exacted on high price on Confederate resources.

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The fighting continued on in an “Overland Campaign” until the end at Appomattox.

The predicted rain started up as we headed home, so that was nice timing. Got home, put our groceries away, then had supper after John watched his “Emergency” show.

Got ready for our trip tomorrow: prepared chili ingredients to roast in the slow cooker all day, packed lunches and even figured out our clothes. We need to leave here before 6:45 am!

 

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