World War II Memorial

Another post written by Lee about one of his solo Washington D.C. trips – Trace

   Tucked between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln memorial, as though it has always been there, is my favorite, the World War II memorial. It fits so well there it just seems like it’s been there forever, but it didn’t get started as an idea until 1987, construction didn’t begin until 2001 and it wasn’t opened to the public until 2004. 

 

I really love the location. For one thing, the main “floor” is sunk below ground level, by six feet, which means that when you stand at the western edge of it you are looking at the reflecting pool at almost eye height, with the Lincoln memorial in the background. That’s really cool.

Looking west across the plaza and the pool. In the center you can see the tiny Lincoln memorial in the distance.

On the east side of it at street level you can look down at the memorial and take it all in.  As you move towards and into it you are drawn in very effectively. It uses the 7.5 acre space really well. The main plaza has 56 17′ tall granite pillars in a semi circle around the floor and an arch on each end (north and south) of the oval. The pillars are for each state, plus DC, Alaska, Hawaii, the Phillipines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands. The north arch is for the Atlantic theater, and the south for the Pacific. There is also a pool that takes up most the plaza and is full of fountains. A ramp travels from either side of each half circle of pillars to the arch, which looks down on the plaza. 

The Pacific arch and half of the pillars

 

The Atlantic arch and pillars

 

Looking down one of the pillar ramps from an arch.  This is a very cool picture.  I have never been here and thought it was lovely.  Lee as usual did a great job capturing it with his pictures. – Trace

 

 

Another view of the pool and fountains, with the Atlantic arch and pillars in the background

 

Panorama of the plaza. On either side you can see the last three bas relief plaques, which give you an idea of their size and position relative to each other and the rest of the memorial.

The entrance, on the east side, is a series of terraced steps that gently drop you down. The center of those terraces is grassy and allows for people to sit, while on either side are really elegant ramps that take you down along a series of bas-reliefs that tell the story of the war in bronze plaques. The left ramp, which leads towards the Pacific arch, has scenes that begin with soon-to-be servicemen getting physical exams, taking the oath, and being issued military gear. The reliefs progress through several iconic scenes, including combat and burying the dead, ending in a homecoming scene. On the right, towards the Atlantic arch, there is a similar progression, but with scenes generally more typical of the European theatre. Some scenes take place in England, depicting the preparations for air and sea assaults. The final scene is American and Russian forces shaking hands when the western and eastern fronts met in Berlin. 

The west end of the memorial is the Freedom Wall with that fantastic view of the Lincoln memorial behind it. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom”.

Wow that’s lovely.  Makes me want to shake the hand of the person who designed this memorial. – Trace

 

Looking back east from the wall of freedom towards the terraced entrance and the Washington monument.

 

At the entrance, you can see the first of the terraces behind this plaque.

 

The architect is Friedrich St. Florian. Now I know whose hand to shake. Also good for President GW Bush for making sure this was completed.   – Trace

 

Here are the plaques that run along the right side, towards the Atlantic arch…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about you but that incredible detail makes me want to see it in person – Trace

Along the left side, towards the Pacific arch…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scattered around the plaza are also quotes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you find yourself in DC and have never seen this memorial, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you visit. If possible, both during the day and the night. It’s really beautiful at night. 

In my next post I scoot my scooter back along the mall to the Hirshorn Sculpture garden!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

But Wait! There’s More Monuments and Memorials!

Written by Lee about one of his many solo trips into D.C. – Trace

If you didn’t see the last post, you missed the Eisenhower memorial, the Washington monument, the Vietnam Veteran’s memorial, and the Lincoln memorial. Slacker. Before I get started on this one, I am going to talk a little about the problems I encountered related to CoVid and just get that out of the way so it doesn’t keep popping up and ruining the vibe. Overall I had a great time and the experience was wonderful, but I kept tripping over the CoVid thing and it really annoyed me.

First, I want to point out that being somewhere in the “off season” is preferable to me personally because I would rather trade some of the experience for a lack of people. Actually, it’s the crowds that I don’t like. I know I always joke about not liking people, but it’s not individual people, it’s the plural. People are awful. They are loud and they never shut up and will walk right in front of you and generally just annoy the hell out of me. So I don’t mind if it’s a little chilly while I walk along the beach if there are no people to ruin it for me. And it’s super awesome if I don’t have to spend most of my life removing them from photos.

Anyway, the CoVid thing is different. I don’t like wearing a mask any more than anyone else, but I do it. And I don’t mind that there are reduced capacities at places, because you know, less people=good, to me. It’s the odd closures and complete lack of being able to plan that drives me crazy.  Places that were open had a requirement for (free) timed entry tickets. That meant, I couldn’t just see the National Gallery of Art without booking a time slot in advance.  That wasn’t such a big deal BUT, when I arrived some places had restrictions on what I could bring in.  There were no public lockers available so if I didn’t research the items that were allowed in advance it was a problem.  If you get a ticket to go into a museum, and when you get there they won’t let you bring in your camera bag, and there’s no locker, then you’re just done.  You can’t get timed entry passes same day, and unless you have a place to stash that bag, you’re just out of luck.  And this info is rarely in an easy to locate place or obvious on the website. The reason this bothers me so much is that the fix is easy and obvious. The front page of every website should have a simple box showing potential visitors anything they need to know for their visit. A nice big box outlined in red, with big red letters that say “DON’T BRING XXXXXXX. LOCKERS ARE NOT AVAILABLE”.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I went to visit Arlington National Cemetery, and prior to my visit I looked at their website. There was no information on the front page about anything related to restrictions. There is a COVID tab, though, so I checked that. I didn’t see anything that would create a problem for me to bring in my camera bag. So off I went. When I arrived, and went through security, I was told that because I had a small tripod in my bag, I could not enter. I asked for clarification and was told that USING the tripod was not the problem, HAVING it was. And of course, there are no lockers, so that was the end of my visit to Arlington, unless I was willing to throw away a $150 tripod. When I got home, I did a search of the entire website, and the word “tripod” ONLY shows up in articles from the past about specific special events where they prohibit a long list of things. So there is no published general prohibition on tripods, but I still got turned away and was not able to come in because I had one.

 So the message here is that I feel visitors should do their due diligence, but the agencies that manage these places have an obligation to post the information clearly.  Of course, these are all first world problems, I know that. But I do live in the first world. I’m not whining so much as saying if you have limited time and resources, do your homework, and be prepared, but understand that you might run into situations you were not prepared for.  For example,  I went back the next day without my tripod and was very sad to discover that the tomb of the unknowns was closed for construction.  When I got home I did find that on the website, I just missed it. 

Anyway, back to the National Mall. We left off at the Lincoln Memorial, and I made like 8 trips into DC and saw lots of stuff in all different orders and many things I went to multiple times. In fact, I think every time I went I drove a scooter or electric bike from the Capitol all the way down to the Lincoln memorial or the other way at least once. So I’m not suggesting that you follow my route, or anything like that. This is just how I am presenting this stuff.

  On the south side of the west end of this area the first thing you come to after the Lincoln memorial is the Korean War Veteran’s memorial, my favorite.

 

The first time I saw this I was pretty knocked out by it, but it can be a little disappointing because some of the figures are hard to see because you can’t get close to them. They layout is a large skinny “V” formation of statue soldiers, and towards the rear where the V is widest, some of them are not very close to the walkway. On past visits at night teach figure was lit individually, which made for a very dramatic effect, but while I was there this time those lights were never on. Also the Pool of Remembrance was empty. It always bothers me when any public art that has a water feature doesn’t have the water, because it’s almost always an integral part of the design.  The lack of water makes me feel like the art is abandoned, or neglected, irrelevant.

       

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I find these statues to be really compelling as well.  -Trace

From here, it’s a pretty short hop south to and across Independence Avenue (cross at West Basin Drive, there’s a crosswalk) and down towards the basin to my favorite, the Martin Luther King Junior memorial. It’s the only major memorial on the mall not dedicated to a former president! I really like how imposing it is.

 

At this point you can either jump onto West Basin Drive, or the walking/jogging path that runs right along the edge of the tidal basin. I went along the path, because there have been lots of movies and TV Shows filmed along that path due to the great background view as you curve along. And as I said before, the Washington Monument plays hide and seek everywhere you go.

   

 

In no time at you are at my very most favorite (no kidding, this one really is my favorite, I mean it) the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. (and here’s a link to the NPS website for it)

 

 

One of the things I really like about the FDR memorial is how spread out and sprawling it is. The map above doesn’t really show you how big it is, but this one below does a better job. It’s really big. From the bathroom on the left to the bathroom on the right, “as the crow flies” is 1000 feet, but the walk is not “as the crow flies”. I would be that it’s easily twice or maybe even three times the length of that. 7.5 acres! It’s just wonderful, the way it’s laid out. Lots of turns and reveals. And there’s a lovely mini-memorial to Eleanor, but I think she should get her own full blown memorial.

 

 

Before I dump all the pictures, let me complain a bit. I know I went in the “off” season, and I know that right now there is a lot of maintenance going on because of the reduced crowds due to CoVid, but the water features of this memorial are absolutely integral, it is just packed with waterfalls and pools and fountains all of them full of symbolism and they are in my opinion more than half the meaning of the memorial.  Without those things, the soundscape is ruined, the smell is gone, and the overall feeling is just missing. I actually think that if the water isn’t there, the entire thing should just be closed, it’s that bad. If you read the Wiki article about the memorial you will see how important the water is. But I did go anyway, and took pictures of things that weren’t water related.

This is my personal favorite memorial (the Jefferson Memorial in full cherry blossom bloom is my favorite).  I was going to make a special trip down to D.C.  just to see the FDR memorial again, but when I heard the water was missing I decided to pass.  That truly is what makes it so special imho – Trace

 

   

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FDR is my absolute favorite president and quotes like this are why. – Trace

 

This is my favorite sculpture.  When we took the girls to D.C they loved it and I wanted to get a picture of Jack with this dog statue, but again no water so we passed. Whenever I think of this monument this is the picture that comes into my head – Trace

 

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Once I was finished with the FDR memorial, I rode my scooter back down to the path along the edge of the tidal basin towards my favorite memorial, the Jefferson Memorial. There is a point where you have to come up from the water’s edge to cross the bridge on Ohio Drive, but that gives you a great view of the memorial as you head that way.

 

And look! There’s the Washington Monument playing hide and seek again, with Jefferson.

It’s hard to see in the picture above, but the Jefferson Memorial is having some cleaning work done on the roof. Here’s a page from the NPS website explaining it, and if you go to the two links inside that article there is some pretty fascinating (to me anyway) info on what they’re doing, and why. For you nerds: LASERS!!! Even though they’re doing work on it and most of it is covered in scaffolding and plastic sheeting, it’s open, which made me happy, because I like Jefferson and really wanted to see him. It’s not the most photogenic memorial because there’s not a LOT to photograph, and not too many good angles, but I tried.

 

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And that’s all the memorials and monuments that I saw. But there are TONS of other statues and memorials and other stuff sort of tucked and hidden all over the place on and off the Mall. There are a couple at the west end of the mall that I skipped, they’re just kind of everywhere. Google it and you’ll see what I mean. Next time we go I will go see a bunch of those. Great excuse to get a scooter! The WWII memorial will be in the next post, see you then!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Visiting Memorials In D.C.

This is Lee’s post from one of his several solo D.C Trips – Trace

Part of my recent visits to DC was seeing the various memorials, which I really enjoy. I love the scale, and the architecture, and the accessibility of them. This is going to be mostly pictures, because while I love reading all the details, I’m not going to make you slog through all of that. If you are interested, read the Wikipedia articles for each of them, they’re really fascinating. 

Obviously there’s the big ones, and I will certainly get to those, but I didn’t really realize that scattered more or less everywhere are lesser known memorials. Towards the end of our visit I got kind of bummed and felt I was missing a lot of stuff, but I realized that I could spend months there and still feel that way. So there will always be something new every time I go, and we will certainly be returning. I would say it’s one of my top five favorite places. 

I kept forgetting to take pictures, for example, but all around the Department of Agriculture are gardens and plants. I could have spent an entire day just exploring that, and it’s autumn! Down Independence Ave in front of the Dept of Education is the beautiful Eisenhower Memorial, and while I got some pictures on a rainy day, it’s absolutely stunning at night, but I got no pictures this time. I guess I’ll have to go back, which I am totally fine with, because this is my new favorite memorial. 

Although it’s hard to see, the backdrop for the four acre memorial park is a welded steel “tapestry” supported by columns that 45 feet by 60 feet tall. It’s truly breathtaking in scope. The details of the design are all in the Wiki article, so here’s the pictures. 

 

This thing is impossible to adequately photograph, especially in the rain.

Here’s a photo from Architectural Digest that better shows the scale. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s just a beautiful park and memorial to a great man, and since it’s not on the mall and not one of the best known, I wanted to make sure it was included. Go see it. 

 

By far the most visible of all of them, and my favorite, is the Washington monument. I love how you can see it from so far away, but it also plays hide and seek. I look around, and can’t find it, then I turn a corner, and BAM there it is. After over 130 years, it’s still impressive. It is open, after being closed for repairs from an earthquake, and renovations for a while. You have to get tickets in advance, of course, and I wasn’t able to do that, but that’s just a reason to go back again as soon as I can. And this was a great example of how being on a scooter allowed me to be able to zip around it without having to hoof it the entire time. I could have spent an entire day just walking around looking at it and photographing it from different angles. 

 


 

 

 

My preferred shots  was from the mall, downhill towards the monument. And then from the other side, up on the hill, in the distance as you look to the West you can see my favorite of them all, the Lincoln memorial. (The World War II memorial is between them, but that’s going to a separate post) 

Lincoln memorial, WWII memorial in the foreground.

 

Taken with a long lens from the Washington monument. Normally I like to remove people from my pictures, but in this one that I haven’t edited, so you can see  how relatively uncrowded the place was.

Here’s a picture taken just after the previous one, zoomed in a bit more, with the people removed. Much cleaner, to me. Taking people out is generally not that hard, but taking their reflections out of water is not that easy!  I never would have thought of their reflections – Trace

Taken from the WWII memorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northwest of the Lincoln Memorial is my favorite, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

 

A short distance away, gazing across in tribute, are the Three Soldiers. 

And a little farther down the path, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. I like these two statues more than the wall itself, because they are set off in the distance  with benches so you can get away from the crowds’  I struggle with the wall because there are just so many names, it’s overwhelming. The sun beats down, and I want to read and think about every one of them, and I just can’t. It’s too much. 

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That’s all for this post, I will do the rest in the next one, but I also spent an evening risking life and limb riding a scooter while holding a tripod (I was too lazy to keep retracting and extending the legs), so I could do long exposure shots at night. Here’s the results of my laziness…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, more monuments and memorials!

I think all of Lee’s shots are incredible, but his night shots are amazing. More posts coming if I can get him to focus!  In all fairness to him it is hard to just pick a few from all the beautiful pictures. – Trace

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

October 2020 Budget

We had a really busy month in October and our costs were $6595 which is way over budget.  Campground fees were an all time high at $1,159 which was a large chunk of the costs.  For more detailed information please see below.

Campground Fees – Previously our monthly budget was $250 as we worked in places that included campground fees.  With our new method of travel we will definitely need to up this budget starting in next year.

E-Cigarettes – I pre bought in West Virginia because they had availability and the taxes were very low.  Turns out that the brand I like is being discontinued so now I need to find a different solution anyways…grr.

Clothing – We spent over $500 in clothing which was mainly T-Shirts from all the places we visit.  Lee also bought some flannels from Tractor Supply because it is much chillier here in the east.

Dining Out – We spent $690 on dining out this month which was a variety of restaurants.  Eating local is part of the experience for us and Maryland had lots of seafood for us to try!

Entertainment – We toured several places which was pretty pricey.  $538 was reasonable for all the places we visited, including Mount Vernon, Greenbriar, and Lee took a scenic train ride.

Gifts – I was actually in budget in this category!  Only $58 I showed great restraint.

Groceries – Lee made a Costco run, but we also ate out quite a bit so this stayed relatively low.

Home Repair – This was roughly $500.  We replaced our exterior power inlet.  We had to buy a new battery for our generator and we replaced the remote control for our leveling system.

Postage – This was high at $165 mainly because of voting.  We had to overnight our ballots to make sure we got them in time and we also paid extra several times to pick up packages at a local UPS store.  We didn’t stay in places that accepted mail so had to find other solutions.

Tolls and Parking – This was extremely high at $414 so let me break that down.  Many of the roads we traveled on were tolls and we used our EZ Pass.  We also had to pay for parking several times and when we didn’t one or both of us took the train.  Finally Lee rented scooters in DC on several days and didn’t really understand how the system worked.  He is writing a separate post on that, but all those things together ended up being a ton of money.

Truck Fuel – We saved quite a bit of money on fuel this month and with all the driving we did $468 was really reasonable.   All in all it was a pricey month but we got lots for our money.  It was also a three paycheck month so even though we spent a lot we were still able to put money into our savings.  

Additional monthly data from Lee…

For October we used 267 GB of data on our AT&T unlimited plan, across all of our devices. (Total for the year is 39.597 terrabytes)

We took 5,178 pictures, bringing our total for the year to 13,032.

This month 100% of our nights were spent in only four places, because although we are traveling, all of our travel is short hops, which is a new way for us to travel, so we’re not staying anywhere just overnight, but for at least a week at each stop. 

The least expensive was also our favorite of the four, Smokey Bottom RV Park, at $30 per night for a HUGE back in site with 50 amp power, and water and sewer. 
The most expensive was the West Virginia State Fairgrounds at $47 per night for 50 amp, water and sewer.  

The total cost for our “rent” was $1159.22, which averaged out to $37.40, a 25% increase over last year. Not only that, our choices were severely limited. Most places were completely booked up and we took the places we did because they were the only places we could find. We sort of expected it to be like this because that’s just how the East is, but it’s still maddening.

We put a total of 588 miles on the trailer, pulling it for only three travel days! Our shortest travel day was only 124.7 miles, and our longest was 278.9 miles. Our total travel miles year to date is 4,916.

We put a total (travel and non-travel) of 2,775 miles on the truck over 71 hours of engine time, with a year to date of 11,325 miles on the truck.

Year to date we’ve traveled 11,325 miles, 4,916 of which was pulling the trailer, with year to date engine hours of 396 hrs, 35 mins, 33 secs.

We burned a total of 199.7 gallons of diesel, and averaged 13.6 mpg for all of our travel, with a year to date total of 1185 gallons at 11.9 avg mpg.

We used the TSD Logistics card only once this month. Even though the price at truck stops for diesel using that card is often cheaper than regular gas stations, we just were never anywhere near a truck stop the entire month, except for once while driving. We did so little travel that we just never passed any truck stops.

On that one visit, we saved $12.72, which was 17% over the “street price”. The TSD Logistics card continues to amaze me and I am thrilled we have it.

If you haven’t already read about the TSD Logistics card, you can read our post about it here.

Here’s our travel map for September…

and our year to date travel map…

 

Until next month, here’s a shot of Smilin’ Jack The King Of The Pirate Puppers.

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

 

First Time at Mount Vernon

We had a long list of places we wanted to see when we arrived in the DC area, and Mount Vernon was at the top of my list.  Unfortunately when we were checking to see what places were open despite COVID we misread the website and thought it was closed.  Thankfully I got an ad in my Facebook feed and we rechecked towards the end of our stay and discovered the grounds and first floor of the house were open with a ticketed tour.  So we purchased tickets for a Friday we headed that way!

When we arrived we were both very hungry and decided to have lunch at the Washington Inn.  Normally this place probably would have been packed but because it was 1pm and and not the weekend we got right in.  The building was on the grounds of the original restaurant and was built in 1931.  The food was pricey but OK and we were able to eat and go right next door to the grounds with minimal fuss.

 

My shrimp salad was delicious

 

Dining room was practically empty

 

Entrance

 

I thought the masks on the statues was cute, but Lee found it annoying for pictures. He was seeing that everywhere. in his sightseeing. (Seriously, why would anyone want their pictures of things to include these masks??? Does anyone think years from now people will look at these pictures and think “Ohh, honey, remember CoVid? Good times. – Lee)

 

 

 

We walked through the visitor center and were on the grounds.  I wasn’t thrilled we had to pay once for the grounds and again for the house, but the grounds turned out to be well worth it.  During the peak season there is a trolley, but that wasn’t running but honestly I don’t see the need.  It was a pleasant walk and we even saw a little bit of sun and a couple of hours was plenty of time to see the grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing we looked at was the gardens

 

Spaced along the grounds were little signs with direct quotes from Washington. With all due respect he was VERY particular about how he wanted things done, but Lee said that was his military background. (Also, some people know what the hell they want. Who are we to argue with the ninth President??? – Lee)

Speaking of being particular, George Washington laid out exactly how he wanted his burial to be.  Because the new monument needed to be built he was temporarily placed in the old vault and the remains were later moved.

 

Beautiful view of the bay

 

 

 

More than anything else I wanted to see where he was buried and I was quite pleased with the site.  It was modest, but presidential, and I particularly liked the marble crypt with the seal of the president on top.

 

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Around the corner from his tomb was a memorial for the slave graveyard.  This area was very well done and there was lots of information throughout the site on Washington’s feelings about slavery.  He freed all of his slaves upon his wife’s death, but her slaves that came as part of her dowry went back to her family.  Because there was intermarriage between the two groups, there was tragedy as families were ripped apart once they both died.

 

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Next we walked down to the waterfront and learned quite a bit about his fishing industries.  Some years the plantation made more from the fisheries than it did from crops, which was something I didn’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next we walked up to the house and grounds which was several buildings.  Each building talked about what it was for and had replications of historical artifacts from that time.  I will say I was disappointed that very few items were original.  The working blacksmith shop actually makes replicas of many of the parts they need and we spent some time talking to the two men working in there.

 

Sheep barn and horse stable

 

A basement just for paint which was really interesting. Paint powder was very expensive back then.

 

 

Washington wasn’t the inventor that Benjamin Franklin was, but he did like new ideas.  His kitchen for example was a completely different building and he had an ice house and other designs that were somewhat revolutionary for the times.  No pun intended 🙂

 

Kitchen was huge

 

 

Fancy outhouse

 

Multiple seating 🙂

 

 

 

This was the most interesting thing. He built a wall with a ditch so sheep could graze but couldn’t get on the front lawn by the house. This gave a nice flat view without sheep getting too close. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this.

 

There were walkways on both sides of the house with beautiful views.

 

 

 

Front porch

 

View from the front porch

 

Don’t underestimate the amount of time you will want to spend around the house.  There are tons of buildings and a couple more gardens to look at.

 

The side gardens and greenhouse

 

 

 

A man dressed up as George Washington was around the grounds

 

The spinning building was large

 

When they knew war with England was eminent the weavers worked long hours since most cloth was bought from England.

 

House slave quarters

 

 

Finally it was time for our inside tour and I have to say this was one of the weirdest tours I have ever been on.  The bulk of it was discussed outside and once we were inside we were not allowed to talk.  The tour guide held laminated signs saying things like “Washington Original” and the tour itself of only the downstairs was very short.  If you are on a budget I would recommend paying for the grounds for sure, but the inside was a real disappointment.  Almost everything in the house is not original and the few exceptions didn’t really mean anything to me.  It was thrilling to stand on the land George Washington once stood on but that was about it for the inside.

 

 

 

The ceilings were gorgeous

 

This was an original Washingtonian desk.  They didn’t say which Washington sat at it though.

 

 

Original fireplace was pretty

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee did get some beautiful pictures from the outside as we were leaving and since most people were gone they turned out great.

 

 

 

Really glad we went, and can’t wait to see Monticello when we get to Virginia.  Huge check mark off my personal bucket list and definitely a uniquely Maryland thing to do.

One more thing I wanted to mention.  The estate was left to George’s nephews because he never had children.  Martha was a widow with two small children when they got married and he raised them as his own, but they did not receive the estate.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Getting To And Around In DC And A Visit To The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

This post is written by Lee.

The posts about my sightseeing in DC will be out of order, mainly because some of the stuff just wasn’t enough to fill an entire post, so I lumped those together to make one post, and some of the others took longer to write so ended up getting pushed down the road a little.

We stayed at Goose Bay Marina campground, which was the absolute closest we could get. The best way to go to DC from there was to take a train.  The Metro (subway) is a great way to get around in DC, so I bought a “rechargeable” Smart Trip card and found the end of the Green Line, which is the Branch Avenue station, and each day I drove there and parked in the ample parking lot.

The drive took about 40 minutes, and the train ride from Branch Avenue to Le’Enfant Station about 25 minutes. I’m sure during non-CoVid times, the parking lot would be packed, but each time I went there were less than 10 cars. It was an absolute joy to be in nearly empty platforms and trains, no noise and sparkling clean. Not having restrooms anywhere sucked. If you’ve never experienced a subway system, or just like to know more details, these sites have some great information:

Touring Plans, Rider Guide, and Navigating the Metro

 

 

TONS of parking at the Branch Avenue metro station, and just off the Interstate.

If you’ve never used one, the Smart Trip card can be refilled in a station with a credit card, or in an app, or online. You swipe it to get in and you swipe it to get out, and the fare for your ride is deducted from the balance. And each time you swipe it shows you your balance, so you know when you need more. And you can also use it to pay for parking at Metro stations.

 

A LOT of the stuff to see is inside that red circle, but as you can see the Metro is pretty easy to understand and use, and the Smart Trip card makes it a breeze!

The Metro is a great way to get around, but it involves a lot of looking for and getting to stations.  The entire time you’re not out in the world, you’re underground, so while it’s a great mass transit system, not so much for sightseeing. My hands down total favorite for getting around were the electric scooters. They are EVERYWHERE. Every corner has 10 or 15 of them just sitting there, ready to go.

There are quite a few companies that have them, but they’re all more or less the same. You get the app for whatever company you want to rent a scooter from, set up an account, and find a scooter. They all have maps that show where the scooters are, and there’s even an app that shows you the location of scooters from ALL the companies.

I actually got tired of waiting for all of the dots to load, but as you can see, in the area of the map shown, there are 1400 scooters. If you zoom in, of course, you can see precisely where they are, what company they are, and how much % battery charge they have.

 

When you want to use one, you scan the QR code on the scooter, it unlocks it and off you go!

They go 10 mph, which doesn’t SEEM fast, but the average person walks 3 mph, so it’s three times faster than walking. And because it’s a scooter, you can easily stop anywhere you want, snap a picture, and move on. (I got lucky one day and got a Spin scooter that was programmed incorrectly and went 17mph. It was delightful, but took a minute to get used to, I almost killed myself at first because I was used to going 10 mph)

As far as price goes, it’s not terrible, but you have to be careful. There’s a $1 fee to unlock the scooter, then you pay by the minute. It varies, but the average price is $ .30 per minute, and they’re all within a few cents of that. If it’s a nice day, you might prefer to walk, but DC is a LOT of walking, and not everyone has the stamina for that. I certainly was able to cover a lot more ground by not having to walk. Another thing I noticed was the effect it had on my “experience saturation”. I was able to decide I had been somewhere long enough, scoot away and grab an ice cream, or go to the bathroom, or get a bottle of water, and sort of rinse my head, and then go back and continue looking at something and not become over-saturated. A few times I just sat on a bench and gazed at the sky and let the tension slowly leak out. That changed my experience enough in most cases that it was totally worth the cost. That’s not something I would do if I had to lose 20 minutes of time and energy just to walking.

On the other hand, on the first day I rode one around for 3 hours and had a fantastic time, and was able to see lots of things at various times of day. I did a lot of back and forth and just generally had a blast. BUT, I didn’t fully understand the pricing structure, and that “ride” cost me $53, which took a LOT of the fun out of that three hours at the end. Interestingly, if someone had told me it was $20 per hour to rent, I would have felt differently, and would have used that time differently. If I had been able to look at the app and see what my current cost was at any point, I might have behaved differently. If I had known that the per minute fee was being charged the entire time I was in possession of the scooter, I also might have behaved differently. Because the word “ride” is constantly being used I thought it charged you while you were riding, and just paused whenever you stopped. So as I zipped around I was constantly stopping to take pictures and read things, and look things up on my phone, and I thought that “non-riding” time was “free”, but it wasn’t.

For example, I was at the Lincoln memorial for at least 30 minutes, which cost me $9.60 while the scooter just sat there and I wandered around taking pictures. Had I known that, I would have ended the ride in the app when I got there, and then started a new one once I was finished wandering around and taking pictures. And certainly at this time there’s not enough people in DC that anyone would have been likely to grab my scooter. Even if they had, there are more all over the place. It’s important to point out that ALL of these companies have gone to some great lengths to keep you from knowing what you’re doing when you’re doing it. There is no way to know how much you are spending until you are actually unlocking a scooter, and even then, knowing you’re spending $ .32 per minute isn’t really very helpful. Looking back at my ride history, I know that I did a lot more aimless scootering around than I would have if I had been carefully monitoring the cost. At no point did I ever think I was spending large amounts of money, but at the end of two weeks, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with how much the total was (around $150). I’d like to go back and do it again more scientifically to see where the breaking point is between cost effective and wasteful. Because I am a giant dorky nerd.

Then again, having the freedom to run back and forth and see things from different angles and at different times of day was a new experience, and overall the days I spent in DC were some of the most fun I’ve had in five years of travel, and it was raining for a few of those days. So how do you measure that?

Anyways, on to one of the things I did while I was there. We knew when we decided to add DC to our itinerary that some (most) of the stuff we would be interested in would be closed, but we decided to come anyway, and we can return post-CoVid when those things are open again. I for one am really glad we did, because everywhere I went there were hardly any people anywhere. I prefer my pictures to have no other people in them whenever possible, so it mean a LOT less Photoshop work to get rid of them. But it was just nice to be able to take in some sights without crowds and noise and traffic and buses and all that fuss.

This post is a great example of that. I went to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and the entire time I was there, there was nobody within 50′ of me. I was able to spend as much time as I wanted looking at the sculptures without having to listen to other people talk, or crowd me. I could just enjoy it for what it was.

The sculpture garden is outside on the north side of the National Mall,  between the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Natural History museum. It’s directly across the mall from the Hirshorn sculpture garden, which I will cover in another post.

At the moment (CoVid) the only entrance is at the corner of 7th and Madison, and the exit is at the corner of 7th and Constitution. Admission is free, and at this time does not require a timed entrance pass. (More on that in posts about places that are indoors) It’s open daily from 11am-4pm.

You would think that the Smithsonian metro station would be the closest to visit, but it’s actually not. The closest station is Archives/Navy Memorial. The Smithsonian metro station is 739 yards (if you walk a perfectly straight line) while the Archives station is only 431. On the other hand, one walk is across the mall and might be prettier than the other. You can see the entrance to the garden in the photo below, on the right side, about halfway down.

 

To save myself a lot of typing I am copying some of the information from the National Gallery of Art website. Their language is in italics.

 

Sol LeWitt, Four-Sided Pyramid, 1999, concrete blocks and mortar

Since the 1960s, Lucas Samaras has made series of obsessional, sometimes hallucinatory objects. Prominent among his motifs is the chair, which Samaras has executed in a variety of materials such as fabric, wire mesh, and mirrored glass, thereby turning a utilitarian object into a fantastic one, the product of a dreamlike metamorphosis. Here, Samaras explores the dual meaning of “flight,” referring to both the stair like form created by the stacked chairs, and to the locomotion of a single chair moving diagonally through space. From different viewpoints, the sculpture appears to be upright, leaning back, or springing forward. From the side, it even appears as a two-dimensional, zigzagging line.

Lucas Samaras, Chair Transformation Number 20B, 1996, patinated bronze

 

 

Tony Smith, Moondog, model 1964, fabricated 1998-1999, painted aluminum

 

 

David Smith, Cubi XXVI, 1965, stainless steel,

 

 

Calder’s outdoor stabiles such as Cheval Rouge exhibit an appealing grace and, though steadfastly abstract, evoke a friendly resonance with natural forms. Here the sleek, tapering legs and tensile up-thrust “neck” recall the muscularity and power of a thoroughbred. This stabile reflects Calder’s assertion: “I want to make things that are fun to look at, that have no propaganda value whatsoever.”

Alexander Calder, Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974, painted sheet metal

I have always been a big fan of Lichtenstein.

Roy Lichtenstein, House I, model 1996, fabricated 1998, fabricated and painted aluminum

Below was my favorite sculpture. Here’s what the website says:

At first glance, this sculpture’s composition of trunk and branches, and its scale, relate Graft to mature trees in the garden. Yet the differences outweigh the similarities, starting with its shiny, stainless steel exterior. One set of branches appears orderly and rational in its progression upward, while the other set exhibits crabbed, twisted, and fraught boughs. The work’s title refers to the horticultural procedure of joining one tree or plant to the bud, stem, or root of another in order to repair it, adapt it to climate or soil change, propagate it, or produce new fruits or flowers. The conjoining of two distinct sides in Graft may also be seen to connect the binary historical tropes in the history of art—classical on the one hand, and romantic on the other. Another definition of “graft” refers to the means by which an individual or entity gains power unfairly. This sculpture is part of a series of stainless steel sculptures the artist refers to as “Dendroids,” a term that describes a tree-like, branching form, but also evokes an artificially engineered or mutant body. Graft was added to the Sculpture Garden on the 10th anniversary of its opening.

Roxy Paine, Graft, 2008-2009, stainless steel and concrete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until his 70th birthday in 1963, Joan Miró was best known for his surrealist paintings and drawings. However, in the last two decades of his life he created more than 150 sculptures. These late works mostly fall into two categories: those cast from forms created by the artist, and those cast from found objects. One of Miró’s largest sculptures, Personnage Gothique relates to both types: the bird was cast from an object the artist created, while the top portion was cast from a cardboard box and the arch-shaped form from a donkey’s collar. The objects combine to suggest a figure, while at the same time the empty box and unoccupied harness imply absence. Personnage Gothique embodies Miró’s lifelong concern with richly imaginative imagery that he said was “always born in a state of hallucination.”

Joan Miró, Personnage Gothique, Oiseau-Eclair (Gothic Personage, Bird-Flash), model 1974, cast 1977, bronze

 

 

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, model 1998, fabricated 1999, painted stainless steel and fiberglass

 

In the mid-1960s, Claes Oldenburg began to visualize public monuments based on common objects, such as a clothespin or a pair of scissors, instead of historical figures or events. The artist chose the (now obsolete) typewriter eraser as his model for this work based upon childhood memories of playing with the object in his father’s office. In the late 1960s and 1970s he used the eraser as a source for drawings, prints, sculpture, and even a never-realized monument for New York City. Here the giant brush arcs back, conveying a sense of motion, as if the wheel-like eraser were rolling down the hill and making its way toward the gate of the garden.

 

 

Louise Bourgeois used the spider as the central protagonist in her art during the last decades of her life. For the artist, whose work explored themes of childhood memory and loss, the spider carried associations of a maternal figure. Bourgeois associated the “Spider” series with her own mother, who died when the artist was 21 years old. From drawings to large-scale installations, Bourgeois’s spiders appear as looming and powerful protectresses, yet are delicate and vulnerable.

Louise Bourgeois, Spider, 1996, cast 1997, bronze with silver nitrate patina

 

The sculpture of Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz is largely drawn from her experience of World War II and its aftermath. She is best known for her “crowds” (as she called them) of headless, rigidly posed figures whose anonymity and multiplicity have been regarded as the artist’s personal response to totalitarianism.

Each of the thirty bronzes in Puellae (meaning “girls” in Latin) is unique, made from individually sculpted wax forms based on a body cast of a single child model. Abakanowicz applied burlap to each of the forms prior to casting to give them a rough, organic texture. This work refers to an account the artist heard while growing up in Poland about a group of children who froze to death as they were transported in cattle cars from Poland to Germany during the war.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Puellae (Girls), 1992, bronze

 

 

Barry Flanagan, Thinker on a Rock, 1997, bronze

 

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Stele II, 1973, one-inch weathering steel

 

I actually preferred these two sculptures together!

(Foreground) Joel Shapiro’s Untitled may bring to mind a human figure in motion, yet at the same time it can be understood as an abstract sculpture that explores the properties of balance and gravity. The impression changes as you move around the object and encounter a variety of animated compositions. Originally constructed from plywood sheets, the elements of this work were carefully cast to retain the wood grain pattern.

(Foreground) Joel Shapiro, Untitled, 1989, bronze (Background) Mark di Suvero, Aurora, 1992-1993, steel

 

(Background) Mark di Suvero began making sculpture in the late 1950s with massive, weathered timbers and found objects such as barrels, chains, and tires. Bold and gestural, the dramatically cantilevered forms in di Suvero’s early works were considered the sculptural equivalents of abstract expressionist paintings. In the 1960s di Suvero began to craft works from steel beams that he moved with cranes and bolted together to create large outdoor pieces. Aurora is a tour de force of design and engineering. Its sophisticated structural system distributes eight tons of steel over three diagonal supports to combine massive scale with elegance of proportion. Several beams converge within a central circular hub and then explode outward, imparting tension and dynamism to the whole. The title comes from a poem about New York City by Federico García Lorca (Spanish, 1898–1936). The steel forms a letter “k”: the artist has said the work is a portrait of his wife, Kate.

 

Robert Indiana, AMOR, conceived 1998, fabricated 2006, polychrome aluminum

 

Scott Burton believed that art should “place itself not in front of, but around, behind, underneath (literally) the audience.” In this way, he challenged ideas about sculpture’s monumentality, formality, and status as an object to be looked at on a pedestal. Instead, he wanted his sculpture to occupy the same space as its beholder, to be functional and, preferably, placed in a public setting. Burton openly acknowledged a debt to Constantin Brancusi, an early modern sculptor who challenged the conventional distinction between aesthetic and utilitarian form. Here, the blunt geometry of Burton’s seats contrasts with the material (red granite) that is visually sumptuous and warm. The artist specified two possible configurations to encourage social interactions and gathering: a ceremonial circle, as the work appears here, or side-by-side to form a long bench.

Scott Burton, Six-Part Seating, conceived 1985, fabricated 1998, polished granite

 

Next up….revisiting some of the memorials that I haven’t seen for over twenty years!

 


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First Time at Great Falls

Anyone who know me or reads this blog understands that I am a waterfall junkie.  I am not sure when my fascination started because I don’t remember encountering many waterfalls until we started full timing, but they are definitely one of my favorite parts of this lifestyle.  My joy in seeing them definitely comes from a combination of sight and sound as I love both the music of the water and the beauty of it sculpting the rocks.  Some are better than others of course, but each one is unique and rarely, if ever, am I disappointed.

That being said I wasn’t expecting that much from Great Falls, mainly because of its close proximity to Washington D.C.  Someone recommended it to me several years ago, but my desire that particular day was more about getting some nature and less about the falls themselves.  As a side note I rarely look at pictures of the falls prior to going because I like being surprised.  The rare exception to that is if the hike is a particularly long one, because I want to see if it’s worth it.

Imagine my surprise when we turned a corner and I saw the Grand Canyon of waterfalls.  It was amazingly beautiful with multiple falls in the same location and my response (like with the Grand Canyon) was simply “wow”.  My pictures don’t come close to capturing it’s beauty and I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

The first thing you have to decide though is whether to visit from the Virginia or Maryland side.  The cost to park is $20 each for the independent parks, but we got in with our American the Beautiful pass.  We chose the Virginia side first, simply because it was closer to where we were staying and since it was relatively early on a Friday we got a parking spot with no issue. It was a little confusing at first because there are three distinct viewing areas, but with some local help we figured it out.  Here are the pictures.

Walking up to the first viewing area

 

And this is what we saw. Like I said…Wow.

 

 

 

Another viewpoint

 

 

Across the river we could see the park on the Maryland side

 

Jack was having a good time

 

 

And so were we

 

There were several photographers and an oil painter

 

 

Lee’s panorama

 

 

This post showed how high the water was in the past

 

 

My only complaint was we couldn’t get closer to the water, but there was one area that was open that we could climb down.  It was super rocky but it was totally worth it, and although we could not get into the water because of strong tide currents we got very close.  Jack is becoming quite the rock climber!

 

 

This is what we climbed down

 

I wore these shoes and they worked surprisingly well but I would absolutely recommend hiking shoes.

 

Climbing back up was actually worse

 

It was totally worth it though as the view was amazing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we left the Virginia side I couldn’t wait to get across to Maryland.  It was a longish drive because we had to go back to the freeway and get across the bridge, but we made it and started walking down the canals.  This side even had a boat that showed the canals although it was closed because of COVID.

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately when we got down to the walkway it said dogs were not allowed.  None of the other signs said that and it was an additional 1/2 mile walk to the big falls.  It was too hot by this time to leave the dog in the car so we took turns taking a few pictures from the bridge, but unfortunately were not able to go see the falls from the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

That was a bummer, but these things happen and it was still a really nice day.  Just in case you think they were all like that the next day was not so great.  There has been a resurgence of CoVid cases in rural Maryland and the State Park I wanted to go to was closed to out of state guests. We also made the trip to the point but the lighthouse was closed due to maintenance.  Sunday it started raining hard and we ended up spending the whole day in, so the weekend was a bit of a bust except for the falls.  Next week though we have tour tickets for Mount Vernon which they have partially reopened for tours.  Things are changing constantly in this CoViDd world but we are just going with it.


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We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

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First Time Marching on Washington

 

I try as hard as I can to leave politics out of this blog, but when it intersects with my traveling life I try and find a way to write about it.  I have decided to do the best I can in this post to write about the experience of participating in a march in Washington D.C and although my politics may bleed in a bit I will do the best I can to provide a “How To” of sorts if you ever wanted to participate in a march.  

The main reason I want to share the experience is because I was so intimidated by the logistics of it and without Lee’s help I don’t think I would have had the courage to do it.  Pretty ironic because it was a Women’s Rights March, but I hate crowds, big cities, and emotionally fraught events and the march certainly had many components of those things.  Ultimately though it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and I wanted to share how we accomplished it.  

One important thing you should know about many marches is that multiple groups join together to hold them.  There are costs associated with a march (port-a-johns, police presence, AV support, staging, etc.) and to defray those costs several small groups might band together under one main theme.  In the case of the Women’s March the main theme was to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg and although I did not agree with every single item on the agenda, I felt strongly enough about honoring her that I wanted to participate. 

It’s also important to note here that I have never publicly protested anything in my life.  I have never stood on a corner, or carried a sign and until recently did not consider myself a particularly political person.  This year my three daughters have inspired me with their participation in various protests and when my oldest told me about the event I decided to get more information.  Ultimately I decided to attend because I thought the best way I could honor RBG was to participate in my first march.  At the same time my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson were at a sister event in Charleston. 

Jeremy, Kyrston, and baby Oliver!

First and foremost there are not many campgrounds near DC, so we actually drove in from West Virginia.  Because we planned on using public transportation we decided we needed doggie day care for Jack and for the first time ever we left him at a place for the day.  Life of Riley was an absolutely wonderful experience for him and at $35 for half a day was a bargain.  That being said it did require some logistical planning because they required an in person temperament check prior to the day.  Lee took care of that and Jack passed with flying colors and I would absolutely recommend this place to anyone. 

Lee picked it because it was close to the train station and we drove over and parked and got on the train.  It was roughly a 45 minute trip into the D.C. area each way but thankfully the train was mostly empty due to COVID. 

We bought a day pass for $13 each. We could have paid as we went but the day pass seemed simpler.

Everyone wore masks in the stations and on the trains.

Once we arrived in downtown DC we tried to get our bearings.  We were near the financial district and saw some people who were there for the march in that area as well.  

This is the EPA building

 

I didn’t realize that their were numerous Trump properties in downtown DC. They were prime spots for protest picture taking.

 

The first order of business was to find a restroom.  Due to COVID none of the train station restrooms were open and other places like Starbucks were closed as well.  We headed towards the Washington Monument and after grabbing a picture followed a group of people thinking there would be restrooms there.  Turns out that was the back entrance to the White House Rose Gardens and there were ticketed tours that day.  I ended up asking an extremely nice Secret Service agent where the nearest restroom was (yes I know that’s crazy but he was in charge) and ultimately learned there was an open restroom back by the Washington Monument.  We walked back and I was able to use that one thankfully.  The lack of restrooms was definitely a theme for the day so keep that in mind if you are visiting during COVID. 

 

Fanciest outside restroom I have ever been to. The inside was pretty utilitarian.

After that was taken care of we looked around and started walking towards Freedom Plaza.  That is where most protest marches start and it was easy to find with GPS.  We passed several beautiful buildings and then turned a corner and saw the crowd. 

 

 

Lots of vendors and food trucks along the streets so food wasn’t a problem.

 

Freedom Plaza

 

Since we had time before the march started we went into the White House Visitors Center.  We had to go through security to get into it, but it had some nice displays, an excellent gift shop, and a terrific bathroom. 

 

 

 

The old flag topper from the capital building

 

The chief ushers desk

 

A beautiful serving platter

 

I made Lee stand in front of this picture since that is the closest we would get to the White House that day.

Afterwards we went over the Freedom Plaza and things were starting to fill up.  We wore our masks whenever we were near crowds and largely stayed along the edges.  The mood, in general, was very uplifting although I was not a fan of most of the speeches.  I wanted to complete the march but we had to wait about an hour to do so. 

 

 

 

They handed our free face masks which was great

 

 

Lots of camera

 

I saw pictures of this puppy in newpapers the next day

 

And lots of pictures of more handmaidens

 

I loved how diverse the crowd was. More older people than I thought there would be.

 

Finally it was time to march and I was surprised when they pulled dump trucks up and blocked the street.  They did this because there have been multiple instances of people running cars into protesters and the trucks would prevent that. Up until that point I never really felt nervous or like I was in danger, but that simple act drove home that protesting in today’s world is an act of courage. 

 

It’s hard to describe how marching felt.  We mostly stayed to the edges of found open pockets in the crowds.  The energy was electrifying and in those cases where it didn’t feel right we moved on.  Walking down to the capital and ultimately the court house we passed the most beautiful buildings, which gave more gravity to the experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a line of city police at another Trump building.

 

I had decided to not carry a sign, but many people did and most were home made.  Even if I didn’t necessarily agree with the sentiment I truly appreciated the work people put into them. 

 

This one was completely hand painted

 

And here was the other side.

 

 

There weren’t many pro lifers in the crowd but there were a few

 

 

 

 

Of all the signs this one summed up my feelings the best.

 

When we passed the National Archives which house the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution I literally got chills. I was executing the freedoms those documents guaranteed me.

 

And when we passed a large building with the First Amendment on it’s side we had to stop and get a picture.

 

 

As first time marchers doing it in Washington D.C. made the experience so special.  And as we drew nearer to congress that feeling escalated. 

 

 

 

 

Finally we turned a corner and there was the Supreme Court building.  It was cordoned off and a group of Pro Life protesters had tables in front.  I was feeling pretty giddy until we hit that group.  Things got loud and animated between the two groups and I wasn’t interested in that at all.  Lee and I took a couple of pictures and promptly walked around the side.  I wanted to hold onto the positive feelings I had from the March and the negative energy from both groups was not what I felt RBG would have wanted. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got my picture on the back steps like I wanted

It was relatively early when we were done but I told Lee I was ready to go home.  It was a ton of walking and I was emotionally full for the day.  We walked 1/2 mile to Union Station and thankfully their Amtrak section had one bathroom open.  We took the 45 minute train ride back and picked up Jack.  I am really glad that I did the March and although it wasn’t perfect it was an important day for me.  If you made it this far I hope you take this post in the spirit it was intended. 

Union Station

 

 

 

 

Practically empty

 

 

 

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

First Time at Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry has been on my wish list of places to visit since I was a kid in school.  Although it lies at the junction of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia its not really easy to get to, so I was glad that our campsite was relatively close.  It was overcast when we set out, but I was excited to be able to do some exploring.  I took a vacation day, so we went on a Friday and even though we got there very early it was surprisingly crowded.  It was also somewhat confusing because the Visitors Center and shuttle buses are pretty far from the town itself.  It costs $20 to enter for the day or is free with the America the Beautiful pass so we paid the $80 to renew our annual membership.  We always get our money’s worth!

The visitors center was closed but the shuttle buses were running, and if you parked in the lot you could take them down.  Unfortunately we took Jack with us because I read how dog friendly it was, but they aren’t allowed on the shuttle buses.  We could have parked at the top and walked the mile and a half down to the town but instead we decided to take the rangers advice and see if there were any spots in the train lot.  His directions and the map was pretty confusing but ultimately we found it using GPS and got a killer parking spot on the corner. 

 

Driving into town

 

There was a fee box at the train station so I assume they monitor. Technically you might be able to find a place to park for free nearby.

 

Aerial view of the train station parking lot.  Not very big.

 

The train station is a historic building and we saw a couple of trains that day.

 

Harpers Ferry was a major stop on the road to Ohio from Maryland.  B&O railroad (like in Monopoly) stands for Baltimore & Ohio railroad.

 

Learning about the railroad started what turned into an interesting day.  When I think of Harpers Ferry I think about John Brown (more on that later), but it was also an important historical site in the civil war, part of the Appalachian Trail,  and Lewis and Clark tested boats here. They did a nice job of dealing with the various historical contexts as we wandered the various sites although it definitely adjusted my thinking about why Harpers Ferry is significant.  

 

Although Harpers Ferry is a National Park there is also a town where people live.

 

Don’t worry, he’s not off leash, just Photoshop!

 

 

The general store had a nice section for the hikers

The main historical sites were actually the old armory.  Guns were made in Harpers Ferry and it changed hands eight times during the civil war.  Most of those buildings were burned down but they did a nice job of showing where they existed. 

The field where most of the armory was

 

 

 

Lewis and Clark tested their boat at this site

 

 

 

 

The map shows all the orange buildings that are gone and the couple of yellow buildings that remain

 

 

The black areas were where the older buildings were originally

 

They really did a nice job of talking about multiple aspects. This sign talked about how poor the working conditions were and how the then president told them to get back to work.

 

Some of the machines used to make guns.

(It cannot be stressed enough what a big deal this was. The Federal armories at Harpers Ferry were among the very first machine operated industries in the United States. The use of time and labor saving machines to make locks, stocks, and barrels was a game changer. Prior to this it took a gun specialist to repair any gun, because EVERY  part was made by hand and parts were not interchangeable because every part on every gun was unique to THAT gun. After the advent of machines, parts were interchangeable and ANY gun could be repaired by almost anyone. In addition, the rifling machine also significantly improved the guns. A spiral groove was carved into the interior of the barrel, giving the musket ball a spin, allowing it travel much more accurately over much greater distance. – Lee)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lone monument to John Brown was up on a hill in the original site

 

 

The fire house has been moved, but is still standing.

 

 

The fort had another plaque for John Brown on it

 

The story of John Brown is a complicated one.  He was an abolitionist who raided Harpers Ferry in 1859 with the intention of arming enslaved people.  The raid failed with most men killed or captured by the US marines and Brown was tried and executed.  During that time period he was considered a domestic terrorist by many and a hero by some.  Now of course he is on the right side of history and although we may not approve of his methods few could take issue with his motives.  He certainly earned his place in history as this even was one of the most pivotal that sparked the Civil War. 

 

 

This memorial by the Daughters of the Confederacy really struck a sour note with me. That being said it is part of history.

 

One positive thing that did happen was Storer College was founded in the town.  It had the goal of educating all people regardless of sex or color and there was a wonderful exhibit inside.  Frederick Douglas was one of its trustees and the college helped many people leave a life of poverty.  

 

 

 

 

After touring the museum we walked over to see the water and discovered a piece of the Appalachian Trail.  The bridge was really cool and allowed closer views of the train tunnel and we really enjoyed walking on that piece of history. Now we can say we walked the Appalachian Trail we just don’t have to say how much of it 🙂

 

 

Loved the locks

 

 

 

 

 

After we walked on the trail we went over to the historic part of town.  These buildings have been turned into mini-museums and you could peek in and see how things used to look.  The shuttle stop was also over in that area and they had a tent for the park service to hand out information. 

 

Park Service Visitors tent

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved how this rock was right in town. The city is built on levels.

 

 

My favorite part of the town though was the beautiful catholic church at the top of the hill.

 

The stairs were super cool but steep and a bit slippery.

 

 

 

The stained glass was gorgeous

 

 

The inside was closed to tourists for COVID but I peeked inside and got a quick pic

 

 

View of the town from the church.  That alone was worth the walk.

 

Lee is always looking for the thing around the corner and saw some more stairs.  I was a bit winded from the last set, but off we went and I was glad we did.  First we saw the ruins of another church.  It was used as a hospital and command center and the Civil War cannon fire destroyed it.  The Catholic Church was spared this fate by flying the Union Jack flag…their way of staying neutral. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The views from the top were gorgeous but there was more to see.  Up more stairs and around the corner was Jefferson Rock.  Thomas Jefferson toured the town and stated this view was one of the most beautiful he had ever seen.  I agree, although my pictures do not do the view justice. 

 

More Stairs

 

And a path

 

Jefferson Rock

 

 

The view to the left

 

And the right

 

After we visited the rock we ate at the Rabbit Hole on their patio on the way down.  It was OK, but my favorite thing was the old fashioned candy store.  They had candy from all different ages and we treated ourselves to a few items including potato candy which neither of us had ever had. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will say the potato candy was so sweet that we tried one piece and then threw the rest away.  Glad I tried it though. 

 

All in all it was a great day.  I would definitely recommend coming during the week if you can, and also bringing bug spray.  The gnats were pretty aggressive near the water and I heard its worse in the spring.  Next up Washington D.C. and another new experience for us. 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

 

Trying a New Way to Travel – Part II

This posts strictly deals with the our new way of traveling and picks up where Trying a New Way to Travel leaves off.  We have learned quite a bit over the last several weeks and I want to share all of that with you as it happens.  Our next stop after the last campground was a State Fairgrounds in Lewisburg, but before we could leave we needed to get our tires fixed.  I made numerous calls to try and find someone who could replace our G tires on our RV and thankfully I found Corridor H Tires.  They were terrific.  Not only did they perform the work expertly, they also replaced the truck brake pads for a very reasonable price.  The waiting room was also super puppy friendly, and Jack and I hung out there while it was being done. 

 

 

 

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Ready to roll

It took us longer than we thought to reach the State Fairground and there was extra confusion when we arrived because the site number that we had booked wasn’t clearly marked.  Lee had to call the office to find out what was going on and we were told we could take any spots The outer edge had 50 amp but the sewer hookups were so overgrown and we initially couldn’t see them.  Finally we found a spot and settled in. 

For $45 dollars a day I wasn’t that impressed, but Jack loved it.  There was a HUGE field in the back we could let him run around off leash and I will say it was close to everything we wanted to do and the cell coverage was great.  It was fine for a few nights, but I wouldn’t actually recommend it, but once again there weren’t many options.   All the state parks were booked for the weekends, which continues to be a common theme this fall. 

 

View from my window

 

Big field for Jack

 

While we were staying at the State Fair Grounds we tried to book our next stay and we realized there was nowhere close that had cell coverage.  After numerous phone calls we found a place about 30 miles from where we had just left, which caused another Sunday travel day and lots of extra miles.  Lessons learned from this was to book farther in advance as we could have avoided all of this extra travel. Here is a Google map representation of what we did.  

 

Oh one thing. We couldn’t actually got up 219 because the road was not big rig friendly. It had 10 % grades and all other sorts of nasty things for a fifth wheel.

 

This route kept us on major roads and took most of a Sunday.  Well at least we are seeing lots of the state 🙂

Once we arrived at Elkins, we again realized the campground would not work for us.  It was across a narrow bridge and railroad tracks and I lost cell as soon as we started to go down it.  Thankfully we were able to back up and we headed back up the road to a place we had passed on the way.  Smokey Bottom Campground wasn’t listed on any of the sites, but it was terrific. The owner was very nice and only charged us $32 a night.  There was lots of area to walk Jack and we had really nice neighbors Don and Dottie and Jack was able to play with their dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

Behind us

 

View from my side window.

 

This was by far my favorite place we stayed in during our time in West Virginia with the single exception of an escape by Jack.  I got too comfortable letting him off leash and one day he ran up a steep hill behind our place to railroad tracks.  I had to climb the hill (Don was kind enough to go with me) and finally I reached him at the top.  Going down was even more brutal and I was very unhappy with Jack for a couple of days.

Our next place to stay was in Maryland, but once again we had a nasty surprise.  Lee had called twice to verify our reservation, but when we were one hour out we learned the owner had given our spot away. Thankfully again it was a Sunday, but there was nowhere close to stay and ultimately we had to go back to West Virginia and stay at Falling Waters Campsite.  Don’t get me wrong I was super grateful to find a place for $40 a night with weekend availability, but I really wanted to be in Maryland.  Plus trying to find a campground last minute (no lie I found the place about 3 miles before we had to exit the freeway) is super stressful. 

We spent precious little time in Maryland before going back to West Virginia.  We did NOT enjoy our visit.

 

The campground has a fantastic RV parts store

 

The spaces are tight though.

 

View outside my window.

 

Actually this whole “winging it” has been way too stressful for us.  We have had to change campgrounds three times for various reasons and the cost has been on the high side.  Not planning costs something in the east and after this last adventure we decided to lock our calendar in.  We are now booked through the beginning of January and although this gives us less flexibility than we would like it does give us more peace of mind.  

I am sure some of you are thinking “I travel like this all the time and don’t have issue” and that may be true.  But with the absolute need for strong cell coverage and desire to visit as many places as possible we need more rigor around our schedule. In a nutshell, our lives just don’t lend themselves to not planning ahead!

Next up we are headed down to a campsite Lee found in Maryland where we get to spend two whole weeks and do a good amount of sightseeing around Washington DC! Lots more to come. 

 

Jack is becoming a veteran traveler. He is too cool for school.

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.