Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Luray to Manassas

August 26, 2013

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August 21, 2013

Eric found a book at a book-sale, called the Dictionary of the Civil War. It was published in 1959, and though it is almost as old as us, unlike us it shows no signs of wear. The author explains on the first page, that his wife wrote at least half of the book, but refused to be listed as an author. I don’t know why I mention that here except that it is so amazing to think about.

The Civil War is (was) a big deal in Virginia. If we were totally unaware of the fact that we are approaching the 150th anniversary of the war in New York, we were well aware of that here. The middle part of the vacation, between the mountains and the sea, was devoted to Civil War sites.

Well two, anyway.

The first stop on the way out of Shenandoah, was New Market. The fact that it is on the road between the mountains and the sea, is not coincidental. The road in some form or another was always the east west road that brought supplies from the west to the coast. The Northern army understood the need to cut off the supply chain and the Southern army understood the need to keep it open. So this big battle happened. It involved the cadets from the Virginia Military Institute, who just so happen to run the museum. Actually, a VMI graduate, left the funds for the building and the running of the place which houses the Museum of the Civil War.

We watched movie, Field of Lost Shoes, which tells the story of the battle from the point of view of several of the cadets. The one who became most famous was Moses Exekial, the first (and presumably only ) Jewish cadet who survived the battle and moved to Italy and became a famous sculptor.We only saw a picture of sculpture Virginia Remember’s Her Dead. The real one is in a nearby town.

Strained glass window from the museum

Strained glass window from the museum

We walked around the field explored the preserved house (including a surgery, with the frightening surgical tools of the era)the guide reminded us that there were no antibiotics in the era, and wounds to limbs often ended in amputation.

Jacob Bushong's Farm, which was around during the 1864 Battle of New Market

Jacob Bushong’s Farm, which was around during the 1864 Battle of New Market

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We browsed the exhibits in the Museum of the Civil War,which made me wonder if what the taught me in school about the North wining the war was really correct

I had noticed on the way in a Frozen Custard stand. I have long mourned the loss of frozen custard in New York. Not since they closed Gertz Jamaica in the late 1970’s have I had a reliable source. So it was worth the trip back to get a cone.P1010475

Alas though the stand itself was worthy of my nostalgic reveries, the ice cream tasted like regular old soft serve.

We ended our day in Manassas- I started the day in the laundromat in Luray. (actually- another distant memory of my childhood- doing laundry in a laundrommat) and Eric was in charge of figuring out where to stay. He picked Manasas, or Bull Run. Now that we are Civil War mavens, I can explain that the North and the South named the same battle grounds with different names.

We entered the park after sunset and long after the Visitor’s Center had closed, so we browsed the old homestead, the replica canons and the battle fields without period- costumed re-enacters or very much more explanation than what was available in a 1959 dictionary of the Civil War.

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Shenandoah to Luray

August 26, 2013

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August 20,2013

I told my hiking partners at Lake Louise that the good part about hiking up, was the return trip involved hiking down. Shenandoah was designed on the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountain. the many overlooks adjoining Skyline Drive, allow anyone in their Chevrolet (or any other make of vehicle) to see the panoramas without taking more than a few steps. the park literature does remind you, that there is much natural beauty to be observed beyond the parking lot, but it involves hiking down. which means of course, the return trip is hiking up.

Rose River Falls

Rose River Falls

We hiked down the Rose River trail, to see the falls, then we hiked along the river to see the Dark Hollow Falls. We had our lunch on large concrete block that proved the existence of habitation in the hollows long before the National Park. Later at the Visitor’s Center we learned it was the remains of a copper mine.

The remains of a copper mine where we had lunch

The remains of a copper mine where we had lunch

Then we hiked up, and up and up some more. I am not ashamed to say, that like Lake Louise, people considerably older than us, passed us more than once. But we made it again. The last leg of the hike consisted of a flat gently inclined road. I spotted a flag pole in a clearing and figured we had returned (although the parking lot where we started contained no flag pole) but no, we had reached the Cave Cementary. Cave referred to the name of the family buried there, not anything like Luray Caverns. The most recent grave was less than a year old and many graves had markers dating back to the Civil War. An explanatory plaque noted that more than half the graves were children. Eric peppered the rangers in the Visitor Center with so many questions about the Cementary, that she ran a documentary for us called The Gift.   It was about the people who “gave” the land to the government for the park. No editorial comments here. The rangers did tell us that there were more than twenty family cemeteries in the park and that families had the right to maintain them. I guess its okay to be a dead resident in the park, not a live one (oops no editorial comments allowed)

Cave Cemetery on the Dark Hollows Fall Trail

Cave Cemetery on the Dark Hollows Fall Trail

A grave stone in the Cave Cemetery

A grave stone in the Cave Cemetery

The grandparents we met the day before had told us about a reasonably priced pleasant little motel, The Hillside, on route 211 the road that led out of the park. After one last overlook session, which involved me photographing a lot of insects, we left Shenandoah.

A cooperative butterfly

A cooperative butterfly

Not far from the motel the Page County Agricultural Fair was going on. So that became our evening activity.

Page County Agricultural Fair(Eric thinks it looks like Something Wicked This Way Comes)

Unlike the Queens County Farm Fair (yes it does exist) the Page County Agricultural Fair is just that. A very little girl looked longingly at her pumpkin on display and was told. no she couldn’t take it home, they had brought it there to be judged. Weary teenagers hung out with the cattle and hogs, some listening to hip hop, some to Christian Rock. We passed the fraternal order of police whose raffle advertised a prize of a four night Tennessee Vacation- in a premium cabin. There was no one was there to take my money so I didn’t have to debate whether or not to purchase a ticket. I played some Bingo, didn’t win, and ended the evening at the Star Family Circus. On a trip to Russia, we attended a performance of the Moscow Circus. Eric recalled the family (also tourists as evidenced by their North American accented English) behind us being horrified that the circus contained animal acts. The Star Family Circus had only human performers, but Eric wondered if the Russian bears had it any worse than the woman who raced a motorcycle around an iron dome, frequently checking the carburetor and wheels for safety, during the performance at the county fair.  Who knows? I don’t speak Russian, I can’t ask the bear.

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