The weather cleared as we left Maine and drove down to Boston for a couple of days to see it’s historical area. We were unable to find a campground close into town, but we did find an Elks Club that had camping privileges at Concord, MA. We drove down to the metro and took it into town rather than trying to drive. We managed to figure out how to get off very near the famous Faneuil Hall. The second floor of the hall (which wasn’t open to the public) was the meeting site for the Sons of Liberty and was considered the ‘Cradle of Liberty’ protesting the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act which led to the ‘Boston Tea Party’. The part open to the public was originally a farmers market. Now is a glorified gift shop for tourists.
We started from Faneuil Hall on a trolley tour of the Freedom Trail which was supposed to cover all of the major historical sites in Boston. However we found that the Silver Trolley line tours on the outside of all those sites and you have to walk to them by yourself (one of those things you don’t find out about until you have purchased a ticket!) After a several block walk and getting lost a couple of times in side streets we finally found the Old North Church where Paul Revere hung the lantern to tell the Bostonians whether the English were coming by land or by sea (the church charged to get inside). We then walked to Paul Revere’s home which charged to get into the grounds and then again to see the inside of the house! We walked back to wait on the trolley.
The trolley took us around the waterfront and over to the dock where the Old Ironsides is moored where you have to pay to see it. Then it did take us down the street where the Old State House is located and around Boston Commons. We departed the trolley at this point and walked to what we thought was the highlight of Boston, the ‘Bull and Finch Bar’ or as we saw it ‘Cheers’. Actually only the entrance to the basement bar was used in the sitcom that we enjoyed so much. Surprising to us was the very small size of the bar and the multitude of people that were jammed into it. Obviously the sitcom gave the bar a thriving business. Norm was there (in a life-sized cardboard cutout) and I had a beer with him. I also remembered his theory of intelligence. “A heard of buffalo only travels as fast as the slowest and weakest buffalo. When the herd is hunted, the slowest and weakest were killed first. Natural selection was good for the herd allowing it to move much faster. The same way with the human brain, it can only operate as fast as the slowest and weakest brain cells. Now as you know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. Therefore, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells making the brain a faster more efficient machine. That’s why you feel smarter after a few beers.” It seems reasonable to me!
So much for Boston! Like so much of the east coast cities; too many people, too busy, too crowded, too much in a hurry! Too much for an old Kansas boy.
On to Washington, DC, my old stomping ground. Again there are no camping facilities within the DC limits; therefore, we had to stay in the Cherry Hill campground in College Park, MD. I used to store our motor home at the campground so was familiar with it. It is also close to the end of the Metro Green Line which we used to get into the city. It was definitely quicker and easier to get around on the city metro than driving.
Sunday morning we took the metro into the Smithsonian Mall. I had to show Jan a couple of the airplanes that I used for flight research while working for NASA. We spent a couple of hours at the Air and Space Museum then went to the new American Indian Museum.
It was built after I had retired from NASA and left Washington. It is unusual in that all the outside walls and most of the inside walls do not have straight lines. Indian ideology states that there are no straight lines in nature. The outside walls are native limestone in constant curves. The inside has sweeping curved walks, stairs and ramps leading up four floors of exhibits. I was a little disappointed as I had seen all the wonderful displays and exhibits of American Indian artifacts in the Natural History Museum previously and am aware of all the artifacts that the Smithsonian has available. Some of these were stuffed into drawers and some in very limited display cases. Very few of the original collection were in the museum. Most of the museum was the American Indian now and in the future. We did have a good lunch in the museum. They have foods from various American Indian cultures that were interesting.
We both had fun in the National Art Museum. Since we are both amateur painters (very amateur!), we really enjoyed looking at all the past masters and commenting on them to each other. We spent most of the afternoon wandering through the maze of galleries in second floor of the museum studying all of the French, Spanish, Dutch, English, etc. masters and what we amateurs considered not so masters. Oh well, it’s a matter of opinion. We had fun pointing out what we liked and disliked and how we might of done it different if we could have!
It turned out to be a long day with a lot of walking so we left early for the ride back to the campground, our camper and a wonderful lobster dinner with our bounty from Maine.
The next morning we waited for the early morning rush (Monday) to pass before we taking the metro to town. We spent most of the morning in the Holocaust Museum. It was very well done, but very depressing. I can’t imagine people treating other people like that! We weren’t allowed to take photos inside. We left the museum and walked to the Washington Monument then on to the World War II Memorial. It was nice that they finally built the Memorial, but I was very disappointed in the design of it. There were really no indications of the significant battles that occurred in Europe and the Pacific.
Not so for the Vietnam Memorial. It is memorable because of it’s simplicity and significance with the names of our soldiers lost inscribed on the stones. I realize that they couldn’t have listed the names of those lost in WWII do to the numbers. It was well past lunch so we caught a taxi to Union Station so Jan could see how beautiful it had been restored. We had lunch there before walking through Capitol Hill to C Street where Lindy and I used to live. The house still looked good although the neighborhood was changing with new condos and town houses replacing some of the beautiful old homes in the area. We walked on down to Eastern Market to find that it had closed and many of the older businesses had been replaced with Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. (bah)! Going back home just isn’t the same!
Jan and I were getting tired of walking, but we still had a couple of hours before we would meet Nancy and Bud MacLennon at Ebbets Grill for dinner (Nancy used to work with me at NASA). So we decided to rest for awhile in the Botanical Gardens below the Capitol. It’s always nice to sit among the flowers and trees and rest the tired feet. We caught a taxi to Ebbets Grill, had a great dinner and conversation with Nancy and Bud, then they took us back to the truck in College Park.
Next day we drove on down to Williamsburg and spent the afternoon walking around the Colonial portion of the town. It was interesting touring through the old Burton Church with it’s old cemetery, There were a lot of locals dressed up as part of the daily tour that made it more realistic.
There was the Cane Weaver hurrying to give a demonstration of the craft and an old carriage giving rides to the tourists
At the end of the street is the House of Burgess which was used as the seat of the Virginia government prior to the revolution. We didn’t have time that afternoon to take the tour through all of the buildings so we put it off until the next morning. We did notice that like most cities (like Washington, DC) where politicians gathered to make decisions there are lots of taverns. We counted 6 taverns in the several blocks that is considered Colonial Williamsburg.
Although I have to admit that the taverns provided lodging and food as well as a bar.
We were going to Penny and Bill Cazier’s home for dinner that evening so we left early to drive the Colonial Parkway through Yorktown and down the peninsula toward Hampton. We toured the Yorktown battlefield which was the deciding victory of the Revolutionary War with England.
We went by the cave where the English General Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington after the battle. Then we toured the old town with it’s sixteenth century homes.
Lindy and I lived near a small village called Seaford below Yorktown and I wanted to show Jan the area. I managed to show her more of the area than I anticipated after getting lost several times trying to find our old house. The area has really been built up since the late 1980’s and I didn’t recognize most of the roads and businesses anymore. We did finally find Rebecca Drive and the house still looked the same. Then it was another experience to find Penny and Bill’s house. Finally Penny’s phone directions got us there. We had a wonderful evening with them.
On to Atlanta. We were running late to meet Cary and Darcy on the weekend in Atlanta when they were both off work so we decided to forgo the tour through Williamsburg and head for Atlanta. I used to stay on the street outside Cary and Darcy’s home with the camper; however, with the 5th Wheel, it’s too big for the street especially since the street is on a steep hill! We opted to stay in a campground and visit them in town.
Atlanta is like all large cities, most campgrounds are on the outskirts of downtown, We decided to stay in Stone Mountain Campground which proved to be a very good choice. Stone Mountain is a huge granite dome with a carving of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis in the face of it. They have turned it into a recreational area with an amusement park, walking trails, golf courses and an old antebellum home which had an Indian Pow-Wow going on the grounds. We toured the grounds with the car and found a covered bridge and a grist mill too!
We celebrated Darcy’s birthday on Saturday evening then stayed all night at their house rather than drive back to the campground (not that we had drank too much, Ha!) Sunday was a trip to the Farmer’s Market, breakfast and watching Atlanta Falcons slaughter my old team, the Washington Redskins.
Monday found us on the road again heading home. The fall colors were still beautiful in Georgia and Tennessee. We made it to Lynchburg in the late afternoon just in time to visit Uncle Jack and go on the final tour of the day. It was interesting to see how he made his famous brew, but no samples.
Uncle Jack was a little cold, but he did allow us to get some Old #7 and his Single Barrel. We had a nice tour and then went to downtown Lynchburg which was quite exciting with a Hardware store and a filling station.
But it was getting late and there was only one campground in town. Low and behold there was another covered bridge at the entrance to the campground. They just seemed to follow us around on this trip. That made the tally 124, a whole lot of covered bridges!
We left Lynchburg early the next morning and started for Branson, MO. We were meeting Jan’s granddaughter and her husband for dinner the next night. We decided to drive all the way to Branson the first night and it was mistake. I don’t like to drive after dark that much and the roads leading to Branson were the worst curvy roads that I had ever driven. The campground host called them worse than a snake, but that wasn’t bad enough. They were up and down hills with sharp 45 degree curves at the bottom. No fun at all pulling a 5th Wheel!
We did a quick tour of Branson the next day then had dinner with Nicole and Tyler, Then on to Kansas with a quick stop at Lindy’s grave and visited her aunt in Madison, KS. We had lunch at the Chicken House in Olpe with Vivian and Lloyd Luthi. We were home in Hoxie the next day just in time for a snow storm to hit the area. It was November after all.
As I said to start, it was a busy year for Jan and I. We are settled in for the winter now and don’t expect to start traveling until May of next year. See you on the blog then.