Founding, Independence and Civil War
30.06.2008 36 °C
Friday & Saturday
Well Linda who I was meeting with her husband Jake had warned me it was hot. On Friday I left the airport and straight into the hotel, needed some sleep and so didn't venture out. The next morning Jake & Linda were kindly coming up from West Virginia, to take me visiting for the day. I stepped out of the hotel that morning and the heat hit .... heatwave in Washington is pretty oppressive. In the high 90's in the shade !
We popped down to Annapolis, a playground for the Washington rich and site of the Naval Academy. Jake is ex Army (special services) I believe and has worked for Defence and contractors for most of his life. he should be retired now but still works away. Linda is from a Italian New Jersey family .. they actually met through the internet 8 yrs ago ... lovely to see them together ... just what you would have imagined from there conversations in Fotothing.
We looked around the harbour, toured the Naval Academy, very interesting. I hadn't expected to be going to a military base so only had a photocopy of my passport as ID, but Jake flashed some special ID out and talked us past the guard. It may have been ok with just the photocopy if we hadn't been honest and said we were going to be taking lots of photographs.
We finished off with a lovely long lunch at a restaurant where I think they had their first date. That night Jake ordered Raw Oysters, Linda didn't like the look of them and told himhe better eat the "squid sperm quick or get it out of her sight" they survived that night ! Lots of talk and stories, in the end the time we spent there (I had Maryland Crabcakes ... Mmmmmm) along with the heat outside meant the best option was a direct return to Washington.
The meet and greet for the Historic Highlights tour was that evening. I discovered I would have a kiwi lass on my tour. Ngaire a well travelled University administrator based in Wanganui was to prove a godsend, we could get around and spread the word about NZ, also it was good to have help in the back & forth verbal jousting with the Australian couple !!! We also tended to keep each others company when it came to free time .. walking museums historic sites, because we understood what was interesting to us and two pairs of eyes are better than one, finding more than if it had of been just one person.
Sunday - the tour commences
A lot more family groups on this tour, and three generations in some cases, this makes for a good mix. The tour guide is a lot more Sergeant Major than Bob on the Trail Blazer tour ... but as always very knowledgeable.
So off we go into the Washington heat on a Sunday ... quick visit's to Whitehouse, Lincoln WWII, Korean & Vietnam memorials , a longer trip through the moving Arlington National Cemetery, but all the time an oppressive heat. looking forward especially to seeing photos from the War memorials.
the afternnoon was free time and a few things were on my list like the Library of Congress, but given the time and heat I plugged for the Smithsonian, the one I really wanted to see was industry and commerce but it was closed. Ngaire wanted to see Air & Space and even though I had been at Kennedy Space Centre a few days before I thought it was the second best option. Also I could add a bit to her experience with what I knew already by being closer in age to the the beginning of the space race and had picked in Orlando. It was great to wander round two sets of eyes are better than one .. so it ended up being a great choice. We also had a chance to relate tour experiences and the current one and differences in culture & ways of doing things between us laid back kiwis and Americans.
On the road to Williamsburg with a stop at Washington's home at Mt Vernon and Yorktown, site of the last battle (more a siege actually) in the Revolutionary war . And off to Williamsburg, wireless internet was ok the first night then practically non existent so I have a lot of half finished threads of conversation with friends, travel agent and credit card company (possible bogus transactions) ... very annoying !
Still oppressive heat ... Interesting history at Mt Vernon, Jefferson was certainly a collector of items from around the world.
The grounds offer a chance to walk around, but ability and speed limited by the heat, still the kiwi team got around most of it. We then st
Yorktown was as were the rest of the Historic Triangle that we visit next day (Jamestown and Williamsburg) a lot of recreations, interesting to learn about life then and how and why things happened.
Overnighting at Williamsburg two nights .. internet crap ...
Historic Williamsburg was interesting but very hot again which restricted what we felt comfortable doing.
Came into Shenandoah National Park late evening. Staying at Big Meadow Lodge, wonderful scenery (Blue Mountains in the distance) in a peaceful setting. Wonderful sunset and a very entertaining folk / country singer in the taproom ... Most beers I have had since leaving Washington State. The kiwi / aussie banter has everyone else in hysterics
Hiked out to Dark Hollow Waterfalls, leaving before 6 AM ... just three of us, unfortunately one of the girls had some breathing difficulty on the way back coming up the inclines so we ended up not getting back until almost 8 AM ... missed breakfast, but after all these hotel meals I can afford to miss one or two now & again.
Stopped at Harper's Ferry for an interesting self tour. Event's there were the final spark that started the Civil War. John Brown hoped to start an uprising but ended up being hanged. A pretty place, lot's more history and great buildings. Another Roger / Ngaire walking tour, glad to be finally getting a bit of walking exercise, but heat is still opressive.
Gettysburg battlefields in the morning and a stop in Amish country for lunch, found some pertitent gifts for special friends. We didn't have much interaction with the Amish, and as expected photography was difficult.
Off to Philidelphia, last rites of the tour and unfortunately it took until about now for some people from the tour to come out of their shells and mingle. Apart from the kiwis & auuies of course, we were so far out of our shell we may as well have been Mexican Jumping Beans ... but everyone from tour guide & driver all through the passengers appreciated the humour we brought to the table.
The tour ends on a bit of a whimper, we have sort of seen all the historic stuff, heard about it all, went to a light show ... then again this morning we heard more about the Constitution in various visitor centres.
I needed to get to Boston so rather than bussing back to Washington & flying to Boston I left the tour in Philly and am flying to Boston