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Updated 9/27/05

My East Coast Trip with my Sister

On March 23 - April 2, 2005, my sister and I traveled together throughout Virginia and Southern Delaware, seeing sights and visiting places where we grew up. Here is my journal of the trip for friends and family.

Day One - Wednesday-Thursday, March 23-24

Taking an overnight flight from Long Beach on Jet Blue, my sister and I flew to Washington Dulles, arriving at dawn (jet lag made it the middle of the night) where we rented a car and drove to see the area where we lived before we left Virginia in 1961. We had breakfast in Annandale in a cute little diner full of locals, and then drove through Lake Barcroft, stopping at the beach near our old home.

The entry to our former neighborhood, between Annandale and Bailey's Crossroads.
I used to trot in from the left side of this picture, and my playground was the water above those canoes.

Driving north, we headed to Baltimore and the Stubbs exhibit at the Walters Museum--one major reason I accompanied my sister on this trip! Even though fuzzed by no good sleep, the exhibit showed me how well Mr. Stubbs knew his craft, horse anatomy, and the ability to depict the spirit and movement of his subjects. I was most impressed by how well he handled the hands and faces of the people in his work.

Enough to be this close to originals by Mr. Stubbs!

While there, we also saw many other pieces of art, including this marble from the turn of the last century

Northward again, because of a desire to see the Amish country in Lancaster County, we passed through the city of York, which touts itself as the "Factory Capital of the U.S." In our punch-tired state, we thought this hilarious, and kept pointing out all the regional factory landmarks! Recognizing our state of mind, we stopped for the night in Eden, in Lancaster, with plans for the morrow to see the farms and covered bridges. The hotel had an indoor pool, and was truly a garden for us tired folks!

Day Two - Friday, March 25

Leaving Lancaster, we headed southeast through farms and covered bridges, finding vintage buildings and pastoral vistas at every turn.

OK, it wasn't in snow, but it sure was pretty! This is Baumgardner's Covered Bridge, and we found it after being lost at least twice.

Rolling Pennsylvania hills and farms at every turn.
The common sign on our drive.
Lots of old meeting houses and buildings from the 1700s.

Then we headed over to the Brandywine River Valley, and Chadds Ford--where we went to the Brandywine River Museum.

I'm in Heaven...
Photographing the river before entering the museum. No wonder Andrew's palette was so muted, look at the March grays!
We stopped at the Brandywine River Battlefield and this is the back side of General Lee's Headquarters.

Leaving a life-changing experience, we drove east because my sister wanted to go to the QVC headquarters. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that this is the LAST place I would spend my time, but now I can say I've been there. Here's proof, but look below that to see the view of the Susquehannock River in the late evening light. Which would you say is more enriching?

OK, I've been here.
The Susquehanna River south and east of Lancaster County, still in Pennsylvania.

On the road we see many signs of the response to 9/11, and I managed to capture this poignant display of patriotism.

More driving, and we circumvent Baltimore and park for the night in Laurel, Maryland, about half way between Baltimore and Washington, D. C.

Day Three - Saturday, March 26

We decided to pass by the District of Columbia and continue south to reach Williamsburg, stopping by Mount Vernon on the way. As we drove down the scenic road to Washington's home, I marveled at the beauty of the natural forests and waterfront houses. Mount Vernon was austere in its Colonial formality, however I managed to photograph the animals!

My sister and I in front of Washington's family crypt.
The beautiful area along side the Cheasapeake Bay.
My sister in front of the entrance, but why is she smiling at the entry prices?
The digital camera captured this view of the smoke house interior.
You can see the water through the breezeway behind the mansion.

After Mount Vernon, we took the scenic route through the plantations east of Richmond, and stopped at the only one open this time of year, the Shirley. Still in much of its original form since it was built in the 1600s, it was enlightening to hear the stories of its survival for 350 years. I let them know they had a bee hive in their second story eave. The willow oak behind the main house was a sapling when the home was built. This image shows the banches of this huge oak today.

The Shirley Plantation on the James River, west of Jamestown.
Getting out of the car, I got my chicken fix. No missing my gals at home in California!

We continued to Jamestown, and quickly took in the reconstruction of the first white settlement (military) and the reenactment of the lifestyle of these early English colonists. Now closing in on dusk, we settled into our Williamsburg inn for the night and ate a late dinner--typical Southern surf and turf--ham and crab cakes!

This fellow was a real character, and not just because of his outfit!
This photogrtaph has a special meaning for me, because I took a photograph of my seventh grade teacher, Miss Kessinger, in this same spot over forty years ago.
The reconstructed interior of the Jamestown settlement.

Day Four - Easter Sunday, March 27

We started our day with a drive into Williamsburg, opting not to spend almost $40 per person to gain access to the interiors of the buildings in the historical district. Instead we walked and enjoyed the conversation of the people dressed in period costume and did some minor shopping. I saw the word "gallery" in two places--but was sorely disapointed. One was one artist's reproductions on everything but the doormat. The other was full of craft items and jewelry. So much for eyeball enrichment.

But I do have to find the horses in town...
Wonder if ol' Thos. J. will have some sage words of advice for my sister?
We took the night tour for the ghosts of Williamsburg, and I really enjoyed what the digital camera would do.

However, that must have been necessary, because my sister and I took off for Norfolk, an hour south of Williamsburg, to the Chrystler Museum. On Exhibit there was the "Great Expectations" show of 41 works by John Singer Sargent, and also a fantastic collection of art from every period in history. I just couldn't take it all in, and my sister, bless her tired heart, stayed out int he car and slept. Too bad, because there were over 100 pieces of Tiffany glass, including two huge windows, and my sis loves Tiffany.

In the paintings, outside of the Sargeant works, I was enthralled by two works, one by Fredrick Childe Hassam, "At the Florist" and the second "La Desserte" by Etienne-Prosper Berne-Bellecour. They also had two Rothkos, one of which was his later color field work. And the Gaugauin... Sigh!

"At the Florist", what a design... and this image does NOT do it justice.
This painting that measures about 40 x 30 is a "study" for another piece... I should do half as well... sigh...

Day Five - Monday, March 28 - From Williamsburg to Lexington

We leave Williamsburg and drove to Monticello to see Jefferson's home, and it was wonderful--full of mist and high on that mountain. We took the tour, and I was able to get a couple of good pictures.

Can't beat that kind of photography!
I aksed the driver of the shuttle bus what trees these were that are all over the hillsides seeming to glow on the cloudy day, but he had no answer. I'm going to paint some of them, as they are so spritely lit on the grayest of days.

I've found out that they are beech trees.

After the tour of Monticello, we stopped at the Tavern, a restored 1800 overnight spot now a tourist destination, and learned a great deal about how people lived and traveled during the early 19th century. I took some interior photos that please me.

Our tour guide, who kindly posed for me. Not a Vermeer, but the lighting intrigued me.
A typical meal at the end of the 18th century. What, no vegetables? No wonder their life expectancy was so short.
And the kitchen where the meals were cooked, meetings held, and people slept, men in one room and women in another.

More driving, and now we are settled in near the Virginia Military Insitute and the burial sites of Generals Lee and Jackson.

Day Six - Tuesday, March 29 - Lexington, the Blue Ridge area and Civil War Battles

Waking up to the first sunny day of our trip, we first go to the Chapel on the grounds of the Washington and Lee University in Lexington, where we see the chapel, museum and burial vault of General Robert E. Lee (and Traveler, his horse!)

Gorgeous day and beautiful chapel. I had a really interesting conversation with a VMI student who is studying Chineese on the university campus. His goal is to become a US Army Infantry officer, and if he is a slice of the quality coming from our military schools, I know we won't have to worry about the next generation!
As we head north, you can see why the Appalachain Mountains are called the "Blue Ridge".
More beautiful barns and color in the Virginia countryside. We take the side and back roads, avoiding the interstate as much as possible.
We stop at the Battlefield of New Market, where VMI students were sent into battle with the Confederates on May 15, 1864. Hard to imagine the Civil War at this lovely spot.
Some of the greatest beauty is found in the 200 year old walls of the cabins and barns.
Yet the backlit trees and shadows are also beautiful.

And now we are in West Virginia, headed to Harper's Ferry National Historic Park tomorrow.

A subtle difference in the look and feel of this "sister state" to Virginia.

Day Seven - Wednesday, March 30 Harper's Ferry and Middleburg

On to Harper's Ferry after a good night's sleep in the quiet, rural area of West Virginia.
Wow, was the river at high water mark at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers! Harper's Ferry was a hugely important transportation point for our history, up to and including the Civil War. It was the starting point for Lewis and Clark's expedition.
It was also the scene of John Brown's Rebellion, where abolitionist John Brown brought the issue of freeing the slaves to the public eye. This firehouse was where he held off the marines who eventually captured him.
The historical district is full of 18th century buildings, beautifully restored (except for the electrical wires... sigh.)
Going above the historical area, you can see across the Potomac River and how hig it is now. There's a train on that other bridge, and the rail lines course through this town.
Another view from the higher level of town, showing the bluffs of the river, very much Civil War embattlements.
Back down on the lower part, you can see that both the rail lines and the buildings are elevated--many major floods down here!

We left Harper's Ferry and drove across the Potomac to maryland, and had an intention of taking a ferry back across, but with the high water, it was good we decided to cross on a bridge and approach the ferry from the other side.

The ferry is on the other side of the fast-moving water. Definitely HIGH water.
One of the more interesting, if not cryptic, messages at the ferry landing.
This gorgeous tree sending up tendrils of branchlets into the blue sky made this quiet riverfront location one where I wanted to stay for a long time.

However, Middleburg and the horse country were calling us, so we headed south through the lands where Jackie Kennedy raised her children on horseback, and where the very wealthy spend their time. gorgeous mansions, real estate prices at 2 million and above--quite the beautiful area!

Had to take a picture of the signage in the area.
This is such an example of the hunt country--rolling hills, stone walls and gates. I can just see a hunter sailing over that fence! We were near Foxcroft, the girls' private high school.
At the Chronicle of the Horse, we found this statue honoring all the horsees that lost their lives and served in the Civil War. Over 1.5 million horses were killed, wounded or died from disease during the four years of that war.
Nice to know they named a street after me in Middleburg. Well, after my husband, anyway!

Then it was evening and on to Manassas, where for the first time on our trip I heard the Virginia peeper frogs singing their chorus. We were stuck in go-home traffic, and moving at a snail's pace when I heard their voices!

It was in beautiful places like this that I heard the spring peepers.
And the evening light on the battleground was the end of a wonderful day as we looked for a place to stay. We were still driving, because ALL of the decent hotels near Washington were full. We ended up near Dunfries, down by Quantico, for the night.

Notice the pigeon near the chimney? Pure magic.

Day Eight - Thursday, March 31

After spending the night in Dumfries, we drove south toward Fredricksburg and spotted the turnoff for Belmont, the home of American Artist Gari Melcher. This was an unexpected side trip, because I had never heard of him, and found his work to be very characteristic of the early twentieth century. I fell in love with his studio space with the north light windows.

This home was where he spent his time when not working in New York.
Here is is his stone studio, with the wonderful north facing windows.
My sister left me off at a hotel for the afternoon, and I rested and painted while she traveled down to Richmond to meet up with a scrapbooking Internet pal named "S". You can check my recent paintings page to see the two paintings I finished while waiting for her to return.

After returning from Richmond, we planned out our last full day--Friday.

Day Nine - April 1, Friday.

We toured historic Fredericksburg with forsythia in bloom.
The crabapples were also in blossom, because we had had just enough spring weather.

We went shopping, and who needs pictures of that???

After Fredericksburg, we drove to Geroge Washington's boyhood home Ferry Farm, which is more of an archeological site rather than restored buildings.
The forest was beautiful, however.

We drove north once more, and went through Middleburg yet again, this time I was able to meet up with Liz Dubenitz at the Sporting Gallery, and enjoyed some quality time with some fine work by Valerie Hinz, Fay Moore and masters of the previous century.

Heading South, we went to Manassas, with enough time to enjoy the battlefield.

Bull Run, where it all began--where the obvious was stated--it wouldn't be over with one battle.
Stonewall Jackson gained his name at the battle of Manassas, and this monument celebrates his bravery and genius in military strategy.
The peaceful fields, where so many men died.
150 years ago, our country ravaged by an internal war.

Saturday, our last day, April 2

On our last night, we stayed in Manassas, at a Fairfield by Marriot, which I cannot recommend after our wonderful Hampton Inns! But with only a half day, we decided to return some of our childhood homes in Silver Spring and Barcroft and also see my sister's high school, J.E.B. Stuart.

It poured rain, fitting to place this home poignantly in its place in my past.

We drove over to Silver Spring, to see our home at 11 Devon Road, and it doesn't look like we remembered. But the street was the same!
There is an old family story about how I "shinnied up a drainpipe, to the second story" of this house, and I needed to get a picture of the pipe.
We drove back through the Washington D. C. area, and took pictures of the B & O canal, still raining.
Then we drove by my sister's high school, she was the first graduating class in 1961.
The recent rains have overflowed the new dam (new for us, anyway) to overflow state in this view from Columbia Pike. There used to be the remains of an old mill at the base on the right side, but it was completely washed away when the old dam broke.
And finally, we went to see our home, that our folks built on the edge of Lake Barcroft, and it appeared beautiful, through the rain, from Beach III. AS with all memories, it is best to see them with the veil of time (or rain) to keep the memory alive. My sister said it best when she said that seeing the inside with someone else's furniture wouldn't be the same. I agreed.
On the flight home, as we flew at 34,000 feet on Jet Blue, I was able to take this picture of the Mississippi River... heading west, into the sunset, after a fantastic trip.