Friday, November 27, 2015

The Sights of Richmond

Although I lived in Virginia for 27 years before going on the road, I had never been to the Capitol in Richmond. It was time to correct that oversight.

The original central part of the capitol was built in 1785, based on a design by Thomas Jefferson. The east and west wings were added in 1905.

The rotunda features a statue of George Washington, along with busts of the 7 other Virginia-born presidents.

The black limestone tiles in the floor are inlaid with marine animal fossils, just as the ones that we saw in the Montpelier, VT capitol are.

We had a guide for the tour, but she was much too talkative, so I wandered around on my own, up to the third floor where I got a close-up view of the dome.

We got to see both the old and new Senate and House chambers. This is the Old House Chamber.

And the modern-day House Chamber.

Next to the Capitol is St. Paul's Church, the house of worship for General Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. It featured some beautiful stained-glass windows.

We also visited the Tredegar Iron Works. Tredegar began in 1836 as a small forge and rolling mill, but by 1860 was a large operation, with 800 laborers.

During the Civil War, Tredegar operated day and night to meet the Confederate demands for artillery and ammunition, producing 1,100 cannons.

The Iron Works also played an important role in rebuilding the devastated South after the war.

We also walked along the James River in town....

And along the Canal, which parallels the river. It was fun to see all the things that I missed when I lived in the state.

Monday, November 23, 2015

More Battlefields, Mount Vernon, and Bowman Distillery

We moved to Fredericksburg, VA next, and there are 3 Civil War battlefields nearby - Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, and Spotsylvania.

It's so sad to see all the cemeteries at these sites. Most don't have names.

I'm amazed at how many cannons are still on site.

The next day we went to see Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington. Unfortunately, pictures weren't allowed inside.

Included in the cost of admission were visits to the gristmill and distillery.

George Washington started this distillery in 1797, quickly becoming one of the largest distilleries in America.

We also went on a tour of the Smith Bowman Distillery. This distillery was founded in 1934, the day after the end of Prohibition. I did not realize that until 1988, they were located in Reston, VA, where I lived for 27 years before I went on the road.

It's a pretty small operation now - only 2 employees bottle the liquor.

But it looks like they have a lot of work to do...

After the tour we had a free tasting. Wow, it was strong! Glad I wasn't driving home.

We stayed at the Elks Lodge in Fredricksburg, (we are all members of the Elks) and were privileged to meet Ron Hicks, the Grand Exalted Ruler, head of the Elks worldwide, who is a member of this lodge. He's in the center in this picture.

Monday, November 16, 2015

My Favorite Holiday, and More

After Hanover, I moved south to Manassas, VA. Manassas was the site of 2 major battles in the Civil War. This Stone House was a former tavern, but was used as a field hospital in the war.

The Stone Bridge has been reconstructed, but was also a prominent feature in the Manassas battles.

There is a cemetery for the confederate dead in the area. Sadly, only one grave has a tombstone.

I also took a day trip over to Skyline Drive.

The autumn color was a little past peak, but still good.

The best color seemed to be looking down from the top.

I was parked near Prince William Forest Park, a federal park close to Manassas. I decided to do a short hike on the Cascades Trail to some "waterfalls."

It was kind of a misnomer - the "falls" were about 1 foot high, at most.

But the main reason I was in the area was to spend my favorite holiday, Halloween, with my little granddaughter. Here we are working on our selfie technique.

She was dressed as her favorite character, Minnie Mouse, but didn't like the ears. So she looks more like a princess, but that's okay. It only took her one house to get the hang of "trick-or-treating."

The neighborhood had some unique decorations. I guess this is what happens when you smoke.

Not sure what happened to this little fellow.

I thought this scary guy would be a problem, but when there is candy involved, scary doesn't matter!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Factory Tours Galore and a Taste of the Civil War

The group next moved on to Hanover, PA. The Hanover and York area is known for being the factory tour capital of the world. We hit 3 biggies, starting with the UTZ Potato Chip factory. We got to see (and take pictures of) the whole process - from raw potatoes -

To the slicing, frying, drying, and packaging of the chips.

I just wanted to help them clean up their floor. I wouldn't even need a garbage bag...

The other 2 tours did not allow photos, but there are always plenty on the internet. The Snyder's Pretzel factory is also in Hanover, and has a great company store. We did not leave empty-handed.

And the Harley Davidson factory is in York. The motorcycles being built move around the factory on self-propelled dollies that are programmed according to what model was being built.

Don't worry, I did leave this factory empty-handed.

On another day we went to the local Amish Market and the Hanover Shoe Farm, the largest Standardbred racehorse breeding farm in the world. Standardbreds are used for harness racing. They have 374 mares in foal and 9 stallions. Nice odds...

My 94-year-old father joined us that day.

We also went to the Perrydell Dairy Farm, where we met some adorable baby calves, and had the best ice cream ever. But we bought some to take home, and it wasn't as good.

On Saturday, we went to the Dillsburg Farmers Fair in my father's hometown. There were lots of antique cars and tractors in town -

Along with indoor exhibits. There was also a flea market and craft fair.

And then on our last day, we toured the Gettysburg National Military Park. It totally surrounds the town of Gettysburg, and contains hundreds of monuments. We did the whole 24-mile auto tour, stopping at a lot of the statues and monuments.

My father was our tour guide.

The Pennsylvania monument is the largest and most impressive. My great-grandfather's name is on it, but I don't think it's him, because he didn't join the war effort until the following year.

We also went to the museum and the Cyclorama, a 360-degree painting of the battle.

The details are incredible.

My father also took me to Boiling Springs, where I saw the best fall color yet. He grew up in a house by this lake.