Monday, June 28, 2010

Washington DC – Part 1

P1040221 The Spirit of St Louis

Our next destination was Washington DC; neither of us had every been there and we were really looking forward to our first visit. We stayed at the Cherry Hill RV Park in College Park, Maryland. They really cater to tourist wanting to see the sites of Washington. They start with a daily session on how to use public transit to get around Washington. They provide detailed written step by step instructions on how to get to most locations. The public bus stops in the RV Park and then goes straight to the Metro rail system. The Park sells bus and Metro tickets. They also sell Grayline Tour tickets. If you are taking a Grayline Tour, Grayline provides a very comfortable courtesy bus into the center of Washington.

On our first day we took the bus and Metro to the Washington Mall and the home of 16 of the Smithsonian's Museums. I am sure like many before us our first destination was the National Air & Space Museum.

P1040231 Not models but actual airplanes hang from the ceiling.

What a collection!!

P1040274 The actual airplane that the Wright Brother’s first flew

P1040222 The plane Charles Lindberg flew when he became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic

P1040256 The plane Chuck Yeager flew when he became the first person to break the sound barrier.

P1040225 John Glenn's Mercury capsule when he became the first American to orbit in space.

 P1040280 The Apollo 8 Command Module that brought Neil Armstrong back to earth after having been the first person to step on the Moon

P1040236 The Gossamer Condor the first human-powered aircraft capable of controlled and sustained flight


I thought this sign really sums up a visit to the many Smithsonian Museums.  This is the “REAL” stuff not just the planes and spacecraft of the Air & Space Museum but at some of the other Smithsonian Museums we would see the actual flag that Francis Scott Key was writing about when he wrote the “Star Spangled Banner”. The real Hope Diamond, the actual Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland when making the Wizard of Oz, the real Kermit the Frog from the Muppets.

P1040310 They even have the “real” Starship Enterprise.

I added these last pictures for all of my friends that do work or have worked in Information Technology.



If you can remember when the Cray – 1 was the fastest computer in the world you either are or should be retired. LOL

Below is the slideshow of our day at the National Air and Space Museum

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Yorktown Battlefield National Park, Virginia



The third site in Williamsburg’s Historic Triangle is Yorktown Battlefield National Park, the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War.

This day we had the best weather of all of our time in the south. It was mid-70s, wind blowing in off of Chesapeake Bay and no humidity.

Although, the finally treaty wouldn’t be signed for almost two years after this battle. The September, 1781 battle at Yorktown and the surrender of General Cornwallis is the last battle of the Revolutionary War.

When we first arrived at the Yorktown National Park we watched the Orientation film. It is always a good idea to start any National Park visit with the orientation film. These films explain why this park is important and where the more important sites to see are located. As the film ended there was a Ranger interruptive walk beginning so we decided to join the 45 minute walk. We seldom go to Ranger Walks or Ranger Hikes anymore due to budget cuts there aren’t as many as there use to be and the ones that are still on the schedule tend to be very crowded. This Ranger walk was quite full but not too bad. The Ranger must have been a retired History Professor. Our “45 minute” Ranger Walk went half an hour overtime and not one person left before the end. The Ranger was quite fascinating, brought us all up to par with our history lesson for the day. He explained that if it hadn’t been for the French and General Lafayette, we would all still be English citizens!

Here is this group of colonists standing up to the King of England, with the strongest Army and Navy in the world! What were these colonists thinking? How could we win against a force like that?!  Since the French had been fighting against the English, they were all too happy to help us fight them as well!


General Cornwallis had been ordered by his superiors to go to Yorktown which had a good deepwater river where he and his men would be sent supplies, enforcements and if need be they would be picked up by British War ships and taken to New York. What the British had not planned on was the arrival of the French Fleet in the Chesapeake Bay and the addition of 3,000 French troops and cannons to arrive with the fleet. Washington marched his army from New York to Virginia and French General Rochambeau arrived with his army of 4,000 soldiers. General Cornwallis was now facing over 17,000 American and French soldiers against his 8,300 British soldiers.




More cannons

The American and French armies formed siege lines and bombarded Cornwallis and his men day and night with cannon fire.


Part of the siege line


British defensive line

The British Fleet sent to aid Cornwallis was defeated by the French Fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and it returned to New York. With the American cannons only 400 yards from his positions and no hope of rescue from the fleet, Cornwallis surrendered. General Cornwallis had to surrender his sword here and lay down arms before General Washington!

As a side note: Later when we visited the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, we had the pleasure of actually seeing Cornwallis’ sword on display. History came alive at that moment!

I have always wondered why the British just gave up the 13 colonies after losing this one battle. The National Park Service sums it up this way: “Though the British still had 26,000 troops in North America after Yorktown, their resolve to win the war was nothing like it had been before Yorktown. The war had been lengthy and costly. Replacing Cornwallis' captured army was a questionable proposition, particularly because the British also were engaged in military struggles in India, Gibraltar, the West Indies and Ireland. Thus, the British Parliament in March 1782 passes a resolution saying the British should not continue the war against the United States. Later that year, commissioners of the United States and Great Britain signed provisional articles of peace. In September 1783, the final treaty was signed which ended the war and acknowledged American independence.


The original Moore House where the terms of surrender were worked out.

image I

Inside the Moore House


I think this monument is proof that Congress never changes. When news of the victory at Yorktown reached the Continental Congress in Philadelphia they immediately passed a bill to have a monument erected to mark the occasion. This is that monument it wasn’t built until 100 years after the battle!

After visiting the Yorktown Battlefield, we went into the town of Yorktown. We had a wonderful lunch along the waterfront at Nick’s River Walk Restaurant. !  The restaurant is right next to Pullman Bridge that takes you over to Gloucester.  We watched as a pirate ship went sailing by, giving tourists a sail about the bay. It was a gorgeous day with a breeze coming off the water, making it at least 15 degrees cooler than back at camp!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg

P1040170  The Governor's Palace

In October of 1698 the Capitol Building in Jamestown burned down and in 1699 the Capitol was moved to land next to the College of William and Mary. The new town was named Williamsburg in honor King William III. Williamsburg remained the Capitol until 1780, when the Capital of Virginia was moved to Richmond.

After the Capitol moved to Richmond, Williamsburg was pretty  much neglected until, the  late 1920s when a group including John D. Rockefeller, Jr. decided to buy all of the sites in town and restore Williamsburg to Colonial days. They demolished all building built after 1790. The Governor's Palace and the Capitol Building were reconstructed at their original sites. Of the buildings in the historic area, 88 are original and most of the rest reconstructed on their original sites.

Today there are people in period clothing that do reenactments and give tours of many of the buildings. Unlike the historic sites of Jamestown or  Yorktown, Colonial Williamsburg is not a National or State Park. It is a “living museum” owned by a private non-profit corporation. The non-profit needs income to keep Colonial Williamsburg running, but at $92 dollar for the two of us it seemed overpriced to me.

Our Parlor Maid Tour Guide of the Palace


The reconstructed Governor's Palace is by far the most opulent building in all of Colonial Williamsburg.





The Capitol Building is the second most impressive building in Colonial Williamsburg. In 1705, it was the first Capitol building in America. The current building is a 1930s reconstruction of the ordinal 1705 building. Patrick Henry, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson all served here as members of the House of Burgesses.

 P1040207  P1040212 P1040215 P1040218

The Magazine built in 1715 is  the actual oldest original building in Colonial Williamsburg




The Courthouse was restores in 1989 – 1991:


There are many other old and stately buildings in Colonial Williamsburg:

IMG_6584 IMG_6578 IMG_6583

Where are the Blog Updates?



All three of us are doing well and we are currently in Maine.

The blog is getting way behind. We have been to Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown National Park, spend a week touring Washington DC, two weeks visiting my mother in Western Pennsylvania, and then a brief stop in Connecticut to visit Kathy’s Internet Chatty Cyber Chick friend Bette.

We will update the blog when we can.