Richmond, the capital of Virginia played a major role in the US Civil war, including being the Confederate capital until after Union victories forced the capital to move south. later it was the capture of Richmond that started the chain of events that lead to Robert lee's surrender to US Grant.
Besides being a major US naval base, the tidewater region just north of Norfolk is one of the most historic in the country with a couple of major colonial sights (Jamestown & Wiliamsburg) and the last major battle of the US Revolutionary War (Yorktown).
Two seperate battles were fought here, both southern victories. However in both cases the south failed to exploit there position so close to the capital. The two battles were among the bloodiest and yet least decisive of the war.
Geroge Washington's equally famous home sits on the banks of the Potomac River just south of Washington DC. The contrast with Monticello reflects the distinct personalities of the two great men, Jefferson the scientist and philsopher and Washington, business and statesman.
The legendary home of Thomas Jefferson, this home more so than any other famous person's home I have every visited, really reflected the man. The interior is decorated with scientific artifacts, maps and most of all books that reflected Jefferson's curiosity and ambition
When we set out to find Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell Puller's grave in Saluda, we had no idea that the hunt would take us to historic "Christ Church." The Flemish-Bond brick church is actually the second "Christ Church" on this spot being built in 1712. The original church which was destroyed, I believe, by fire was built in 1666.
An online search about the further history of this particular church was made difficult by the fact that there are a number of historic "Christ Churches" in Virginia --- in Weems, in Alexandria, near Richmond, and I am sure there must be others as well!! The afternoon we visited Christ Church in Saluda, we were greeted by a friendly gentleman who was Choir Master of the church and told us a little about it. For example, a fascinating aspect of the church is the fact that it has been used virtually continuously since it was built and the parish still maintains the use of the original vestrybooks containing the member register and announcements dating back to the church's founding.
to be continued
I was lucky to be born and raised in a state chock full of historical places, both large and small. I came across a small one recently while traveling to and from Virginia, in part, on Route 17. (The route runs roughly north, crossing the James River, and between the York and Rappahannock Rivers. Just about every place it runs through has an Old English name or American Indian name.)
With quite a small population, Saluda, Virginia, is one of the smaller towns located in Middlesex County and is little known even to Virginians unless you're from the eastern part of the state. It barely deserves a dot on a map except for one major point of interest for some: it was the home of Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell Puller, known widely as "Chesty Puller," and it is where he is buried. One of the most highly decorated Marines in U.S. history, Lt. Gen. Puller received 5 Navy Crosses for heroism in combat, a Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", Purple Heart Medal, and so many more. Although Lt. Gen. Puller passed away in 1971, in my hometown of Hampton, he is buried in Saluda.
We stopped to find the grave of Lt. Gen. Puller and pay our respects and in doing so, came upon another interesting piece of Virginia history. Lt. Gen. Puller and his wife are buried in historic Christ Church Cemetery down the road apiece from the 4-corners of Saluda's "downtown." The cemetery surrounding Christ Church is full of very old graves and gravestones, but Lt. Gen. Puller and his wife's grave are some of the more recent and at the same time, are also quite different --- they are marked by full-length, horizontal granite slabs rather than verticle gravestone markers which are mostly what can be seen in the graveyard. Lt. Gen Puller's stone bears an engraved emblem of the U.S. Marine Corps and is marked by a Marine Flag. It was very moving to stand at the grave of someone who gave so much for his country.
It is also interesting to note that Lt. Gen. Burwell's son, 1st Lt. Lewis Burwell Puller, Jr.,(known as Lewis) who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, was also a Marine and War Hero. He was terribly wounded by a landmine in Vietnam. Against almost insurmountable odds, Lt. Burwell survived and went on to earn a law degree and win a Pulitzer Prize for authoring, "Fortunate Son." Ironically and unfortunately, he was not able to overcome his long battle with depression and took his own life.
Some history of "Christ Church" which was established in 1666 will be covered in a separate tip.
Having been educated at William & Mary College in Williamsburg at a time when university professors and students, lived, worked and studied in one building, Thomas Jefferson's view of what the college experience should be differed greatly from his own experience. He envisioned a complex of student residences, punctuated by, and connected to, larger "pavillions." The two-story pavillions functioned as professors' living quarters arranged above classroom space. Two linear colonnades of such connected buildings with covered walkways, joined at northern end by the particularly beautiful Rotunda, were arranged around "The Lawn." His design of having students and faculty living side-by-side, but with a measure of privacy, provided the perfect arrangement for a close community which engaged in intellectual and social activity, interchange and exploration of ideas, but with a more convenient living arrangement.
Today, these 55 special, single-person room arrangements are awarded to 4th year students who have achieved superior success in academics in addition to outstanding service to the university community. Students are chosen for this high privilege through competitive application selections. "Being awarded a Lawn room is one of the University's highest honors" which can be awarded to a student.
Although updated to some extent, this housing is much the same as it was when Jefferson walked the grounds himself. Of the 10 pavillions, 9 are occupied by senior faculty of which 2 still host formal classes. The remaining pavillion is reserved for the "Colonnade Club," a faculty organization. Ever the architect, Jefferson designed the facade of each pavillion with a unique, but classical architectural design.
Nothing speaks of the spirit of human sacrifice like Arlington National Cemetery. Nothing prepares you for what you see when you get to the Nation's largest military (all branches of the armed forces) burial ground. It is located across the Potomac river from Washington, at the west end of Memorial Bridge. The honor and respect in this place is without a doubt one of the most deserved. The cemetery first became a burial ground for Civil War Union soldiers beside Arlington House formerly the estate of Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s wife Mary Anna Lee, a great grand-daughter of Martha Washington. The house still stands but is under renovation.
Self guided tours of the cemetery is Free however, we took a guided, well more like a narrated tour on the Martz, which made it easier to move around the huge grounds with a four month old baby. For $8.75 an adult, and $4 a child, we paid to be taken around the grounds, we made three stops; one at the eternal flame at the grave side of former president J.F. Kennedy, the second at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier where we saw the changing of the guards,and the third stop was at Arlington House. I highly recommend this tour as it gives you all you need to see without the stress of having to walk the distance between each. Remember that is is a huge site with over 330,000 graves, trust me if you have children, it is a challenge.
All the graves maintained by the federal governement are in straight lines as if they were saluting a guard of honor, it is said they are put so to commemorate what they did in life. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded as part of a time honored tradition began in 1920 by the United Kingdom when it first buried an unknown soldier on behalf of all World War I empire soldiers.
I was humbled by the sacrifice made by those now resting in this place. May their souls RIP. And to those who maintain this enormous site,I mean down right to the ones who cut the grass and pick up after the inconsiderate people who leave trash around even though there are provisions for rubbish.
When we were done with the change of guard ceremony at the Tomb of the unknown soldier, we went up to the display room which is located at the back of the Amphitheater. It is not so big, but enough to house the different medals of honor given to the veterans of the different wars fought by American soldiers.
The medals and flags given to the unknown soldiers, Vietnam and Korean veterans, world war I and II, the Spanish and Mexican wars. You kind of get a feel for the loss of a nation,but mostly the pain of loved ones. If you find yourself at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, do visit the display room, it is interesting to say the least.
I have rated the Town Center coast as average because the coast of living in this area is generally high, but the residents are used to it. Now for a visitor like me, it is actually high because I come from a State where the cost of living is much lower than Virginia's. If you live in Washington, and areas of the East Coast, this is average pricing. If you are coming from the Southwest, this is going to be expensive. Well I like shopping and my daughter has picked up my bad habit.
We decided to go to the mall after talking to Mark's colleague/ friend's wife Marlene who was excited about the big mall. We also needed to buy a few things for the Fourth of July celebrations, so it was not really a hard sell.
Located at the intersection of Virginia Routes 7 and 28, it is about 20 minutes’ drive from Herndon, even with traffic. There was little traffic at 11:00 am when we went there. The parking lot was busy (most shopping malls across America are like this, all week), no surprise. We found parking in front of JCPennys and walked right in.
The mall looks fairly new and well maintained; most major names like Sears, Nordstrom, Loyd & Taylor, JCPennys, Macys, H&M, Anne Taylor, Cache' and specialty stores like Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and the Washington Redskins Official store, to mention but a few. It is a Premier Shopping complex with over 190 stores. For someone who likes shopping, this place is like a drug to an addict. So many stores to choose from; each seemed to have a sale going, and boy, do we love sales!
By the way, there is a Cheese Cake Factory here too; I had to resist the urge to go order a Red Velvet Cheese Cake, next time perhaps.
A huge food court at the center of the mall caters for the hunger needs of shoppers as well as store workers of the mall. Different cuisines to choose from, in fact we ate at the Master Wok Chinese (look at my review of Master Wok), while Mark dug his teeth in a Sandwich from Chic-fil-A.
Once our bellies were no longer complaining, we took on the task of shopping and got some great outfits, and color for the Fourth of July.
The Virginia Creeper is a 33 mile hiking and cycling trail from Abingdon, Va to the NC / Va border near Whitetop. If you're a serious mountain biker, this will not be your biggest challenge. But if you just enjoy the freedom of cycling without having to work too hard - read on.
The most popular section is from Whitetop to Damascus. 17.9 miles - almost all downhill along the route of the former Abingdon Branch of the Norfolk and Western Railway line. The name Virginia Creeper comes from the old steam trains which laboured (or crept) uphill carrying lumber and iron ore. Although we have bikes, we chose to drive to Damascus and rent bikes there. There are plenty of "Bike Stations' where you can park, rent a bicycle and be shuttled uphill to Whitetop. We rented from "Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop" - catchy name - in Damascus who gave half price discounts for Moms on Mother's Day. Our bikes were new with lots of gears, though on this downhill ride there really was no need for gear-changing. Select the "Comfort Saddle" - ie. it has some padding ! Helmets are available too.
The shuttle to the start was about 30 minutes and our leisurely ride down took 2 1/2 hrs. Much of the route down is by the river with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the tumbling waters. Much of the ride is in the shade of the trees and our ride in May was in a very pleasant 75F. It can be a little cooler in the shade and at the start of the trail so a small back-pack is worth taking as well as water, though our renters supplied a bottle with the bike. There are toilet facilities en route as well as a couple of places to buy food and ice cream. The cycle trail takes you within yards of the parking lot by the rental store - so you can ride directly to the store.
This is a great and very easy family activity - 17 miles might sound daunting - but when it is all downhill or flat, it really is easy. In May 2012, a bike rental cost $26 and included the shuttle bus to the top. The store will stay open until you return!
We cycled at the weekend in May and although popular, it was not so busy that you felt constantly surrounded by people. The same cannot be said during colourful Fall weekends.
Between the Naval Aviation Monument and the beach is a statue of a Norwegian lady facing the ocean. The statue commemorates the 1891 wreck of the Norwegian vessel Dictator. It was caught in a storm, ran aground on a sandbar 300 yards from the shore. Only 8 on 17 crew members survived the disaster. Locals pulled together to save as much of the crew as they could. A female figurehead from the sunken ship washed up on shore and it served for more than 60 years as the monument to those lost in the wreck and to honour those who helped in the rescue. In 1953, Hurricane Barbara damaged the Norwegian lady beyond repair and she was removed from the site. When they heard about the loss in Norway, a joint venture was sent out to raise the funds to build a new memorial. The Norwegian Shipping Association raised enough money, not for one memorial statue, but for two: in Virginia Beach and in Moss, Norway. The "new" Norwegian lady statue has been at its present location since 1962. The words that are inscribed there are "I am the Norwegian Lady. I stand here, as my sister before me, to wish all men of the sea safe return home."
The Naval Aviation Monument in Virginia Beach is inside the Naval Aviation Monument Park. The park containing the monument encompasses 16,000 square feet. It is located right where 25th Street and Atlantic Avenue meet. The first photo shows the columns at the entrance of the park. In the second photo, there is a statue of a scene of a family greeting their pilot husband and father reflects the joy and celebration of a Navy homecoming. The third photo shows a World War II pilot and his crewmen who are leaving their hatch, hoping to get to an aircraft. The fourth photo shows a monument into which the names of all U.S. Navy aircraft carriers are etched.
Completed in 1974, the East River Mountain Tunnel is one of longest twin tunnels in the US. At over 5,400 feet long, the distance is certainly impressive as it unites Virginia and West Virginia along I-77.
The area is surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest.
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