October 18 - 21, 2019: Arlington, Virginia
We left Vermont in the rain and traveled most of the day in rain to Milford, Pennsylvania. This was our half way spot on our way to Arlington, Virginia area. As we traveled through the areas we crossed into Massachusetts and even though it was rainy the Fall colors were still gorgeous!
Notice the sign of the town we are passing through (look beyond the rain)? Pittsfield, Massachusetts. If you are asking yourself "why pass through Pittsfield?" The answer is...this is where it all began for Craig Michael Weaver. He was born at the Pittsfield General Hospital which has since been renamed to Berkshire Medical Center and as you can see has been expanded...a lot!
I wanted to get out and take a picture of Craig beside the sign or go into the Maternity Ward to get his picture, but the hospital has changed so much, it was raining HARD, the old Maternity Ward is probably a janitor closet, and....he wanted nothing to do with it ; ) So....this is as good as it gets!
From Massachusetts, we crossed into New York (sign with all of the rain), and then finally Pennsylvania (it stopped raining - YEAH!), and into a Walmart parking lot for the night. By the time we went to bed that night, there were 7 other campers, rv's, motor homes in the parking lot beside us. Once again, we restocked our grocery supplies at the Walmart.
The next day we continued on our journey to Virginia. We left the Fall colored hills of New York and drove into the flat farming and rural areas of Maryland, and then into Virginia.
As we got closer to where we were staying in Centerville, Virginia we passed through a town called Leesburg, streets were named Lee, Bull Run, and then we started noticing signs like the ones below.
Little did we know that this whole area was where some of the first battles of the Civil War were fought. According to Wikipedia "On July 21, 1861, the First Battle of Bull Run (the name used by Union forces), also known as the First Battle of Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces), was the first major battle of the American Civil War and was a Confederate victory for Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The Second Battle of Manassas, August 28-30, 1862, brought Southern forces to the height of their military power. The two battles are commemorated on a 5,000 acre battlefield park."
Wow, talk about stumbling into a cool piece of history!
And...we had booked to stay at Bull Run Regional Park in Centerville, Virginia. We choose this location because we were meeting up with some friends who live in Arlington (about 20 miles away) and it is a nice central location to anything we may want to do.
Also, little did we know that we were only 15 miles from the Micron Manassas, Virginia plant! No...we did not drive by the plant...I wanted to but refrained from it ; )
As we drove into Bull Run Regional Park (1,568 acres) we saw that they had started to put up all of their Christmas lights. The park has an enormous light show for Christmas, too bad we are going to miss it. It kind of got you into the holiday spirit.
Below is our camp setup. The big limb beside the door decided to wake us up about 7:00am one morning by falling and hitting the trailer. Luckily, we had no damage but it was a rude awakening : )
Early the next morning we met our friends at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Unfortunately, I forgot to get any pictures of us, so...there you have it! What a great Botanical Garden to walk around in. During our visit there were at least two remembrance ceremonies/wakes happening and one wedding that was being prepared for. What a neat location for those events.
From here, Craig and I decided to visit the Arlington National Cemetery. We had thought about visiting this during our other visits to the D.C. area, but ran out of time. Since we were only 20 minutes away...it was a must for this visit!
It is amazing that even though these signs are posted frequently throughout the cemetery, many people don't even adhere to them. Both adults and children. Sad...
Every visit to Arlington must include stopping by John F. Kennedy's grave site.
And The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier. If you are not familiar with how the 'unknowns' were chosen to be buried here, read this story Very interesting. Of course, this also involves The Changing Of The Guard Ceremony. To be a soldier guarding the tomb is a very sacred and honored service.
The soldiers change their guard post every hour on the hour. The on guard soldier walks the length of the tomb area, pausing at each end for 21 seconds (to represent a 21 gun salute), turns, clicks their heals together, pauses another 21 seconds, and then continues the pattern at the other end of the carpeted area.
Before the change is to occur, the soldier enters the "shelter", makes or receives a phone call to notify of the change and end their guard. Then after the change (below), the new soldier does the same procedure to start their guard.
To change the guards, the commander inspects the new guard and then all three (prior guard, commander, new guard) walk the length and salute the Unknowns. Very formal.
During our visit we were also able to see two separate groups of Veterans perform an official ceremony with the Commander, Guard, and bugler to honor the Unknowns.
The picture below is from the top of the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier looking into Washington D.C. You can see the US Capital off to the left with a crane around it and the Jefferson Memorial off to the right with scaffolding around it.
Near the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier is the Memorial Amphitheater where special services are held. You can also tour the inside and get more history on Arlington National Cemetery, the history, and the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.
Unfortunately, the Arlington House was being restored so we were not able to visit it. We used an application on our phone to identify a few gravesites, which was neat. There are about 15 Moon's (do not know if they are related) buried in Arlington (husband and wife), but I did not get any pictures of their headstones.
Notice the Washington Monument and Pentagon in the distance?
Below are some random pictures from the cemetery.
As we were leaving you could see the Lincoln Memorial across the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
We have visited the Vicksburg National Military Park, Gettysburg National Cemetery, and now Arlington National Cemetery. All of them have been very sobering experiences. The two that have made the biggest impact on me were Vicksburg and Gettysburg. I think just because of the vicious battles that occurred on those grounds where you are standing and the amount of casualties. Arlington is awesome, but from a different perspective. All are worth the visit!
The next day we visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, also called the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly, Virginia. Since we visited the Air and Space Museum in The Mall of D.C., we thought it was only appropriate that we visit this one as well.
Wow...this facility is huge and we both agreed, better than the one at the Mall. Their are multiple hangars with HUGE airplanes inside on three levels!
We took a guided tour from Bill who was a retired F4 pilot. Bill was very knowledgeable and could answer any questions that were asked and gave a lot of personal experiences or comparisons between the planes. If you visit here, definitely take a free guided tour!
As you can see, it was a very heavy day of rain, so being inside the hangar museum was perfect!
There is a separate hangar where they are restoring planes and you can watch. Way cool!
The SR-71A Blackbird was VERY cool!
It is kind of hard to see but in the back, there is an Air France Concorde. What an amazing airplane in many ways, notice the length...202 feet!
Craig was in the Air Guard at Gowen Field in Boise and in one section of the hangar, he kept saying "we had that one", "we had that one", "we had that one", etc. The museum had most of the planes that have been at Gowen which were: P51, F86, F94, F89, F102, F4, and A10's. Below are a few of the airplanes he was referring to:
These were some other really cool airplanes.
Check out the Japanese Aichi M6A1 Seiran, the pontoons came off, the wings came off and it fit into a tube ATTACHED TO THE TOP of a submarine!
Check out the Sikorsky JRS-1. If you read the first paragraph, this airplane was actually at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
As was typical of most museums we visit, we spent about 5 hours there, closed the place down, and...still wanted more time! What a GREAT museum!
One of the days we hung around the campsite and trailer working on a variety of "honey-do's": Craig worked on the shower doors, sound bar, dining table bench (these are all things that have come loose and continue to come loose on our travels), changed the hitch around on the truck, oiled and sanded the gears, sprockets, etc. on the bicycles, and rearranged the back of the truck. I worked on washing chair covers, stickers on the outside of the trailer, and our web pages that you are reading (smile). One of the nights during our stay, we went to the theater and saw the new Joker, great flick!
We do not build much down time into our schedule, it seems we are always going from one cool thing to the next so we need to take a day or two occasionally and get caught up on maintenance items.
On the afternoon we worked around the trailer, we had a beautiful blue sky and with the fall colors, I was having fun capturing reflective pictures from the trailer windows.
Remember at the beginning I said that we would see Civil War buildings and markers daily as we drove around, these are two examples of that. In the first picture, notice the cannons in the distance?
We had a great time in the entire area and again there are just so many things that we did not get a chance to see. Again...another location we need to come back and spend more time.
Huge Thank You to our friends for meeting with us and spending time catching up, until next time!