September 19, 2012 – Bowling Green, Kentucky

We finally left beautiful Lexington, heading for Bowling Green.  Our route took us west across the Bluegrass Parkway which passes through only a few towns and then south on I-65, also known as the

 

 and crossing from Eastern into Central time.

We were again intrigued by the rock strata exposed when sections of road required blasting which disintegrates in moments what it took nature millions of years to create.

 

 

And, for the 359th consecutive day of RVing, we were greeted by road work.

After checking in at our campground, we stopped right across the street at the recently opened Aviation Heritage Park.

USAF T-33A-5 Shooting Star

Grumman F9F-5 Panther

USAF F4-D Phantom

And then headed out for the Corvette assembly plant only to discover that it was temporarily closed for a $130 million dollar overhaul.  However, just ½ mile away was the

While we are not car buffs, we do retain fond memories of the “original” Corvettes of the 1950s … before their designers took too many liberties and altered the car’s classic appearance.  However, it was still a fascinating place to visit with many one-of-a-kind cars on display.

1953 (first year) Corvette … only 300 made

Replica of 1953 gas station with ’53 Corvette (Note the price of gas)

Roy Orbison’s Corvette

1952 Corvette stolen in 1970 and subsequently recovered in 2009 (39 years later)

 

The only Melon-colored Corvette ever made

And, several Corvettes whose owners detailed their cars as memorials to 9/11.

 

 

 

 

 

There was a unique “picture” of a Corvette

 

Actually, each “pixel” is a photograph of a Corvette.

Of equal interest was the evolution of the Corvette logo.  When the first Corvette was about to be debuted in New York City, the logo was a pair of crossed flags.

 

Then someone remembered that it was illegal to use the American flag for commercial purposes.  As a result a new logo had to be designed, manufactured and flown to NYC for the debut.  The result was the logo the world knows to this day.

 

And, little did we know, but between 1954 and 1964, the company also manufactured Corvette-Schwinn bicycles, then the most popular in the country.

As we entered the last room on the walking tour of the museum, we were taken aback.  Instead of more cars, we were walking through a gut-wrenching exhibit of relics and stories of 9/11 … a portion of which which included:

Lisa Frost’s United Airlines Mileage-Plus Card

Part of an Antenna which stood 1,368’ up on Tower 1 of the World Trade Center

Fuselage Window Fragment from either American Flight 11 or United Flight 175

 

Portion of the landing gear from American Flight 11

Quilt Made by Susan Walsh of Chicago incorporating photos of all 373 NYC Firemen who perished on 9/11

From there we took a brief tour of downtown Bowling Green.

Fountains at Circus Square Park (which put on a pre-programmed show, similar to that at Bellagio, albeit on a much smaller scale)

Where there were unusual “No Smoking” signs posted.

 

There is also a restoration of Standard Oil Filling Station #1 (circa 1920)

which at one time dispensed

Crown Gasoline

Crown Gasoline with Ethyl

 And

 

By the way, did you catch the price of gas in 1920?

Driving through the more historical section of the city, we stopped at Fountain Square.

Where prohibitionists have marched around it, trolleys have encircled it, parades of all types-circus, military, historical, homecoming, Irish, political and patriotic- have taken place around it, scrap drives headquartered here, Civil War soldiers knew this place, hundreds of farm animals have been sold here as well as fine horses, pageants have been held here, veterans were welcomed home here, people have sold and traded every kind of item imaginable here, and buildings here have come and gone.

Hebe (Goddess of Youth) tops the central fountain

Around which four other statues are mounted on locally-quarried limestone.

Ceres (Goddess of Grain)

Flora (Goddess of Flowers)

Melpomane (Goddess of Tragedy)

Pomona (Goddess of Fruit)

And just outside the park’s entrance

Father and Children Reading a Newspaper

This park, too, had yet another twist on smoking …

Around the park, there were several examples of art deco architecture.

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September 15, 16, 17 and 18, 2012 – Lexington Kentucky – Visiting Jack and Kathy Kelly

Saturday – September 15th

Our prime reason for coming to Lexington was to spend time with Jack and Kathy Kelly.

As first cousins, Jack’s mom and my dad were brother and sister, our relationship goes back to 1945 when we first met … and when he still had very little hair.

 

That evening we drove to Danville and saw the Center for the Arts at Centre College

where this fall the Vice Presidential debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will take place, and then found a truly “local” restaurant.

Sunday – September 16th

Kathy arranged for us to participate in an auto tour of some of the more rural areas of Lexington.  After passing through a couple of upscale neighborhoods,

 we drove by the Bloomberg/Delong mansion.

 

 With over 24,000 sq. ft. of living area, it is the largest home in Lexington and has one of the largest entry foyers in the country, some 84’ long with a fireplace, double staircase, and an upstairs gallery.

Throughout the tour, we passed by many horse farms,

 

grazing thoroughbreds,

barns, many with paintings, a tradition which originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch,

 

Nearly treeless pastures,

Tobacco fields (which are not cut, not picked, when their leaves turn amber in color),

Narrow, stonewall-lined roads,

Where avoiding the ever-present bikers was often a challenge.

 

One of our final stops was at the Grimes Mill Winery … where we were able to sample some delicious vino!

 

And there was the lonesome RV we spied in a field.

 

Monday – September 17th

Today was the first really rainy day we’ve had on this trip.  However, we used the time to take a tour of part of downtown Lexington and the

 

Undoubtedly, the most famous “resident” is Henry Clay whose burial monument towers above everything else in the cemetery and is visible from downtown Lexington.

 

 

Clay  1777 – 1852), one of the most influential men in the US during the first half of the 19th century who was not president, was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives. He served three different terms as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829.

Henry Clay made numerous attempts at becoming president, making five serious runs. He secured a major party nomination three of those times and lost all three elections.

He was dubbed the “Great Pacificator,” as he brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis and on the slavery issue.  As part of the “Great Triumvirate” or “Immortal Trio,” along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun, he was instrumental in formulating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850.

Equally impressive is the towering American Basswood which stands beside his tomb and began its life prior to the signing of the American Constitution.

 

Also interred is John Breckenridge, the nation’s youngest Vice President (assuming office at the age of just 36), serving under James Buchannan … although we were never able to find his grave site.

As with the Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont which we’d visited this summer, we saw a number of interesting grave stones; some etched,

 

 

others employing stained glass (or a plexiglass substitute),

and still others very ornate.

 

Just prior to leaving we stopped at the site of the soldier’s section, in which the graves of Civil War and soldiers from other wars are arranged in concentric circles.

 

Tuesday – September 18th

Today, the weather was rainy and we spent much of the day doing some housekeeping, paying bills and reading … the first really “down” day since leaving home.

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September 14, 2012 – Lexington, Kentucky

Today’s drive from Milton to the Kentucky Horse Park Campground in Lexington was the best kind … uneventful.

Soon after crossing into

we saw our first signs of fall.

Continuing further west, the crystal blue sky began to billow with brilliant cumulus clouds,

although no rain ultimately resulted.

The traffic along I-64 was very light, often with no cars in sight

 

as it runs through gently rolling hills, framed by treed hillsides, recently hayed fields but few towns.

Nearing Lexington, we began to see some of the spectacular horse farms for which the region is so famous.

This evening, we had dinner with Kathy, Dick’s cousin, Jack’s, wife as he is not due back from a business trip until late this evening.

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September 13, 2012 – West Virginia

Having changed our plans and spent and extra day visiting Gettysburg, we decided to by-pass Greenbrier and head toward our next stop in Lexington, KY.   It meant a long day on the road (366 miles) ending in Milton, WV, between Charleston and Huntington.

Driving across the Appalachians, our trip was a winding course

up and through the Cumberland and other gaps

and fog shrouded valleys,

picturesque towns.

numerous farms and scenic barns

where cattle,

corn

and hay

appeared to be the agricultural mainstays.

There were unique roadside signs,

messages from local churches,

and even a lighthouse;

which turned out to be the “World Worship Lighthouse Center”.

Near the West Virginia state line, we crossed over the Eastern Continental Divide

East of which waters flow toward the Atlantic and west of which they flow toward the Mississippi River.

At one point, Debbie spotted a patriotic tree

And two deer who had second thoughts when trying to cross the Interstate.

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September 11-12, 2012 – Gettysburg – Three Terrible Days in July 1863

Perhaps it was fitting that on 9-11, while remembering those who lost their lives 11 years ago, that we spent the day at Gettysburg where 165,000 Americans (90,000 Union forces and 75,000 Confederates) faced off in mortal combat July, 1863.  Of that number, there were more than 51,000 casualties; 23,049 Union  forces (3,155 dead, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing) and Confederate casualties of 28,063 (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured, and 5,425 missing), more than a third of Lee’s army … many the results, directly or indirectly, of the estimated 569 tons of ammunition was fired during the three day orgy.

We opted to take a tour, a wise decision as we had an incredibly knowledgeable tour guide who shared a tremendous amount of detailed information about the battles which took place there and many of the combatants.  It gave both Debbie and I a far deeper understanding of what occurred and an appreciation of the people whomet on a great battle-field of that war”. 

We also learned that to qualify as a licensed tour guide at Gettysburg, hundreds of books must be devoured and a vigorous test passed!

So interesting was the day, we changed our plans for the following few days in order to return for another day at Gettysburg, this time touring on our own.

It is difficult to depict what we saw and learned at

without putting it in some historical perspective.  Otherwise, it becomes a series of pictures of monuments and fields.  At the same time, without actually visiting the site it’s still difficult to comprehend the way the battle unfolded and why so many lives were lost

First, why Gettysburg?  Gettysburg, a small community of 2,400 inhabitants, was an unlikely place for such an engagement, and not the location at which the Union had hoped to fight the Confederate army.  Rather, it was determined by General Robert E. Lee who hoped to strike a fatal blow to the Grand Army of the Potomac (Union Army).   He chose Gettysburg as it was the crossroads of eleven roads, facilitating military logistics, it was in the North and it was close to Washington, DC.

Leading his Army of Northern Virginia north through the Shenandoah and Cumberland Valleys, he arrived to the west and north of Gettysburg in late June 1863.

On July 1st, elements of the two armies collided west of Gettysburg during the early morning hours.  The fighting escalated throughout the day as more Union and Confederate troops reach the battlefield.  By 4:00 PM the defending Federal troops are defeated and retreat through Gettysburg, where many are captured.  The remnants of the Union force rallied upon Cemetery and Culp’s Hills.

By July 2nd, the main strength of both armies had arrived by the morning.  General Lee launched attacks against the Union’s left and right flanks in an attempt to dislodge Meade’s army from its strong position.  Confederate General Longstreet’s assault upon the Union left made good progress but is eventually checked by Federal reinforcements from the center and right flank.  On the Union’s right, General Ewell’s Confederate troops are able to seize part of Culp’s Hill but, elsewhere, are repulsed.

On the final day of the battle, July 3rd, while Ewell renews his efforts to seize Culp’s Hill, Lee turned his main attention to the less well-defended Union center.  After a two-hour artillery bombardment, he sent 12,000 Confederate infantry to try to break the Federal lines on Cemetery Ridge.  Despite a courageous, but ultimately futile, effort, the attack (subsequently dubbed “Pickett’s Charge”) is repulsed with heavy losses.  East of Gettysburg, Lee’s cavalry is also checked in a large cavalry battle.  Crippled by the loss of over 40% of his force, Lee can no longer continue the battle.

July 4th saw little action other than some spasmodic sniping by the opposing sides.  The following day, under the cover of a rainstorm, General Lee’s armies moved south in a strategic retreat.  While the Union won the Battle of Gettysburg, the war would grind on for another year and one-half before the slaughter of Americans by Americans finally came to an end.

For years I have wondered, given the history of the successes of the tactics of the Americans during the Revolutionary War, why during the Civil War the Union and Confederate forces lined up shoulder-to-shoulder and marched across open territory into the killing and maiming artillery and rifle firepower of their enemy.

It seems that both nearly all Union and Confederate generals were initially trained at West Point, where Napoleonic battle tactics were gospel.  However, since the Napoleonic wars, armies stopped using muskets with a maximum effective range of perhaps 100 yards and began using early rifles with which a soldier could hit his target at up to 500 yards.  And, while shoulder-to-shoulder formations made for easy communication during battles before the days of radio communications, such formations made such armies easy targets for rifle-equipped armies … not to mention putting them within range of canons with 1-2 mile ranges.

Strategically, the Civil War was a sad example of young men fighting and becoming canon-fodder for old mens’ wars and outdated tactics!

After watching the movie and visiting the museum at the Visitor’s Center and touring the battlefields of Gettysburg, the lasting memories are of the some 1,328 monuments, most dedicated to the various state and local militias, participants in the various battles and plaques describing the horror of those three days in July 149 years ago and canons lining the redoubts and ridge lines where they were positioned during the battle;

Tennessee State Monument

North Carolina Battlefield Monument (designed and sculptured by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore)

Pennsylvania State Memorial (largest at Gettysburg – contains the names of all 33,530 Pennsylvanians who fought at Gettysburg)

42nd New York Infantry Memorial

General Robert E. Lee (on Seminary Ridge)

General George G. Meade (on Cemetery Ridge)

New York Second Brigade Memorial

Massachusetts First Andrews Sharp-Shooters

Eternal Flame at the Top of the Light Peace Memorial

Minnesota 262 Regiment Charge Memorial

several hundred canon, although only 1 cannon can be officially documented as having actually seen action at Gettysburg, and that is “Cannon Number 233” of Lieutenant John Calef’s Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery, which fired the first Union artillery shot of the battle while under the command of General John Buford’s Cavalry Division on McPherson’s Ridge on July 1st;

Bronze Canon Pointed Across the Field Stormed by Pickett’s Charge

Memorial Canon at the site of the Confederate “high water mark” on Cemetery Ridge

scattered homes and barns (only one barn from 1863 remains);

McPherson Barn (site of the first skirmish of the Battle of Gettysburg)

Robert E. Lee’s Brief Headquarters in Gettysburg

and visions of the horror which took place on the now tranquil fields and hills.

Devils’ Den on Union Left Flank of Cemetery Ridge

Cemetery Ridge from Confederate Position on Seminary Ridge

View from Cemetery Ridge looking toward Seminary Ridge and across the fields over which Pickett’s ill-fated Charge took place

Among the other anecdotes we learned was the during World War I, a young Captain Eisenhower used the fields over which General Picket’s troops charged as a tank training area and during World War II, the area became a Prisoner of War facility for captured German military personnel.

It is also interesting to note that it was Robert E. Lee who captured John Brown at Harper’s Ferry after his takeover of the armory.  Further, prior to the war, Lee was the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and he was married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington by her first husband Daniel Parker Custis, and the step-great-granddaughter of George Washington.

While on Cemetery Ridge on our second day at Gettysburg, we were joined by Jim Lovell,

who flew on Gemini 8 and 12, Apollo 8 (the first manned craft to fly around the moon and return to earth) and was the commander of Apollo 13 (of “Houston, we have a problem” fame), who was being given a private tour (we listened in on) prior, we suspect, to attending the memorial service for Neil Armstrong in Washington the following day.

***************

On November 19th of that year, 4½ months after the Union and Confederate forces have slaughtered each other, an ailing President Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg at the invitation of David Wills, the man charged with “cleaning up the Gettysburg battlefield”, to help dedicate a Cemetery to the Union dead (at that time, the Confederate dead were often buried close to where they fell … although later reburied in cemeteries across the South);

After a lengthy speech by Edward Everett, Lincoln spoke briefly, after which he returned to Washington where he was diagnosed with a mild case of smallpox.

When he spoke the following words, the crowd fell silent.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Despite the historical significance of Lincoln’s speech, modern scholars disagree as to its exact wording, and contemporary transcriptions published in newspaper accounts of the event and even handwritten copies by Lincoln himself differ in their wording, punctuation, and structure.

The five known manuscript copies of the Gettysburg Address are each named for the associated person who received it from Lincoln. Lincoln gave a copy to each of his private secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay.  Both of these drafts were written around the time of his November 19 address, while the other three copies of the address, the Everett, Bancroft, and Bliss copies, were written by Lincoln for charitable purposes well after November 19. In part because Lincoln provided a title and signed and dated the Bliss copy, it has become the standard text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The two earliest drafts of the Address are associated with some confusion and controversy regarding their existence and provenance. The Hay draft differed from the version of the Gettysburg Address published by John Nicolay in 1894 in a number of significant ways: it was written on a different type of paper, had a different number of words per line and number of lines, and contained editorial revisions in Lincoln’s hand.

Today, both the Hay and Nicolay copies of the Address are within the Library of Congress, encased in specially designed, temperature-controlled, sealed containers with argon gas in order to protect the documents from oxidation and continued deterioration.

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September 10, 2012 – Pennsylvania State House, Harrisburg, PA

We’d heard so much about Pennsylvania’s State Capitol Building that we were prepared for something of a letdown.  However,

from the moment it loomed into view, we knew we were in for an extraordinary day!

Since the seat of the Commonwealth’s government was relocated to Harrisburg in 1812, the current capitol, known as the Huston Capitol, is the third state capitol building to be built in Harrisburg. The first, the Hills Capitol, was destroyed in 1897 by a fire and the second, the Cobb Capitol, was left unfinished because the structure was considered undignified and unattractive in 1899.

The present, 600 room Capitol was designed by Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston who envisioned an American Renaissance style building as a “Palace of Art”.  The building incorporates various Renaissance designs in some of its largest rooms; Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber and English in the Governor’s Reception Room … as well as Greek, Roman and Victorian influences in its art and ornamentation.

 It was completed in 1906 and dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt who, upon entering the Rotunda, proclaimed, "it was the most beautiful building he had ever seen." 

 A sad footnote, however, after its completion, the capitol project was the subject of a major scandal.  Costing $13,000,000, its construction and subsequent furnishing cost three times more than the General Assembly had appropriated for the project.  Ultimately, Huston and four others were convicted of graft in relation to costs of the total project.

Today, it is an architectural and artistic treasure and a majestic symbol of history and power and an icon of democracy and freedom!

Its five-story exterior and surrounding entrances are faced with Vermont granite

while the roof is composed of green glazed terra cotta tile

 

 and topped with a 17’8” high domed entitled ‘Commonwealth” holding a garlanded mace in her left hand upholding the standard of statehood.  Her right hand is extended in benediction.

 Climbing the steps toward the main entrance, we passed between the Barnard Statues which flank the massive 17’bronze doors, each weighing a ton … but easily swung open with the touch of a hand.  Twenty-seven figures are represented in these two sculptures.

To the Left is “Labor and Love / The Unbroken Law”, representing humanity advancing through work and brotherhood

To the Left is “Labor and Love / The Unbroken Law”, representing humanity advancing through work and brotherhood

To the right is “The Burden of Life / The Broken Law”, portraying the lives of degradation and spiritual burdens

Entering the dramatic Rotunda, your attention is immediately drawn to the grand staircase, modeled after the Paris Opera House.

  As your gaze is cast upward, you are captivated by the spectacular dome

 

 which soars 272 feet above.  Weighing 52 million pounds, its design was inspired by Michangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

At the top of the dome, the natural light 48 portholes together with 4,000 lights illuminate the Rotunda.

The floor you are standing on is also a work of art.  A 16,000 sq. ft. mosaic of Moravian tile, it was designed by Henry Chapman Mercer and is punctuated by nearly 400 tile pictures which relates the story of Pennsylvania’s rich history from the time of the Native Americans who inhabited the area before the arrival of European settlers up through the beginning of the 20th century when the floor was laid.

 

 

 Two long hallways run right and left of the center of the Rotunda

 

and another, leading to the elevator,  draws you attention to a dramatically tiled ceiling.

 Our guided tour took us to the fourth floor where we could have a better view of the dome,

an opportunity to view the Rotunda from above,

and the upper walls and their art work.

 You might note that the inscription from William Penn which runs around the upper reaches of the Rotunda wall is also comprised of thousands blue and gold 1” square tiles.

 On the third floor while the Supreme Court courtroom was off-limits due to a Superior Court schedule, we were able to visit both the Senate Chamber

and the House Chamber.

The wooden desks used by Pennsylvania’s representatives were constructed of mahogany imported from Belize and date back to the building’s 1906 opening.

The lights in the two-ton chandeliers hanging in both chambers appear in an "x" pattern.

When the State House was completed 25-watt bulbs were the standard.  Unfortunately, the light they gave off was too dim to illuminate the large rooms in the building.  The solution was to use cut-glass globes surrounding the bulbs to scatter their light.  The result in both the chandeliers and and other permanent lamps was to create the pattern seen above.

Both chambers boast stained glass windows, 10 in the Senate Chamber and 14 in the House Chamber.  These were created by a Philadelphia native, William Van Ingers, a former student to famous glass artist Louis Tiffany.  Each features a theme, such a Military, Education, Commerce, History, Liberty, Justice, etc.

We next set out for the Forum, with its 22 bronze doors depicting “Man’s Creative and Recreative Occupations”,

an exact, full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell,

and the State Museum of Pennsylvania …

which was, regretfully closed on Mondays!

The State Capitol complex is also populated with numerous statues and memorials including,

Mexican War Memorial

Civil War hero Gen. John Harttanft

War Veterans Memorial

Being the Keystone State, naturally, keystones are found throughout the State Capitol Complex …

 

as are many interesting views of the exterior of the Capitol.

Finally, we found the predictable protesters, this group part of the so-called 99%.

Nearby, we visited several churches.

 

Grace Methodist Church (which was used as a temporary state capitol after the February 2, 1897 fire destroyed the former capitol building until the present facility was opened in 1906)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Mass at St. Patrick’s

 

Cathedral Chapel of St. Lawrence

Pine Street Presbyterian Church

After leaving the State Capitol complex and downtown Harrisburg areas, we drove back to Fort Hunter Park to see a late 19th century period Methodist church

 

(constructed in 1885 – damaged by fire in 1927)

and the Rockville Bridge which spans the Susquehanna Rover and is the longest stone masonry arch bridge in the world.

Constructed between 19000 and 1902, it is 3,820’ in length, 52’ wide and sits 46’ above the river’s mean height.  The present bridge has 48 spans, some say intentionally representing the 48 states before Alaska and Hawaii; although it is worth noting that when the bridge was built there was only 45 states, each 70 feet long.

From there we continued a few miles north where a 25th tall replica of the Statue of Liberty sits in the middle of the Susquehanna River’s Dauphin Narrows.

The original 18 ft. tall version was built by Gene Stilp in 1986 out of venetian blinds.  Demolished in a storm, it was later recreated taller and out of sturdier materials.

 

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September 9, 2012 – On the Road Again – Harrisburg, PA

We picked up our motor home on Saturday and spend longer than expected shuttling back and forth from our house to the Shady Brook clubhouse parking lot loading clothes, food, tools and other items we don’t leave aboard on a full time basis.

We were also a bit concerned about the forecast which included 70+ MPH winds and large hail.  However, the worst of the storm split north and south of us and other than a few showers we dogged a weather bullet.  Sunday morning we woke to a beautiful blue and cloudless sky.  By 8:40AM, we were hooked up and ready to hit the road.

Our initial destination was Harrisburg as, although living in Pennsylvania for almost 18 years, neither of us have visited the State Capitol.  Once west of King of Prussia, the PA Turnpike passes through some really pretty rural farm lands.

We arrived at our campground before 11:00AM and spent much of the next two hours cleaning floors and windows.  During lunch, Debbie was reading through some of the area brochures we’d picked up and lo and behold, just north of Harrisburg was Fort Hunter Park which not only boasted of an historic mansion but which was also hosting a jazz festival.

The park takes its name from an English fort which stood on the grounds during the French and Indian Wars in the mid-17th Century.  While archeologists are still searching for any remains of the fort, a Federal-style mansion,

whose initial construction (actually the middle section … two floors, one room on each) was begun by Archibald McAllister, a Revolutionary War General, in 1786.

 

The elegant façade of the mansion was added in 1814, while the rear, wooden section, which functions as a kitchen, was built in 1870.

Foyer

Elliptical Staircase

Parlor

 Where there were a number of a number of interesting artifact, including

A desk believed to have belonged to Allister McAllister (circa Mid-1700s)

“Square” grand piano

Three-volume set on frontier forts

Master bedroom

Complete with a “half-a-hat” bath tub

Washstand

and Sitting room

And, in one of the original rooms, there was a display of 19th century wedding dresses.

 

We also had a fascinating history lesson … on weddings.  Most Colonial settlers were married at home without a minister.   Most Protestants started marrying in churches during the 1800s.  Most people had their receptions at home until after the 1940s and until the 1960s, weddings were rarely personalized.

The typical bridal gown was not always white (see above photos).  Darker dresses were the norm and used after the ceremony for special occasions.   When Queen Victoria wore a white dress in 1840, she started a strong, new trend.  At first, only wealthy brides wore white, but by the late 1800s, middle class women were also doing so.

 The first known diamond engagement ring was given in 1477 to the bride of the Archduke Maxiimiliam of Germany.

Oh, yes … the word, “bride”, is over 1,000 years old; and likely cane from the Old English for “cook”.

While taking a guided tour, we did spy some Amish playing bocce on one of the expansive lawns and another lady who should probably be doing anything other than eating!

In the mansion’s garden, there were a number of unusual plants

Blackberry lily

and butterflies.

Other buildings which were part of the original estate included

Centennial Barn (circa 1876)

Tavern House (circa 1800)

Spring House (circa 1800)

Native American Wigwam (bent sapling frame covered with large sections of bark – circa per-Columbian period)

We were considering leaving when one of the security guards hired for the jazz concert

One of many performances

just getting underway out-of-the-blue offered us entrance bracelets.  So … we waltzed through the events entrance security, were each given wine glasses and began wandering past one winery kiosk after another; sampling, of course.

 

Around the property, there were some incredible trees, including two American Sycamores/Buttonwoods estimated to be at least 300 years old.

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July 20 – Home

This morning is the last day of our travels until September.  We left John and Judi’s

and headed south toward Pennsylvania with mixed emotions.  On the one hand, there is always a good feeling about getting home … and it will give us a chance to catch up with both Doug & Meg and Scott & Krista and our five New Jersey and Pennsylvania grandchildren whom we haven’t seen since early June … fortunately, we were able to spend a week with Nancy, Jason , Taylor and Jake before heading to Canada.  At the same time, we’re always a little saddened as we love our travels and life on the road!

On a day when rain, sometimes heavy, dominated the trip the only real excitement was a young fawn crossing the road just ahead of us just after leaving John and Judi’s.

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July 17-19 – Time with John and Judi Melby, Hillsdale, NY

Thursday –  With a cold front having passed through late yesterday, today held hopes for lower temperatures and far less humidity.  We headed out early for John’s and Judi’s boat, ”The Utmost” which they keep in a marina on Rondout Creek (comes from the fort, or redoubt, that was erected near its mouth in November, 1666) in Kingston, NY, the first such navigable tributary on the Hudson north of New York City , some 80 miles away.

While The Utmost was built in 1969, it remains a beautiful and comfortable boat.

Heading out of Rondout Creek, we passed the waterfront of historic Old Kingston,

old barges,

several tugs

and the Hestia,

which bears a striking resemblance to the “African Queen”, made famous in the Bogart and Hepburn movie of the same name.

Leaving the Creek, we passed by one of the Hudson River’s four major lighthouses between Albany and New York City.

Rondout Creek Lighthouse (built in 1913)

Never having done more than drive or walk over the Hudson River, we were impressed with how pretty it was, albeit we were well away from its urban shorelines.

Working Tugs Pushing Large Barges Upriver

Esopus Meadow Lighthouse (built in 1871)

Yachts on the River

Sailboats …under sail

and washed up along the shore, when stranded by Hurricane Irene

The predictable tourist boats

The Catskills in the distance

Castle-like Monasteries

The 112’ Lucky Seven which can be rented for a mere $42,500 per week

Large Freighters

And, at the other end of the spectrum … Jet SkiesAfter an incredible afternoon on the water, we returned to Rondout Creek.

Enroute back to John  and Judi’s, we stopped briefly at in a town of 6,401

where we had a chance to see their incredible collection of model cars … there must have been at least 500 on display

and where we saw our first green-haired person on this trip.We spent our last afternoon together around their pond, with wine and hors d’oeuvres

Wednesday –  After another morning of catching up with John and Judi, we left for Taconic State Park, and hiked up to the Bash Bish Gorge and Falls, crossing the New York/Massachusetts border

part way to the falls.

Perhaps not surprising, the

was generally ignored.

There were also some “characters” scrambling around the gorge.

Still in the park, although back in New York, we visited the remnants of the Copake Iron Works.

Established in 1845, along the Bash Bish Brook the area offered all of the elements essential to the successful production or of iron; iron ore deposits, water power, limestone and charcoal.  The facility remained in operation until 1903.

Before heading back to Hillsdale, we stopped in Copake for lunch in a 1950s themed diner for lunch.

Tuesday –  After a lengthy morning of “hanging out” we left for Stockbridge, MA and the historic Red Lion Inn

one of the few New England inns operating continuously since the 18th century and where we were able to get out of the heat and humidity for a few hours for a great lunch.

With some “cool” signs.

Gorgeous beds of colorful daylilies framed the inn’s street façade.

Our next stop was the Norman Rockwell Museum and his studio

from his later years living in Stockbridge.  A history of his artwork was displayed, including copies of each of his Saturday Evening Post covers were displayed … from his

First cover, May 20, 1916

To his last, December 14, 1963

During the interim 47 years, some of the best-known of his some 4,000 original illustrations and paintings appeared on the Post covers.

Triple Self-Portrait

Thanksgiving – Mother and Son Pealing Potatoes

Policeman and Boy in Diner

Red Sox Locker-room

Rainout

Young Lovers

Girl Reading the Post

A Boy and His Doctor

That evening, another incredible sunset.

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July 16 – Hope Cemetery … Williamstown, VT to Hillsdale, NY

With camp back in session this morning, Dorothy and John were busy, so we joined Jim and Jeanne to visit Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT which has some of the most unusually creative gravestones we’ve ever seen.

17 year old girl stuck by lightening

Young high-school athlete

13 year old soccer player

Contemplative Angel

NASCAR

Two Pyramids with Text from Revelations

Almost looks like the Anheuser-Busch logo

Balanced Cube

Bi-plane

Neither Ronnie not Mary Ann have passed on … but their engraved stone is waiting

Each of the links in the chain are engraved with the names of family members

TRUE LOVE - She was born 3 years earlier than her husband who outlived her by more than 30 years

Back at John’s and Dorothy’s we went to get ready to leave for New York.  However, when pulling in our slides, the full-side slide would not retract.  After reading the manuals and calling back to our dealer, I found out how to remove a control panel, reset the slide motor and manually retract it before recycling it automatically several times so we could get underway.

As we were now behind schedule we stuck to the Interstates (89, 91 and 90) south into

passing under the Appalachian Trail overpass bridge over the Mass Pike

Which I’d crossed many years ago in a snow storm

and then on to

Along the way we were cautioned on several occasions about 

Unfortunately, we never spotted anything but a few albino cows.

We arrived and John and Judi’s around 5:00 PM.  It was so good to see them again.  John was married to my sister who, tragically, died of cancer in1974.  John subsequently married Judi, a terrific woman whom I believe my sister would have approved!  We love both of them dearly.

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