Our fall trip this year took us back east. We flew into Dulles Airport where we met up with our son, Matt, who flew in from California. We drove into Washington, DC., after midnight and walked from the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II Memorial enjoying the quiet and peaceful atmosphere when few are there. Matt’s company is headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, so we spent a few days there while he was at meetings. The first day we drove north and took the Metro back into Washington, DC. We took a tour of the Capitol building arranged a through our congresswoman’s office. I recommend doing that; so much nicer than being in a large group. From there we went into the Library of Congress. Both buildings are magnificent in their architecture and filled with artwork, sculptures and history. We also visited the National Archives, which was too crowded last time we were there. They house the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and a copy of the 1297 Magna Carta among many other important historical documents.
The next day we drove through the beautiful green rolling hills of Virginia to Monticello, the plantation and home of Thomas Jefferson. His home was full of innovative things he made, like a writing desk that had a second pen that made a copy of his writings. He wrote over 40,000 letters during his lifetime and kept a record of each one this way. He also had a dumbwaiter, a great clock that worked on a week’s time, and artifacts he was sent by Lewis and Clark from their exploration of the west he commissioned after the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson was an amazing man in many ways.
On our way to Monticello, and then the next day we were able to visit four Civil War battlefields that are in the Fredericksburg area. The first was Chancellorsville as we headed west out of town. There is no town, it was just the home of the Chancellor family that was located there. As with many Civil War battlefields, the location was where several roads intersected. This one may be most remembered as the location where Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded. A few miles further on is the location of the Battle of the Wilderness which was fought a year later in 1864. Both these areas are beautifully wooded, with some open fields and trenches still visible over 150 years later. The Spotsylvania Court House and Fredericksburg Battlefield were the other two we visited. At Fredericksburg the Confederate Army had the high ground and a still intact stone wall to defend against the Union Army’s offensive to cross the Rappahannock River in 1862. There is also a Union Cemetery there; their losses were tremendous. Crossing the river we visited the Chatham House, a plantation house that was used as a Union hospital during the war. Also in Fredericksburg we visited the home of Mary Washington, George’s mother, where she spent her last years. Close to there is Kenmore, a plantation house that was owned by Mary’s daughter and is an interesting place to see.Leaving Fredericksburg, we stopped in Maryland for fine dining at the Waffle House, then drove north to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles outside Philadelphia. In the morning we visited Valley Forge, site of Washington’s winter camp during the Revolutionary War. From there we went to Independence Hall in Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell as well. We topped off the day with Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and a drive past the newly dedicated LDS Temple before heading north to New Jersey.
|Lincoln Memorial at night|
|inside Capitol rotunda|
|inside Library of Congress|
|Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson|
|Chatham House, Fredericksburg, VA|
|Confederate trenches at Fredericksburg|
|at Valley Forge, PA|
|Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA|
|Independence Hall, Philadelphia|
|LDS Temple, Philadelphia|