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Brian said, "Let's go to Washington DC," and I said, "Sure." That means its time for vacation photos! Yay!
Day 1 (June 27): Richmond, Virginia.
- Stonewall Jackson Statue
- Jefferson Davis Monument
- Robert E. Lee Memorial
- Hollywood Cemetery
- Historic Tredegar
- American Civil War Museum
- Virginia State Capitol
Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America, and it has a bit of a split personality. On one hand, they worship George Mason and Thomas Jefferson and their Declarations of rights. On the other hand, they've got serious monuments to General Lee and Jefferson Davis. Highlights in Richmond include the capitol building (designed by Jefferson) and Hollywood Cemetery (final resting place of Generals George Picket and J.E.B. Stuart, Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, and, or course, Jefferson Davis).
Day 2 (June 28): South side of the Washington Mall.
- Smithsonian Castle
- Smithsonian Sackler Gallery
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
- Hirshhorn Museum
This happened to be the week the Air and Space Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary. The years are beginning to show. To their credit, they are making an effort at updating their exhibits, including a newly refurbished USS Enterprise model (which I must admit I found way, way cooler than the Apollo 11 control module and the Wright Flyer).
Day 3 (June 29): North and west side of the Washington Mall.
- National Archives
- National Gallery of Art
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History
- National WWII Memorial
- 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence monument
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
What a disappointment the American History museum was. I remember loving it as a child, but it seems like most of what they have on display now was purchased from flea markets. I might as well have walked through my aunt's attic. On the other hand, the National Archives was even more awesome than I remember from 25 years ago. Its exhibits are truly historical and awe-inspiring.
That's a lot of sightseeing. My feet are tired. This tour will resume the day after tomorrow. Don't be late.
I've been in Washington, DC for most of the past week. I've seen eleven different museums, two cemeteries, and countless monuments. I'm starting to get the impression that not everyone enjoys learning about things as much as I do.
Take for example the little girl in the National Archives who was angry that George Washington had been left off the portrait of signers of the Declaration of Independence. "I know he signed it," she said. No one in her family corrected her.
Consider also the middle-aged man in the Smithsonian American History Museum who was shocked to discover that George H.W. Bush was elected to only one term as president. When his daughter expressed surprise that Bill Clinton had been elected twice, he said, "We only re-elect people we don't like. This country gets the presidents that we deserve." I have to agree with that.
And then there was teenaged boy who walked up to me in the National Portrait Gallery and asked where the bathroom was. Despite it being the first time I'd been in that building in my life, I was able to point his attention to the sign over his head. I hope he paid more attention to the art than he did to the signs.
To be fair, I'm not exactly open-minded about everything. I rolled my eyes when the docent at the Smithsonian American Art Museum tried to interest me in a throne someone had built over fourteen years from bits of aluminum foil. "See it," she said, "and you'll be impressed." My companion, Brian, gave her the bad news. "He won't be. He's a little stubborn," Brian said. For the record, Brian was right. Thrones made of aluminum foil are not my bag, baby. And they never will be.
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Friend Cooper proved his worth this week by notifying me that a Culver's is being built in Dawsonville (252 S 400 Center Lane, to be exact). Pay attention Keith: since you live closest to Dawsonville, from now on I will be requiring you to bring me a ButterBurger® whenever we hang out.
According to the Gainesville Times It will be the first Culver's in the state of Georgia, although the article does state "More restaurants are expected around the state in coming months." Welcome to delicious, Georgia!
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Ten years ago, tickets to the season-opening Monday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Atlanta Falcons, went on sale in the wee hours of the morning on TicketMaster.com. My brother, an avid Eagles fan, wanted tickets desperately, so despite being awake for nearly 24 hours, I sat at my computer and tried to get him some.
For hours, I tried. TicketMaster has never been very good at anything, and that morning they were particularly bad. Time out after time out — until finally! The tickets it offered me were expensive, $150 seats, but they would be worth it. Only after I put in my credit card info and committed to buy did I realize that the tickets TicketMaster had offered weren't to the Monday Night Falcons/Eagles. Somehow, in my sleep-deprived state, I had purchased tickets to the preseason Falcons/Ravens game instead.
Of course TicketMaster refused to offer a refund. And by then, they insisted they were sold out of Eagles tickets. So I was stuck with tickets to a watching a team I don't like in seats I couldn't afford at a glorified practice scrimmage. Fan-fucking-tastic.
I tried selling my Ravens tickets on eBay at a loss, but there were no takers. I ended up giving them away to a friend who didn't even go.
Fast forward a decade, and the Eagles were back in town for a Monday Night Football season opener. I had't planned on attending, but while watching games on Sunday, I figured what the hell. I went online to StubHub.com — I never buy anything on TicketMaster anymore — and bought two tickets for $50 each. Since my brother no longer speaks to me, I gave a ticket to friend Brian. We met at the Georgia Dome and had a great time.
Philadelphia Eagles 24, Atlanta Falcons 26. I'm really going to miss the Georgia Dome when they tear it down next year.
Vacation Final Day: Road Trip
Brian works for a certain giant hotel conglomerate, so we thought we'd get a great rate staying in a hotel in North Charleston. Turns out he can't specify what kind of room he wants when he travels, so they tried to stick us with smoking. We politely declined.
That meant we had to find new digs somewhere else. This apparent fiasco turned out to be a boon. If you remember the first post in this series, you'll see we couldn't have been luckier in finding a room near Dairy Land.
We began the final day of our trip exploring this picturesque small town where it turns out the Tuskegee Airmen had received their final training during World War II.
Lest you think I'm just being a camera hog and that my big head is obscuring the full name of this glorious town, here's proof of what they put on their own trashcans.
Once Brian had finally had enough of Walter taking pictures of Walter, we hit the road. We chose to take the back roads home and drove through several small towns. You see the strangest things that way. Like this sign advertising a real restaurant in Bamberg, SC:
We drove through the practically deserted Blackville, SC and passed the Oliver Hardy Museum in Harlem, GA. We saw the smoldering ruin of the historic Sparta, GA courthouse that burned down mysteriously last August. Quite by accident, we found ourselves driving past Rock Hawk in Putnam County. Though both of us had visited Rock Hawk's bigger brother, Rock Eagle in Eatonton, neither of us had heard of Rock Hawk. So we dropped in for a look.
After climbing the observation tower, I'd love to tell you that I got some breathtaking pictures of an magnificent unexplained effigy, but my simple digital camera wasn't up to the task. You'd need a wide angle lens to take a picture that looks like anything other than a loose pile of rocks.
However, the Rock Hawk Effigy, Education Trails & Park contained much more than just the effigy itself. It was once the homestead of the slave-owning Little family, and they have two overgrown cemeteries hidden in the woods on the property. That was worth a brief hike through the tick-filled woods.
And that just about wraps up my vacation. I look forward to my next trip, wherever it might take me.
(Hopefully, it will take me back to Dairy Land.)
Vacation Day 4: Charleston and Beaufort, SC
By day 4, Brian and I had visited almost everything we knew we wanted to see in Charleston, so we were looking for things a little off the more beaten paths. We decided to start the day by paying a visit to the only thing in Charleston that had lived through the American Revolution.
They estimate at the Angel Oak may be 400 years old. It looks it.
The thing that I wanted to do next was visit Magnolia Cemetery. Newnan's Oak Hill Cemetery is older, but Magnolia is much, much larger and, though I hate to say it, it's also much, much prettier. (What's with naming cemeteries after trees, anyway?)
Magnolia is adjacent to a complex of cemeteries, including St. Lawrence and the Lutheran's Bethany Cemetery filled with tombstones inscribed in German. The area is full of many stunning tributes to the dead.
Naturally, being a cemetery in Charleston, SC, it is chock full of monuments to dead Confederates. The men who died testing and running the world's first submarine to sink a ship, the H.L. Hunley, are all buried here (the ill-fated ship killed more Confederates than Yankees), as are many other C.S.A. officers, soldiers, and officials. There's even a monument to all the Germans who fought for the South.
As you can see, there are many spectacular monuments here, I couldn't stop snapping pictures. I took nearly 200. (Thank you digital camera technology!) Brian gave up trying to follow me and sat in his car playing with his smart phone. I tell you, kids today! Who'd rather look at digital pixels than fine statuary like these?
In a cemetery this size, the statuary is only part of the pleasure. There are a nearly endless variety of entertaining monuments. For example, C.S.A. Captain John C. Mitchell, who died during the Yankee siege of Fort Sumter in 1864, has his last words: "I willingly give my life for South Carolina. Oh! That I could have died for Ireland!" The tombstone for Corporal Allan Jackson explains that he survived being shot at the Battle of Fredericksburg only to die of Typhoid Fever in Richmond. And don't forget such great names as Harry Brotherhood and Dr. B.A. Muckenfuss. But my favorite tombstone of all:
After Brian finally dragged me from the cemeteries, we headed into downtown Charleston to visit the Charleston City Hall. Originally built as the Charleston branch of the Bank of the United States, it now houses the mayor's office and an absolutely stunning council chamber containing several original commissions of famous southerners like George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and John C. Calhoun. (Flash photography was prohibited, but I'm sure no pictures could do it justice.)
Looking for one more thing to see before turning in for the night, we drove an hour to Beaufort, SC. We got there just as the sun was setting, and barely had enough time to photograph the Hunting Island Lighthouse before they closed the park gates.
Given how little light there was, I think this picture came out really well.
One more day to document. More to come.
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Vacation Day 3: Patriots Point and Fort Sumter
Patriots Point is a museum primarily anchored by its star attraction, the USS Yorktown.
Even at the rip old age of 72, she's an impressive ship. She survived World War II and lived to pull Apollo astronauts out of the sea. But she's showing her age in places: Brian got rust stains all over his white shirt while descending from her bridge.
The volunteer docents — all exceedingly friendly old sailors — were disappointed by our refusal to take the guided audio tour, but they agreed that we were short on time since we also planned to take the ferry to Fort Sumter. We hustled out to the flight deck and looked around as best we could in the time Brian and I had allotted ourselves. The ship is so big, it would probably take two days to explore fully.
Compared to a 20th century aircraft carrier, Fort Sumter feels tiny. Otherwise, its a good looking ruin on a man-made island in the middle of the busy Charleston Harbor. It's small size seems disproportionate to its importance in the Civil War. The big, black battery that now takes up most of the island didn't exist in 1861, so maybe Sumter had more room for whipping slaves back in the day.
We were harried by rain all afternoon, and the recurring thunderstorms that washed over the harbor also kept us from seeing most of the island. The rain came in wave after wave, chasing us back to shore. The ferry ride back was a wet one.
Returning to Patriots Point, we toured the USS Laffey destroyer and USS Clagmore submarine before taking another shot at the Yorktown. This time we walked through the galley where we saw the Navy's super scientific recipe for Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwiches (Sandwiches No.N 014 00).
- Bread, White
- Peanut Butter
- Jelly, Grape
- Spread each slice of bread with 1 Tb peanut butter. Spread 1 slice bread with 1 Tb jelly. Top with second slice.
- Cut each sandwich in half.
- in step 1, jam may be used.
And that, boys and girls, is how we won the war.
More to Come.
Vacation Days 1 & 2: Charleston, South Carolina
The first day of my vacation was mostly a travel day. We got a late start and only had time for a brief orientation drive through Charleston before they closed the bridges. ("Bridges closed for maintenance," according to the local news. Nearly the whole town shuts down at 5PM, so I guess they figured anyone not out by sundown was getting what was coming to them.)
On the recommendation of my old friend Jason, we took dinner at Ye Olde Fashioned Cafe & Ice Cream. Their chili dog was worth the drive into South Carolina. Good call, Jason.
Tuesday morning, my traveling companion, Brian, and I set out to see some old stuff in historic downtown Charleston. And we found it!
For all the old buildings in town, the thing that stood out most was the presence of a telephone booth. They literally don't make these like they used to.
Of course, the town is chock full of history. We started in the Charleston Museum ("oldest museum in the United States") and worked our way south down Charleston's "museum mile." We didn't spend much money on admission on the historic houses because I spent all our time in church graveyards.
Desire Peronneau does not have the best tombstone at Circular Congregational Church, just the best tombstone in a picture I took. (The best overall tombstone belongs to "The mortal part of" Mary Smith, "Who after happily exemplifying the Conjugal and Maternal virtues for upwards of 37 Years Was fuddenly arrefted by the hand of Death to the no fmall grief of her numerous Relations and Friends" in 1795.)
Charles Town became Charleston in 1783. That didn't do much to help Mrs. Jackson, whose final resting place remains a mystery.
Quick history: Pinckney's opposition in those presidential elections were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Obviously, Pinckney lost both times. Badly. John Rutledge remains the only man ejected forcibly from the Supreme Court. John's brother, Ed, youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence, is buried in the only graveyard in town I didn't find the entrance to. I had to leave myself at least one reason to go back.
After the town closed on day 2, we trekked over to Sullivan's island to take a look at Fort Moultrie, the location of the battle that gave South Carolina its nickname and flag. But as it was after 5PM, the place was locked up tighter than a... well, a fort. Day three would give us a closer look at Charleston's military history when we took the boat to Fort Sumter.
More to come.
I just got back from a week-long trip to Charleston, South Carolina (and the surrounding region). The highlights might not be what you'd expect.
I'll have more to say once I have a chance to pick through my photos. More to come.