A diary of my visit to two cities in the center of the founding of my country: Boston and Philadelphia Oct. 14 - 24, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

October 23, 2005 – First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen

Today was another crazy day. I walked 14,112 steps, but I only went to one place!! Well, one attraction, I should say. I covered a lot of miles, mostly driving.

I was picked up by a taxi at 7:00 AM and taken to the AMTRAK station. I’ve never ridden a train anywhere, so that was fun. I had no idea the station was so close to where I was staying, so I ended up getting there an hour and a half before my train. I checked in early, and checked my bag. I had a Dunkin donut and coffee for breakfast. I just have to say, Dunkin Donuts are good, but they don’t hold a candle to Krispy Kreme.

I arrived at Union Station in DC on time. I don’t remember what time that was. I think around 10:30. Unfortunately, my baggage didn’t. The only thing they could tell me was to come back at 6:10 that night. I told them that I was leaving DC and not coming back, but they told me I had to. Oh well. It’s a beautiful day. No problem. The rental car process worked out well. The attendant gave me detailed instructions on how to get out of downtown and to Mt. Vernon. I appreciate all the direction help I received so much. The only downfall is that I’m not very good at following the directions people give me. It took me a while to get out of downtown. I had to do some backtracking, which is dangerous on one-way roads. Haha. I finally made it out of town onto Mt. Vernon parkway. The drive is so beautiful. The drive is along the Potomac River. There were a few yachts on the river, and people running and biking along the river. It was a sunny day…perfect for a Sunday drive. I think I enjoyed that drive just as much as any part of the trip!

I arrived at Mt. Vernon to crowds! It was harvest day, and I think there was some special for families, because there were kids everywhere. They had a lot of special exhibits going on around the farm, such as soap making, candle making, straw doll making, wheat threshing, etc. The mansion tour was pretty interesting, but really the outdoors is what is impressive about Mt. Vernon. George Washington chose a gorgeous riverside spot to build his home. The view of the Potomac is too beautiful for pictures. I’ve seen so many, but none could have prepared me for that view. I don’t think Americans had anything to worry about when they were wondering if Washington would seek a third Presidential term and more power. I think, if anyone could have seen his home and land, they would have had no worries as to his future plans. I cannot imagine choosing a life of the stresses of President over the beauty of Mt. Vernon.

The Mansion certainly seems small, for a mansion. Don’t get me wrong. It is a big house, but you would think a plantation house would be bigger. It was grand for the period. The graves of Washington and his wife are located on the side of the mountain. The grave was being built when Washington died, so he was temporarily buried in another location and then moved when the burial vault was completed. He and Martha are buried side by side.

Washington loved farming. He had a complex crop rotation plan on his farm, where he had 7 different plots of land. Each plot would grow wheat for a couple years, then some sort of fertilizer plant that would be plowed back into the dirt, then sheep would graze, providing additional fertilizer, and several other things. He was able to maintain a productive farm in this way.

After Mt. Vernon, I drove the beautiful drive back to DC. I love DC. Even though I was just returning to Union Station to hopefully pick up my bags, just driving across the Potomac into the city is exciting to me. I found Union Station without too many difficulties. There was some parking on the street available too, since it was a Sunday evening, so I parked and went inside. I had to wait a while, but when the 6:10 train was unloaded, there was my suitcase!!! Yeah!!!!! I was relieved. Losing ten days worth of clothes, even if they were mostly dirty by now, would not have been good.

By now it is starting to get dusky. I asked a visitor’s guide person at Union Station how to get to Charlottesville, Virginia, where I was staying. He told me to get on I-95 South and look for the Charlottesville signs. Well, that was easy enough, but once I got on I-95 I was a little nervous. What if there weren’t any signs? I didn’t have a map, so I called Mom to have her look it up on the atlas. My Mother is the queen of maps. She can navigate to anywhere from anywhere. She got me there!! There is a little drama though. Her directions included multiple state highways in the middle of nowhere. It was a Sunday night, so even the little gas stations in little towns along the way were closed. And…da, da da, daaaa…my cell phone was almost out of batteries. After a long 2 hour drive on the “scenic route” I arrived in Charlottesville. When they say scenic, they mean it. The last ten miles or so were through mountains, curvy, hilly, tree-ey, etc. It looked beautiful. I wish it had been daylight so I could have seen it. I just had to imagine the leave colors, the rivers, the sky, etc. Of course, I had to ask or directions to my hotel once I finally arrived in Charlottesville. I knew the hotel bordered the University of Virginia, but I had no idea how expansive UVA is. I went to little Campbellsville, remember? I found the University, drove around and around, and finally checked in at the McDonalds. They pointed me in the right direction (I was about a block away), and I checked in around 9:30. Whew, what a day. I took a hot shower and went to bed. I wanted to be at Monticello by 8:00 the next morning.

Despite all of the driving I did, I still managed 18,033 steps. I walked a lot at Mt. Vernon. I wanted to see the views from every angle.


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