Sorry for the long silence. Yesterday was a tiring travel day that ended too late for writing. This post, like myothers, will be brief since I find it difficult to write at length on an iPhone (so please pardon typos too).
We started yesterday at James and Dolley Madison’s beautiful and homelike Montpelier. Their home has the study in which Madison researched the best form of government — which resulted in our much-abused Constitution. I couldn’t take interior photos, but in addition to the view of the front, above, these few photos give a sense of its lovely setting (and the extensive archaeological digs):
From Montpelier, we headed to Manassas, scene of the first and second Battles of Bull Run. As is typical for all the battlefields we’ve seen, it was hard to connect the peaceful setting with the tremendous carnage that occurred there:
This morning, we got up very early to take a horseback tour through Gettysburg led by a licensed guide. Just as we were mounting the horses, word came that a thunderstorm was coming in. The gal who owns the touring company refunded our money and, because we couldn’t stick around for the 2:00 ride, the tour guide offered to take us around — so we got the pleasure of a sopping wet thunder-and-lightening storm (a rare pleasure for people who live in a drought-stricken region that never has thunder and lightening at the best of times), plus a personal, in-depth tour of the battlegrounds. Owing to the rain, I have only a few pictures. The panorama is of the view from Little Round Top:
From Gettysburg, we drove to Boonsboro, which is near Antietam. Romance writer Nora Roberts owns an Inn there, and was apparently at a book signing, for the streets of this exquisite old town were swarmed with happy looking women, many standing in line outside a bookstore. I’m not sure this picture captures the site, but I offer it anyway:
Our next stop was Antietam, but the childre melted down at this point — literally, given the high heat and humidity affecting their coddled California bodies. We went to that famous sunken, bloody lane so that we could say we were there. Even now it’s a sad place:
Our final stop was Arlington, where we so the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I actually found even more moving the seemingly endless rows of markers for those who served our country, with some dying because of that service and others living out the full measure of their days. The most moving gravestone was the one naming an entire Air Corps crew that died together in 1944. Even as we were fighting the racist Germans, that doomed American plane included an Anglo, a Scot, an Italian, and a Jew among its ethnic mix of names: