Week Five and Six
The shortest way to get from Fairview, PA to Sykesville, MD was to travel south on I-79 and east on the PA turnpike. The turnpike hasn’t changed in 30 years – it was rough then and it’s rough now!
To break up the trip, we took a detour through Greencastle, PA. Greencastle is a border town to Hagerstown, MD and a quaint farming area in PA.
Nancy’s first college experience was in Hagerstown and so a couple of the streets looked familiar. We found a great German grocery store and stocked up on sausages and spaetzel.
This is also a great area to explore for civil war history. We spent an entire day at the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland. Whether you are a Civil War enthusiast or not, this National Battlefield adds a significant perspective to your understanding of the Civil War strategy.
The rifle and bayonet that hung over our mantle belonged to Ron’s Great Uncle (several generations removed) who fought in the Civil War. Uncle Simon was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. While recovering in the Union hospital in Washington, DC, he met and shook hands with Abraham Lincoln. We also have a photograph of him in uniform.
When you learn that there were more soldiers killed during the Civil War than all other wars that the US has been engaged combined (through the early years of Vietnam), you are struck by the magnitude of the determination of the Union and Confederate soldiers fighting the Civil War. Even more chilling is the fact that over 10,000 men and boys lost their lives at Antietam in less than two days. The moral convictions of these men were so strong and they were fighting for what they believed that brothers were fighting brothers and in some instances fathers were fighting sons.
Antietam Fence Row 124th PA Memorial
We continued South through the Maryland countryside and arrived in Sykesville to visit Ron’s hunting buddy, Joe, his wife, Mary and their two four-legged kids – Max and Zoe (and we thought Chessie was spoiled -- these two put her to shame. . .LOL). These are the friends that we’ve talked about that trimmed trees along their driveway so that the coach would fit.
The Three Amigos How Long Is Your Driveway?
As most of you already know, we have an addiction to Maryland blue crabs (a leftover from our days in Virginia) and we didn’t waste any time piggin’ out once we got south of the Mason-Dixon line. As a matter of fact, we feasted twice in four days (with enough leftover to have dinner our first night in VA)!!! Seafood doesn’t get any better. . .
We met Jimmy, our favorite Greek Restaurateur through Joe and Mary. Jimmy always welcomes us as old friends to his restaurant and makes certain that we have the best crabs available. He is such a gracious host and the food is out of this world.
It just don’t get any better. . .
If you ever travel through the Baltimore Metro area, check out Jimmy’s restaurant – The Windsor Inn, 7207 Windsor Mill Road, Baltimore, MD (410/944-0446). The menu is extensive and includes regional favorites like Maryland Crab Cakes and steamed crabs. If you don’t like crabs (we can’t understand who wouldn’t), you can also enjoy steaks or fish.
We stopped over in Lexington, VA for a couple days and discovered a great little tourist area complete with a restoration in progress in a Blue Ridge Mountain town. Virginia City was once the home of “Music on the Mountain” concerts and entertainers such as June Carter and Johnny Cash played there every year “until the highway went in” and the local roads lost the car traffic. The owners are working toward historic site status in order to help preserve this piece of regional history.
Note that the Jailer was also the Barber Chessie Makes Friends Everywhere – This Girl’s Name was Bear
Our next stop was Max Meadows, VA and the Natural Bridge (Seventh Natural Wonder of the World). The park is unbelievably beautiful and the scenery breathtaking. It’s hard to believe that the river once meandered through the gorge hundreds of feet above our head.
Natural Bridge, VA Last of 137 Steps
There is a $10 admission charge, beautiful gift shop including food service, post office and lots of “Made in VA” items.
This is the view a mere ¼ mile walk and 137 steps down to the base of the gorge through the woods. The hiking paths are well landscaped – most natural, some man-made. The flowers and trees are identified with markers. As soon as you get to the bottom, you can see the Natural Bridge. About ½ mile walk along the creek you’ll find another component of the Park – a Monacan Indian encampment. The Monacan Indians were nature to this part of Virginia and “interpreters” are available daily. The day we were there the interpreter was a recognized descendent of the tribe. We noticed that the creek had NO fish (trout) and found out that they had been removed by conservationists due to low water table in 2002 – will be returned next spring.
Monacan Fire Ring
NOTE: There is a shuttle that runs from the museum
to the gorge if you can’t (or don’t want to) navigate the steps. We walked down but rode up!
Toy Museum at the Natural Bridge – DO NOT WASTE $$ -- $4 (combined with Natural Bridge for discount)
We also toured
the Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington, VA – home of Stonewall Jackson prior to
Civil War. Interpreters provided lots
of pre- and post-war history about Stonewall and his family. There is a great family quilt exhibit in
Street View Rear View -- from the Herb Garden
There are several other interesting sites in the area including Wade’s Mill and Buffalo Springs Herb Farm. Drive North on Route 11 to Raphine, VA.
Next stop: Chattanooga, TN