It's nearly four weeks since we left Taipan in Fernandina Beach Florida. We have camped every night except one and travelled 4000 Kilometres. Since we left Taipan a month ago. Since our last update we have visited relatives in Virginia, the Gettysberg Battlefield Museum and Amish Communities in Pennsylvania, and the tall boat Show for the Star-Spangled Banner 150th commemoration in Baltimore, Maryland.
Our visit for a night with Juduth and Robert was just a foretaste of a longer visit which we are about to embark on in Alexandria, Virginia. We will take in the sights of Washington with them for a few days then if we need to see more we will return for a rerun in a few weeks.
After leaving the Skyline Parkway and Shanendoah Mountain region we headed cross country by all the back roads and lanes to Gettysberg. We followed the Potomac River north into Pensylvania and explored the C&O Canal.
The 184.5 mile long Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is located along the north bank of the Potomac River, starting in Washington, DC and ending in Cumberland, MD. The canal was built between 1828 and 1850, and it operated sporadically between floods until 1924. It has been turned into a public trail and is much used by bicycle and foot traffic. Certain stretches also permit horse riding.
We met a cyclist on the C&O Path and he recommended a visit to Gettysberg Museum so we headed of in that direction.
Gettysberg, Adams County Pennsylvania. was settled the early 1700s and buildings have been largely preserved in the main town center. "In the summer of 1863, the farming community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, became the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. The fierce fighting left 51,000 casualties in its wake, turning farm fields into graveyards and churches into hospitals. The battlefield's first visitors were thousands of relatives searching for dead and wounded soldiers." The museum and surrounding battle fields took us 2 days to see and was fascinating. The highlight was the cyclorama.
"In the late 1880s, French artist Paul Philippoteaux took brush to canvas and created the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama painting. He spent months on the battlefield researching the battle with veterans, a battlefield guide and a photographer. It took Philippoteaux and a team of assistants more than a year to complete the painting. The result is a breathtaking canvas that measures 377 feet in circumference and 42 feet high. Longer than a football field and as tall as a four-story structure, the Gettysburg Cyclorama oil painting immerses visitors in the fury of Pickett’s Charge during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Today the Gettysburg Cyclorama is displayed the way it was originally intended with an overhead canopy and a three-dimensional diorama foreground that realistically features stone walls, broken fences, shattered trees and a cannon."
The visitors center is very modern and has beautifully presented informative interactive exhibits which kept us enthralled for hours.
Next on to Baltimore. We learned from a tour guide that the Tall Ships were expected in Baltimore that day to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the writing of the National Anthem. The Star-Spangled Banner so we decided to drive down to the Inner Harbour and participate in the festivities.
There were a number of ships, mostly American and one old Dutch ship but overall it was a little disappointing after seeing the Tall Ships Fleet in the spectacular Cape Town Harbour just last year. Baltimore is a busy city with an interesting waterfront district and lots of history but we decided to head back out bush and leave our exploration of Baltimore to a later date and do it by boat! Easier to anchor and use Public Transport than to park the car.
Heading North East out towards Pittsburg we were diverted to Lancaster Pensylvania, by someone who mentioned that it was a center of Amish community and farming practice. We started with the Old Lancaster City Market and then the tourist center where we received lots of good info and set off to explore the Amish farmlands and markets. With our interest in horses and farming it was amazing to see these beautiful properties, immaculately laid out like quilting. No electricity, horses and Mules doing the work of modern tractors with many modern machines converted for horse drawn operation. The children attend school compulsorily to year 8 then return to the farm. Girls learn women's skills and boys learn farm skills. The school houses are small one room schools, scattered through the community enabling the local children to walk or ride self propelled scooters. No push bikes ! The teachers are all Amish and usually girls. We spent some time with an Amish Harness maker, of whom there are many, along with traditional Buggy and coach builders, to service this community. Amish arrived in Pennsylvania in the early 1700s from Europe escaping from religious persecution. There are many communities scattered around the USA and numbers total around 240,000. Lancaster is the biggest area. We were just enthralled and spent 2 lovely days stooging around the lanes and back roads. The countryside is very productive and the farming is intensive, with crops of tobacco, maize, lucern and soya bean predominantly. Most farms also seem to have cows and pigs, chickens, ducks and often turkey's. We saw a couple of alpaca guarding some free range chickens, teams of Mules harvesting corn and lots of lovely buggies amongst other things. The food markets were full of delicious tree ripened stone fruits, berries, gourds we have never before seen, preserves, pastes, jams and all manner of delicious pies and baked goodies! It was time to leave!!
Heading south again towards Washington DC and Judith and Roberts home in Alexandria we made two overnight stops on the way. We were enthralled by the little town of Chesapeake City on the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal. It's about 50 houses and about 20 in the central town. They are various sizes but small and terribly old and cute! The canal commences it's 14 nm path across the Delmarva Peninsular from the Elk River in north Chesapeake to the Delaware bay. It was completed in 1829, one of the most expensive canal works of the period. It had 14 locks and was originally used by barges towed by mules and horse teams. It has since had all the locks removed and been widend and deepend to accommodate large ocean going vessels. This route cuts over 300 nm off the trip from Baltimore to Philadelphia.
Well we arrived in Alexandria yesterday and today we did the Pilgrimage to Mt Vernon the family home and farm of George Washington. Another outstanding Museum with excellent interpretive center and displays. We were kept enthralled for nearly 6 hours.
We will spend a few days here and try to absorb more of the fascinating history of the place. We both absolutely love this country!