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Archive for April 12th, 2011

Taylor Timm

April 1, 2011.  As we ‘re about to pull out of the driveway, fully loaded, provisioned and raring to go, Taylor (sweet old gentleman cat) has another medical emergency.  We’re already a month behind schedule on this southern trip because of his recent surgery and complications, so we worry that this might be the end of him.   We switch vehicles and head to the the emergency vet with heavy hearts.  It’s hard to imagine traveling without him – he’s the reason we bought this motor home, no more leaving him behind.  And after test results come in later in the day, we don’t have to!  It’s a minor issue, treatable with pain meds and antibiotics, so we just postpone our departure to give him a little recovery time and leave on the 3rd. No more April Fool’s jokes.

We drive from Madison, WI to Effingham, IL and what’s usually an easy trip turns into a major driving challenge.  We’re fighting winds of 40-60 mph.  We’re buffeted about on the highway so much that our vehicle stability system comes on, determines that we’re not driving safely and reduces our speed. Sometimes, the best we can do is 40 mph.  But we make it to the Effingham campground,  order a pizza delivered to our campsite (we’ve got our priorities), make an appointment with a Sprinter dealer in the morning and spend the night in howling winds which make us rock and pitch like we’re at sea.  I get up and sit with a cowering Taylor for several hours during the middle of the night, he’s pretty terrified by the thunder and lightening and pounding rain.  The comfort was mutual.

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Kirkland Memorial, Fredericksville

(The last post from the last trip -onto 2011!)

After visiting the Fredericksburg Visitor Center, watching the film, walking along the stone wall, the sunken road and visiting the cemetery on the hill, where unknown soldiers are buried in graves, with numbers indicating how many are resting in the same grave together, the # 5 is not uncommon, I’m emotionally exhausted.

And what a silly thing to say, as if being a tourist is too much. 100,ooo soldiers died in the battlefields in this area.  The waste of life is hard to contemplate.  I’m mad at Burnsides for sending wave after wave of Union soldiers into certain death here.  I thank God for Sgt. Richard Kirkland, the “Angel of the Battlefield”, a 19 year old Confederate who jumped over the stone wall and gave water to  dying and thirsty Union enemies.  And take some comfort in Theodore O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Dead”, stanzas of which are posted at different parts of the cemetery.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep shall here tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While fame her records keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot
Where Valor proudly sleeps.

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If anybody’s reading this blog, knowing that we’re in Louisiana – while posts are appearing about Virginia – it’s just me trying to catch up with the end of the last trip (Fall 2010) so that I can start writing about the trip we’re on (Spring 2011).  I’ve got a few notes and a couple un-posted posts that I’ll insert here, so that Dick and I will be able to allay some confusion in years ahead as we try to sort out our travels.  Haha.  So, all of what follows here happened last fall. A bit of catch-up and we’ll soon be magically transported to Louisiana…

Museum of American Frontier Culture

We’ve been to a lot of living history museums and toured many a farm – but the novelty at the Museum of American Frontier Culture in Staunton, VA, is that several of the farms have actually been moved here from their native countries (England, Germany, Ireland and there’s a new West African exhibit) to show the different styles and methods used in the old country, compared to how all these traditions/techniques merged into what became the turn of the century American farm.  It’s an interesting melting pot message in a lovely setting.

We also tour the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Museum and Library (private, not a national park site) and the home where he was born and lived for a year.  Underwhelming compared with other presidential sites.  But we enjoyed a downtown Staunton walking tour on the way back to the trolley stop where we left the RV – really interesting and diverse architecture.

Madison's Montpelier

We spend a few days touring some homes of early U.S. presidents: Madison’s Montpelier, where he worked on the Constitution of the United States, Jefferson’s Monticello, a commanding setting for the author of the Declaration of Independence,  and Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland, the most modest of the three.

Monticello

Ash Lawn-Highland

So many things to think about after visiting these homes.  They were all plantations, built on slave labor. At times it’s hard to reconcile the fact that some of our most noble values and principles found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution could come from these men, who seem guilty of such hypocricy.  But, when I read their words, I believe they transcended their time.

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