Monday, August 31 to Wednesday, September 16, 2009
We stopped for a couple of days in Rural Valley, PA, to visit with friends Larry and Mary Boyer. Since that means spending our time in their Restaurant/Bar/Bowling Alley complex, it was a very relaxing two days for us. We park in their parking lot, they keep us fed and watered, and although they are both working, they have frequent breaks in which to visit with us. I spent an afternoon and evening with Mary doing some shopping and ‘girl stuff’ while Drew did ‘guy stuff’ with Larry and watched him bowl in his league. Plus, Mary had time to play several rounds of Skip-Bo with us. We always enjoy time spent with L & M!
On the way to the Traveling Americans September rally, we stayed one night at a WMSC in Spotsylvania, VA. It used to be a couple of gas stations, a motel, and a Cracker Barrel. My, how it has grown!! Now, if you want a particular store, restaurant, gas station, or motel, it is probably there.
Once all 22 of us arrived at R & D Family Campground near Bowling Green and Fort AP Hill, we enjoyed Labor Day Weekend in a peaceful setting with lots of good food, good friends, and good fun. Jeff & Anni Albert were first time visitors to the Traveling Americans but in no time at all, they fit in like they were long time members.
Monday, Drew & I were the first to arrive at Wildwood Campground near Big Island, VA for the Titanium rally. We had laundry and shopping to do before the others arrived when our schedule would be full of social activities. The next day, our hosts, Warren and Barbara Fisher arrived. We hadn’t seen them in about 2 years so we had time to get caught up with them before the other 5 couples came in on Wednesday. It was to be a small, intimate group for this rally. We knew Dick and Sherry Hyatt coming from CT, but the other 4 couples, all very nice, were new to us. This was a very laid back and relaxed rally. We went out for dinner a couple of times, did some sightseeing, played some cards, and visited around the campfire most nights. One thing we really enjoyed was watching the trees as they began to get their fall colors. There were none when we arrived, but a week later, the change was well under way.
One day we all went to Poplar Forest located in Forest, VA. It was Thomas Jefferson’s retreat from all the activity at his home in Monticello. The 4800+ acre plantation provided Jefferson with significant income and the perfect setting where he could pursue his passion for reading, writing, studying and gardening after retiring from public life. Jefferson could read in six languages, including original Greek and Latin. His library at Poplar Forest held about 1000 books. During his presidency, Jefferson traveled from Washington to supervise the laying of the foundation for the octagonal house which was to be his retreat at Poplar Forest. He wanted the house to be perfect, so he wrote many letters from the White House directing its construction. A polygraph machine made a copy of nearly every letter he wrote, providing valuable information to historians involved in the restoration of the property.
Another day we traveled to the Natural Bridge in the Shenandoah Valley. A National Historical Landmark, Natural Bridge is a geological formation in which Cedar Creek (a small tributary of the James River) has carved out a gorge in the mountainous limestone terrain, forming an arch 215 ft high with a span of 90 ft. The bridge is the remains of the roof of a cave or tunnel through which the creek once flowed. We also toured the wax museum depicting scenes from early colonial days and toy museum with toys from that same era adjacent to the ticket office for the bridge. We enjoyed a late lunch nearby at the Pink Cadillac Diner, a tribute to Elvis and the music of the 50's.
One evening we took a slow drive along several miles of the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway to the Lodge at Peaks of Otter where we had dinner overlooking a lake with lots of deer grazing in the adjacent meadow. The Peaks of Otter - Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill - dominate the view in this region of Virginia, first attracting the attention of Native Americans who saw the area as a rich hunting ground. If they were hunting deer, they were certainly in the right spot - they were everywhere and didn’t seem to be a bit frightened of their two-legged audience.
Although Drew & I did not attend because we had toured it previously, most of the others found an opportunity to visit the National D-Day Memorial In Bedford, VA. On June 6, 1944 Bedford sustained the highest per capita loss of lives on D-Day in Normandy, France. Within the span of a single day, the community lost 19 citizen soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division of the National Guard. (The entire population of Bedford at that time was 3200.) For this reason, Congress chose Bedford as the site for the National D-Day Memorial which was dedicated on June 6, 2001 to memorialize “the valor, fidelity and sacrifice” of the Allied Forces on D-Day. The monument is a fitting tribute to that fateful day in which the future of the free world rested in the hands of 150,000 service men who had embarked on a mission of sacrifice, leaving 4000 of them dead and over 10,000 casualties.
All too soon our week together drew to a close. We said our goodbyes to friends, old & new, and headed to the Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails park just north of Gloucester, VA.