Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

 

Tingly and Happified

15 Jack atop carrierLinda Burton posting from Wytheville, Virginia – It’s still Virginia. And it’s still cold. Our room is on the back side of the mountain, winter bleak and bare, and my face was wind whipped with little ice needles as I stepped from the car. It isn’t far to West Virginia from here on I-77, or to North Carolina in the other direction. Remember March 22, when we came right by this spot on the way from Richmond to Charleston? “Here we are again,” I said to Jack as he sat waiting to get into his carrier and go inside. “It was cold then too.” But we are warm-hearted in spite of the weather, tingly excited and happified. We are so close to the finish line!

14 Jim FireYesterday was Uncle Jim day, finally, after snowy bad weather all week. We had lunch at one of the many dining rooms in his fabulous retirement community where everybody you see smiles and says hello. He has a nice apartment there with access to every amenity that man or beast might ever need. We didn’t have to step outside until I went back to my car. Uncle Jim is the last of the generation of my Mom and Dad. He married Mom’s younger sister Jo, and after a stint in the Navy went to work for the US Treasury Department, where he stayed till he retired. Do you receive a Social Security check? Well, as Chief Disbursing Agent for the 14 Jim and PicturesTreasury Department Uncle Jim was responsible for getting those checks disbursed during his day. Do you remember the Panama Canal treaty back in the Carter days? Well, Uncle Jim was down there, overseeing the financial transactions that took place.

Uncle Jim is Dad to cousins Jean, Teresa, and Deborah, and has a bunch of grandkids and great-grandbabies too; twins born in June are the latest delight. Deborah lives nearby (and I missed seeing her despite our best efforts); she is an excellent seamstress and works with Wounded Warriors, adapting uniforms and clothes for 14 Jim Mapthose in the military who have recently lost a limb. The entire family is busy, and fun, and every mention of their name brings good memories. My first visit to the White House in 1952 (when I was a teen) was arranged by Uncle Jim. We visited Uncle Jim and Aunt Jo in Virginia many times as my own kids were growing up. They visited us when we lived in Chattanooga and Seattle; they were Mom’s and Dad’s best traveling buddies throughout their lifetime. Saturday was a very special day. » read more

 
 
 

The Soup Bowl

07 Welcome to Washington DCLinda Burton posting from Washington, DC – I call it “DC.” When I lived in Seattle if you said “Washington” folks thought you were referring to the state; Washington DC is considered the “other Washington” there. But I’m on the east coast today, easing into “the District” from Maryland and headed for the US Capitol, an icing-on-the cake post-stop in the Journey Across America. The majestic dome loomed tall as I approached; I circled in confusion and landed a parking spot on the other side. The Washington Monument was a few blocks to my right, covered in scaffolding due to earthquake repair. I coaxed the cats to the window to 07 capitol aheadlook; then tied my red wool scarf tight around my head before stepping out into the wind. Not a day for sightseeing. But people were out; a Chinese chorus was performing across the street; cameras were in evidence in every hand. Washington, DC! What is so special about this place? Why do 19 million visitors come every year? It’s exciting, and vibrant, that’s why; a bubbling soup bowl brimming with a little bit of everything. The resident population is 601,723 (US Census 2010), but that jumps to a million throughout the workweek; commuters pour in from the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. After all, the centers of all three branches of the federal government are 07 car and capitolhere – the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. Flags from all over the world fly here; count 176 foreign embassies. The headquarters of international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, and lobbying groups are here. There are more museums here than you could visit in a year; 19 within the Smithsonian alone. The architecture, park spaces, and memorials are stunning. You’ll find both inspiration and controversy here; it’s all in the soup. » read more

 
 
 

Marvelous Delmarva

20 restaurant signLinda Burton posting from Dover, Delaware – “Sweet or unsweet?” My head jerked back in surprise at the question; at first I was flustered; then pleased. “You seriously have sweet tea here?” I asked my server. “Well yes, Hon, we do,” she replied, in an accent that curved sweetly upwards in syllables that were music to my ears. “Then I must be back in the south,” I grinned. “Nobody has asked me that question since January.” It was true; it was January when the Journey left Virginia headed west; since then I’d traveled the Midwestern states, the Great Lakes states, and the New England states. But today, after I crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge from New Jersey, I entered Delmarva, where the language is Southern American English. She called me Hon! Not “Miss” or “Dear;” I was Hon again, here in this homey restaurant, where I could get iced tea that 20 map bwsomeone had already gone to the trouble to sweeten for me. What a marvelous place! I came for Dover, of course, the 49th Capital City of the Journey; capital of the First State, Delaware. And, besides the unique distinction and bragging rights of being capital of the first state, it’s the only capital city that is on a peninsula. And that peninsula houses parts of three states – Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. DelMarVa, get it? I’ll get into the specifics of land boundaries in later posts, but for now look at the map to understand the lay of the land. Technically, the “peninsula” is an island, thanks to the manmade 14-mile C&D Canal that connects Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River. The Canal is considered the beginning of the Delmarva Peninsula, a mostly rural land of farms and fishing, where restaurants have collards on the menu, and the tea is sweet. » read more

 
 
 

Love What You’ve Got

10 illinois signLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – I woke in Indianapolis today; from my room overlooking the city I watched the sun rise in the morning window-sparkle of downtown skyscrapers. I sleep tonight in Springfield; outside my room a single tree somewhat blocks my view of the long-haul trucks in the parking lot, waiting for daylight to hit the road. Though both cities are the center of government for their state, they are very different in style. Indianapolis (pop 829,718) thrives on the adrenalin of sports; speedways and stadiums dot the landscape, surrounded by the accoutrements that accommodate large crowds; restaurants of every ilk, high-rise hotels, taxi cabs. Stand and cheer! Springfield (pop 116,250) is Lincoln’s land; everywhere is evidence of the quiet reflective man who lived here, is buried here. In Springfield he practiced law; in Springfield he campaigned to become president of the land, though when he arrived he didn’t have money to even buy a bed. Inspiration of a different sort; such is the way of the Journey Across America, now 60% complete (stand and cheer!). Today I claim 30 capital cities as my home towns; for the last 443 days I’ve experienced life with big-city bustle, and small-town charm. I’ve seen mountains and 10 love brownvalleys and rivers and lakes, fishing and farming and mining and making things, fresh air and fresh food and history and her story, progress and dropping back and growth and decline, sun belts and bible belts and rust belts and no belts at all, just space. Or congestion. I knew capital cities would be interesting; I had no idea how such a mix of lifestyles and scenery and climate would affect my sensibilities, and begin to explain the world. It’s not what you’ve got that matters, I’ve discovered, it’s how much you love what you’ve got. » read more

 
 
 

Serious Business

20 red coat jogger plus walk plus bldgsLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – TD Robinson takes his job seriously. TD is a security guard; he waved me to a stop as I drove riverside along the James. It was the first day of spring and I had the window of the Scion down; enjoying the fresh air and sunshine; waving at the joggers and walkers taking advantage of the footbridges leading to islands in the river. “How are you ma’am?” he asked politely. I realized the road had ended; a large brick building stood to my right. “I think my riverside drive is over,” I laughed. “Where am I?” “You are on private property,” TD replied. I asked what business I had reached, but TD answered only “Private. Property.” Dominion was printed on his badge; I pointed out that fact. With a sideways nod of his head, he offered up this response “You 20 tall bldg and carcan look, but I can’t tell.” With a sideways nod of my head, I turned the car and headed back towards the city. I was feeling a little testy by now; first I was unable to find parking near the capitol for a spring-day’s walk around the grounds; now my drive along the river was halted. I stopped in the cobblestoned traffic circle on Tredegar to get a few photos for my collection; I wanted to remember where I was on the first day of spring, 2013; then I crossed the river and headed back to my hotel. But I’m thinking all the way – just what businesses are in those tall buildings overlooking the river? Turns out, six Fortune 500 companies are located in Richmond. And Dominion is one of them. » read more

 
 
 

Sophisticated Simplicity

15 washington rotundaLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – If you want to know what George Washington really looked like, go to the Virginia state capitol. Centered in the rotunda against the simplicity of a formal backdrop of black and white stands a life-size statue of Washington, considered by his contemporaries to be “a perfect likeness.” It was June 1784 when the Virginia General Assembly commissioned the statue to be made; Thomas Jefferson, on a diplomatic mission in France, secured the services of French artist Jean-Antoine Houdon for the work. Houdon didn’t guess at his task; in the fall of 1785 he traveled to Mount Vernon to study his subject. He made a plaster mask of Washington’s head and took detailed measurements of his body; from this he modeled a terra cotta bust to take back to his workshop in France. 15 washington cThe resulting statue, carved of Carrara marble, was shipped to America in 1796 and has graced the capitol’s rotunda since. It is considered to be Virginia’s greatest treasure and one of the world’s finest portrait sculptures; it is the only full-length statue for which the first President posed. Although Washington’s sword is by his side and he wears his Revolutionary uniform, he 15 statue and rotundacarries a civilian walking cane and stands over a plough; Houdon sought to show the balance between Washington’s life as a soldier, statesman, and private citizen. In the niches of the rotunda are busts of other Virginia-born presidents who succeeded Washington – Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, and Wilson – and another work by Houdon; that of LaFayette, the French citizen who was a Major General in service to the United States during the Revolutionary War. But more about the rotunda itself, a magnificent two-story space capped by a dome; a dome that is invisible from the outside. » read more

 
 
 

Right Here In River City

13 rafting the rapidsLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – “The idle brain is the devil’s playground,” goes Meredith Wilson’s song Ya Got Trouble, pointing out the dire things that might happen “right here in River City” if young folks don’t have enough to do. That warning was a highlight of 1957’s Broadway hit, The Music Man, and here in this River City by the James, it has been heeded, because nobody, young or old, has reason to be idle here. Outside magazine last year named Richmond the “Best River City in America,” probably because of the Class IV whitewater the James provides and the 500 acres of parkland that offer outstanding mountain biking and running trails. But when I looked into the “sports and recreation” aspects of this capital city on the river, I found that Richmond residents have a variety of gung-ho goings on to choose from. Biking ranks high, to be sure, and has some 13 muddy buddyinteresting twists, like the Anthem Moonlight Ride under a full moon, in costume; and the Grand Fondo, an all-age, all-fitness ride that covers 100 miles of the Region’s roads. The Muddy Buddy sounds like the most fun; held at Pocahontas State Park in the rainy spring, it’s a 6-mile race for two-person teams on bikes, and on feet; challenging terrain and mud pits make up the obstacle course. There’ll be some serious biking in 2015 as Richmond hosts the World Road Cycling Championship; it hasn’t been held in the USA since 1986, when it took place in Colorado Springs. Planners are busy now with the infrastructure development for this amazing race. As to everything else going on in River City, you’re going to need a long piece of paper to write it all down. » read more

 
 
 

Few Will Be Grieved

11 Poe pictureLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved.” Part of a long obituary published in the New York Tribune on October 9, 1849 and signed simply “Ludwig,” this unflattering piece was later published throughout the country. “Ludwig” was revealed as Rufus Griswold, who obviously didn’t like Poe very much; he later wrote a biographical article of Poe and depicted him as a depraved, drunk, drug-addled madman. Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) had his enemies and his critics, to be sure; yet today this American author and poet continues to influence literature around the world; his work appears throughout popular culture. He is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre; every year the Mystery Writers of America presents the Edgar Award to someone for distinguished work in the mystery genre. 11 Poe raven signHe is further credited with contributing to the science fiction genre, and was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through his writing alone. A number of the homes Poe lived in are dedicated museums today; although he never lived in the Old Stone House in Richmond, it houses the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and displays many items Poe used during his time with his foster parents, John and Sarah Allan; it also features several rare first printings of his works. That’s where I went looking, looking, looking for some ghostly lingerings of this brooding man whose life so often focused on death. » read more

 
 
 

Trailing History

09 jackson statueLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – I need to put my waders on. History is knee-deep here in Richmond, and then some; it is layered and twined with life as it goes on today. Every downtown street and hill top and river bottom is slathered with the taste of it; first-graders on a yellow bus circle Stonewall Jackson’s statue on the way to school. Sunday skateboarders veer down Bank Street, just below the pristine white-columned capitol, first used in 1792, French-inspired, Thomas Jefferson designed. A man walks his red-collared dog in Great Shiplock Park, they stroll the edge of James River on this side of Manchester Docks, where 09 capitol from bankslaves once arrived from Africa. Across the street condo dwellers live in downtown luxury, it’s the reconverted buildings of Tobacco Row where Lucky Strike is bricked into the factory’s chimney, left behind as a historic masterpiece. Suburban dwellers cross Lee Bridge and head home on J D Hway, that’s Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis, you know; the road is dotted with historic markers directing you to battle sites. Steven Spielberg filmed the movie Lincoln here; no city is more central to the Civil War. But go back farther than that; think John Smith, and Pocahontas, and the Jamestown settlement just downstream. Think 09 st johns churchRevolution, and Patrick Henry, whose famous words rang out in St John’s Church on East Broad; “Give me liberty, or give me death.” It’s more than I can wade through in two weeks; I’m dividing the organized trails into groups for exploring, to get at least an overview; early European settlement days; Revolutionary War; and Civil War. Put on your boots and follow me. » read more