October 25, 2015
Greetings from Virginia! We have now passed the 4-month mark on this grand adventure and are thinking about how and when it will all end (likely in about 10 days). We will spend a little time at Shenandoah National Park before taking our time to drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, something we haven't done in more than 30 years. You can't really do the Parkway in a hurry and we have enough time to do it at a leisurely pace.
Since our last blog posting from Brian's mother's house in Johnstown,
Brian and his mom on the bench dedicated to his dad
Next stop was Reston, Virginia to visit a long-time friend, Peter Miller and his wife, Denise. We spend a pleasant evening reliving the past and telling stories of more recent events. The next day was cold and blustery so we spent the day at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's center near Dulles Airport where the “big ones” are kept: space shuttle Discovery, large airliners and jets, a Concorde, and even the balloon gondola made famous by Felix Baumgartner. We viewed a great IMAX 3-D film about space outside our solar system.
Brian standing next to Discovery
There are so many historic Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia and we chose to visit Monocacy National Battlefield where the “battle that saved Washington, DC” was fought. Excellent exhibits at this little-visited park near Frederick, MD. We didn't travel very far that day because we were headed for a series of 50 geocaches known as the Maryland Star. We hiked a total of 10 miles over the next 2 days to find them all and were fortunate to find a county park campground just a few miles away.
Next, we crossed Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis and spent a little time on the Delmarva Peninsula and camped in Delaware (a first for us). We were in no particular hurry and had planned another night camping at a state park at the southern end of the peninsula only to find the campground closed when we arrived just after sunset. With limited options in that part of the state, we decided to head off over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that evening instead of the next morning and ended up in Newport News, VA for the night. It would have been better to cross the Bay during daylight hours so we could see the views, but it was not meant to be.
We continued on to Richmond and made a stop to visit with another long-time friend, Sarah Hill, who graciously took us on a driving tour of Richmond. We wanted to see the statue of Lincoln named “To Bind Up the Nation's Wounds” that commemorated his visit to Richmond in April 1865 at the Richmond National Battlefield Park and Sarah knew right where to take us.
Sarah and Brian
We continued on just past Richmond to Ashland to spend the weekend with some of Brian's Luther cousins David, Stewart, and Janice.
Brian and Janice
Kris, Brian, David Luther, Janice Luther
We left their house on Sunday morning with plans to drive in to Richmond to attend mass at the cathedral. We stopped for ice and gas and to put air in a tire on the truck. The valve stem broke off when Brian tried to add air and that put the end to traveling for the day. After getting the spare put on, we ended back at David's house for another day and will be getting the tire fixed before heading off into the Blue Ridge Mountains. We are ever so grateful that we were just down the road and have wonderful family to stay with instead of being far from help.
Brian here :
Now for my view of things – as usual, Kris pretty much summarized things very well.
BUT – she forgot to mention that we had hoped to go back to see Sarah and Keith Hill today. I knew Keith when I lived in New Orleans while in Elementary school. He moved to Huntsville, AL, and I moved to Houston. After we graduated High School, he moved with his parents to Houston, and met Sarah, who graduated with me. He wasn't in town on Friday, so we didn't get to see him.
It has been great visiting with family and friends this past week, and the time with my mother in Johnstown was a special treat. I hadn't seen my cousin Janice in a long time, so getting to spend time with her was also something that I'll remember since we were really close when we were younger.
I guess all good things have to come to an end, and it looks like this adventure will soon be over. There is no way to describe the experience, or how much I appreciate that we could do it.