Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Road Trip Day 3 - Civil War Bookends

     Day 3 of my epic road trip peaked in the morning and went downhill slowly thereafter.  I left Hagerstown, MD a little after 9am headed for Harpers Ferry, WV.  This part of the day was great. The sky was overcast and it was only in the low 40's but the little town of Harpers Ferry is full of history.  It was here on October 16-18, 1859 that John Brown attempted but failed to start a slave revolt by overtaking the arsenal at Harpers Ferry. It was considered to be a dress rehearsal for the Civil War.  The town, located where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, is home to less than 300 people year round yet welcomes more than half a million visitors each year.  

John Brown's Fort in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

     The downtown area looks and feels straight out of the 1850's with more historical plaques than you can believe.  The highlights include John Brown's Fort where he holed up during the raid on the arsenal in 1859, the B&O Railroad bridge which goes through a tunnel, and the Maryland Heights trail which is a 6.5 mile round trip hike to the top of a rocky hill that overlooks Harpers Ferry.  If I'd have had more time, and it wasn't cloudy I might have attempted it.

     Next was a stop at another Civil War era town Winchester, Virginia.  It is known for its Old Town area that includes Stonewall Jackson's headquarters that is today a Civil War museum.  The area is also a dining and shopping hub that doesn't allow vehicles, only pedestrian traffic.  It was here that I also stopped for lunch and tried something new for me, Bojangles.  Think similar to KFC, there are more than 750 in the southeast, it was a good stop, although messy to eat in a car.  

Old Town Winchester, Virginia
     From there things went downhill.  The next stop was meant to be the north entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Afton, Virginia.  I wanted to drive the scenic route for a little while and get some great photos.  I had an idea that the entrance might be closed due to the time of year, so that was not a total shock.  I went up to the visitors center on a nearby hill, which itself had some amazing views.  The super nice couple that worked inside actually had ties to New England, living at one point in Greenfield, Massachusetts.  They told me there might be an alternative route to get me onto the Blue Ridge Parkway about 17 miles southwest in the small village of Love.  I drove the curvy, climbing route, over 3,000-feet up, only to find that the road was closed still at that point too.  I was pretty disappointed.

     By this time it was 4pm, cloudy, and starting to rain.  I decided to try for my last destination anyway, the Appomattox Court House National Park which was where Lee surrendered to Grant to end the Civil War in 1865.  It was more than an hour south so I was hustling trying to get there with some semblance of light remaining.  The rain came down harder and it looked bleak.  Sunset was at 5:02pm and I arrived there about 5 minutes after.  I raced to at least get a few photos and videos of the McLean House where the actual surrender occurred.  The park closed at 5pm so the rangers were in the midst of shutting it down.  I told them I just wanted a photo and they let me go which was nice of them.  I managed to grab the photos and video I needed and then was on my way.  It was as good as I could have hoped for considering the time and weather.

The McLean House in Appomattox, Virginia
     I ended my 3rd day of my road trip in Lynchburg, Virginia.  It is a pretty nice college town, home to Liberty University.  I continued my streak of trying something new for dinner by going to Firehouse Subs.  There are more than 1,100 locations in the country but none closer than 75 miles of where I live.  That was a good choice.  The hotel, not as much.  They didn't take cash, my AAA discount was not close to what the website had offered, plus the people in the room above me sounded like they were killing each other most of the night.  I got up earlier this morning and am bypassing a shower just so I can get out of here.

     Due to the big storm that passed through the Outer Banks, North Carolina access road is likely closed until tomorrow afternoon.  This means I have to do some clever rerouting to see all I want to see and still make it home late Thursday.  Starting Day 4 heading to historic Jamestown, Virginia!

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