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Monday, July 23, 2012

Gettysburg Battlefield

We left the lovely Bed and Breakfast at Oakland Green and headed for Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg battlefield is so big that you have to take a 2 hour bus tour just to see it all.

 The town of Gettysburg remains mostly unchanged since the days of the civil war.

If you look closely you can see the musket ball and canon ball holes in the sides of the buildings.

Sorry this picture is blurred. I took this from the bus. I loved the old streets of Gettysburg. It's a very pretty place.
We were whisked to the outskirts of town to all the strategic points of the three-day battle that took place here.

 Just like at Anteitam, the peaceful, picturesque farmlands hide the tragic events of the past.

We had a wonderful guide who was an ex-military strategist and archaeologist. He was able to explain how the battle progressed and the reasons why this strategy or that failed or succeeded. He lined us up in places to demonstrate in real terms how it would have been.

 These canons are not replicas, by the way. They've long since been disabled, but they stand as reminders of the smoke and noise of the battlefield.

 Geoff posed by this statue and then we discovered the "Please do not touch the statue" sign right in front of it. Oops!
Now here's an interesting photo. I was standing on the spot where quite a few young soldiers died. The photo was clear when I took it, but look how it turned out. Wow! It looks like I was moving fast and there's a plasma flash - a ghost in other words. 
Beautiful stone and bronze monuments are dotted around the landscape in honour of all those who fought and died here.

We were bussed back to the main complex after our extensive tour. There's a museum there and the most spectacular circlarama. The circlarama is a magnificent oil painting something like 30 feet high and hangs right around the circular room. 

We stood in the centre and watched the painting come to life with the light and sound show depicting the entire Gettysburg battle. It was astounding, spectacular... words fail me. I've never seen anything like it.

At the end of the tour, after seeing the museum and the circlarama, and after buying copious amounts of souvenirs, Geoff found a familiar looking gentleman to sit and have a chat with.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Washington DC

Wow! Who would have thought we'd end up in Washington DC? Not me, that's for sure.

Instead of driving into Washington from Purcelville, we took the train. Hey, get this... We "rode on the Danville train". Get it? Probably not. Remember that old song: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"? The lyrics go: Virgil Caine is my name and I drove on the Danville train.... I took the train to Richmond that fell..." Well, we actually did ride the Danville train into Washington, and we did stay one night in Richmond, Virginia. Cool, huh?

Anyway, we drove from Purcelville into Danville and took the train into Washington. Grand Central Station in New York is famous, but equally so is Washington's lovely old Grand Central Station.

 I didn't get any photos from inside the station. Everything was under netting, sectioned off, or behind scaffolding. They'd had an earthquake last year that did some significant damage to this lovely old building and so a lot of it was under repair and reconstruction.

We jumped on a bus to take the "Hop-on-hop-off" City Tour of Washington and left the station via this huge round-a-bout with the magnificent fountain in the middle of it.

We were right not to drive around Washington. The traffic is absolute chaos compared to New York, (and we thought New York was bad enough at the time.)

 These jump on jump off trolley/double decker bus tours are great if you only have one day to see a city. They take you around all the famous sites where you can jump off for a look around and then jump on the next one of their vehicles that come along every 20 mins or so. 

We used these in every major city we went to. It's a very cost effective way of seeing all the sights.

The domed building with the spike on top, above. Looks kind of famous.

 The round building with the statue inside it.
There's that big pointy thing you can see from almost everywhere...

...and, hey look, there's that domed building again!
I think this square thing might be kind of famous too.

Here's another view of that square thing.
We had lunch here in the park. See the plane over the kiosk? We asked why all the flights were coming and going over the river and were told that all flights had to come in that way because the President was at the White House and there is a "no fly zone" around it. Cool. Might drop in on the Prez. later on, hey. 

Actually, he ended up following us everywhere. Later on when we were at Camp David, he was there too! Then, later on in Chicago... Yep, the Prez was in rez again! Talk about hitching a ride on our coat tails. Okay, so he wasn't really following us. He was on his campaign trail and just happened to be wherever we were - or we just happened to be where he was... Whatever!

Arlington, once the home of Robert E. Lee and his family. Now one of the most famous military cemetaries in the world.

 This grave off on its own belongs to Robert Kennedy. The other Kennedy's are together.
 Arlington is quite simply...


 ...and acres...

 ...and acres, of dead people.

It was quite spectacular, and beautiful, and all of that, but it didn't instil in me a sense of pride and honor. Instead, I felt sick, and angry. In fact, the more I saw, the angrier I felt. Acres and acres of dead young people throughout history. Canon fodder. People being sent to their deaths in wars not of their own making. Ugh! Too much sorrow here. Too much grief. Overwelming and too much.

This is the monument to all wars. Quite beautiful. On the other side of it is the tomb of the unknown soldier which is guarded 24 hours of every day.

We watched the changing of the guard. Precise, quite, regimented, honorable.

 Present arms!
 Inspection over, the next soldier takes his turn on the carpet. Every half hour. It was a lovely day when we were here, but can you imagine doing this in the middle of winter?

 Then we hopped back on the bus and went back to the park to visit this square building again.

Inside, there was a statue of an old geizer sitting on a chair. Big.

And the old geizer in the chair is looking directly at that obilisky thing, by the way. Everything lines up in Washington. There was supposed to be a reflective pool in front of the obilisk but they'd drained it because of an algae problem. They were reconstructing it. You can see the heavy equipment working away in the distance. It seemed to us that half of Washington was being reconstructed.

Yes, we did drop in to see if the President was at home.
The president was at home, but was probably too busy mowing all his lawns to come down and open the gate.

Then it was back onto the bus for a trip through the leafy streets of Washington.

Apart from the famous monuments and buildings, the general architecture of Washington is quite lovely.
 There are beautiful old buildings, gardens and fountains everywhere. It is a pretty city.

Then we were off for a tour of that building with the dome with the pointy bit on top.

 Capital Hill.

 Inside the dome. Can you believe that the figures in that painting right up on the ceiling are actually 7 feet tall?
And the frescos around the dome were absolutely spectacular. They look 3D but are actually just paintings.

 I think our tour through Capital Hill was the highlight of our day in Washington. It is an absolutely gorgeous building full of statues, stunning artwork and magnificent chandeliers.

We then hopped back on the bus for the remaining half hour of our day to go to the Smithsonian. Pity we only had half an hour. We could easily have spent a week looking through the buildings of the Smithsonian, or a month, and I bet we'd still not see it all.

We chose to go inside the aero-space part of the museum. That's Geoff with the famous lunar module.

The week after we left the space shuttle was taken to the museum. We missed it by mere days. Never mind. Next time.

Then it was a quick bus trip back to the station to catch "the Danville train". You know, that never gets old... "we rode on the Danville train..." No, Stonewall's cavalry didn't come to tear up the tracks, but it was a very slow trip back to Danville due to a vicious, near-tornado conditions storm.

We followed the storm all the way back to Danville where we'd parked the car. It was only raining lightly by then. We were lucky to have missed all the rain, hail and wind. We drove back to Oakland Green for our last night there, planning to go to Gettysburg the next day. The fireflies were out in the woods again. I could never grow tired of watching them.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Purcelville, Virginia

On the way to Gettysburg, we stayed in this lovely Bed and Breakfast called Oaklands Green, just outside a small town called Purcelville, near Leesville, Virginia. A lot of the towns in this area had connections back to the civil war generals. They were quaint little places.

Oaklands Green was a lovely old place with a long history. We stayed in the restored old part of the building and it was wonderful.

The main downstairs lounge of the old log cabin.
 View from the rear of the oldest part of the building.

Me sitting on the steps of the newer part of the house.

It was here that I saw my first fireflies. They were like magic little fairy lights twinkling all over the grass and up around the trees as dusk darkened into night. I'd heard of these things. Some people call them fireflies, some call them lightning bugs. They look a bit like those long flying ants we get in the summer time, only their rear ends light up when they take off. I can't even describe how beautiful they were. I stood and watched them for ages. They were the prettiest things I'd ever seen.

 Some of the beautiful garden that surrounds Oakland Green. I sure wish I could get my own garden to look like this.

Being spring, all the beautiful flowers were out. I noticed that many people in the area had different colored begonias and geraniums in hanging pots everywhere. It was very pretty.

This was a huge flowering tree. If anyone recognises what it is, please let me know. It was magnificent. I'd love one in my own yard.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Harpers Ferry

I think by now it's fair to say that I've lost count of the days we've been on the road. If I hadn't been writing it all down, I'd have no idea in which order we'd seen what. This has been one amazing tour so far, and still so far to go...!

We drove into Harpers Ferry and found a park a fair way from the main centre of town. This is a very popular tourist destination and being a weekend, Memorial Day Weekend at that - I'm sure it was Saturday - there were people everywhere.

Harpers Ferry is right at the junction of three states. Rather cool. You can walk from West Virginia to Maryland and look over at Virginia. It's where the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers converge.

It's a very pretty little town and very hilly. We walked down and had a look around. Harpers Ferry is famous for being a civil war town as well as being the place where John Brown staged his famous raid. A lot of history here, folks. Too much for me to tell, but there's heaps on the internet if you want to look it all up.

The feeling from the locals about John Brown is, even to this day, still divided. Half think of him as a hero. Half think of him as a nut and a murderer. To tell you the truth, after visiting the museums and reading all about him, I can't make up my mind about him either.

The houses at Harpers Ferry are exactly the same as they were during the civil war. Amazing to see.
The mighty Potomac River is an awesome sight as it joins with the Shenandoah.

Take a look at all these lovely old buildings. There were heaps more, but I was in no condition to take more photos.

I'm not sure if it was the humidity or what it was, but I had some sort of attack. I think maybe asthma. Not sure. Geoff even called an ambulance to pick me up. How embarrassing!

I was alright after sitting in the ambulance for a few minutes in the airconditioning. 

I'm not sure what happened, but I've not been quite the same since. Some might say I never was quite right anyway. Hahaha!

I just loved all these gorgeous old homes. They were all perched on the sides of the hills with very steep back yards. I don't know how they managed to mow all those lawns.

This was how it looked when John Brown and his abolitionists raided on October 16, 1859.
Apart from the mod-cons, not a lot of the exterior of the buildings has changed in all that time.
Harpers Ferry - a town poised in time.




Glenloth Earth Tones Art at Zazzle

Gypsy Stone Dukkering

Casting the Stones

Long before the Tarot became synonymous with fortune telling, Gypsies used the natural world around them to help them see into the troubled hearts of those who came seeking knowledge and guidance.
River stones, gems, crystals, sticks, needles and bones were often used by the dunkerer [dukkerer] or palm reader.
I love using my own set of river stones that I personally hand picked and charged with healing energy.
When I read, I'm not so much telling a fortune, as looking into the heart of the energy surrounding the person I'm reading for. I believe this gives a more accurate insight into what is at the heart of a problem or situation and can provide real, down to earth ways of helping people deal with what life sometimes throws at them.
Casting the stones is something I love and I hope to continue with my readings for as long as life will allow.

Láshi Baxt Me Zhav Tute

(May Good Luck from me go with you)

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