Sunday, September 7, 2014

Traveling East: West Virginia and Virginia

On the 4th we visited the West Virginia State Museum. It's very well done, but I remember a lot of creeping in darkened short hall bits from one well lit exhibit to the next. A head lamp might have served me well for the dark bits. I did learn how West Virginia got to break off from Virginia. West Virginia had been a disgruntled neglected backwater part of Virginia and had long wanted to go their own way. When Virginia seceded from the union, West Virginia voted to stay and the US Congress and Lincoln ratified their decision.
West Virginia State Museum (bldg 9 for the confused visitor)
That night we camped off the grid at Summit Lake in the Monangahela National Forest. Nice to have the occasional off the grid $5 night.
We just hung out in the day use area and walked around the lake a bit until time to go to our camping spot that was fairly enclosed by vegetation.
West Virginia wastes a lot of money by the way they mark curves on secondary roads. First they put up the standard windy road sign then instead of reflectors they put up stand alone curve signs about one every 10 feet. We counted as many as a dozen in a row.
On Friday the 5th we headed to the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. A series of farms with homes were imported and reconstructed to represent the various people who came to live in the Shenandoah Valley. Native American, Irish, German, West African (slaves) and English.  Then they built reconstructions of American farm houses from 1740, 1820 and 1850 plus an early schoolhouse. There were docents in period dress demonstrating life on all the various farms. Quite a bit to hike over we were lucky to catch a ride in a covered wagon drawn by two lovely Percheron.
Our covered wagon and driver

In the covered wagon

William in the German farm house
I finished reading a great book I had picked up at an earlier campground and left it in the book trade at the Staunton Campground. The Invention of Wings. Appropriate, since it is about slavery and we are doing civil war history now. I have now begun a book recommended by Cousin Nancy, Confederates in the Attic. Glad I downloaded it. 
The gardens of the house before the rain started
On Saturday we went to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Basically a rich guy who had inherited a lot of Oklahoma oil money lived here with his partner. They were into entertaining and art. They collected pie safes and miniatures. Since there were no heirs, they set up the museum and the grounds as a public benefit. Enjoyable to visit. The lunch at the museum cafe was fantastic and huge. We saved half for dinner later.
a pie safe- they had perforated metal panels
to allow for ventilation and to keep insects out

Saturday night we checked into the Harpers Ferry KOA. We usually don't go for the higher priced kid-centric KOA campgrounds. But the location is so right. We are actually in a battlefield, Bolivar Heights, on the edge of the National Park. There is a line of earthworks right in back of the Pleasure Way, our RV.

Sunday after the free pancake breakfast, we drove into Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Best to take the shuttle bus as there is limited parking in town and what there is you pay for. The town reminds me a bit of Skagway, since it is basically a park town with lots of restoration and exhibits. We spend all day and my legs are tired. The weather is balmy, but there are hills and stairs. A factory town at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, but there were floods and history to bring it down. John Brown's abortive raid on the federal arsenal was just a spark. The town changed hands time after time throughout the course of the civil war effectively obliterating it.
Harpers Ferry
Restored firehouse. Last stand of John Brown

River confluence

1903 ad "Mennen's Borated Talcum Toilet Powder"
Hiking the Appalachian Trail

I was fascinated with the cooking demonstration. Eels and songbirds cured for storage in clarified butter.
The volunteer doing the demonstrations gave me these tiny sour cucumbers to plant at home.
We're heading up to the top

We made it

The Catholic church came through the war okay.
 I don't think we'll go up to Jefferson hill.
My legs are getting tired as we come down these steps carved out of the rock.
The RV park is pretty deserted when we get back. Just the way we like it.

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