Thursday, November 30, 2006

Washington D.C. (East Coast Trip Part 4)

Our one full day in DC was a wildy windy and rainy one. There's no stopping us however: we took the bus tour of the whole city! At around 3:00 we had to call it a day since our shoes, socks, pants, and jackets had been soaked through. Here is Joshua (dressed like "the people" to avoid being a target for mugging) in front of the National Archives. Inside a dimly lit and well guarded room, we got to see the original Declaration of Independence alongside the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was just like the movie National Treasure!
There are so many monuments to so many people in this town, we couldn't possibly see them all. We did see the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and here I am at the Lincoln Memorial (forgive the hair ... it was terrible weather!). Joshua did have me pose with a penny, since this memorial is featured on the back, but I like this picture better and I'm the one doing the blogging!
Again, forgive the hair, but this was the best picture of the National Mall. We got tickets to go up to the top of the Washington Momument, but, since it was so cloudy, we figured we wouldn't be able to see anything anyhow. Besides, did you know there is nothing supporting this structure? It is simply one brick stacked upon another, no cement, no steel beams, nothing. I did mention we were under a tornado warning, right?
Not only is this city full of monuments, it is jam packed with museums! And the best part? They are almost all free! We stopped in at the Natural History Museum where we saw the Hope Diamond, a 45 carat stone. It is the most expensive item that you can hold in just one hand at an estimated $250, 000,000. We also saw the oldest Bibles at the Freer Gallery. One elaborately covered Bible had a stone which is said to contain a splinter from the actual cross of Jesus. Our last stop was the Air and Space Museum where Joshua posed with the original Spirit of St. Louis. We also climbed aboard a space station and touched a piece of moon rock! Posted by Picasa

East Coast Trip Continued

So sorry to keep you in suspense ... we were so busy seeing the sights we didn't take time to blog. Our last stop in Charlottesville was the beautiful Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. (It is pictured on the nickel, which is what my darling husband has in his hand.) Joshua especially liked learning about Thomas J. because he had so many interesting habits. For example, he designed a clock and had it hung over his bed (which sits in the space between his office and bedroom ... how convenient) and would rise each morning as soon as he could see the clock's hands. He would then immediately record the date, time, and temperature. Then, he would put his feet in a bowl of cold water. Why you ask? He heard it would keep him from getting sick. It must have worked, since he was only sick about once every seven years. Not bad.
I really liked Thomas' clock displayed in the entryway. The weights hung down and showed what day of the week it was. One samll problem: There wasn't enough room for Saturday. Not to worry, T.J. was inventive. He drilled a hole in the floor and sure enough, in the basement, you can find the Saturday label.
Our next stop was our nation's capitol. We arrived in the late afternoon, so , in true Hardwick style we walked the entire city anyway!!! I have got to learn and wear walking shoes. We did see some great sight along the way ... the White House...
... and the capitol building. The statue on top of the capitol is named Freedom. No building can stand taller than her in D.C. which eliminates skyscrapers. We learned this little factoid on our tour the next day, which will have to be another blog since I have reached the maximum number of pictures.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

East Coast Trip Part 2

To begin I must tell you , be patient, there's a lot in this one.

As we left the Sant'Agatas we headed north through the lush fall colored trees of northern North Carolina and Virginia. Just before leaving NC we made a quick stop in Hillsboro, home of the last headquarters of the Confederacy. Located in Orange County in the middle of fall it was definitely more orange than the county we live in. The town is pre-Revolutionary as evidenced by the street names King and Queen.

Next, our travels brought us to Natural Bridge. This is a giant stone bridge that was carved out by the natural flowing river below. One of the seven natural wonders of the world (I don't know completely what all seven are) it certainly commands the same awe as the Grand Canyon in it's scale. At night they have a light show while they read Genesis' account of the Creation. On one of the walls George Washington carved his initials (which we weren't allowed to do). Thomas Jefferson purchased this property from the King of England who himself purchased the land for $2.60. Also on the site were natural caverns with beautiful mineral formations. Watch out for bats.As if the Natural Bridge was hurting for tourism, some Professor that was described as "creative" (I'd choose eccentric) decided to create a scale replica of Stonehenge out of foam. This attraction was free, and so are the samples you can take home from it.
Unlike the real Stonehenge in England you can walk right up and touch this one. For the rest of the day I was singing Spinal Tap's song Stonehenge to myself. (If you think foamhenge is completely stupid as I do, just think, it still got two pictures on this blog)
Lexington is the home of Washington and Lee University. All buildings are bricks and columns. If I had College to do all over again I'd probably like to study here, but that's just based on looks.
Just behind the picture above is the Chapel that Gen. Robert E. Lee built. He was the President of this University. One interesting thing I learned about him was that his Great Grandmother was Martha Custis. She gave birth to Robert E. Lee's grandfather before she was widowed at 27. Martha Custis did remarry to George Washington our nations first President. In case you missed the connection: George Washington is Robert E. Lee's Step-Great-Grandfather. Inside the chapel is a sculpture from a single slab of marble of the late General just behind the pulpit. Even though he and his family are buried in the crypt below, this is not a depiction of him on his death bed. It's him sleeping on a pile of hay out on the battlefield. Yeah, right.
Moving right along; on our way to Charlottesville we climbed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you get a chance I recommend driving it; it's almost 500 miles of pure beautiful vistas. But if your trip is pinched for time only spend a little time on it, I averaged about 20mph along the ridge highway.

Once in Charlottesville our first stop was President James Monroe's home. It's surprisingly small for being the home of the man who held the highest number of important government roles of any president ever. I'm sorry that I don't have pictures of the home as I'm not allowed to take any. If you're interested, I'm sure you can google up some pictures.
Just down the street is Michie (Mickey) Tavern. An old Tavern-Inn for travelers through the area. I'm not sure of the historical importance of this particular installation, but as a record of times gone by it's pretty interesting. Such as, did you know that we get the term "Bar" because that's what the person serving drinks had to do, bar the patrons from getting to the drinks? And, next time you see us ask us the origination of the song "Pop, goes the weasel."
Yes, this is a four-seater outhouse for guests of the Inn. A little privacy please.
For dinner, we found the perfect place about a block and a half from our hotel. They have the best fish and chips I think we've ever had. One look at the name and you'd think, of course, it was made for us."

Tomorrow, Monticello, Lord Hardwicke's for lunch, Washington D.C.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Visiting the Sant'Agatas (East Coast Trip 1)

Erin and I are now on our week long adventure into America's past, visiting North Carolina and Virginia. Our first stop is visiting our friends Tara and Tommy who are recent emigrants to this land.

Saturday is the opening of Pecan season and what better way to start it than by going to a plantation to pick pecans? But we were too late and they were all picked (bad season) so we went to the other side of the plantation and learned all about picking cotton and the importance of Eli Whitney's infamous Cotton Gin. (see below for picking)It is a beautiful time to come here during the fall season. All the trees are turning a brilliant red, orange, and yellow. Although pretty, Tommy spent the better part of Friday raking the leaves out of his yard to impress us only to find the leaves to double themselvs by the time we arrived the next morning. Below is a picture of Erin and I below a Red Lace-Leaf Japanese Maple from the Raleigh Arboretum. (My personal favorite of all on display)Sunday we drove to the South-Eastern tip of North Carolina to a town called Wilmington. Old, quaint, and celebrity hot spot. I didn't see anyone familliar on the horse-drawn tram ride, but I did see John Travolta's picture inside a souvenier shop. (don't laugh, bad hair day)
Across the Cape Fear river (from where we're standing above) is the final resting place of the Battleship North Carolina. With 15 battle stars and fighting in every naval offensive in the Pacific, it is the most decorated ship in all of WWII. Below is a picture of the bunk quarters stacked 5 high. This is how a majority of the 2300 crew slept aboard this floating city of men.
We'll continue as our trip progresses...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Williams and the Grand Canyon

Well, I was going to let Joshua blog about this since I wrote about the rest of our road trip, but he hasn't got around to it yet and we leave on Friday for two more weeks of adventures. So, here it is. On our way back from Albuquerque, we made a detour to see the Grand Canyon. Joshua had never been and my family stopped for about 15 minutes once on our way to Lake Powell. We decided to drive until we were too tired, and we ended up in a lovely place called Williams, Arizona. The first listing in our AAA guide book that matched our price range was the Canyon Country Motel. Low and behold, it was a terrific place to stay for under $40!
The caboose and train car are rooms available for surprisingly low rates. There is also an RV park on site as well as an indoor swimming pool!
We stayed here in this cabin-style room equipped with a king size bed.
I'm sure everyone has seen many a panoramic picture of the Grand Canyon, so I will not post them, but here we are with an amazing backdrop at the South Rim of the canyon. Posted by Picasa