A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Virginia

A Memorable Memorial Weekend

Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia We began our  four day Memorial Day memorial tour on a Friday at Manassas National Battlefield Park. This was where the first major land battle…

Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia

We began our  four day Memorial Day memorial tour on a Friday at Manassas National Battlefield Park. This was where the first major land battle of the American Civil War, most commonly referred to as the First Battle of Bull Run, took place. On July 21, 1861 the two armies converged on the rolling hills near Centreville, Virginia. Spectators came from Washington expecting an easy victory for the North to bring a swift end to the Southern rebellion. The battle seesawed throughout the day but in the end it was a Southern Victory. It was also the place where the legendary Southern general “Stonewall Jackson” received his famous nickname. It was the beginning of a war that would almost destroy a nation and eventually claim more than 600,000 lives.

Harpers Ferry, National Historical Park, West Virginia

Saturday, we visited Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. A visit to Harper’s Ferry is like stepping into the past. Historical reenactors and musuems bring the history of Harpers Ferry to life! It has a multi-faceted history being the place of the first interchanable manufacture, location of John Brown’s raid against slavery (a catalyst for the Civil War), a civil war battleground, and home to one of the first integrated schools, Storer College, dedicated to educating former slaves in higher education.

If history isn’t your thing Harper’s Ferry is beautiful. It sits nestled between hills at the convergence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature.” There is even a rock named after him, Jerfferson Rock, where he took in the view above lower Harper’s Ferry and said, “this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic”.

Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland

Sunday after a stopping in Shepherdstown West Virginia for a farmers market (Sheperherdstown is such a COOL little town), we headed over to Antietam National Battlefield. The Battle of Antietam is also know as the battle of Sharpsburg. The North tended to name battles after the closest creeks, rivers, or streams and the South often used names of towns or railroad junctions. Antietam was the bloodiest one day battle in American history with over 22,000 casualties.

This was our third battlefield in three days and, to be honest, Thing One was…Over. It. I kinda don’t blame him it was a sweltering hot weekend and after awhile all the battles start to run together with the same tragic theme. However, Thing Two couldn’t get enough if you can’t tell from the pictures! He loves history, war history in particular. This was his opportunity to wear his kepi in the correct time period. (God only knows how he feels about that!) After completing the Jr Ranger program, we took the self-guided tour through the battlefield and then ended our day at an old fashioned ice cream parlor, Nutter’s, for some crazy good ice cream. In fact, I’m still thinking about it!

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania

It seemed fitting that we finished our Memorial Day memorial tour on Monday with a visit to Gettysburg National Military Park. While Anitiem was the bloodiest one day battle, Gettysburg was the bloodiest overall battle with over 51,000 casualties over a three day period. It was also a major turning point in the Civil War and the place where President Lincoln made his famous Gettysburg Address.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln

It was an unforgettable Memorial Weekend and to any who serve or who have served and their loved ones, thank you.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Remembering Our Backyard in Colonial Beach VA

As a family on the road we see so many wonderful places but you know what? It’s the small things I really want to remember. I want to remember… Each…

As a family on the road we see so many wonderful places but you know what? It’s the small things I really want to remember.

I want to remember…

Each campsite we call home for a few days or weeks.

Reading around a morning campfire before we go to George Washington Birthplace National Monument.

The sweet faces of these five (and Meow Cow whose not allowed out.)

The smell of campfire and the sound of young voices in harmony which is not often enough.

Our little neighbors.

My backyard gyms.

I even want to remember the mundane like laundry.

And amazing soft serve from random ice cream stands in small towns.

especially want to remember Brent bustin’ a move at the Saturday campground shindig.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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First President and Fortune Teller? – George Washington Birthplace National Monument

Brent has been working a lot lately. This is good. Very good. Unfortunately, it means he misses out on a lot of places and I’m left to wrangle these guys…

Brent has been working a lot lately. This is good. Very good.

Unfortunately, it means he misses out on a lot of places and I’m left to wrangle these guys myself.

On our way to our new campsite at Colonial Beach, we passed George Washington Birthplace National Monument. This isn’t the first time we have stumbled upon a National Park.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument was only a few miles from our campsite and a perfect place to spend an afternoon learning about the first president’s early years. George Washington spent the first three years of his life here at the plantation at Popes Creek before his family moved to Ferry Farm near Fredericksburg, Virginia. During his lifetime Washington made many trips back to Popes Creek to visit family and friends. The farm stayed in the Washington family until it passed to the government for preservation.

Thing One was disappointed to find out that this wasn’t the real house where George Washington was born.

However, he was thrilled that the ranger let him play the harpsichord and the ranger was quite impressed with his playing.

The foundation of the actual house where George Washington was born sits a few feet away from the restored brick house.

As a teenager George Washington studied the trade of land surveying. One of the activities in the Jr. Ranger book was to “survey” the foundation of his birth home.

Most of the afternoon we just walked the grounds and took in the beauty.

The Washington family burial ground is also on the property. Although, Washington isn’t buried there. He is buried at Mount Vernon.

At the end of the day the boys took their Jr. Ranger pledge.

Lastly with all the mudslinging going back and forth between parties, which only promises to get worse as we close in on election, I found this quote from George Washington’s Farewell Address quite timely.

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” – George Washington, Farewell Address September 17th, 1796.

Perhaps he should have gone into fortune telling instead of politics.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Hard Tack and Ticks at Yorktown National Battlefield and Victory Center

It was a perfect spring day when I took the boys to Yorktown, the last stop of the historic triangle. Like Historic Jamestown and Jamestown Settlement there are two sites…

It was a perfect spring day when I took the boys to Yorktown, the last stop of the historic triangle. Like Historic Jamestown and Jamestown Settlement there are two sites to visit, Yorktown National Battlefield and Yorktown Victory Center. Unlike Jamestown Settlement you don’t need a full day to visit Yorktown Victory Center and admission doesn’t cost you your right arm like Colonial Williamsburg.

The Yorktown Victory Center is hands-on. There is a museum, a Continental Army encampment and a 1780’s farm where historical interpreters describe and depict life of the soldiers and civilians of that time.

The boys, of course, liked the war camp.

The equivalent to a light bulb.

The equivalent to a smart phone.

Yeah, I prefer my maps app. I won’t even talk about what we learned in the medical tent.

Thankfully there was era appropriate wear to try on in the officer’s tent. Lord only knows how much Thing Two loves to be historically accurate.

The battle at Yorktown was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War and Yorktown National Battlefield is a place to ponder the events that sealed America’s victory.

We stopped along the 7 Mile Battlefield Tour Road to explore the earthworks.

And look at the artillery.

Heading back to the truck after one of our stops we discovered something terrible.

A tick on Thing Two.

Then as we buckled up, I saw one crawling up my thigh. You would have thought I had found a stowaway cobra.

After sweaters were shaken out and bodies checked, we headed to our last stop on the 7 Mile Battlefield Road, Surrender Field, where British troops laid down their arms. I don’t know if it was the ticks, the setting sun, or PMS but, I’ll admit, I got teary-eyed looking across the field and then annoyed when all the boys could do was talk about ticks falling from the trees like paratroopers.

Maybe I should have listened to them because on the way home we found no less than 8 more stowaway ticks looking for a free meal. I think my skin may have thickened (no pun intended) at the medical tent talk because I ordered, “flick those intruders out the window” and I focused on one thing, getting this beast of a truck safely back to our campsite where I could collapse in Brent’s arms and cry about the ticks.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Tragedy and the Tricorne at Colonial Williamsburng

Thing Two was mad at me. This is not unusual. Everyday, it seems one of my kids is mad at me for some reason or other. Mad because I “make”…

Thing Two was mad at me.

This is not unusual. Everyday, it seems one of my kids is mad at me for some reason or other. Mad because I “make” them do school. Mad because I ask them to wash four dishes. Mad because I won’t let them play on their devices all day. Mad because I make them wear sunscreen and try vegetables. I’m a terrible mother, I tell you.

Today, Thing Two was mad at me because I wouldn’t let him spent the rest of his money on an overpriced tricorne hat, the triangle shaped hats associated with American Revolution, we saw in a shop the other day. Now he was going to “have” to wear his blue Civil War kepi to Colonial Williamsburg.

In 1699, the capital of  colonial Virginia moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg and remained the capital until 1780. Today, you can visit Colonial Williamsburg and experience for yourself what life as a colonist during the Revolution might have been like and if you are unlucky enough to have a mother like me you will “have” to wear your Civil War kepi while everyone else wears tricornes. Homeschooler problems.

Once we got there and sorted out the tickets—They offer two different homeschooling rates one for the kids through the group sales and one for the educator through the main ticket booth.—we had a fun time learning about life in Colonial Williamsburg. We toured the governor’s mansion, talked to various “tradesmen”, pet horses, admired sheep, and visited the art gallery.

We were having a great time. Thing Two even forgot he was wearing a kepi.

That was until a colonist taught them to bow and said to Thing Two, “You’re about a hundred years too late with your hat.”

Thanks Mr. Colonist.

It was over. I was the terrible mother. With tears in his eyes, Thing Two asked if he could spend the rest of the day without his hat. For the record, I never made him wear his kepi. I only require them to wear hats, any hat, when we are going to be in the sun all day and he wanted to wear something “old fashioned”. It just wasn’t old fashioned enough.

I packed the hat in the backpack and we enjoyed the rest of our day at Colonial Williamsburg where Thing Two watched wistfully as soldier boys walked by in their tricornes.

A few days later, I found a reasonable priced tricorne and bought it for Thing Two.

But the next time there is back-talking about dishes, school, or hats I thinking this may do.  Maybe one of these will fit on the back of the RV.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Historic Jamestown

Historic Jamestown, located a few miles from Jamestown Settlement, is the location of the original Jamestown colony. There isn’t as much to do at the Historic Jamestown as there is…

Historic Jamestown, located a few miles from Jamestown Settlement, is the location of the original Jamestown colony.

There isn’t as much to do at the Historic Jamestown as there is at Jamestown Settlement. There aren’t any boats to climb on. There aren’t any Indian huts to explore. The fort is a little more than an outline on the ground.

But…

You can look out at river, the former lifeline to England, and imagine what it would have been like to be John Smith waiting for supplies to arrive.

You can see the spot where Pocahontas and John Rolfe where most likely married.

You can see graves of the early settlers who braved the New World for better or for worse.

You can imagine the defeat felt by the Powhatan indians as they were pushed out of their lands.

You can walk where the first Africans arrived as slaves in 1619 and think of the devastation that would follow.

You can sit and take in the significance of the spot where the United States, the great melting pot, began.

Historic Jamestown is a beautiful and moving place.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Our Backyard in the Eastern Shore of Virginia

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is seperated from mainland Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay and for four days it was our home. We saw the wild horse of Assateague Island…

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is seperated from mainland Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay and for four days it was our home.

We saw the wild horse of Assateague Island but mostly we just lived and explored our backyard.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Chincoteague Island and Assateague National Seashore (the Virginia Side)

My heart was bouncing with anticipation as I packed our stuff for a day at Chincoteague Island and Assateague National Seashore. Assateague National Seashore is most well known for wild…

My heart was bouncing with anticipation as I packed our stuff for a day at Chincoteague Island and Assateague National Seashore.

Assateague National Seashore is most well known for wild horses.  Very few things make me as excited as horses!

Especially wild horses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have wanted to visit Assateague National Seashore, since I read Misty of Chincoteague as a child about 25 years ago. Since we hit the road full time in our RV last October, seeing the wild ponies of Assateague Island had been at the top of my list of things to see.

Assateague Island is divided into two sides, the Virginia side and the Maryland side.  We decided to go to the Virginia side because the entrance was closest to our campground and you pass over Chincoteague Island, where they have the yearly pony round up, to get there.

I was antsy with anticipation the entire drive babbling on and on about finally getting to see the wild horses. Like a kid on Christmas Eve….

I. Could. Not. Wait.

We drove onto the island, our eyes peeled for wild horses. Finally we spotted them faaaar across a marsh in a fence.

In. A. Fence.

Not only were they behind a fence, they where were so far you could hardly tell them from a deer even with my zoom lens.

This was not what I had imagined nor seen on the internet.  I had seen pictures spotted horses roaming freely in campgrounds and on white sand beaches. Thanks Google for getting my hopes up.

We went to the visitor’s center and I asked about the wild horses. I was told they keep them in corrals, albeit very large corrals, on the Virginia side. They only roam free on the Maryland side.

I stood there staring at the park ranger my eyes full of tears.

It wasn’t awkward in the least.

I stammered out a thank you and left, my childhood dreams crushed.

We may not have gotten up close to the horses but we did get up close and personal with some horseshoe crabs.

We also came across some pony tracks ice cream at Island Creamery on Chincoteague.

But no free roaming wild horses.

The highlight of the morning was the Assateague Lighthouse.

For a small fee you can go up to the top of the Assateague Lighthouse.

If you squint hard enough you may be able to see the wild horses roaming in a fence. Or not.

Or you can beg your husband to drive an extra hour and a half to the Maryland side of Assateague National Seashore and hope you see some wild horses there.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow one of three ways! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed  or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook (Just make sure to check subscribe if you want it to show up in your feed.) Simple dimple!

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