The intense heat began to abate by Friday, August 10, as our trip began to wind down. We had had to face reality the day before and spend two days in Charlottesville rather than the planned single day. As a result, we were forced to eliminate our journey into the northwest area of the state where we might have found a Stonewall Jackson Museum, Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters (egads!), the Museum of the American Presidents, George Washington’s Office Museum, and the grave of Patsy Cline – before heading back into the D.C. area where we had started our adventure.
The things that were left in Charlottesville were more important. So after starting our day with a hearty breakfast of homemade french toast with raspberries, bacon, and orange juice, and bidding farewell to our bed and breakfast, the Dinsmore House, we were on our way.
Enjoying breakfast in Charlottesville
There’s me leaving the Dinsmore House
We made a brief pit stop at the University of Virginia. We had toyed with taking a formal tour but our schedule was just too full. We got out of the car and snapped a few shots of the area, some of which can be seen here.
A brief stop at the University of Virginia
We then headed to the northern area of Charlottesville (near where we had visited Monticello, Ash Lawn/Highland, and Lori the day before). On the way we found the sign commemorating the birthplace of Zachary Taylor, which can be seen here.
Next we headed to Montpelier, the estate and burial site of President James Madison. We followed this tour with a visit to the James Madison Museum. More details of the site can be seen in the James Madsion posting located here. We headed out of the area a little after 1:00pm.
It only took about a half-hour to get to Culpeper, site of the new home and workplace of my good friend George Willeman. He had just moved here earlier in the year, so I was glad to be able to pay a visit so soon after his departure. We met him and Felicia at his new place, a very nice and comfortable house out in a seemingly rural area. As George tells it, Felicia always wanted to live in the country and George always wanted a place ten minutes away from work. Now they have both.
Bob gives advice to George’s cat Isis
After browsing George’s home, and the arrangement of his many artifcats that he had to haul from Springfield, George, Felicia, Bob, and I all went out to eat and a nice, little place called Country Cookin’ which had an all you can eat salad and sides bar. Good stuff. We capped off the meal by walking out to an ice cream kiosk at the end of the parking lot. Stuffed as a polywog, I passed on the ice cream – but sampled Bob’s thoroughly.
Felicia then took off and George took us to his new place of employ, the Library of Congress, which had re-located from Dayton. Film buff David Packard (of Hewlitt-Packard fame), had these state-of-the-art facilities built and then donated them to the government for the express purpose of setting up the ultimate preservation center for films of all kind. In a word, the place was amazing – worlds apart from the dank Dayton facility. It’s the kind of place that you would think the government should have – but never does. Except in this case.
George shows off nothing in particular in his cozy work cubicle
George gave us a great tour of the film vaults, sound mixing room, preservation labs, video processing lab, working cubicles, lunchroom, and best of all, the cushy theatre equipped with theater organ. It was huge. It was grand. It was mighty impressive.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to handle my organ
Pointing at George’s blank monitor (and he’s not even doing that)
Bob and I attempt a vault break-in…
…so I can steal the nitrate negatives to The Ten Commandments
It was easy to get lost in there
We went back to George’s house to get our car and was surprised to see Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Rosenfeld had stopped by his place. Irwin was a former Daytonian co-worker of George’s who had also made the relocation. He and his wife had attended a few of our tent meetings earlier in the decade. Bob and I got out of George’s hair by about 5:00pm and began to make our way back to Washington D.C.
On the way back, we made a quick stop at the Manassas Battlefield Park, just to get a picture of the sign. I made a point to show my lack of enthusiasm with signs at this point. We had stopped for more roadside signs than traffic lights on this trip. Bob made the comment that he would like to see a sign that said “This is the only town in Virginia where absolutely nothing happened.”
Showing my enthusiasm for this patch of land that happened to be a battlefield
It took about 90 minutes to get from Culpeper to our nation’s capital. We had intended to try and stop by the Washington Cathedral on our way in – with the express purpsose of seeing the grave of Woodrow Wilson – but we missed the exit. This venture to the cathedral was apparently jinxed from the start. We checked into the Hotel Harrington, a downtown hot spot in the heart of D.C. – just two blocks from the White House. We had to walk about three blocks from our complimentary parking garage.
On a map, the downtown D.C. area doesn’t seem too huge, it was a lengthy walk just to get to the White House area. I had hoped to walk down to the memorial area around Contitution Gardens that evening, but Bob would have none of that. So I had to be satisfied at just seeing the Department of the Treasury building and the White House. We had hoped to arrange a tour of the White House, but Bob’s Congressman never responded to the request. It was a bit surreal hanging around outside the White House. Traffic had been blocked from passing around that area of Pennsylvania Avenue, but it was accessible on foot. It was quiet and people just stood around gawking. I got the feeling that there would be tons of people around all through the night.
With a two-dollar bill in front of the Treasury Department
My photo of the White House
For some reason, they wouldn’t let me in
The more-familiar backside of the White House
Contemplating scaling the gates
After a while, Bob’s feet could take no more, so we headed back to our hotel. We ate at a noisy restaurant called Harry’s inside the Harrington, where I enjoyed a reuben and a nice, cold beer. Washington D.C. was a far cry from the quiet country we had seen in Virginia. We had gone from some very peaceful stays in quaint B&B’s, to drifting off to sleep ten stories above the hustle and bustle and distant saxaphone music drifting up from the busy streets below. It was hard to believe that this was where our government was centered.
Next up: our last day in the D.C. area…