10-12 October – HERSHEY. Say no more! Bob got to spend another full day exploring a few more of the 9000 sites and returned home a rather weary wee thing. He had managed to find a few little treasures which won’t weigh us down when we do have to fly home, but one book from the Stanley museum stand scotched that idea – he will have to take it on as hand luggage. I had a more fleeting run around before hitting the Stadium to watch the scheduled high-wheeler display, but it was running so late and after watching the racing cars for a while got bored and returned to Wanda with a good book.
Saturday was the car show, so we both wandered way over to the far side of the complex to view the several hundred vehicles that had travelled from far and wide to be judged. So many cars, a huge variety of classes and probably upwards of 100 judges all busy inspecting them. Weather not so great for these last two days but at least it wasn’t raining any more. After spending a good few hours viewing the show cars, we spent the rest of the afternoon picking through the remnants of the stall holders treasures. Because of the inclement weather a good number of the stall holders had packed up on Thursday night so it was slim pickings.
This RH drive 1912 Rambler was for sale for a very attractive price!
Sunday was a lazy start to the day and as we didn’t have to vacate the camping area until 11am we took it easy – almost too easy in fact, because when it came time to leave Wanda decided to be unwandaful and not start. Even our auxiliary backup battery couldn’t budge her into life. It seemed that 4 days of running the radio and a cold morning was enough to flatten the battery. Luckily for us there were a couple of campers still left and Bob was able to get a kind gentleman to give us a jump start.
Before leaving Hershey altogether we visited the AACA museum – special displays were the 100 years of Dodge and Indian Motorcycles – both of which were nicely presented. They even had ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ film playing on the Indian display.
13 October – After spending a quiet night at Walmart in Shrewsbury, today was Columbus Day and a public holiday. Good day to tackle the mad freeways necessary to get between Baltimore and Washington for our final destination of Annapolis – and luckily it was a relatively easy drive.
This is where the kindness of strangers comes to its fore. When we crossed over to Maine from Canada six weeks ago, we met a lovely couple in the picnic area just after the border; after chatting with them for a while we received a very kind invitation to park in their driveway once we got to Annapolis and they would help us to explore the region. We duly arrived in the afternoon to a lovely welcome – they have a stunning home and property on several acres, nestled among the trees. Our first treat was to be offered the use of their guest apartment under their office/workshop. For the first time since starting out in Wanda, we abandoned her for the luxury of a real bed, comfy lounge with TV and a real bathroom. We felt very fortunate. Scott and Donna had also come up with a variety of ideas on how we could get to see some of the sights.
14 October – Scott ran us to the airport train station about 20 minutes from home so that we could get into the heart of Washington DC. What a neat journey – the train took around 30 mins to deliver us right to Union Station for the princely sum of $3 each. The two storied train was so smooth – none of the clickety clack of NZ rail and we had great views as we whizzed along. Our agenda for the day was the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum which was a nice stroll past the Capitol building (unfortunately a lot of the latter is covered in scaffolding for repairs) down to Independence Ave, where most of the myriad of Smithsonian museums are located. Bob was able to indulge himself all day looking at planes, but I took myself off after a couple of hours to see what else was around. First stop the Botanical Gardens and their amazing conservatory with an orchid display that was out of this world. I also had time to do a quick whizz around the American Indian Museum before meeting up with Bob to return to the train station. We managed to find the correct train and before we knew it were back at the Baltimore Airport with Scott there to pick us up and take us home.
15 October – Miserable weather so caught up on some chores and then took a drive over the impressive Chesapeake Bay Bridge on to the Delmarva Peninsula (it’s shared by the states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) for a bit of a wet look at Oxford and St. Michaels.
16 October – Drove close into Annapolis where we were able to make use of special parking for the Boat Show and just get a shuttle down to the city centre. First stop was the US Naval Academy – 4,500 young men and women are undertaking a 4 year degree under a military lifestyle, which can be taken in a range of fields, after which they have to serve for another 5 years. They graduate as ensign officers of the highest quality. The Academy was a huge affair with impressive buildings and we were lucky to arrive in time to take one of the walking tours. Also caught the “Noon Review” where about 200 of the recruits gather ceremoniously and march into lunch to the sound of the band. Lunch is a feat in itself – all 4,500 gather in their mess and are fed and back to studies in just 20 minutes. Long days and short nights give little time for mischief! A huge emphasis is placed on forming great leaders and one of the disciplines to build this was 2-3 hours each day being spent participating in team activities.
The chapel was another lovely building with the organ playing in full voice as we went in to view the memorials and the crypt, where their great naval hero John Paul Jones (actually a Scotsman) is interred. We had time for a quick zoom around the Preble Museum which houses one of the world’s largest displays of shipbuilder’s models from the late 1600’s onwards, including also a huge collection of French POW carved ships from the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
Lunched on soft-shell crab, which was a bit different, in the local Annapolis Irish themed pub before setting out on an exploration of the interesting streets and buildings surrounding the Capitol building (Annapolis is the capital of Maryland). A lot of the buildings were red brick and very substantial. The small streets had neat boutique shops. After taking a free circular trolley around the historic centre of town and walking back down to the harbour area, boarded our shuttle back to the parking lot and back home to our hosts.
17 October – Another day “doing” Washington DC. Caught the same train and decided to do the Hop on, Hop Off touro bus tour so that we could catch the best that the city had to offer. It was a good move, although at times the heavy city traffic rather slowed us down. Managed to hop off to see the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, Arlington National Cemetery (where an eternal flame burns beside JFK’s grave), The White House and Georgetown before it was time to hit Union Station and return home. Very impressed with DC – very leafy, loads of green spaces and their building ordinance doesn’t allow buildings to be over 15 stories. Apparently nothing is allowed to exceed in height the ‘Freedom’ statue atop the Capitol building!
18 October – Time to move on and leave the lap of luxury. What a treat it had been to sleep in a ‘real bed’, spread out on a sofa and enjoy pleasant evenings with Scott and Donna. We were sent off with some home baking and best wishes for our journey ahead.
Headed south once more through quite a built up metropolitan area around the town of Waldorf before the traffic thinned out and farmland appeared once again, crossing over the Potomac River and leaving Maryland for Virginia at Dahlgren. Stopped for the night at Tappahannock Wallies and a very different cultural experience. Not too many white faces and the boom boxes belting out rap music in the carpark is an indication of the different although still pleasant area that we are currently in.
19 October – After a nice quiet night continued our southward journey through pleasant alternately farmed and wooded countryside before crossing over the York River and onto the historic site of Yorktown where the last major battle of the American Revolution was fought and the Anglo/German military garrison surrendered to the superior American/French forces. We just happened to arrive on the very day of the battle 233 years ago and were lucky enough to be a part of their annual celebrations, marked with much colourful pomp and ceremony.
Both modern and historical re-enactment armed forces took part in the parade, with a particularly impressive display from the fyfes and drums brigade of youths aged 12-18, as well as a thunderous thirteen cannon salute. By the time all the marching and presenting of flags had finished, it left us with just enough time to explore the rest of the site and do the drive around the battlefields before they closed up for the day. Managed to find a Waldorf with a vacancy for the night nearby in modern day Yorktown.
20 October – More history today – had intended to “do” Jamestown and Williamsburg today, but as usual these things take so much longer to visit than anticipated, so it was just Jamestown, which was the site of the first British settlement of America in 1607. 104 original colonists (only men and boys) arrived in May of that year and within a year were dying in large numbers from disease and starvation. By 1610, nearly 300 colonists had settled, but in that year only 60 managed to survive the “starving time” during the winter. These final survivors were relieved with supplies from England by Lord de le Warr (Delaware state is named for him) and the settlement began a slow recovery. The discovery that tobacco could grow well was the boost it needed and from then on it became a very prosperous region which would not have been possible without the labour provided by slaves transported from Africa. We followed the living history tour presented by a retired lawyer in period attire which was riveting. He took the part of one of the “gentleman” settlers and took us through those initial years.
On site is an archaearium – a museum with all the artifacts found from the archaeological digs that have taken place over the past 20 odd years. Fascinating what they have been able to find. Several skeletons were on display, and from these they have been able to establish quite a lot about their life, including one young woman who had been a victim of cannibalism during the “starving time”.
One of the local Indian chief’s 400 children, Pocahontas, also comes into the history of Jamestown although the guide went to great pains to say that Disney’s depiction of her is not correct and the true story was much more interesting. After being captured, she married one of the settlers named Rolfe, had a child and left on a trip to England with her husband, where she died at the age of about 22.
Another day over – we headed off in search of a place to stay – our book had come up with a local Wildlife Management Area which we found and was ideal. A nice cleared parking area in the forest well placed to visit Williamsburg on the morrow.