My Blog List

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

White Knuckle Road Trip

Road Trip #1, Digital Photograph

What is it about Memorial Day that the heavens always weep upon our heads?  In spite of all the barbeque plans, all the home gardeners planning to plant their annuals to welcome the unofficial start of summer, the weather on Memorial Day is foul. Appropriately so.

Memorial Day is a day of mourning all the brave, beautiful young men and women who sacrificed their lives in service of our country. It's a solumn occassion--and from records I've kept, always a bad weather day. So Ellis and I drove to Lansing to visit our kids. By the time we were headed home, what was an easy hour ride became a white knuckle road trip that made us rethink the road trip we had been planning  earlier in the day to Jefferson's Monticello near Charlottsville, Virginia. We thought we'd go  in September, after Labor Day when kids are back in school and tourists are fewer in number.

Road Trip #2, Digital Photograph

After just an hour in the car however, we began rethinking our plan. We were doubting our bums were up to many more hours spent sitting behind the wheel in what could be just as adverse conditions as were beating against the windshield.

The rainy ride suggested  we needed some stamina training--a few small road trips around the state plus some glute work in the gym--plus short routes.  Pulling  into the safety of our garage, we sighed relief.  Warming ourselves in front of the fire, I reviewed  the loose itinerary we had put together. It was ambitious, the itinerary of middle aged people who can stand being strapped into bucket seats for long periods, not for youngsters and oldsters who are in a rush to get there and see the sights. Route times had to be considered.
Four hours seemed okay. But could that be done?

Road Trip #3, Digital Phtograph


Pittsburgh was the longest stretch, five hours and forty five minutes from our doorstep, but was worth the push. The city had history-- its downtown area was where the original fort the French had been two hundred and fifty nine years ago.

The Indians wanted a trading post where Fort Duquesne
 had been, but the colonists built a new Fort
next to the site and named it Pitt after Edward Pitt, the elder.
Chief Pontiac didn't take too kindly to that.

Pittsburgh, originally called Fort Duquesne by the French,  was the fort that General Braddock's British/Colonial troops went to capture in 1755, with George Washington riding along to show them the way to its location at the  Fork of the Ohio. The Fork of the Ohio is where the Alleghany river merges with the Monongahela river to form the Ohio. The British were of the opinion that the French fort was built on their territory. They wanted it gone. They didn't get their wish. The French won the confrontation. They won again in September of 1758 and tore it down, but then lost the settlement just two months later to Britian's General Forbes.  The Treaty of Easton of 1758 reduced  French alliances with the Indians.  With the Indians now siding with the British, the British took the fort.  I don't know yet if George was in on that battle or not?

From there, Gettysburg. Three hours and forty three minutes, Northeast.

Having just read  The Killing of Lincoln, I thought 'might as well.' I was curious to see this infamous, Civil War  battlefield where 51,000 Americans lost their lives in 1863 on what is now pastoral countryside.  (The total deaths in the American Civil War was 625,000, the most Americans lost in all the wars we've ever fought). I think this site is a two day visit PROVIDING I find comfortable lodgings, but that's my next task.
For now, I'm interested in the length of our routes.

Jefferson's Monticello  was just two hours and twenty six minutes South of Mount Vernon, an easy ride, but after that, I was amazed.  I couldn't find an easy way home--and I didn't want to go back the way we came.

Gettysburg Dead, actual photographic image, photographer unknown
From the look of the map, the lack of good highways between Charlottsville and Detroit, (Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit when it was a French settlement in George's time), looks like the Virginians are still a bit standoffish to Northerners. If we wanted to see new sights, Charleston, West Virginia, four hours and thirteen minutes across the Appalacian Mountain range, was our next stop.

Charlston is the capital of the only state that sededed from a Confederate State. It seceded from Virginia in 1861 to support the Union and became a state  in the Union in 1863--along with Nevada, but that's another story.

From Charlston, we'll head home through Aurora, Ohio--another four hour drive. From there, we're only three hours and thirty minutes from pulling in our driveway safe and sound and probably exhausted from the trek.

We've been to Aurora,  Ohio before. We stayed at a stable--not just any stable-- a five star stable where equestrians strut their stuff and keep their horses.  All  the rooms are suites. It's a resort sort of place where they  greet you with champagne, (by that time in this trip, well deserved), leave a basket of hot muffins on your door every morning and the turn-down service lights votive candles and scatters them about the room to delight you when you return from dinner at The Barn, which is not barnlike at all.  I think a massage maybe  available too, I hope, I hope? I have a feeling my legs will need it if we actually take this trip with 24 hours drive time. Now that we made it home from Lansing, Ellis is balking as I am dreaming.


Rain #2, Digital Photograph


  1. There is usually a period when it seem like nature doesn't know what season it is... and it seem to be know. Hopefully the fine weather will be here soon and have a creative week...

    1. Eighty something today Roger and sun on the deck. Yesterday I thought we'd be living on lake front property this morning. But the jungle out there looks lush and the greens are rich. Quite beautiful. I meant to tell you I do like your new header too. It really shows what you can do with color.

  2. Sembra che la primavera non voglia arrivare da nessuna parte...anche qua da noi,piove e piove.....belle le foto e interessante il pezzo di storia che hai raccontato!
    Ciao,buona giornata...speriamo con il sole:-)
    Un abbraccio!

    1. The sun is just coming out. I can see it on the deck. Unfortunately we can't sit there for a glass of wine yet, the cushions are dripping wet. I'm on my way out to wring them out and will probably spend the day flipping them over regularly to speed up the drying. Thanks Franz. I like the auto photos too. That top one is a painting--in oil. I like the red tail lights in all that gray. Hugs back.

  3. I think we are going to get that weather today!
    After that very hot and humid!
    Love the rain photo of the woods! "Rain # 2"
    Very much enjoy the history!
    Take care Linda!

    1. Sorry about that Michael. We're in the hot and humid stage today. I've already put my cushions out to dry.
      Thanks. I like that one too--sort of a rain forest all lush and green. Would you believe I played down the color to increase the eerieness of the mist. History is fascinating. I love to know how things got the way they got.

  4. Hi Linda,
    Simple...we moved to Hawaii. :)
    So, gather your courage and move to the sun and Tradewinds. There is no time to waste.

    1. You caught me Gary reviewing and showing your photos to Ellis. And don't you think I didn't look into your building. It looked great. But while I love the warmth of Hawaii--always a pleasant 81 degrees--I'm concerned about down sizing our living space and all that offers me, my art supplies, my books and lately my culenary adventures. Moving looks like a tradeoff of space for warmth year round. I do love shorts and flip-flops though as a daily uniform.

  5. Dear Linda, as I have already said Franz, also in Italy,the" ancient" country of the sun, it seems always ready to rain! In one day it seems impossible that it does not rain! At home it's colder than in winter! When the sun appears, it looks like a magic and I wonder ... how long!?
    Ready with an umbrella ...
    I like your post for Memorial day, the story of yesterday and today's story, mixed by your writing full of verve!
    WARM hugs,Rita.

    1. Thanks Rita, I had to do quite a bit of editing AFTER I published. I couldn't believe the number of oppes I had. My mind must have been somewhere else. Today we saw the sun and were looking forward to sitting outside with our wine this evening. Then, two minutes ago, the skies opened up again and I ran around like a crazy woman gathering up the cushions. It took them so long to dry, I didn't want them to get soaking wet again. Meanwhile, the forest looks lush and oh so green. It's lovely. Gray and green seem to be the color scheme of the month. At least it was warm today and will be the rest of the week when more thunder showers are predicted. So much for plein air painting.

  6. If it's a good day..a very good day, why, I smile and paint!! I've been doubting my bum lately too. Never noticed it before this year. Bummer.

    1. Frequent rest stops for a walk and some stretches is another key to successful road tripping and avoiding lower back pain. Painting inside or out is always a smile. You're right Dan.