Saturday, September 14, 2013

Frolicking around Fredericksburg

Today we will be going to a party for my cousin’s son who is home from Kuwait. He is in the service as a helicopter pilot. Last night after we had visited Washington DC, we stopped at John’s to say hi and to show that we did drive down and would be there the next day. He prepared a great meal for us after I made some off handed remark, which was not meant for him to react to other than some words. We left early, about 8pm, so he could continue his prep plans for the party. He made it quite clear he did not need / want or expect any help in the morning and preferred if we just showed up around 2pm.

With that said we had this morning to do some stuff, so we headed out to capture some Landmarks, mainly in Fredericksburg. We skipped going to the battlefield and getting some ink (National Park Cancellation Stamp) since I had been there 2 or more times before and not having to get the stamp for an IBA tour.

We headed back north to get Aquia Church in Stafford, VA. This was one of the stops we skipped on our way down on Thursday, since we had run out of sunlight. When we arrived at where the waymark in the GPS brought us, there was no church to be found. Sort of giving up on not finding it I headed back down to Rt 1.  MeAsWe pointed and  said its up there.

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Aquia Church was completed in 1757,  established by the then-state Church of England. The church is a rare example of rural colonial church of the southern colonies that has survived intact to present day. It sits atop of a hill and surrounded by a graveyard. For some reason I had problems getting my initial pictures of the church, because I had screwed up all the settings on my camera.

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We headed out of Stafford and headed south back towards Fredericksburg. On our way my GPS began binging indicating there was a National Historic Landmark in the area. Some time back,  I had loaded a file of all my NHL’s into a POI file (Points of Interest) and set a proximity alarm. When you approach one of theses POI's with the proximity distance set, the GPS will flash up a indicator and bing. Until today, I had never really used it.

We found ourselves at Gari Melcher’s Home and Studio. Didn’t have a clue who or what the site was, but the sign indicated the tours were free today so we headed in. Generally we don’t go into these old mansions because if you seen an old couch or armoire in Massachusetts, they don’t look any different in Virginia. Actually the tour was quite interesting and I may have to revisit my resistance of taking house tours.

Gari’s was home is also known as Belmont and is a National Historic Landmark. He was an American artist (1860-1932) one of the leading proponents of naturalism. Gari did much to gain recognition for American artists in Europe, at a time when America was struggling for cultural respectability. He is considered one of the significant artists of the 1930’s. The house itself, was built in 1761 by John Dixon, purchased by Joseph Ficklin and then purchased by Gari in 1916. The house, now a museum, today remains very much like the Melchers left it, which was donated to the University of Mary Washington by Connie Melcher, Gari's wife.

Belmont aka Gari Melchers Home - Falmouth, VA

Belmont aka Gari Melchers Home - Falmouth, VA

Belmont aka Gari Melchers Home - Falmouth, VA

Back in Fredericksburg, we headed for a couple of Landmarks. First was the Rising Sun Tavern. For some reason I was particularly anxious to see this place, maybe because of its name, RISING SUN. Sounds so kewl. The tavern was simply the home of Charles Washington, younger brother to George. It was visited by notables such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and John Paul Jones during the Revolution. When I hear John Paul Jones, Captain Morgan springs to mind. Must be it's the boat thing. Maybe it is the slogans. “I have not begun to fight” versus “To Life, Love and Loot”.

Rising Sun Tavern - Fredericksburg VA

Kenmore is right around the corner (well sort of), the home of Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis, who was George’s sister. It is a plantation house that is the only surviving building of a 1300 acre plantation. It was declared a NHL in 1970. The Lewis’s did not name it Kenmore, that name was bespelled upon it by Samuel Gordon in 1819 for his ancestor’s home in Scotland. George’s Mom, Mary is buried on the grounds.

Kenmore - Fredericksburg VA

Backtracking abit, we hit James Monroe Law Office. He was our 5th president and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He studied law under Thomas Jefferson, and really had very little interest in legal theory or practice. He chose this profession because he felt it would facilitate his path to wealth, social standing and political influence. This is where he practiced what he did.

Monroe Law Office - Fredericksburg, VA

Monroe Law Office - Fredericksburg, VA

At this point we headed for my cousin’s house in Corbin. He lives off the beaten path and his driveway, for lack of a better term, is quite a challenge on a bike. With the MINI we had no problems. John, my cousin is my father’s sister’s son. I knew our side of the family; however I never really knew John’s father's side of the family, even thou they all moved from Jersey to Virginia. Jersey was my home state. We had a grand ole time, and John’s southern hospitality really showed thru.

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Sunday morning we awoke and decided to skip the free breakfast at the Best Western and head for Shoney’s right next store. They had a great buffet and was amazed our bill was less than $20.

On Saturday, we had passed the Ferry Farm and blew it off saying we could get it tomorrow. Well tomorrow is here and we headed for the Ferry Farm. George Washington spent most of his childhood here. The target was his house. Well after we consulted with the folks in the visitor center, that house has been long gone. This is where the famous cherry tree for George Washington existed.

Ferry Farm George Washington Boyhood Home

I had a Tito’s Diner waypointed and decided to visit because, well, we had nothing else to do. We got there, took a pic and left. I had this marked as a potential place to eat. Since we had eaten we didn’t have to make a decision about this place. Actually it looked like any other hamburger place in stainless steel clothing. Nothing special. What we should of visited was Carl’s Ice Cream. I had been here once before in 2006 one night and the place was jammed packed. We did pass it this trip, but I didn’t realize until I got home that it was on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tito's Diner Fredericksburg VA

After visiting the Diner, we headed out to John’s house for a goodbye visit. When we got there, it was as if no one was around. We called from outside his house and left a voice mail, saying our good byes and thanking him for dinner Friday and yesterday’s bash. Back at the motel, we got a call from John. Apparently he was inside taking a nap.

Back on the road to the hotel we stopped at this place. Having passed this place numerous times coming and going from John's. I finally pulled over to grab the marker. Nice view of the Rappahannock River as well.

Colonial Post Office VA Historical Mark

Colonian Post Office VA Historical Mark

We spent the rest of the day relaxing. Tomorrow starts our trek further south and west.

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