Abraham Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

I took the opportunity of Spring Break to visit several historical sites.  This was not just an educational tour, but a family visit that was fortuitously located on the east coast.  If you ever have the opportunity, you should visit the various historical sites that have been protected across this great country.

My tour started in Philadelphia.  This city is surprisingly accessible.  The roads are rather tight, so avoid driving, but there are a multitude of Taxis and almost everything is within walking distance.  Independence Hall and Liberty Bell are part of an immaculate park with Betsy Ross’ house near by.  The architecture throughout the city is spectacular.  Most of the houses are from the 1800s, but there are a couple of streets with houses from the 1700s that are kept authentic.  Of course there are  more modern structures, but the old stuff is what caught my eye.

On the way out of town, we dropped by Valley Forge.  The Parks Department keeps the entire area in pristine condition.  They have replicas of the sheds the men made for themselves and Washington’s headquarters is set up for tours.  It is a small building that housed 23 people, that is once Mrs. Washington showed up.  Of course, once she was there, they had to set up a dining tent.  It seems that it was pretty much a scouting camp out until she was there.  The men were housed 12 to a shed, triple bunks set up in each corner.  There are monuments scattered around where each of the troops were bivouacked.  There is also a triumphal arch listing all of the commands.

Next we headed to Washington DC.  Again, there is plenty of access.  Again, having a vehicle is not recommended.  There is so much to see just on the National Mall, that you could spend a week just there.  At one end is the Capital, at the other is the Lincoln Memorial.  I cannot think of a more impressive walk any where in the world.  We only visited four of the Smithsonian museums.  I personally was impressed by each of the war memorials.  The WWII memorial is awesome in its scale and location right beneath the Washington Memorial.  The Korean War and Viet Nam Memorials straddle the reflecting pool on either side of the Lincoln Memorial.  Right now, the Mall is a construction zone as they are replanting the grassy areas to allow more tourist traffic and they are fixing the reflecting pool.

English: View of Monticello from the West Lawn.

Out of Washington, we headed to Charlottesville Virginia, the site of Thomas Jefferson’s house, Monticello.  Even though it is only one house, we spent an entire day there.  This site is run by a private organization rather than the parks department.  The facilities are very well-kept, as is the house.  The tours are very personal, with the guides allowing a lot of questioning from the group and allowing the group to steer the discussion.

We took the long way around through the mountains of West Virginia to get back to Philadelphia for our flight home.  The Shenandoah valley is beautiful.  There is literally a historic site at every exit, either from the Revolutionary War or the Civil War.  There were plenty of attractions on the circuit that I just described that we were not able to visit.  The future awaits.  Again, if you ever have the opportunity to witness out monuments, take it.  And of course, write about it.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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