Featured

Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island is a place that we have wanted to visit for years. Once we heard about the wild horses that make the island their home, we were raring to go. And, yes, it lives up to the hype! The National Park Service has done an excellent job with maintaining the roads, facilities, and beaches.

Our first stop was the visitor center where we got some information about the island, bought our requisite Christmas ornament, and picked up the park brochure. Then we drove over the Verrazano Bridge to get to the island.

For information about the national seashore, click here: https://www.nps.gov/asis/index.htm

Not long after we drove in to the park, there was a pony jam which was very similar to the bison jams we have encountered in other national parks. Everyone wants to stop and take pictures, and if the horses are in the road, well, you just have to wait because this is their turf!

Some believe the wild horses that live on Assateague Island, which lies in Maryland and Virginia, and its neighbor, Chincoteague Island in Virginia, are the descendants of horses that came from a Spanish galleon ship that sank offshore. Others believe that farmers who lived nearby turned their stock out to graze on the islands to avoid paying heavy taxes on them. Whether these theories are true or not, it is known that the horses have been on the islands for about 300 years. In Maryland, the horses are owned and managed by the National Park Service. The horses in Virginia are owned and managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.

No, we weren’t as close as it looks. We obeyed the rules, kept our 40 foot distance, and used the zoom.
Parking lot picnic!

Approximately 80-100 horses live on the Maryland side of Assateague Island, and they are considered wildlife. There is no veterinary or human intervention toward their care, except for birth control. Their short legs and stocky bodies have evolved to enable them to easily navigate the sand dunes and walk through the marshes on the island. They appear to be bloated due to the fact that they drink twice the amount of water as domesticated horses because of their salty diet.

For a super interesting short film about the Assateague horses, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44KhYh3LVLU

Absolutely beautiful!

The beaches at Assateague Island are beautiful, too. There were no crowds on the day we went, and everything was clean including the beaches, the changing facilities, and showers. We were impressed.

View of the dunes from the boardwalk leading to the beach
We encountered several people who were surf fishing. We never have surf fished (probably because we live about 500 miles from the nearest surf) but they looked like they were having a great time. Crabbing is also allowed at this park. Other things to do here are hiking, biking, and camping.
Not a scrap of trash to be seen! We don’t know if this is one of them, but we encountered several “No Trash” parks on this trip. In those parks you pack out all of your own trash, and there are no trash cans. What a great idea! Someone should have thought of it sooner.
Check out all the passengers on this horseshoe crab
Did you know that horseshoe crabs have been around longer than dinosaurs? It has been estimated that horseshoe crabs have been on earth for 450 million years. That means they survived the ice ages! Their bright blue blood is vital to the medical industry as it is used to test vaccines for contamination. Who knew?

Assateague Island National Seashore abuts Assateague State Park in Maryland. The horses also have free reign in this park, and the facilities and beaches are great here too.

Assateague State Park beach
Beach grass at Assateague State Park. The grass controls erosion. Without it, the dunes would blow away.

This ends our visit to Assateague Island. We hope you enjoyed your visit and will come back again soon for another fun destination, quick stop, or travel tip. We will leave you with one more shot of the horses, this time standing in a marshy area. Doesn’t the one in the middle have spectacular coloring?

Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

Featured

Antietam National Battlefield

Located just outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland, Antietam National Battlefield was one of our favorite destinations on our Mid-Atlantic road trip. During the battle that took place on September 17, 1862 and lasted only about 12 hours, 23,000 men’s lives were changed forever. Ending in a Union victory, it was the bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War.

Maryland Monument
Dunker Church so named because their parishioners were baptized by dunking
Miller Farmhouse

The men who lost their lives here did not in any way die in vain, but when one steps foot on these consecrated grounds it is hard not to think that any war has its own senselessness. We felt something spiritual here that resembled the way we felt at the Oklahoma City Memorial – both being places that were once violently disrupted by turmoil but are now utterly serene. Perhaps the spirits of those who fought and died here walked along with us and somehow soothed our souls.

Mumma Farm, the only structure deliberately destroyed during the battle. Confederate soldiers burned the house and outbuildings so Union troops could not use them. Luckily, the Mumma family had left the house before the battle. They rebuilt the house in 1863. Before this trip, we never knew that families whose properties were damaged or destroyed during the Civil War were compensated by the government in order to rebuild.
Hallowed Ground

Another thing we learned on the trip was that the National Park Service leases some of its land to local farmers for growing crops. We never had seen so many soybeans, and certainly never knew that so many acres of soybeans were grown in the US.

Sunken Road aka Bloody Lane looking north
Bloody Lane looking south

This is the site where the Confederates held off 10,000 Union soldiers during a three hour battle. The casualties were high and the road was lined with bodies. Click here for some additional information and photographs of the aftermath of this battle thanks to the History Channel: https://www.history.com/news/battle-antietam-photography-civil-war . Warning – the photographs are graphic!

Burnside Bridge – probably the most photographed landmark at Antietam. General Burnside’s men captured the bridge from about 500 Confederate soldiers who had held the area for more than three hours. Burnside’s troops crossed Antietam Creek, which drove the Confederates back toward Sharpsburg.

The Antietam National Cemetery is located in Sharpsburg, Maryland, just a few miles from the battlefield. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go in, but according the the park brochure 4,776 Union soldiers are buried here, along with veterans of other wars. This cemetery did not exist at the time of the Civil War so the dead were buried where they died on the battlefield. Later their remains were reinterred at this cemetery. Confederate soldiers were buried in Hagerstown, MD, Frederick, MD, and Shepherdstown, VA, now WV. Interestingly, in 2009 remains of an unidentified soldier were found in a cornfield, most likely buried where he fell on the battlefield almost 150 years before.

Cemetery Lodge (sometimes called Keepers House) on the grounds of the Antietam National Cemetery

That’s going to do it for our overview of the Antietam National Battlefield. We hope you enjoyed the visit and that you will come back often to see us as we post more trips and tips. Thank you for joining us on the road. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

Featured

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

The town of Harpers Ferry is a national park located (now) in the state of West Virginia, but it also borders the states of Maryland and Virginia. The town once had an armory (established by George Washington to build muskets), a cotton mill among other important manufacturing sites, and a college. It is also the site of the 1862 Civil War Battle of Harpers Ferry, when the town was in the state of Virginia.

Here visitors can hike a section of the Appalachian Trail, walk the C & O Canal towpath (part of the Appalachian Trail), or enjoy several other hiking trails. There are also outfitters nearby that can put you on a river if water sports are your thing. Several museums and other points of interest are located along Potomac and High Streets in the lower town.

The Appalachian Trail winds its way from Maryland Heights across the Potomac River and through Harpers Ferry
Peaceful path to Virginius Island

The Rivers

The Point is where two rivers converge. This is a popular place in the park. It is interesting to see the water of the Potomac blend with the water of the Shenandoah where they meet at the center of the image.

The forest green water of the Potomac (foreground) flows into the olive green Shenandoah (background)
Along the bank of the Shenandoah

The Town

When visiting Harpers Ferry, guests can park at the visitor center then board a free shuttle to take them to the lower town. A hiking trail leads to the lower town for those who would rather walk. There are many historic buildings to see and there are also shops and restaurants. Although it is a national park, Harpers Ferry does have residents.

High Street
Along Shenandoah Street
Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church

John Brown

John Brown was a staunch abolitionist. In 1859, he organized a raid on Harpers Ferry. The rebellion, which was intended to arm enslaved men by seizing the armory, was a failure. After a thirty-six hour standoff, Brown and his men were killed or captured by a group of US Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Brown was later found guilty of treason, inciting a riot, and conspiracy. His trial and subsequent hanging took place in Charles Town, Virginia, now West Virginia.

John Brown’s Fort was originally the firehouse for the armory in Harpers Ferry. It is now referred to as John Brown’s Fort because it is where he and his men barricaded themselves during the final hours of their raid before being captured.
This and the photo above were taken at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

It is reported that Brown wrote this on the wall of his cell just before being hanged: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

Miscellany

The Harpers Ferry train tunnel is actually on the Maryland side of the Potomac River
Remains of a B & O Railroad bridge which spanned the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. While these piers are newer, railroad bridges here were destroyed and rebuilt nine times during the Civil War, however, five of those times the bridges were destroyed by floods.
Shenandoah Bridge near The Point at Harpers Ferry. The bridge was originally constructed in 1882. It was destroyed by a flood in 1889 and rebuilt. These piers are all that remain after another major flood destroyed the bridge in 1936.
Ruins along Virginius Island Trail
Train trestle currently used by Amtrak and a commuter train service

We’re going to wrap up our visit to Harpers Ferry here. Thanks so much for joining us on the road. We hope you will come back again to enjoy more of our Mid-Atlantic road trip. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

Featured

Annapolis, Maryland and The United States Naval Academy

The Maryland State House in Annapolis

We strolled a few streets of Annapolis, and went to the City Dock which was great – we ate some good barbecue there – but parking came at a premium and there were lots and lots of people. Being Covid-conscious, although we’ve been vaccinated, we weren’t real keen on big crowds. It was fun, though, and we would go back in a heartbeat to see more of the city.

A shot from City Dock. Luckily, we were able to park after feeding a meter our credit card, and we were just steps from the pedestrian entrance to the Academy and visitor center.

We went to Annapolis because it is the capital of Maryland, but our primary goal was to see the US Naval Academy. Now we wish we would have allowed more time to visit there. Honestly, we could’ve spent days touring the Academy.

Prestigious homes on Porter Road, sometimes called Captain’s Row. These beautiful houses, built in 1905, are for higher ranked essential personnel to live in while stationed at the Academy.
The Chapel, dedicated in 1908. John Paul Jones’ remains were entombed here in 1913. His remains had been returned to the US in 1905 after being found buried in a cemetery in France where he had lain for 113 years. Seeing the Chapel was the highlight of our visit.
Mahan Hall Clock Tower framed by stunning crepe myrtles
Bancroft Hall, the largest dormitory in the US, is home away from home to some 4,000 midshipmen. The building has 1700 rooms, 33 acres of floor space, and almost five miles of hallways/corridors. Noon meal formations are held in front of this building during the academic year.
Tamanend, Chief of the Delaware Indians. Chief Tamanend, now called Tecumseh sits in Tecumseh Court (T-Court to the midshipmen) in front of Bancroft Hall where the noon meal formations take place. The original of this sculpture was the figurehead of the USS Delaware which was burned during the Civil War. The figurehead was saved, however, and ended up at the Academy in 1866. This bronze, cast from the original wooden carving, was completed in 1930.

If you plan to visit the Academy, be prepared to go through a security process similar to ones at airports, and you will be asked to show a valid photo ID. No weapons of any kind are allowed to be carried onto the campus. Self-guided and guided tours are available.

As we said, we could have spent days here, and maybe someday we will return, as the Academy was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. For more information about the United States Naval Academy and its history, click here: https://www.usna.edu/homepage.php then click on the “About” tab.

And for some interesting tidbits about the navy, click here: https://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-u-s-navy

We’re going to leave you with the navy mascot, Bill the Goat:

Thanks so much for joining us on our journey! Please join us again soon. We really appreciate comments, likes, and follows. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road (or at a national park!) 

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

 

Featured

New Castle, Delaware and First State National Historic Park

Established in 1651 by Dutch settlers, the town of New Castle sits on the banks of the Delaware River. The historic district has been designated a National Landmark. We chose to visit because it is part of the First State National Historical Park, which has several sites between the northern border and Dover. We arrived on a weekday and basically had the historic district to ourselves. Fall was in the air, and it turned out to be a perfect day to stroll the cobblestone streets and learn about the history of the state.

The historic New Castle Courthouse was built in 1732 and served as the first court and state capitol of Delaware. It was here in 1776 that documents were signed declaring three counties independent from England and Pennsylvania, making Delaware the first state. The capital was moved to Dover in 1777. This building is a National Historic Landmark as well as a National Historic Underground Railroad Site.
Part of The Green
Immanuel Episcopal Church on the Green, established in 1689 and built in 1703
Cemetery of Immanuel Episcopal Church on the Green. 
One of the buildings along the main thoroughfare, Delaware Street. An upper apartment is now an Airbnb
Old library, now a museum. What an interesting building!
This building once served as the sheriff’s house, and until 1911 a prison stood next to the structure. In the photo below, the words “county prison” can still be seen where they are embedded in the sidewalk.
William Penn. In 1680, New Castle was transferred to him by the Duke of York. Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, who had established the colony of Maryland, disputed the transfer and the property lines. The dispute went on for decades but was settled when the survey was done by Mason and Dixon and the Mason-Dixon Line was established between Delaware and Maryland. Also, Delaware is the only state that has an arc for a border line. The arc was determined by a 12 mile radius using the cupola on top of the New Castle Courthouse as the center point.
 
View from the waterfront: Delaware Memorial Bridge crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey
Another slice of New Castle history along the edge of the Delaware River.
This container ship happened by while we were at the river.

We’re going to wrap up here, but in closing we will leave you with a photo of the Delaware Legislative Hall which is the state capitol building.

Thank you for joining us on the road. We hope that you will keep coming back for more great road trips and perhaps a tip or two. Until then…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

Featured

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Williamsport, Maryland

The C & O Canal runs for 184.5 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD

The first idea for a canal was introduced as a bill submitted in 1774 to the Virginia governing body of the time by George Washington. His plan was to use the Potomac River as a means to move cargo, however, there were parts of the river that would be too dangerous for boats. He proposed to build a canal system that would enable navigation around those treacherous areas. After the Revolutionary War, his plans were set in motion and the Potowmack Canal Company was established with Washington at its helm. The canal was completed in 1802, three years after Washington’s death. It operated until 1828 when the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company took over Potowmack Canal Company and devised a plan to build a better canal system which would connect the Ohio River to the Chesapeake Bay. Under the new C & O plan, the canal would run next to the Potomac, but boats would not have to navigate the river. The construction period ran from 1828 to 1850, but the canal never made it to the Ohio River, mainly because the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad got there first. Moving cargo via the railroad was faster and more efficient. The canal was utilized from 1831 to 1924, and in its last years was used primarily for moving coal from the Allegheny Mountains to Washington, DC.

In 1938, the government purchased the canal with plans to turn it into a recreational area. President Eisenhower declared a portion of the canal a national monument in 1961. Ten years later, President Nixon signed a bill into law creating the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park.

Cushwa’s historic warehouse in Williamsport, MD, one of the three current visitor centers for the park

We chose to visit the Williamsport, MD portion of the park because it was the closest to our next destination. Our initial plans did not include this stop, but we are so glad we were able make the last minute change. Williamsport is the future home of the park’s headquarters. The National Park Service is currently refurbishing the site of a former lumber company that sits across the street from Cushwa’s.

This portion of the park sits at the confluence of the Potomac River (background) and Conococheague Creek (foreground). What a serene and beautiful place we found this to be on a lazy September morning. By the way, those trees on in the background are in West Virginia. Here the Potomac forms the border between West Virginia and Maryland.
The canal as it flows over the recently restored (in 2019) Conococheague Aqueduct
The 1879 Bollman bridge over the canal is one of the oldest standing iron railroad bridges in the US. Here you can see the towpath where mules would walk as they towed boats up and down the canal. Now, the towpath is used for a walking and biking trail. Trivia: the C & O Canal towpath at Harper’s Ferry, WV is part of the Appalachian Trail.

Wendell Bollman, a self-taught engineer who began his career at the age of 15, designed a specific type of truss, now called the Bollman Truss, that was used for many bridges built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B & O) including the one shown above. Trivia: the B & O Railroad is the same one that sits between Illinois and Atlantic Avenues as depicted on the classic Monopoly game board.

Built in 1923, this strange-looking contraption is the only one of it’s kind on the C & O Canal. It is a railroad lift bridge that operated like an elevator to lower the tracks enabling trains loaded with coal to cross the canal. It is now a pedestrian bridge.
A view of the railroad lift bridge from underneath
A different view of the Bollman bridge with railroad tracks on the ground next to the canal. These tracks (along with the railroad lift bridge seen in the previous photos) would have been for the trains delivering coal to the power plant, part of which can be seen in the top right-hand corner of the picture.

For more information about this historic park, click here: https://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm

We are going to end our trip to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park here, but we will leave you with one more look at the canal and towpath. Imagine warm sunshine, no breeze, the smells of the earth, and complete solitude with nothing to disturb you except the summery drone of an occasional cicada. This is that place.

Thank you so much for stopping by our blog! Please come back soon for another road trip, quick stop, or travel tip. We love hearing from our readers, so feel free to leave a comment, and be sure to “like” us, too. Become a follower so you never miss one of our posts. We will not share or sell your information

Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021

Featured

Catoctin Mountain Park and National Shrine Grotto

Covid threw us (and everyone else) for a loop, but after a too-long hiatus, a lot of research, and many hours of soul searching, we decided to mask up, pack our hand sanitizer, and get back to business. We are thrilled to share our 1200 mile, five state Mid-Atlantic road trip with you over the next weeks and months, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Our trip began and ended in Baltimore, MD because…well, Southwest flies there. We try to always fly Southwest if possible – gotta love those points! Plus, Baltimore was a perfect central location for everything we wanted to do and see. What we didn’t expect was the heavy traffic. (Wilmington and Baltimore, we’re looking at you!) For a couple of folks from the wide open spaces of West Texas, we weren’t used to taking two and a half hours to go 68 miles. That said, the trip was great and the bumper to bumper traffic in some areas just added to the adventure.

Here’s our cute Kia Sorrento rental car.

Catoctin Mountain Park (Thurmont, Maryland)

Our very first stop on the trip was at Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland. It is a free entrance national park site that includes a scenic drive, hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, streams, fishing, rock climbing, and cross country skiing in the winter, and it abuts Cunningham Falls State Park, which is the site of the highest waterfall in Maryland. You may not have heard of Catoctin Mountain Park, but we bet you’ve heard of Camp David. The presidential retreat established by Dwight D. Eisenhower and named after his grandson is located in Catoctin Mountain Park. Camp David is not accessible to the public and its location is apparently kept very secretive. We happened to see what we believed to be the entrance because it had official looking gates with signs that prohibited parking, standing, and picture taking.

 

Oh, the beauty, the delightful bird calls and the earthy smells of the forest. We love a good trail, and this one didn’t disappoint.
Pastoral Catoctin Mountains farm scene from the overlook at the end of the trail

Here’s a handy link to Catoctin Mountain Park for more information: Catoctin Mountain Park

National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

We didn’t have this stop on our itinerary, but it was on the way to Gettysburg so we took a chance. What a great place to see! The National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is on the campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The grounds, walking paths, and gardens are beautiful. We got to witness a pilgrimage to the Grotto while we were there, which was an exciting first for us. That is why there are no pictures of the actual Grotto, but below are some shots from in and around the area. While viewing the pictures, imagine walking through a serene garden setting on a mountain top while a carillon rings out “How Great Thou Art”.

Chapel
Reflecting Pool
Beautiful Jesus
Saint Anthony Shrine (dedicated in 1859) near the National Shrine Grotto in Emmitsburg

Here is the link to The National Shrine Grotto if you would like additional information: Saint Anthony Shrine

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Also in Emmitsburg, MD, is the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Born in 1774, she was the first American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Shrine and Basillica

Also of interest in Emmitsburg is the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial which is located just down the street from the Seton Shrine.

Here is the link to The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton: Seton Shrine

Here is the link to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial: Fallen Firefighters

That is all we have for this post. You won’t want to miss our next exciting destination, Gettysburg. We appreciate you for visiting our site and riding along with us on our adventures. We would love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road. 

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2021