Archive for October, 2009

10.30.2009- To Fredericksburg

October 30th, 2009 No comments

Slight change in the itinerary… cancelled first three nights in Richmond- heard that there were several Civil War battlefields near Fredericksburg. Am staying at the KoA, 800-562-1889.

Woke early, having not made it through the second Series game. Did my laundry and headed to Fredericksburg. On arrival, I took an exploratory drive around town and discovered a very interesting site which was part of the Battle of Fredericksburg. Northern general Burnside had to cross the Rappahannock River and cross a large open space to confront the enemy. Unfortunately, the enemy was ensconced behind a wall bordering Sunken Road. They lined up four deep, keeping up continuous fire as the Northern troops were sent in waves to attack. The loss of life was horrendous.

Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera. I think I will try to go back to get some shots before I leave.

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10.29.2009- Manassas (Bull Run to us Northerners)…

October 30th, 2009 No comments

Woke up late… had to watch the Phillies kick some butt up in NYC last night!

Took a drive out to see Manassas, about 45 miles from the RV park. Took a short walking tour (could see most of the important sites in the story) with a volunteer guide. Supposed to last 45 minutes, went twice as long… he really enjoys the subject and telling others about it. He got a round of applause at the end. As it turned out, this was the first significant battle of the Civil War… people actually thought that it would be the only battle of the war and came out from Washington to view the defeat of the Confederacy. Only problem was that the rebels won, sending the Union force back toward Washington. (I have found out that most of the early battles were losses or, at best, a draw for the North. Until Ulysses S. Grant, it seems that Lincoln had rather ineffectual commanders.)

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10.28.2009- Washington, again

October 30th, 2009 No comments

Left the park early, determined to see some of the Smithsonian. Elected the Museum of Natural History and, if any time, the Museum of American History. Basically ended up doing an overview of both, stopping to inspect only that which was really of interest.

Got off the Metro too early so had to walk a ways to the museums. Stopped for a quick visit at the Smithsonian Castle. Quite an amazing building.


Natural History Museum… introducing your friend and mine, T. Rex, and the skull of what must have been a wonderful house pet.

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In the gem section, the Hope Diamond, currently un-mounted from it’s usual diamond necklace.

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American History Museum… a real $100,000 bill, Judy’s red shoes,

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Abraham Lincoln’s top hat and pocket watch,

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These four pictures span the last five years of Lincoln’s life, amazing how the

Civil War aged him.


Long day. Headed back to Scooter with the commuters. Had a Rueben at the park cafe, the best ever! Back to watch the Phillies whip the Yankees 6-1. Got to bed way too late!

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10.27.2009- Computer problems…

October 30th, 2009 No comments

Arrived at Best Buy at 10AM, standing first in line to visit the Geek Squad. I had been called by a Best Buy rep who said I should be taken in first due to the nature of my complaints. It took four and a half hours to “fix” my problems… got back to Scooter and they aren’t all fixed! Biggest two problems is having a working security program and being able to transfer files from the old computer to the new.

Not a great day! One lesson learned… never buy a computer when you are on the road and trying to see the sites.

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10.26.2009- Into Washington

October 28th, 2009 No comments

Took a short walk and decided that Scooter and Toad needed to be recorded for posterity. A wonderful spot in a very nice park.


After bidding the Deckers a fond goodbye, I made my way into the city, somewhat confused as to what I wanted to see. There is so much to been seen and it is all so big… the buildings, the distances (a city block seems like at least 3 or 4 Philadelphia blocks)…  and it is all time consuming. And, they seem to have no problem bragging about it!


Got off the Metro at Archives-Navy Memorial stop and decided to check out the National Archives, home of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

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       Declaration of Independence                                      Signatures


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                                     Constitution, pages 1 and 2


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                                     Constitution, pages 3 and 4


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   Constitution, signatures                                      Bill of Rights

Next was the FBI building. Having just read “Tainting Evidence,” by Philip Wearne (who was with me for three days in Nova Scotia and who I had just seen the previous day), I had to check out the forensics lab. Very disappointed… the general public may no longer enter the building- the facinating tours of the past are no longer available. Philip, could your revelations have caused this sudden modesty?

Onward to Ford’s Theatre, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s asassination. I believe the pictures are self-evident.

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Across the street is the Peterson home, where Lincoln was taken after he was shot.

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Stopped in an incredible “greasy spoon” for a late lunch and had one of the best hamburgers of my life. The price was very reasonable. Went around the corner where I was told that all sundaes are half-price on Mondays… a wonderful coffee ice cream with chocolate sauce, nuts, whipped cream and a cherry was the result. Need to maintain my strength for all this walking, you know.

Returned to Scooter and decided to cook out. One of my favorites is salmon burgers (Costco has them) and they were good! A little typing on the blog, some TV and to bed.


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10.25.2009- Another off day, but scared silly!

October 28th, 2009 No comments

I spent a lazy morning, leaving Scooter in time to pick up the new computer at noon. Came back and played with it for most of the afternoon. Realized that Best Buy had not done all that they promised- install security program, optimize system, etc. Had security disc so I tried to load and it failed. Frustration is rampant with the weather and this problem!

Got ready to join Philip and his friends for dinner and a haunted house tour, run each year to benefit the local fire company. The friends are Sandra and David Dominey and their children, Kevin and Megan. Megan is involved as one of the actors in an ongoing year-to-year saga of the “GoatMan.” Set in an extremely well decorated (otherwise empty) building, known as GoatMan Hollow, the tale was somewhat confusing to me in that I was new to the story. I just knew that I was “looking for the GoatMan” whenever I was asked what I was doing. A simulated elevator, ghouls feasting on a body, instant conversion of a live woman into her DNA… all made for the great scary moments.

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10.24.2009- A rainy day…

October 28th, 2009 No comments

Not much to report today. Went out to get get some groceries and have a prescription filled… a real shock now that I have achieved “doughnut hole” status… over $300 for 90 pills! Also did some stuff around Scooter, cleaning and fixing.

Also ordered a new computer a new computer- Toshiba laptop with Windows 7, 500-gig hard drive and 4-gig RAM. Sony still works but it will be accepting disability checks fairly soon. Wanted to upgrade before that happens. Best Buy is going to do some upgrades and install anti-virus protection- will pick it up tomorrow.

Got a call from Philip Wearne- wants to get together with friends for dinner and a visit to a Halloween spooky house where their daughter is participating. I thought it was for tonight but it turns out to be tomorrow. Philip assured me that it would be worth it and I don’t mind being scared once in a while!

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10.23.2009- Arlington Cemetery and The Pentagon

October 24th, 2009 2 comments

New day and it has to start out better. The Deckers and I decided that Arlington National Cemetery, and maybe the Pentagon, would be on the itinerary for the day. I offered to drive, thinking the GPS would be a big advantage… and off we went.

I have taken the liberty of copying and pasting the material below from


Arlington National Cemetery Facts

Arlington Mansion and 200 acres of ground immediately surrounding it were designated officially as a military cemetery June 15, 1864, by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. Scene at Arlington National Cemetery

More than 300,000 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery.

Veterans from all the nation’s wars are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through the Iraq and Afghanistan. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.

The federal government dedicated a model community for freed slaves, Freedman’s Village, near the current Memorial Amphitheater, Dec. 4, 1863. More than 1,100 freed slaves were given land by the government, where they farmed and lived during and after the Civil War. They were turned out in 1890 when the estate was repurchased by the government and dedicated as a military installation.

In Section 27, are buried more than 3,800 former slaves, called "Contrabands" during the Civil War. Their headstones are designated with the word "Civilian" or "Citizen."

Arlington National Cemetery and Soldiers Home National Cemetery are administered by the Department of the Army. All other National Cemeteries are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the National Park Service.

Arlington House (Custis-Lee Mansion) and the grounds in its immediate vicinity are administered by the National Park Service.

The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last funeral each day. Funerals are normally conducted five days a week, excluding weekends.

Funerals, including interments and inurnments, average 28 a day.

With more than 300,000 people buried, Arlington National Cemetery has the second-largest number of people buried of any national cemetery in the United States. Arlington National Cemetery conducts approximately 6,400 burials each year. The largest of the 130 national cemeteries is the Calverton National Cemetery, on Long Island, near Riverhead, N.Y. That cemetery conducts more than 7,000 burials each year.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is one of the more-visited sites at Arlington National Cemetery The Tomb is made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 tons. The Tomb was completed and opened to the public April 9, 1932, at a cost of $48,000.

Three unknown servicemen are buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns:

A joint-service casket team holds a U.S. flag outstretched above the casket bearing the remains of the Vietnam Unknown, while President Ronald Reagan places a wreath at the casket’s head during entombment ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

Unknown Soldier of World War I, interred Nov. 11, 1921. President Harding presided. Unknown Soldier of World War II, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided. Unknown Soldier of the Korean Conflict, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided, Vice President Nixon acted as next of kin. An Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Conflict, interred May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family has reinterred him near their home in St. Louis, Mo. It has been determined that the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain empty.) The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded by the U.S. Army 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) began guarding the Tomb April 6, 1948.

On July 24, 1998, U.S. Capitol Police Officers John Michael Gibson, 42, and Jacob Joseph Chestnut, 58, were killed in the line of duty. They are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Special Agent Gibson is buried in Section 28. Officer Chestnut, a retired Air Force master sergeant, is buried in Section 4.

In addition to in-ground burial, Arlington National Cemetery also has one of the larger columbariums for cremated remains in the country. Seven courts are currently in use, with over 38,500 niches.

When construction is complete, there will be nine courts with a total of over 60,000 niches; capacity for more than 100,000 remains. Any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for inurnment in the columbarium.


What a sight… thousands of grave stones, lined up precisely across acres of mown grass. To think that all these people had died for my freedom is an extremely moving experience.

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                                                        John F. Kennedy’s grave


                                                    Bobby’s, much more modest…


Next stop on the tour was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I tried to upload two videos of the guard on duty and the changing of the guard but, with both being quite long (2+ minutes and 8+ minutes), the transfer failed at YouTube. The best for the moment has to be a few pictures… I have none of the changing of the guard because I was filming it.

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A moving ceremony. The procedure is dominated by the number 21, most likely derived from the 21-gun salute- 21 paces, 21 seconds in place at points during the watch. The guard is on duty for one hour and the change, taking about ten minutes (very rigorous military inspection of the guard coming on duty by a commanding officer), occurs every hour, on the hour, every day and night of the year. The soldiers who perform this duty deserve extreme praise.

After the Tomb, we went to Arlington House, the home of Robert E. Lee prior to the Civil War. It is currently being restored to its former grandeur. Arlington, the cemetery, was established here after the Civil War in retribution for General Lee joining the southern army- the northern command started using the ground immediately near the home for internments so as to dissuade General Lee from returning there after the war. He did not do so.

The only picture of the building is below- I was impressed with the columns. The view overlooking Washington is exceptional. The inside is currently basically empty but for posters telling the history and plans for the future.

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Our next stop was to be for lunch on the way to see the Pentagon Memorial… another exercise in frustration. After many moments of confusion, at around 2:15 we found a Peruvian restaurant, stopped and enjoyed a wonderfully different meal. Fried corn as a snack first, a shared seafood soup as an appetizer and I had a flattened (much like veal) piece of tender beef, topped with a fried egg, and rice, french fries (ate the rice, not the fries) and a very nice, light veggie salad. A most pleasant surprise. There was so much food that dinner was a non-event.

Finally, we were on our way to the Pentagon… again, numerous driving errors even with the GPS. Finally found the memorial park, largely due to the Deckers having been there before. The concept is unique- there are time lines (rows of memorials), by year of birth (I believe 1930 to 1998), for all who died in the 9/11 crash. Each memorial looks as if it might be a diving board or a futuristic bench for sitting. There is a shallow pond of running water under each memorial. The name of the deceased is engraved on the end if the fixture. The direction which the memorial points indicates whether the person was on the plane on in the building. For those on the plane, the fixture points toward the Pentagon; the reverse is true for those in the building. A few pictures are in order…

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Too much death for one day. Makes me very thankful to be alive.




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10.22.2009- I visit the Capitol

October 23rd, 2009 No comments

Don’t ask about today. Bad morning! Traveled into Washington with the Deckers, went to Frank Lautenberg’s (one of my New Jersey Senators) office to request a ticket for the Capitol tour. I was given a ticket for that and for a visit to the Senate chamber (none for the House). Two aides walk me to an elevator, I lean on the wall and come away with white paint down the right side of my blue sports jacket. Took it to the bathroom and got most of the paint out(luckily, it water based paint), left it damp and hanging on a coat rack in the Senator’s office, and went on the tour.

First was an excellent movie titled “From Many, One,” the translation of E Pluribus, Unum. This was followed by a hurried trip through the Capitol, led by a knowledgeable guide… taking pictures and listening to the history at the same time was absolutely impossible. The result is that I have a lot of pictures of I know not what! These are of Capitol Visitor’s Center, the Old Supreme Court Chamber Chamber, a ceiling I thought was beautiful and the Capitol dome.

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Eventually, I made it to the entrance (read that as Security Clearance) to the Senate chamber. I had been asked previously for my camera (hanging in a bag on my belt) which I surrendered. Never even thought about the iPhone (a camera) and the Flip Video (a camera) that were in my pockets. The last check-point was a full screening… pockets emptied, belt off, etc, etc. Needless to say, I failed. The final straw was some rechargeable camera batteries in my pocket that they said I might throw at someone on the Senate floor. That was enough… I was not going to go back to the storage area (three floors below), where my camera was, drop all this other stuff off, and wait in the lines again. So, I left and headed back to Scooter.

The ticket to the Senate (have not mentioned the complexities in getting one for the House chamber) is good for two years. Maybe later this trip, maybe down the road… who knows? All in all, the morning was a bust. My Senator’s staff was marginally helpful, at least as compared to how my friends, the Deckers, were treated by their Senator’s staff. The shame of it is that security requirements have made it impossible to have a leisurely visit to important national sites… having to remove articles of clothing to visit the Capitol (and even the Department of Agriculture) is unacceptable!

The heroine of the day was Sharon, a wonderful Capitol Guide who has an extra amount of sweetness and understanding. She was the one who brought me down from sub-ballistic to earth and rationality. Thanks for being so wonderful!


After taking the Metro and bus back to the RV park, I regrouped and went out to the dry cleaners with the jacket. The young lady thought that I should have not have gotten the coat wet when trying to remove the paint. I replied that I was sure the paint would have been dry by the time I got the coat to her. She could not seem to understand my logic. I will report the results soon.

The a trip to Best Buy to check out the new Windows 7 versions. Brought back literature but totally forgot several items I need. Is this senility???

On returning to Scooter, I was invited for dinner at the Deckers… Annette kept insisting it was just some old frozen thing. In fact, it was one of the best stir-fries I’ve ever experienced. I broke down and had some Sangria and a little Bailey’s Irish Cream after dinner. Wonderful friends….

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10.21.2009- A walk-around…

October 22nd, 2009 No comments

New day, new city. Plan aborted. Made a very successful Metro transit, thanks to new friends, Bill and Annette Decker (they attended the same meeting yesterday and are parked next door), and arrived at the anticipated station… on the National Mall. Came up out of the Metro and was checking my map when, what does to my wandering eye appear, but a very attractive lady who is only slightly less lost than I am. We consult. She wants to do a museum; I suggest that might be more appropriate on Friday or Saturday when rain is expected. So we hook up and walk. Never, ever wear a new pair of shoes for a long walk- I am not sure I will be wearing shoes tomorrow!

So, my new friend is Mari-Louise Ross, a recent immigrant from South Africa, waiting for governmental permission to work in the USA. She has a degree in chemical engineering and, I believe, an MBA. She consults for companies that need her expertise and this has allowed her extensive travel opportunities. Sharp lady and lovely blue eyes.


Did I mention that we walked… when we first looked around, the Washington Monument appeared to be in the nether regions of DC. Well, we went there. It is as majestic as I remember it from my last visit, many years ago. I had forgotten the color separation about one-third of the way up… construction was stopped for a period of years and the new stone does not match the old. Mary Louise made a funny… “Why doesn’t it look like George Washington?”

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Go west, young man, go west!” So we did. Next stop was the World War II memorial. It is impressive, a little on the “busy” side for a memorial, but given the size and detail involved, it probably is worth the $175 million it reputedly cost to build. The northern half is devoted to the the European campaign and the southern to the Pacific. The columns are named for each state and the names of all the significant battles are etched in the stone around the base. There is beautiful bas relief in metal reflecting the various stages of the conflict, from enlistment to victory.

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From the WWII site we made our way to the Lincoln Memorial. Absolutely stunning in it’s simplicity and beauty. What else can be said…

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The above pictures include the Gettysburg Address and the spot on which Martin Luther King gave his immortal speech. There is additional wording under “I have a dream”…people come and spill water in the letters to make them visible.  Also, Marian Anderson sang from this spot in 1939, thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt’s intervention as the result of the prohibition of Ms. Anderson’s appearance elsewhere due to her race.

Little did we know but, as we walked to the Lincoln Memorial, we passed the Korean War memorial site to our left, off in the woods, I guess. I much regret this- I have since heard it is quite spectacular… many statues of our men who served.

Mari-Louise and I headed back via the Vietnam War memorial. Very sobering in it’s simplicity, a wall in the earth with far too many names etched in the surface. I looked for the only person I know of who died in that war… a friend of a friend who happened to go to my college- but who I have never met- Fred Kulick. I kept looking but, no luck. Maybe the web can provide the panel on which his name may be found.

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And then it was a long walk back to the Metro. There were no food or drink stands on the National Mall (found out later they all seem to be a block away, maybe so as not to “litter” the Mall). so we went into the Dept. of Agriculture for a bight. They had to have food, right? Huge building with a huge cafeteria… what can all these people be doing, but spending my tax dollars! After sustenance, Mari-Louise and I finished our walk and said good-bye. I then made a successful transit back to Scooter, tired and sore but very happy. Thus ends the first full day of my venture!

As a parting gift, I give you two shots taken on the walk. (Those are hungry ducks in the Reflecting Pool.)

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