Saturday, July 18, 2009

WANTED: A View from Outside the Fish Bowl

"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane."

Oscar Wilde

I have come to notice that of those happy few who stop in here from time to time most are from outside the Fredericksburg city limits. Some are way outside, i.e., out of state, another coast or continent. Because you bring a different perspective to the table I am taking a slight detour from my travelogue (fear note I'm ready to take you down the Fredericksburg Turnpike) to ask a favor of you. Actually, more to the point, I want to ask your opinion...........

Mr. Cameron*, Paint this Wall!
There is a bit of a controversy in the burg involving the wall pictured above. It was installed for pedestrian safety. No one disputes the need for the wall. The issue involves the color, or should I say colors, of the wall. Should it be left alone or painted. I'm not looking for in depth analysis but rather your opinion regarding the painting issue. Our local reporter can't understand what all the fuss is about. Is she right? Or do we need to chip in for a book on color coordination for her? I'll post the pictures of the Fredericksburg Turnpike the beginning of the week to give you time to mull this one over. Comments would be greatly appreciated.
* Acting City Manager (That's a story for another day. Or more appropriately, another blog)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Trip to Colonial Beach—Rt. 205

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Tom Browkaw spent months traveling Rt. 50 from coast to coast with a film crew, producers, writers and a budget to complete a series of documentaries on life in America. I just spent two hours on the road going to Colonial Beach to drop off some paperwork with a local agent and check in on the repairs to a house. Just me, enough money for a Gatorade at the Race Track, and my digital camera….

Rt. 205

A typical stretch of Rt. 205 in King George.

Another Computer Enhanced Photo of An Abandoned Building. Why do I Keep Subjecting You to This?
A question I asked myself when I took this photos. Last week I went back to take a photo of something I had passed for years with little notice. The scene had just popped into my head and I though it would make a good photo. When I arrived the subject of my trek was gone. At first I was irritated and then I felt regret. We take so much for granted until it is gone and what is unimportant to us has meaning to others. This photo is someones memories. The computer enhancement just makes it look cool.
God Bless America
As you travel down Rt. 205 you will notice that someone has attached American flags, and in some cases yellow ribbons, to random street and roads signs. Welcoming someone back? Or just a simple way to show love of country?
Just A Gravel Road
Typical rural Virginia road coming off of Rt. 205.
A Garden Along the Road
"When a gauzy, purple butterfly,
Softly tilts a golden flower,
It's cool wings ease the summer flame
As laughter sooths a troubled hour."
The Post Office in Nide
Not many of these one room Post Offices remain.
Truly the Road Less Traveled
An old section of a cement based road that runs parallel to Rt. 205 in King George County.
For the Seafood "Chefs" in Our Mist
For those who would not be caught dead with fish sticks or any other prepared entrees in their freezers or pantries like a local reporter I know. Who would rather spend (waste) countless hours preparing, sauteing, braising, poaching, or seasoning freshly caught or grown foods I give you a fresh seafood stand just outside of Colonial Beach. Open weekends I believe.
Colonial Beach--Wilkerson's
For those of you like myself who enjoy, fried fish, hush puppies, and a lots of coleslaw (see host's photo at right) which is prepared by someone else, this is the place for you.
The Obligatory Pier Shot
Every coast to coast documentary begins at a pier and ends at one. So here you go. The Colonial Beach Municipal Pier.
Colonial Beach--The Riverboat on the Potomac
No it doesn't look much like a riverboat. But when "on board" you can play slots, bet on the horses, etc. Actually such activities are illegal in the great Commonwealth of Virginia. So how is it possible that such a cheesy establishment is allowed to operate you may ask? The answer is quite simple-- such activities are legal in the state of Maryland, our neighbor to the north. You'll never guess where the boarder is between Maryland and Virginia. A hint--The Riverboat on the Potomac is in Maryland while the walkways and canopies are in Virginia.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back on the Back Roads--Culpeper

“Art and nature have stores inexhaustible by human intellects; and every moment produces something new to him who has quickened his faculties by diligent observation.”

Samuel Johnson

Today my travels took me to Rapidan and Richardsville which presented me with the opportunity to take a swing by Kelly’s Ford……

Cedar Mountain Battlefield

This view is on the left flank of the Confederate lines. The Union forces advanced across this field towards where this photo was taken.

Couldn't Pass it Up
The old farm machinery and gas pump was too much of a temptation to pass up. I knew that this photo was going to look good when I pushed the enhancement button.
Downtown Richardsville
This is it folks. A General store, three homes and about four out-buildings.
What Makes Richardsville Almost a Tourism Destination:
You will note that the marker doesn't say, On this spot...." Rather it says, "East of this spot on the Rappahannock...." The marker commemorates the arrival of the first white men in Culpeper County in 1670.
"Country Roads, Take Me Home, To the Place I Belong......."
A typical section of roadway on the way to Kelly's Ford. You have to slow down and pull over to allow a car to pass coming in the other direction.
Traffic Bottleneck
A one lane bridge. Believe it or not I had to double back three times to get this shot. Each time a car came up behind me. Actually there was a car behind me when I took this shot.
A Missed Turn Leads to an Astounding Discovery
Yes the sacred riding mower graveyard. The place where old riding mowers go to die. This photo does not do justice to the magnitude of this site. Lets us take a moment of silence and reflection to honor the fallen..................
Greetings from Fauquier County
A view of the Kelly's Ford bridge from the Fauquier County side of the river.
From the Bridge at Kelly's Ford
Looking out at the Rappahannock River from the bridge over Kelly's Ford. The ford was a major crossing site for the armies during the Civil War. A battle was fought near by in March 1863.

Bustling Lignum
Old country home in central Lignum. The home next door is abandoned as is the building directly across from it. Just behind me where this photo was taken there is a church. That's about it.
Andy Warhol is Alive and Well In Lignum
Another old barn picture with an artistic twist. And to continue the artsy theme a cow poem:

Distant Hills
The distant hills call to me.
Their rolling waves seduce my heart.
Oh, how I want to graze in their lush valleys.
Oh, how I want to run down their green slopes.
Alas, I cannot.
Damn the electric fence!
Damn the electric fence!

Gary Larson

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Walking 101

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at where we started and know the place for the first time.”

T. S. Eliot

Off to Ireland for a week at the end of the month! My companions, my wife and 16-year-old son, are looking forward to a hike or two during our visit to the ancestral land. So I have about two weeks to reacquaint myself with my legs. So I'm leaving the car keys on my desk and getting up from my office chair and heading off to see what these babies can do.......

My Comfort Zone

My wife calls it a mess. To me it is me. That which I must now leave........

"Farewell we call to hearth and hall! Though wind may blow and rain may fall. We must away ere the break of day. Far over wood and mountain tall."

Even if it kills me....

A Tribute to the Fallen of the 20th and 21st Centuries
In the background is the recently dedicated memorial to those from this area who made the ultimate sacrifice from World War I through today. Names were added just before the dedication and some since. The plaque on the flagpole behind our "beautiful" Boffers AA gun commemorates those killed in WWI which was dedicated soon after that war. At the time a German howitzer was stationed where the AA gun is today. The German artillery piece was donated by area veterans as part of the scrape drive in August 1942.
A Single Moment in Time
The Welford House. December 11, 1862:

"We then entered the back door and passed upstairs to the front. Gilman Nichols of Company A was in advance. He found the door locked and burst it open with the butt of his musket. The moment it opened he fell dead, shot from a house on the other side of the street. Several others were wounded, but we held the house until dark, firing at a head whenever we saw one on the other side."

Lt. Jack Adams 19th Mass. Vol. Infantry

A Cry for Computer Enhancement
The colors of the house, the flag, and the flowers all cried out for me to push the enhancement button.
The Next Best Thing to Old Buildings
There is something about a wrought iron gate in an old brick wall. Oops! My finger slipped again.
The Rappahannock on a Beautiful Summer Day
The following three photos were taken from the Jefferson Davis Highway bridge (Rt. 1). Sometimes its best to let nature speak for itself. This is one of those times.....

Another Reminder to Slowdown and Look Up
An interesting weather vane on Lewis Street.
For A Simpler(?) Time
A horse/carriage hitch in front of the Doggett House (circa 1817). It is said that Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, stood on the porch of this house at the beginning of the Civil War and told the residents of Fredericksburg that the war would not come here. The city would soon after become a focal point of the struggle and the site of two battles.
They May Pass from Sight But Never From Memory
The National Cemetery on Marye Heights Marker #619--The roots of a cedar tree are slowly covering this grave marker. Without the flag it would be easy to miss. The "3" on the marker denotes the number of unidentified remains buried here. To see 4, 5, and 6s on these markers are not uncommon. Of the 15,000 plus buried here, mostly from the Civil War, only roughly 2500 are identified. When the cemetery was established in July 1865 Union dead were brought in from battlefields throughout the area. A bounty was paid by the government for remains. Some unscrupulous individuals would break-up remains and claim them as more than one individual. Later the rules were changed that the bounty was paid per skull.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Preserving the Randomness of Mind

“To dare everyday to be irreverent and bold. To dare to preserve the randomness of mind which in children produces strange and wonderful new thoughts and forms. To continually scramble the familiar and bring the old into new juxtapositions.”

Gordon Webber

Today you are to be subjected to random photos, and thoughts, from your host. So stop trying to think of excuses to leave. Stop looking at your watch or trying to locate the nearest exit. Sit back, make sure the popcorn and a cold beverage are within easy reach………
A Romantic View (i.e. Close-up) of History Spotsylvania--Mudd Tavern. Yes the Mudd Tavern where Dr. Mudd made the mistake of treating John Wilkes Booth the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. This photo is focused on the old section of the building. Lets take a few (actually quite a few) steps back and take another look....
....In Context
Mudd Tavern is now an Italian restaurant (off to the left) with a modern addition that is not in context with the original house; located in this rather tacky intersection. Something went horribly wrong here.
Gratuitous Old Building
Rt. 1, Spotsylvania--OK, OK another old building falling down. I like old buildings so sue me. You've got to admit it looks pretty cool when you run it through your photo program.

Some Good Sense--For a Reb
Spotsylvania--Placing your Headquarters within walking distance of a Motel 6, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds shows some good sense. Placing a marker like this in the middle of a highway median where the context has been totally obliterated--does not.
What the Hell?????
Orange--After traveling passed miles and miles of mobile homes (With the most beautifully kept lawns you could ever see) on the back roads of Orange County I turned a corner and there it was. You can't see the house from the road. I have to admit that my awe was somewhat tempered upon seeing the, "Beware of Dog," sign to the right. Seems a bit out of place in these surroundings. I also don't expect Fido is going to be spending a lot of time up here when he probably has an air conditioned puppy palace near the old homestead.
The Pierson Farm--A Little Reminder
Spotsylvania--This view is pretty much as it was 150 years ago. After December 13, 1862 it earned another name--"The Slaughter Pen Farm." As we all enjoy the 4th of July holiday with beer and dogs, family, friends, and fireworks take a moment to remember the cost that has been paid for our freedom.
A Hat Trick!!!!
Fredericksburg--Three steeples in one shot! The Circuit Courthouse, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Fredericksburg Baptist Church. And I thrown in one Masonic Lodge to boot--the building in the foreground. How many places can you do this I ask you?

A VDOT Coffee Break Gone Wrong.......
Based on the time it takes VDOT to complete a road project this may actually be the case. Does make you want to park a piece of heavy equipment in the front yard and see what happens doesn't it?
If These Stone Could Only Talk the Tales They Would Tell..........
Fredericksburg--Right next to the, "Bridge of which we do not speak," sits the remains of a support for the old railroad bridge which spanned the Rappahannock at the time of the Civil War. The bombardment of the city, the music coming from the Confederate band photographed playing at the end of the bridge. These are some of the events which occurred close by. And that is not all! I took me three trips to the site to get this photograph. On each prior occasion the site was occupied by teenage couples who seemed a bit more interested in themselves than about the history that was around them.

Do We Really Want to Know?
While waiting for the light to change at the intersection of Rt. 1 and Rt. 630 in Safford Courthouse (The large brick building in the background) I noticed this small roughly 5' x 5' structure. Then I noticed the sign inside, "No Trespassing After Dark Except on County Business." What kind of business would be conducted in such a structure? And why would the county wait till after dark to conduct what ever business that may be? I've call a friend of mine of the Stafford Board of Supervisors on this one and am awaiting a response.

OK I Give Up. Where is the Motel?
At some point in the past the Baldwin Motel fell victim to the wrecking ball. Why leave the sign? And under the current circumstances, why does the sign say, "Vacancy?"