Welcome back to to our trip! If you’ve not done so yet, I suggest first reading Three Girls and a Yellow VW Beetle (Part 1).
Day 7: Another day in Plymouth, Massachusetts. We start the morning with a tour of the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction that sailed in 1957. All of my schooling took place in the United States, therefore I know the history of the Mayflower. The problem is, history is boring when it’s forced upon you. You take your test and forget all but the basics. History as an adult is much more interesting. As an adult, you appreciate the past and can understand what we’ve learned and accomplished because of it. It’s also humbling to imagine living as these people did without all of the comforts that we take for granted today.
After our tour of pilgrim life at sea we decided to check out Plymouth Rock again, it was no more impressive than the night before. With some time to kill, we meandered through the shops on Water Street and bought some souvenirs. Our next stop would take us miles outside of Plymouth proper into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We are going on a whale watching cruise! As I’ve mentioned, the kid does not do well on boats so for this trip we medicated her hoping it would help, it did not.
Despite being sick for most of the trip she troopered through. This was a first whale watch cruise for all of us and we were excited. The cruise was 3 1/2 hours and we saw 12 different whales. Never before have I felt as small as I did out there in the middle of the ocean surrounded by such majestic creatures. We stopped at the National Monument to the Forefathers on our way out of Plymouth.
Day 8: Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. The Lizzie Borden House was our second scheduled stop. Much to the girl’s relief, we missed the re-enactment of the murders by four days. I had only ever known the superficial facts of the murders, beyond the legends it is a very interesting case. Lizzie was acquitted of the murders and lived out the rest of her life in Fall River, just 1 mile from the site of the murders. No one else ever stood trial. After touring the house, we spent some time in the cemetery then drove past Maplecroft, the home where Lizzie died.
Of our 13 day vacation, we spent 5 days in Massachusetts. Our visit to Rhode Island was short. Initially we had planned to go through Providence but just before leaving for the trip we changed our plan to go through Newport instead. Every single public parking space in Newport, Rhode Island was taken when we got there. How is this even possible? So we skipped Newport and went down the road to Misquamicut.
Misquamicut is a very small beach town. We’d been on the coast for several days and had yet to make it to the beach. We were ready to get our feet wet. The water was freezing and the beach was littered with seaweed, but this did not stop us from wiggling our toes in the sand and going for a walk. We spent the night two states away from where we started, in Connecticut.
Day 9: Our first stop in Connecticut is in Groton, at the Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park. Fort Griswold was captured during the Revolutionary War and is the site of the massacre led by the American traitor, Benedict Arnold. We stopped first at the Ebenezer Avery House for a quick tour. The house sheltered the wounded after the battle and has been restored. The Revolutionary War Museum is a good place to stop before heading to the Fort Griswold Monument.
The top of the monument is reached by 162 very narrow, spiral steps. The kid opted out of going to the top. To work the jiggles out of our knees after descending the monument, we headed over to the battlefield. To get to the battleground you must walk through a tunnel.
At the end of the tunnel we found a woman sitting on the ground who had twisted her ankle. We helped her back to her friends and with a feeling of accomplishment returned to the battleground. We traveled the coastal highway of Connecticut, stopping again in Norwalk. Norwalk is the home of the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion and I couldn’t not tour this home. The mansion, a mere summer home for the Lockwood’s was built between 1864 and 1868 is 44,000 square feet, has 62 rooms, 17 fireplaces and a bowling alley in the basement. WOW!
Our end goal for the night was to make it into New Jersey. What I did not realize in the mapping of this trip, or maybe I chose to just deny the fact, was that to get from Connecticut to New Jersey, I had to drive through New York City. I have done this once before, I would have been very happy to never do it again, but suddenly there I was smack in the middle of NYC, in rush hour. It took an hour to go just a few miles, I don’t think anyone has ever been so happy to get into New Jersey!
Day 10: New Jersey has a lot of interesting places, I’m sure it does, however, none of them were on the particular route that we were on. I am very particular that just driving through a state does not count as having been there unless you stop and DO something. The girl had never been to a proper diner before, that was what we DID in New Jersey. Our next stop is in New Castle, Delaware. I don’t recall the reason we stopped in New Castle, but we spent an hour or so walking the town and visiting the cemetery. We’ve been to many cemeteries on this trip and one could think that they are all roughly the same, nothing is farther from the truth. Each cemetery has its own history and its own style. The cemetery in New Castle had some of the most unique gravestones I’ve ever seen. These gravestones had flower beds built into them.
Moving on from Delaware, we will make the first of several trips into Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia today, both on purpose and on accident! Our next stop is in Frederick, Maryland, to another cemetery. Mt Olive Cemetery is the resting place of Francis Scott Key, the writer of the Star Spangled Banner. Also in Frederick is the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. I am both a nurse and a Civil War enthusiast, I was very excited to see this museum. It did not disappoint. I mentioned early on that we somehow managed to get lost every single day of our trip. Today was the worst! The next several hours consisted of several u-turns and a drive-by photo of the Pentagon.
We had planned to go to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia but with all of the u-turns of getting lost somehow we missed it and just went on to Manassas, Virginia to sleep off the frustration.
Day 11: The next three days will be dedicated solely to the Civil War. Many of the Civil War battles have two names, The North named their battles after geographical landmarks and the South after nearby cities. Today we start at the Manassas National Battlefield Park, also known as Bull Run. We participated in a quick tour of the battlefield then roamed the battlefield on our own.
I enjoy the knowledge of the Rangers, but I prefer to explore independently. Much like in cemeteries, I gain a sense of serenity and calm when in a battlefield. The combination of history, devastation, and rebirth humbles me. From the battlegrounds we moved on to The Stone House. The Stone House was originally a tavern, but served as a hospital during both the first and second Battles of Manassas. The Groveton Confederate Cemetery was our next stop. Of the 266 soldiers buried there, only two have names. From Manassas we moved on to Spotsylvania, Virginia and The Stonewall Jackson Shrine. The Shrine is actually an outbuilding on the Chandler plantation where General Stonewall Jackson died. His bed frame and a blanket used by the General have been preserved and are on display at the Shrine.
Our day finally comes to an end in a very hot and steamy Richmond, Virginia.
Day 12: Our first stop of the day is at the Tredegar Iron Works. The facility was the primary producer of iron and artillery for the Confederate States. Tredegar is now a museum and was the first museum to interpret the Civil War from Union, Confederate, and African American perspectives. Moving on from there is our first cemetery of the day. The Hollywood Cemetery is the final resting place of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, and two United States Presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler. The monuments in the Hollywood Cemetery were not just gravestones, they were works of art.
Within the Hollywood Cemetery is a section dedicated to Confederate Officers. Moving on from Richmond proper we made our way to the Battle of Cold Harbor. The Battle of Cold Harbor was one of the last battles of the war and is considered one of America’s most lopsided battles. Union casualties totaled approximately 13,000 to the 2,500 Confederate casualties. We will now head back into Maryland to call it a day.
Day 13: Before heading home we will spend the day in Sharpsburg, Maryland at both the Sharpsburg Battlefield and Cemetery, also known in the Confederacy as the Battle of Antietam. The Battle of Antietam is known as the bloodiest one day battle in American History. It is also the first major battle to take place on Union soil. The Union victory at Antietam prompted President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. During the Battle of Antietam, six generals were killed, three from each side. The site where each of the generals was killed is marked with a mortuary cannon, a cannon tube, muzzle down in a block of stone.
As a nurse, I am professionally drawn to this particular battle because of the work done there by Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.
Within the National Park lies the Mumma Cemetery, a family cemetery still intact despite the Confederate Army burning the farmstead to the ground.
Before leaving the battlefield, the girl and I felt it only proper to climb one last monument, the kid of course staying behind. The top of the Observation Tower at the end of Bloody Lane is reached by climbing a mere 71 stairs, but gives you a view of almost the entire battlefield.
Our final stop of the trip is at the Antietam Cemetery. There are 4,776 Civil War soldiers buried in Antietam, all Union, and 1,836 are unknown dead.
Reliving this trip has made me almost as tired as living it did! It was an amazing trip and my most favorite trip to date. We saw amazing scenery. We witnessed the majesty of whales in their natural habitat. We walked through hundreds of years of history. We were in places of great tragedy. We were in places of great achievement. More importantly, we were three girls together in a tiny VW Beetle for 13 days and we loved each other just as much, if not more on the last day of our journey as we did on the first.
3 girls. 11 states. 13 days. 35 stops. 2600 miles. A lifetime of memories!