Election Day 2020: Washington DC

Interesting time for a visit to DC, wouldn’t you say?? However this was the date of a Thanksgiving get together for my daughter and psil, (potential son-in-law). Little did I know a month later we would have something to be really thankful for.

Welcome, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

We began our visit seeing many of the DC sites boarded up. Throughout the first day of our visit workmen were scurrying with large pieces of wood and saws as they covered the windows, doors, and other glass enclosures of the DC buildings.

Besides these planked walls chain fencing squares 8 foot high were placed in front of prominent government buildings. It was a sad site for me to see as when I was a little girl I watched President Johnson play with his beagles on the White House lawn. During this I was able to stick my face through the wrought iron fencing to watch. How things change.

Besides these protections a line of 30 trucks carrying concrete blockades lined the monument area. It was an unsettling visit as I wondered, “Is this my country?” And the most unsettling, the Proud Boys had a party in our hotel.

Here are some photos from the Black Lives Matter Plaza directly in front of the White House.

This was a peaceful place with folks singing and playing guitars. There were no loud voices with the exception of some red capped folks loudly espousing their political choice. The police presence was ubiquitous, however, only silent, and watchful in their protection of those reading the poster’s sentiments.

Next, was a belated birthday celebration for my daughter, and psil. Dining at PJ Clarke’s was a delightful experience with charming ambience, and delicious food. My grand dog, Mo, was smuggled into the restaurant in a large purse, and slept as we ate. This restaurant resonates old time DC with great photos on the walls, and tables designated to former political leaders.

The night being young we explored the Washington DC monuments. How beautiful they are at night.

Jeanie and Greg, psil.

Parkersburg, West Virginia Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park

If you only have only place to visit in West Virginia make it be Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. It includes a paddleboat ride on the Ohio River, the tour of a historic restored home, and an oxen ride. Did I mention the mystery and intrigue associated with this story? Read on.

Wealthy Irish immigrant Harman Blennerhassett and his wife Margaret settled on this island in the late 1700’s. Here they lived a rather idyllic life farming their land and enjoying the life of aristocrats. Enter Aaron Burr, a former Vice President to Thomas Jefferson, who wished to create another country in the Americas and become emperor. To develop his treasonous plot Burr charmed and manipulated many out of their fortunes with Blennerhassett being one. The formerly wealthy Irish immigrant lost his fortune, and stature, however, Burr was ultimately acquitted of treason.

Let’s start with the ride over,

the renovated rooms of the estate,

and last but not least, the oxen ride.

Included in admission is a fine museum with many antiquities. Take time to visit as it is an enjoyable look at history.

And also in the Parkersburg area..

  • North Bend State Park
  • Parkersburg Brewing Company
  • North End Tavern and Brewery
  • Unicorn Wine Guild
  • Winetree Vineyards
  • Smoot Theater
  • Actors Guild of Parkersburg
  • Henderson Hall Plantation
  • The Castle
  • Fort Boreman Historical Park

Fort Boreman is a reconstructed Union Civil War fortification. It provides some amazing views of the Ohio River and gives an interesting perspective on the War. There also is a picnic area.

The Julia-Ann Square Historic District with its beautiful homes provides an interesting drive.

And with that I say good bye to West Virginia, the state of sunrises and mountain vistas I will always remember.

Berkley Springs, West Virginia

Berkley Springs is a neat town nestled in the mountains of West Virginia. It is a historic mineral spa dating back to 1750. Its healing waters were first used by the Indians, and George Washington was said to have stopped here several times. It is considered America’s first spa.

The park leading to the spa.

The warm water spring has a constant temperature of 74 degrees. Here is the bath house and tub areas.

Entrance to the baths.
The bath area
Spickets for mineral water
Another historic bath house on site

Massages are also available at the site. The town is an artist community and there are many unique shops and buildings near the spa. While investigating the area found this interesting castle.

Worth a stop for a massage and/or soak. There also is a museum on site with limited hours.

For further information regarding spa, massage, and park concerns contact:

The Huntington Museum of Art

Huntington, West Virginia, is another delightful West Virginia city with a prominent art museum.

Here there are displays of glass, silver, portraits, and Near East artifacts. But what I enjoyed most was their botanical display, especially this aquarium, and their koi pond in the gardens.

And they have a Dale Chihuly:

Take time to explore the exterior of the Museum which holds many interesting sculptures:

The grounds also have nature trails which are serene, but, challenging to walk. You may even come across deer on your walk as I did. Stop in the butterfly gardens for relaxation at the end of the trek.

What a truly enjoyable afternoon!

Charleston, West Virginia: The State Capitol

The grounds of the West Virginia State Capitol are beautiful and dotted with many monuments, gardens, and a domed state capitol currently under renovation.

The dome of the state capitol undergoing a facelift.
Tribute to coal miners

Monument to all those who served in our nations wars.

Monument to all females who served.
The Governor’s Mansion is on the grounds of the state capitol buildings. The governor does not live here and due to covid no tours are allowed.
Another view of the Governor’s Mansion

The State Museum is on the state capitol grounds. Having toured previously and forgotten my camera I recall the rich history of the state displayed here. Much related to the history of the state, its industries, prominent natives, and other facets of West Virginia, are on display. On this day of visit it was closed, however, the lobby open with an interesting quilt display.

The State Museum

The Museum is open 9-5, closed Sunday and Monday. Parking is available on site, bring quarters.

Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park

While mainly closed due to covid, Harper’s Ferry remained alive with a wealth of tourists exploring the town, the open shops, and restaurants. It is a place of much history. Here are some of the authentic store fronts.

The Railroad Depot


And for those who forgot their history, let me refresh..

In 1859 John Brown, an abolitionist, conducted a raid at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, accessing weapons from the federal armory munitions plant. He was attempting to initiate a slave revolt and failed. Many involved in this attempt perished. Brown felt he was summoned by God to end American slavery, and for his actions was later tried and executed.

His actions were believed to be the precursor for the Civil War.

A more concise summary of this event can be found at:

https://www.history.com/topics/abolotionist-movement/harpers-ferry

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Views of the Harper Valley

Gallipolis, Ohio

Driving back from Peachy’s in Wheeling, West Virginia, with my new Amish rocker came across this town.

What a charming spot developed by new settlers coming to the frontier of Ohio. Gallipolis, which means City of Gauls, is one pretty place on the Ohio River. Take a look.

Charming homes,

right on the Ohio,

adjacent to a beautiful park.

The City also has an opera house, bird sanctuary, and artist community. Great place for an afternoon of relaxation.

The Greenbrier Bunker

President Eisenhower at the Greenbrier

At the height of the Cold War in 1958 a secret bunker was built on the grounds of the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, under the direction of President Eisenhower. This bunker was designed to accommodate both houses of congress with limited staff should a national emergency occur.

The secrecy of this bunker was maintained until a Washington Post journalist exposed the site in 1992. After this the Bunker was phased out by July 1995.

The building of the bunker
A schematic of the bunker in relation to the hotel

The bunker was buried 720 feet below ground under the west wing of the hotel. It had 3 entrances each protected by steel doors designed to withstand nuclear blast.

One of the bunker steel doors

There was a self contained power plant and dormitory facilities.

A cafeteria, a kitchen, meeting rooms, and a dispensary/clinic were on site.

Quite an operation to say the least. Contact the Greenbrier Hotel should you wish to tour. No photography is allowed at the site.

Lewisburg, West Virginia, coolest small town in America

Lewisburg, West Virginia, is certainly true to its name as the the coolest small town in America. It is a lovely community of pristine homes in a bucolic setting. Discovering the Greenbrier Historical Society North House Museum at the direction of a helpful visitor center employee made for the visit. The docent was informative, insightful, and much was learned about the area during this tour.

North House Museum

The North House Museum was formerly the home of lawyer John North, and his wife Charlotte. Here they resided for over a decade with their 4 daughters. North was a clerk of the County Court of Appeals. The home was a formal one with his children off limits to all formal rooms until presented at society.

Other pieces of beauty at the house..

Also interesting items unique to the era, a horse drawn carriage, a mail carriage and a collection of quilts. The first carriage was used from 1897 to 1900, by a local farmer who would drive her eggs and vegetables to market in the carriage. Local Amish craftsmen restored the carriage to its original state.

The US Mail carriage was the first Rural Free Delivery vehicle in the West Virginia postal system.

There is also a collection of antique quilts on display and a fascinating exhibit on black history at the museum.

The home became a tavern after the North’s departure. It was then sold and used as a college president’s home through 1950. In 1994, the historical society bought the home, and converted the property into a museum.

During the tavern era Robert E. Lee, and President Monroe, were visitors to the property. Lee was always seen with his horse Traveler, who was his constant companion during the Civil War.

President Monroe visited during horse season. He enjoyed gambling and often paid off his debts in china.

The Museum had an interesting diorama exhibit. This was created as advertisement for the local Caldwell General Mercantile Store. I had never seen anything as unique since a Connecticut museum visit where the paper dolls created by Zelda Fitzgerald were displayed.

Take a peek at this unique craftsmanship.

There are other places of interest in Lewisburg, however, due to covid sites have limited hours.

The Greenbrier Military School Memorial Museum traces the life of a cadet in the now closed academy. The property is currently the home of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Carnegie Hall – this was built in 1902 with a $33,000. gift from steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. While originally built as a school for female education it now is a cultural center.

But perhaps one of the most interesting places in the town is the Confederate cemetery. Here the unmarked graves of Confederate soldiers are buried under a green mound of elevated dirt in the shape of a cross. An aerial photo is the only way this can truly be captured, however here it is. What a spiritual site.

Waldomore: Historic Clarksburg, WV

This historic home in Clarksburg, West Virginia, was once the residence of the Goff family, a prominent local family. Waldo who lived from 1796 to 1881, was born in Otsego County, New York. He built his grand two story Neo-Classical brick home in 1839. Waldo was a member of the Virginia State Senate from 1833 to 1837, and held other offices before becoming sheriff of Harrison County, West Virginia, in 1851.

Four of Waldo’s eight male children served in the Virginia, and West Virginia state legislature with Nathan being the most prominent serving as Secretary of the Navy to President Rutherford Hayes. Nathan also served as a United States congressman from 1883 to 1889.

The home has original outbuildings on the property which were used for slave staff who worked for the Waldo family.

The home was donated to the City of Clarksburg for use as a library by Mrs. May Goff Lowndes. With the advent of the new library in 1976 Waldomore became a depository of important papers and genealogical research center. The papers of UFO writer Gray Barker are housed here.

The home is also used for cultural events such as concerts. It houses antiques of the time period and pieces unique to West Virginia.

For tours contact the library staff.