From Lake Anna, VA we headed for Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Mountains (Appalachians) along Route 33 and it starts to rain! We had some good and beautiful days in the preceding 2 weeks and had not checked on the weather channel and although we know that at this time of the year there can be bad days, we had not anticipated this. As we pass through the National Parks Gate at the top of the Shenandoah Mountains we are literally in the clouds with fog all round and can see for only about 150 yards in front of us. This provides for very difficult driving with clouds swirling about on an unknown road; we can’t turn back as the roads are narrow with lots of curves. So we end up taking 2 hours to travel just 40 miles in these conditions and emerge into the James River valley and make our way to I-81 which passes through the mountains; here all is well - no fog, traffic moving freely and we get to our destination “Jelleystone RV Park” in Natural Bridge just before dark. That night and the following day it rained so we decided to take an easy day; Adele baked brown scones in our little oven and made soup, we caught up on writing our blog and planned where to head for next - so the day passed quickly enough.
On the next day we drove to Lexington, VA where Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson both lived yet at different times. We wondered why would a parent call their son Stonewall…the answer - his name was Thomas Jonathan Jackson however, he earned his nickname during the Civil War for standing his ground in battle. Stonewall Jackson was an exemplary citizen, deeply religious, a dedicated family man who taught in The Virginia Military Institute one of the local universities the other being The Washington and Lee University. We took a self-guided walking tour around Lexington where many of the buildings are pre Civil War (Stonewall Jackson’s house which we toured) included; as the town is on a steep hill we had plenty of exercise.
Adjacent to Washington and Lee University is the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) which was founded in1839, students of General Stonewall Jackson helped train Confederate Army recruits during the Civil War. Today, a co-ed institution, all students dress in military uniform. As we toured the grounds and museum we were greeted and welcomed by the students as they walked by. Students who are civilian soldiers of the State of Virginia may, after graduation, be commissioned into an arm of the US forces or undertake a civilian career.
VMI’s most famous past student is George C. Marshall architect and implementer of “The Marshall Plan” who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.