Monday, November 4, 2013

Pam and Charlie's near Washington DC

Once again we parked RamblingRover and BlueBug in our friends driveway while we slept indoors in a welcome warm bed on these cold nights; the days are warm but cold weather is on its way. We were lucky to meet up with Pam and Charlie as their plan was to be visiting family in Colorado but the devastating storms that hit Colorado and nearby states including our adopted state South Dakota in mid-October prevented them traveling. This allowed them watch all the politicians misbehave as they ignore the people they’re elected to “serve” and cause the government to shut down. Because of the shutdown we thought that we would be bypassing Washington however a few days before our planned visit all was back to Washington normal – mayhem, confusion, frustration as the problem was “kicked down the road”. In spite of all this we found that it was business as usual in a calm Washington.

Wednesday we took the Metro into Washington to spend time around the White House area; we started at the White House visitor center where we watched a movie of its history presented by several First Ladies, President Obama also said a few words also. Afterwards we took a short Park Ranger narrated tour – the White House is a National Park tour and saw one of the many permanent Christmas trees in Lafayette Park. On the roof of the White House we could see heavily armed agents standing guard. Later on our walk-about around the back where dignitaries arrive under a portico we asked a uniformed Secret Service Agent for directions and having spotted Scotland on his name tag we , it turns out he was born in Scotland to American parents; an agents country of birth is part of their ID. Protesting seems a way of life in Washington and the White House environs, on the day we visited there was a protest by a group of Pakistani people; we learned later that the Pakistani Prime Minister was in town.
We found a great spot for lunch called "Potbelly CafĂ©" awesome sandwiches! It was so busy that we had to cross the road to Starbucks for a coffee and a table. After lunch on our way to the Air and Space Museum the protesters had been moved back a block being filmed and interviewed by a Pakistani TV team.  Adele wanted to see the Drones that are causing so much controversy in Pakistan and other parts of the world in the Air and Space Museum; first we went to the IMAX cinema and heard Whoopi Goldberg narrate a documentary about the Universe, truth to tell we needed to sit down. At the end of the day we took the Metro back to Pam and Charlie’s; no senior concessions here, the fare was $10.00 return.

Thursday was a really cold day so we spent the day at the National Geographic Headquarters viewing an excellent exhibition of photographs; again we had lunch in Potbelly's and later on afternoon coffee in Starbucks.
On Friday Tom and Charlie headed off in RamblingRover while Pam and Adele traveled in Pam’s car to Lake Anna to spend the weekend at their lake house and earn our keep by raking leaves. However, when all four of us arrived we decided to go for a lake trip in their boat; the sun was shining, but the weather was cold, so we wrapped up well under blankets. We had a lovely view of Lake Anna from the water – the highlight was that Tom spotted a Bald Eagle landing on a tree within 100 yards of us – spectacular! Lake Anna was created by flooding the area to provide cooling water to the nearby nuclear power station. We raked leaves to warm up when we got back. Saturday all four of us were serious about leaf raking but as everyone knows nature wins every time.

On Sunday we went to nearby Chancellorsville an 1863 Civil War battleground. We watched an excellent movie in the visitor’s center where we picked up a self-guided tour map to view different individual skirmish areas. Chancellorsville is where Confederate General Robert E Lee with a total of 64,000 troops defeated the Federal General Hooker who had 134,000 troops. This is also where Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson was shot by his own troops, what we now call friendly fire; his arm was amputated and is buried locally. General Jackson died of pneumonia 10 days later and is buried in Lexington, VA. We managed to view 8 of the 10 highlights on the map at which stage we felt we were experts on General Lee's strategic and tactical battle plans. Without “his right-hand man General Jackson” General Lee marched on to Gettysburg and the rest is history!

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