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Published: November 19th 2007
Obfuscator writes: After checking the weather report for the day and night, we left our motel in Fredericksburg. The forecast was somewhat disappointing, predicting rain all day, and 10-20% chance of rain in the night as well. While we were in civilization, and not a huge city, we figured we'd see about refitting some gear. A few nights ago when cooking, one of our pots broke. These pots have detachable handles, and little metal bits that allow these handles to hook in. That was what had broken on a pot we mostly use for large quantities of water heating.
The bit had originally been spot welded on, but we figured it was reparable. Unfortunately we didn't have a drill or the parts we would need to repair it. Luckily we were able to find a Lowe's on our way toward the local battlefields. After a while, they got a nice older man with a drill, and a bit of drilling and bolting later, we were on our way, with what may be a fully repaired pot. There was also a Best Buy nearby, which was likewise useful. In case you aren't aware, we take an awful lot of pictures. Since
Foundation of the Chancellor House
Which is why Chancellorsville was called Chancellorsville.
Onaxthiel's hard drive is only so big, we can't fit even close to all of them on it. Instead, we burn the pictures off onto CDs as we go, and each disc is duplicated to prevent data loss. On photography intensive days, we can take upwards of a gigabyte of pictures, and each CD stores only 700 megabytes. In other words, you can imagine we go through a lot of CDs. So far on the trip, I think I've burned more than 50 unique discs, so more than 100 total. Not anticipating the need for CDs will be reduced any time in the near future, I restocked with another 100 discs. That ought to last us for a while.
Fredericksburg is home to several major battles of the Civil War. At the first battle of Fredericksburg, the Union failed to capture the city, which was a major steppingstone on the way to Richmond. About a year later, under a new general (Hooker), they tried again, though this time they were to try a different tactic. Instead of one main assault on Fredericksburg, Hooker split his forces, and tried to circle around behind Fredericksburg with his main force, as well
as hit it from the front with his smaller force. This resulted in two separate battles occurring. Lee and Jackson took the bulk of their forces and headed off this attempt, culminating in the Union defeat at Chancellorsville. This was a major Confederate victory, or at least it would have been if Jackson hadn't been killed by friendly fire. The second was back at Fredericksburg, where again the Union failed to take the city. About a year later, after Lee's defeat at Gettysburg, the war again came through the area, as Grant and Lee clashed first at the Battle of the Wilderness, and then later at Spotsylvania Courthouse.
When we were done looking around at Battlefields and informational plaques, we headed toward Shenandoah National Park, where we were hoping to camp for the evening. On the way, we came to Montpelier, the home of James Madison. We were very interested in visiting Madison's home, but found that they wanted $12 admission for each of us. Since it was already 3:00 PM or so, and they closed at 4:00 PM, we decided that an hour of looking around wasn't worth the $24.
Not that far away, we saw signs
to a Barboursville Ruins. It took us a little while to locate, but we eventually got to them, surrounded as they are by a pretty vineyard, We hit the ruins from the wrong side, so at first we had no idea what we were looking at. Obviously it was a ruined building, but for what purpose? The building was mostly brick, and appeared to have been three stories originally. When we got around to the front of the building, we discovered (by reading a sign) that the building had been designed by Thomas Jefferson for Governor James Barbour, and that it had been built in 1814, and was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day, 1884. The people that own the land now have some sort of Inn there, as well as some pretty horses that were friendly, and would eat grass right out of your hand.
We drove on into Shenandoah National Park, and we never really regretted that decision. It would probably be helpful to note that despite the forecast, we hadn't really been rained on that much through the day. When we were doing our errands at Lowe's and Best Buy, it was raining a pretty fair
amount, but by the time we got to Chancellorsville and saw where Jackson was shot, it had mostly let up. By the time we got into Shenandoah, it was getting close to dark, but was a lot more clear, which was good. Shenandoah National Park mostly runs along the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Apparently a lot of people go there in October to see the leaves change color, but we were pleased to find that in mid-November, there were still plenty of lovely fall colors to keep us happy. Since you're driving along the top of the ridge, you get great views and turnouts on both sides, looking down into the Shenandoah valley and across to the Allegheny Mountains.
We established our camp at the only campground open in November, and eventually got to eat dinner. Fortunately, the snow didn't start until we were about ready to go to bed.
Onaxthiel's Lessons Learned: The Home Depots and Lowe's of the world are wonderful places to do simple repairs. A broken hook mechanism on a pot could be cause to replace the pot, or it could be a $2 fix if you have the right tools (which
they invariably do). Of course, we haven't seen whether or not the fix will hold in the long term, but it's worth the attempt. A couple of washers, bolts, and nuts, and you're back in business. It's a real nuisance to try to make fire when all the wood in the area is wet. After a good day of rain in Shenandoah, we couldn't find almost anything to burn that wasn't wet. WE had to blow through a lot of tinder and a lot of time to get anything to light. This is not terribly fun when it's about 20 degrees and very windy.
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