A Brief Tour of US history from Jefferson to the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement Day 1

Published: January 18th 2013
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A Brief Tour of US history from Jefferson to the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement

We began this tour driving from Washington, DC, heading west to Waynesboro, VA via route 29 passing the Manassas Civil War Battleground with its open rolling hills and pre revolution wooden fences edging the hillsides. This lovely area will be explored further on our next trip north.

Our introduction to the Shenandoah Valley ended up in clouds and late afternoon darkness on our drive down 340 from Front Royal to Waynesboro. The beginning of the drive was scenic but it got dark too soon on the sharp mountainous winding roads making the trip to the Speckled Trout B&B more exciting than I would have wished. Our B&B hostess Kay talked us through town of Waynesboro and even ran down the dark street to guide us to her home providing a much needed warm welcome after that rather stressful drive. We were happy to relax and enjoy the company of fellow travelers inside the gracious living room of this B&B-home. Kay disappeared into the kitchen but soon returned with piping hot chocolate pastries fresh from the oven with offers of hot tea or coffee. Despite the loud rumbling noise from the nearby train and train whistle that ominously greeted us outside the B&B, no noise but a distant sound in the hills made its way inside our room so I slept exceedingly well.


Kay prepared a beautiful and delicious breakfast with every attention to detail: fresh fruit; cinnamon for my coffee; Greek yogurt with more fresh fruit; eggs Florentine, and a home made apple tart. It was enough to encourage me to hike for the rest of the day.

The Speckled Trout B&B was clean, well appointed, and conveniently located near the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Parkways, Civil War sites and Monticello. We stopped at the Rockfish Gap Information Center on Rt 250 getting good local information before we visited the Swannanoa Marble Palace near the Shenandoah Pkwy on route 29. This “palace”, locally known as a castle, is in ruins resembling the manor home in Great Expectations. I peered through the exterior windows to see a beautiful stained glass window inside but sadly the place was in shambles.

We stopped for lunch at the Mitchie Tavern since it was just minutes from Monticello and we thought it would be more convenient than going back into the city for lunch. This place came recommended by Kay and her other guests but we found it to be a typical tourist bus stop serving over cooked food (green beans were mushy, stewed tomatoes were sugary) with plenty of tourist trap stores in the guise of period costumed antiques. I would not recommend it to anyone. In spite of the over cooked and over sweetened food we still ate too much and were grateful for the walks ahead at Monticello.

Dave and I had each visited Monticello years ago but were eager to refresh our history and learn more, and we did. The house tour had more areas blocked off than I remembered and with a fresh look I saw the home and interior in a whole new light. I was either unaware or had forgotten that Thomas Jefferson did not invent anything, in fact he opposed patents, wanting the newly formed United States to be unencumbered with laws that would reduce or stifle creative growth! He did copy many others’ ideas and recreated time saving and creative tools for daily use in his house and on the farm.

The garden tours and cemetery were interesting (even in the rain and chilly weather) but the tour of Industry and Slave Homes on Mulberry Row given by Liz, an animated story teller, brought life and sound through her stories of life on this plantation including the lives of Sally Hemmings and her Jefferson offspring. Liz did such a good job that I felt like I was transported back in time.

We got lost in Charlottesville touring the campus and finally located the local Whole Foods to purchase a late night snack before driving back to the B&B. Based on our host’s recommendation we stopped at the Green Market, located just outside of Waynesboro on Rt 29, to buy some specialty crackers and wine from their extensive selection of local and international wines. We knew we were not going to have the time to explore the region’s wineries so I selected a nice Malbec from a local winery to go with our cheese, crackers and fruit.

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