Archive for December, 2020


National Park Road Trip Part 2 – DC, VA, WV

December 1, 2020

Continuation of National Park Road Trip Part 1 – posted November 2020

11/8 Sun – I was up early and drove from the NJ Rest Area to Greenbelt Park outside of Washington DC – a busy day.  I had been to most of these sites before but wanted pictures of myself at those locations for my records.  Sorry about all the pics of ME!

I then went to three NPS sites in DC I had not been to before. The first was Battlefield National Cemetery

This is the burial site for 40 Union soldiers that were killed when Confederates, Under Gen. Jubal Early, attacked nearby Fort Stevens on July 11-12, 1864.  The only attack on Washington DC during the Civil War.

A short distance S is Fort Stevens

President Lincoln rode over, from his summer cottage at the US Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home, to observe the battle. He is the only sitting President to come under direct enemy fire during a time of war.

My next stop was Meridian Hill Park, center right side of this map

The W Street NW entrance has a beautiful cascading waterfall – when the water is flowing!

Not many people are aware of this 12-acre park. Thomas Jefferson wanted to establish an American Meridian (Longitude 0” 0’), through both poles and the White House, from which all U.S. land would be surveyed – to reenforce Americas independence from Britain. He reasoned it would also aid American map making and navigation. Today, there are many meridians running through different continents, but the Prime Meridian is still located in Greenwich England.

Nearby is a monument to the 15th President of the US (1857-61) – James Buchanan who preceded Lincoln. He was our only bachelor president.

This inscription lets you know that he was James Buchanan of Pennsylvania

At the top of the double staircase is a statue of JEANNE D’ARC, LIBERATRICE, 1412-1431 (19 years old!)

Just east of Joan, is a statue of Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, dedicated on his 600th birthday – December 1, 1921.

16th Street entrance to Meridian Hill Park


It was a ten-minute drive to Carter G. Woodson Home NHS on 9th St NW

There is a small triangular park with statue of Woodson around the corner. I am pretending to take a book off the shelf

Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History”


Ten more minutes and I was at Ford’s Theater NHS. It was Sunday morning, and the country was in the middle of a pandemic. So, it was easy to drive around DC and park.

House across the street, where Lincoln died


I then walked to the World War I Memorial, which is east of the White House and was under construction. We were here in October 2018 as well – see that month on Blog for additional pics. The location is also known as Pershing Park – for General John J. Pershing.

This Sherman statue is located across 15th St NW, from the World War I Memorial

As I continued, I walked past the Department of the Treasury

and a statue of Col. Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish military engineer, who constructed outstanding military fortification for the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War

I then continued walking around the White House.  A new security fence had expanded the area around the White House and was covered with Anti President Trump, Black Lives Matter, Count Every Vote, Equality, Justice for George Floyd, Not My President, etc. posters. President Trump was refusing to concede former Vice President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Pics of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and White House from the south


One of my main objectives today was to tour the new Dwight D. Eisenhower N MEM – the newest National Park Unit.  The first view is of the NE corner. The Memorial is on Independence Ave in front of the Department of Education, this was my 421st National Park Unit.

This view is from the NW corner – Eisenhower “The Boy”

Homecoming speech in Abilene KS, 1945

There is a “Normandy Coastline Curtain Façade” on the Education Building – it is best seen at night

Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II (1941-1945)

34th President of the U.S. (1953-1961), quote from Ike’s second inaugural address


The Ike Memorial visit was followed by three quick stops, see Blog for October 2018 for additional photos – World War II Memorial


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, FDR, our 32nd President, contracted polio in 1921 and used a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Bread Line during 1930s depression


Vietnam Veterans Memorial – notice everyone wearing masks because of the pandemic


I then drove across the Potomac River to the U.S. Air Force Memorial in VA, which is between the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery


It was dedicated in 2006 – “The three memorial spires range from 201 feet (61 m) to 270 feet (82 m) high and appear to be soaring; its array of stainless steel arcs against the sky evoke the image of ‘contrails’ of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they peel back in a precision ‘bomb burst’ maneuver.’ Only three of the four contrails are depicted, at 120 degrees from each other, as the absent fourth suggests the missing man formation traditionally used at Air Force funeral fly-overs.”


Next stop, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial). The first photo is from June 7, 1968. Helen and I were married on June 8th. My brother Mike is on the left and brother Pat is on the right.

Flag at half-mast for the death of Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated on June 6, 1968 in LA.  Martin Luther King had been assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis TN!

The memorial depicts the raising of the American Flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 during World War II. Almost 7,000 Marines, sailors, and soldiers were killed or missing during this one battle and almost 20,000 were wounded.


The Netherlands Carillon, a gift from the people of the Netherlands (1954), is in the process of renovation. It originally had 49 bells but then in 1995 a 50th bell was added on May 5th to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis.




It took me awhile to get to Arlington National Cemetery, because Google Maps kept giving me directions that did not work! Many roads and access points had been closed and I had to figure out how to get there from my maps.  This photo was taken from cemetery looking across the Arlington Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial.  The Washington Monument is in the center.

“Our Nations Most Sacred Shrine”

There were tight COVID-19 restrictions and I had to wait in line (six feet apart with mask) for about a half hour before they took my temperature and allowed me entrance

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Eternal flame at grave of John F. Kennedy, 35th President, assassinated in Dallas TX on November 22, 1963

Grave of Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated on June 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, when he was running for President

View of DC from Arlington House

Most Americans are familiar with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, but few know about this monument near the Arlington House where 2,111 Unknown Civil War soldiers are buried


The second “main” objective of the day was to visit Arlington House (Robert E. Lee Memorial) in Arlington Cemetery – my 422nd National Park Unit, of 423

Newly renovated but not yet opened because of the pandemic

Construction started in 1802; built by slaves, free blacks, and indentured servants

Lithograph shows Arlington Plantation in 1838

Parked along the George Washington Memorial Parkway and took the footbridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island.

This island nature preserve, in the middle of the Potomac River, is a fitting memorial to the 26th President (1901-1909). Theodore Roosevelt established national parks, monuments, forests, bird reserves, and game preserves.

There are more National Park Units devoted to Theodore Roosevelt than any other person – his Birthplace in NYC, his summer home on Long Island (Sagamore Hill), Elkhorn Ranch in ND (part of Theodore Roosevelt NP), and his inaugural site in Buffalo NY.

I made a brief stop at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts as I began my drive west to the Shenandoah Valley. I slept in the parking lot of a Nursing Memory Care facility in Staunton VA, which seemed appropriate.


11/9 M – took Rt-250 E to the Northern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockfish Gap and started driving S

The Northern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Southern End of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah NP

Rockfish Valley

Appalachian Scenic Trail markers at Humpback Rocks; it crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway there

I hiked the Humpback Rocks Loop, which includes about four miles of the AT

Blue Ridge Fall Color

Twenty Minute Cliff, I drove 30 miles of the parkway, exiting at Whetstone Ridge


I then drove west, taking I-64 to the Sandstone Visitor Center for the New River Gorge National River in WV

Sandstone Falls of the New River

New River Gorge National River

One lane Bluestone River Road to former village of Lilly on the Bluestone National Scenic River

“Ye Ole Swimin Hole” – with rope swing

Bluestone National Scenic River

Foot in river – see, I’ve been there

Little Bluestone River (left) flowing into Bluestone River

I hiked a short distance on the Bluestone Turnpike Trail

Another beautiful day


Next stop, the Canyon Rim Visitor Center for New River Gorge National River WV

We did a fun family rafting trip on the New River in June 2000


Last stop, Gauley River National Recreation Area WV

Summersville Dam on this trip

Dam in October 2000, when they were doing a release for world class white water rafting, note the snow on the trees

Gauley River Overlook, rafters starting their adventure

Carnifex Ferry Civil War Battlefield is located nearby

How West Virginia became a state – On September 10, 1861, the Federals prevailed, and the Confederates retreated from western Virginia. In 1863, West Virginia became a Union state, Virginia remained in the Confederacy

In 2000, we did the trail to Pillow Rock Rapids, you can see how it got its name

Rafters knocked out – Rescuers on rock

Woods Ferry access

My Sleep Machine


5hr drive to Springfield, arrived home at 11pm