Tuesday, February 28, 2006

06-23 Somewhere in Virginia to Lexington Kentucky

Wondering the byways.

Somewhere in Virginia…. Lexington

When you travel the highways and byways as I do, you sometimes never know where you’ll end up. After leaving Pennsylvania, I continued on hwy 81 into Virginia not knowing where I would land. After a couple hours traveling parallel to the Blue ridge Mountains, constantly shrouded in that famous blue mist, I’ve ended up in Lexington VA. It’s home to Washington and Lee University and VMI, Virginia Military Institute. It’s oozing historical charm in this most southern town with it’s brick buildings from the 1800’s, steeply rolling hills, the two colleges side by side. One a liberal arts college, the other filled with athletic minded military men in their red running shorts or dressed in full military uniform. I’m almost inspired to go jogging.

Stonewall Jackson’s only home that he ever owned is in Lexington, where he had gone to VMI and eventually became a teaching professor. Not an easy task for a self educated young man who entered after much determination into VMI and worked his way up from the bottom of the class to 17th upon graduation. One of his favorite axioms which he collected, was “You may be what ever you resolve to be”. By the way, he was a horrid teacher and the students revolted a number of times.

I tend more towards natural wonders in nature, but also like to hit some of the more interesting historical homes and museums. I always learn something along the way. While on the tour of Stonewall Jackson’s home, I learned that a rope made of tobacco leaves, about 6” long and twisted into a loop, was used in clothes closets to keep out moths. And it really works. And much of the parlor furniture which was very low to the ground, was probably that way to help keep a person below the smoky haze that quite often filled a room.

Or that although he “owned” 6 slaves, he was one of the few that taught all of them to read and write and encouraged them to attend daily Bible lessons. So many reminders of the changes that our country has gone through.

Getting back to natural wonders, I visited the Natural Bridge formation, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. First surveyed by George Washington. I was able to touch his initials that he chiseled into the stone as a surveyor. You can’t get much closer to history than that! Later, the land in the Shenandoah valley, was purchased by Thomas Jefferson who built a small cabin near the bridge so he and others could come and visit the site. Viewing the Natural Bridge, just as Jefferson and Washington and the Monacan Indians before them had.

And one of my favorites, architecture. Poplar Forest. Thomas Jefferson’s retreat outside of Lynchburg VA. One hundred miles from the more famous Monticello. Jefferson designed Poplar Forest in 1812. The villa, designed after the inspiration of Andrea Pallidio, is an octagon with a perfectly square center dining room.

On my way back from Poplar, I traveled a part of the Blue Ridge Parkway and as if on cue, a spotted deer was there to great me on the side of the road.

Mans ingenuity, natures wonders, history you can touch and feel both physically and emotionally.

Side notes:

You can get “fried bologna” sandwiches in these parts. Yuk! I didn’t try it. Let me know if you have.

My concerns over the devastating condition of our farms barns was explained the other night on the nightly news. Appears that the large corporate farms have taken control of most of the smaller farms. And because of that, they no longer need to use the barns for their type of corporate farming. Thus, the barns are left to rot. The report went on to state that in one state, 3,000 barns had dwindled down to about 300 remaining in less than 20 years. Sad. It makes a huge statement on the land as I travel across it.

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