ROAD TRIP DAY 39: HISTORIC HARPERS FERRY

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I was so confused. Within a five minute span (at most!) we were in three states– one of them twice! We drove from Frederick, Maryland to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia; however, I kept seeing “Welcome to…” signs! “Welcome to West Virginia” one sign read. A couple of minutes later, another greeted us with “Welcome to Virginia”. Before we knew it, we were back in West Virginia with another sign greeting us once again. Whewww!

Situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers where the states of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet, Harpers Ferry is located roughly at the half-way point of the Appalachian Trail. It is named after Robert Harper who established a ferry service (Get it? Harper’s ferry?) in 1761.

Thomas Jefferson visited Harpers Ferry in 1783 and stood on these rocks (see below) to take in the view of the rivers. Jefferson called the site “perhaps one of the the most stupendous scenes in nature,” and also said it was “worth a voyage across the Atlantic” to see. This is now known as Jefferson Rock Overlook, and pillars have been inserted to stabilize the rock formations:

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In later years during the Civil War, Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times between 1861 and 1865. Suffice it to say the history of Harpers Ferry could (and does) fill volumes of books.

Some of this history was shared with us by Creighton Waters, an incredibly knowledgeable park ranger. By pure luck, we happened to stumble upon him and his tour when we arrived at the visitor center at 10:55 and noticed an 11:00 “From the Top Down” tour getting ready to depart. As it turned out, the 90-minute tour is conducted just once per day, three days each week. Wow, were we lucky!

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The tour departed from the top of Harpers Ferry where the views took in Maryland and the Potomac River to the left, and Virginia with its Shenandoah River to the right. By the conclusion of the tour, we were in Lower Harpers Ferry at the river’s confluence.

In between, in addition to taking in the views from Jefferson Rock Overlook, we visited this very historic cemetary dating back to the 1700’s where Robert Harper was buried:

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This is what remains of a church dating back to the 1850’s:

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Adding a little humor to the tour, we learned the history of the sign that is still visible on the side of the rock face of Maryland Heights across the river. See the square above and to the left of the train tunnel? It used to read, “Mennen’s Borated Talcum Toilet Powder,” and the painted sign dates back to 1903. It was the last thing train passengers saw before entering a long, pitch-black tunnel, so the marketing geniuses at Mennen thought it would leave a lasting imprint on their minds, and make them run out to buy some of their product upon disembarkation.

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Walking across the bridge, we took in the views and noticed those tubers below who had floated down the Shenandoah River from Virginia. Meanwhile, out of the picture frame there were two other tubers who had floated down the Potomac in Maryland. They met up in the middle while we watched from West Virginia.

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By the time we had reached the other side of the bridge, the sky grew dark and threatening, and it started to sprinkle just enough to warn us to take cover. So much for continuing our “hike” on the Appalachian Trail. We returned to explore the historic pre-Civil War- era buildings of Lower Harpers Ferry, instead, and ducked in to enjoy a Hershey’s Ice Cream (no relation to Milton S. Hershey of Hershey’s Chocolate, and the company dates back to 1894).

Now, that is good ice cream! “Moose Tracks” was LOADED with goodies, and the ice cream was creamy and delicious. YUM!

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Tonight, we are staying in Winchester and will explore more of the Shenandoah Valley tomorrow. Hopefully, it won’t rain like it did today!

WALKING (AND WALKING, AND WALKING) BALTIMORE

Quebec City was fabulous, but it was time to turn my thoughts back to swimming and our purpose for heading to Baltimore Maryland:  U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship.

By the time we arrived at the University of Maryland for my races, my legs were completely shot from all the walking we had done in Quebec.  It was well worth it, though!

Knowing we had time on the back end to see Baltimore, our time at Nationals was spent either at the pool or lounging back at the hotel in College Park.  A previous post  was about the competition:  https://elaineiakstravels.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/redemption/

Saving our sightseeing in Baltimore for after Nationals was a smart move, since we love to walk, and our day in Baltimore lasted eleven hours– most of it walking!

Our day was to begin at Lexington Market, but just a few blocks away was a very interesting cemetery, according to Anna Lea Matysek from the USMS offices.  It is where Edgar Allan Poe was buried, and she urged us to have a look.  As it turned out, it was as interesting as promised, and quite photogenic as well.

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“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” as the saying goes.  When in Maryland, eat crab cakes.  Next up?  Crab cakes at Faidley’s in Lexington Market.

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After our lunch and stroll through Lexington Market, we headed down to Fell’s Point, the historic waterfront district of Baltimore dating back to 1763. We left our rental car in Fell’s Point and followed the waterfront into downtown Baltimore on foot.  It was a wonderful walk with plenty of interesting things to see and photograph along the way. (There were some cheesey ones, too!)

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City planners did a wonderful job with the downtown waterfront of Baltimore.  It is pedestrian friendly, but for those who wish to ride instead, there is a free bus that covers the downtown area.

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Being avid walkers, we opted to walk the entire waterfront from Fell’s Point to the American Visionary Art Museum, stopping along the way for a quick lunch and plenty of photos.

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The interior of Barnes & Noble was unlike any store I had ever seen!

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Although the museum was closed the day we were in Baltimore, Anna Lea was emphatic we stop there to at least see the museum’s exterior.  That was a first.  Aren’t the exhibits at a museum INSIDE?  As you can see in the next several shots, there was plenty to see OUTSIDE of the museum!

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We were so fortunate to have perfect weather for our day in Baltimore.  The sun was shining bright, and as we headed back to Fell’s Point for dinner, it turned to a lovely golden light.

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To see additional photos of Baltimore, please visit: http://www.ExquisiteCards.Fototime.com