Friday, November 4, 2011

Trip #7 PA, DC and Virginia

National Cathedral in Washington DC. Gravesite of Woodrow Wilson

Presidential Gravesites seen of this trip: #15 James Buchanen  Lancaster, Pennsylvania 21 of 38
                                                  #35 John F. Kennedy  Arlington, Virginia 22 of 38
                                                  #28 Woodrow Wilson  Washington DC 23 of 38
                                                  #27 William H. Taft  Arlington, Virginia 24 of 38
                                                  #1 George Washington  Mt. Vernon, Virginia 25 of 38
                                                  #4 James Madison  Orange, Virginia  26 of 38
                                                  #3 Thomas Jefferson  Charlottesville, Virginaia 27 of 38
                                                  #10 John Tyler  Richmond, Virginia 28 of 38
                                                  #5 James Monroe Richmond, Virginia 29 of 38

Bonus President: Jefferson Davis #1 and only President of the Confederate States of America

This was a trip, in large part, to pick up some loose ends. 8 of the Presidential Gravesites that I saw on this trip were sites that I had seen at least once before. But I had few to no pictures of any previous visits. But I was happy to re visit them, since it had been at least 6 years since I had seen any of them.

2009 had been a great year with this hobby, seeing 20 Presidential Gravesites total. At the begining of 2010 I had hoped to add another 10 or more for the year. Then around March we found out that my wife was pregnant. This was great news! I gladly put some of my trip ideas on the back burner until the after the baby was born. Our little boy Nicholas was born then in November.

We agreed on one big trip for the year. I cut quite a bit out and turned what was originally a 9 day trip into a 6 day trip once we found out that we had a baby on the way. Before all was said and done we added a day at the end of the week to break up the trip home a little, making it a 7 day trip. So when the time came we were heading east to pick up 8 re visits, 1 new visit, and a bunch of other great stuff.

June 12, 2010 James Buchanen

We headed out around midnight on the night of Friday June 11th. We had the same travel group as the New York New England trip from the previous September. Mom, Dad and my cousin came along with my wife, Khloe and I. My plan for the day was to visit the Buchanen gravesite, a quick stop by Buchanen's Wheatland home, which I figured would be closed when we would be there, and they were. Then spend the rest of the day in Gettysburg.

A couple weeks before our trip my sister and her family went to Gettysburg and toured the battlefield with a CD that they put in their car that directed them where to go. The CD was made by 'The History Channell'. So it was really well done. Knowing that we were heading there she gave us the CD. So my plan was to see the the Buchanen stuff in Lancaster, PA, then tour the Gettysburg Battlefield,  tour the Eisenhower home at Gettysburg, then head to our Arlington, Virginia hotel for the night.

He made it to Lancaster around 8 am. We found the cemetery ok, but the gate was locked. My cousin and I got out on foot to find a way in as the rest of the van circled the cemetery in the van to do the same. After further investigation we found an area that didn't even have a fence. I missed the sign that directed you to Buchanen's Tomb. Instead I spotted a flag pole in the distance and made a bee line for it as my cousin followed. On the way I couldn't help but notice that most of the cemetery was in serious disrepair. But when we found the Buchanen grave it was easy to see that someone was maintaining his gravesite pretty well. Everyone in the van found us after a few minutes at the gravesite. It wasn't long and we were on our way to Gettysburg. All went as planned that day except that we didn't get to tour the Eisenhower Home at Gettysburg. But it was a very full day of site seeing. After Gettysburg we were all pretty exhausted and then were on our way to Arlington, Virginia for the night.

James Buchanen gravesite Lancaster, PA

June 13, 2010, John F. Kennedy

This turned out to be a day where not everything went as planned, but it all worked out in the end.
Here was my original plan: Drive the short distance from our Arlington, Virginia hotel to Arlington National Cemetery. Since I had a pregnant wife I figured that we would take the Arlington National Cemetery bus tour, instead of venturing into the massive cemetery on foot. The bus tour only stops at JFK's gravesite, The Tomb of the Unknown Soilder, and Arlington House, home of Robert E. Lee. After the bus tour we would go back to the hotel where everyone else would relax while my cousin and I would venture back into the cemetery on foot and see President Taft as well as some other points of interest. We would return to the hotel in time to get everyone else and drive out to the National Cathedral to see the gravesite of Woodrow Wilson. After calling ahead I found out that on this day I only day a window of one hour to see President Wilson's gravesite between 1 and 2 pm. We would then return to the hotel, hop on the subway and head to the Holocaust Museum and then spend the rest of the day walking the main mall area.

What really happened: We got to the cemetery when they opened just like a hundred other people. I underestimated how long it would take to buy the bus tour tickets, wait in line for the bus, and take the tour.  First stop of the tour was JFK's gravesite. It is a nice and respectable gravesite. Probably one of the most visited of all Presidential Graves. JFK's brothers Bobby Kennedy and Teddy Kennedy are buried nearby. There is also an area nearby that has a bunch of Supreme Court Justices buried in it. Including Chief Justices William Rehnquest and Warren Earl Burger. Justice Thurgood Marshall is also there, he was the first black man appointed to the Supreme Court.

John F. Kennedy's gravesite. Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia

June 13, 2010,  Woodrow Wilson

By the time we were done with Arlington National Cemeteries bus tour there was no time for anyone to relax at the hotel. And no time to see President Taft's grave. We HAD to get moving to the National Cathedral or else we would miss our one hour window of oppourtunity to see Wilson. So we left ANC for the National Cathedral. When we got there my wife, cousin and I hopped out and headed into the Cathedral while Mom and Dad stayed with a sleeping Khloe. Wilson's gravesite in a beautiful part of the Cathedral including stained glass windows and a marble casket. After seeing Wilson we explored the Cathedral a little more, and then were on our way back to our hotel in Arlington. Once we got there we packed up and headed for the subway to go into DC. We got to the Holocaust Museum which my cousin really wanted to see. We went inside and I had to throw away an unopened bottle of Pepsi Max in order to gain enteree. But once I got in there they said no more civilian tours for the day, only government employees for the rest of the day. Which really pissed me off. We checked out a couple of temporary displays and were off to the Mall area. We saw the Washington, Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam, WW2 and Korean War Monuments. I decided that we would have to make an unexpected stop back at Arlington National Cemetery on the way to Mt. Vernon on the next morning to see President Taft.

Woodrow Wilson's gravesite. National Cathedral Washington DC

June 14, 2010  William Howard Taft

After an exhausting day in the Washington DC area we all got a good nights sleep. The original plan for this day was simple. Be at George Washingtons Mt. Vernon when they open, then make it down to James Madisons Montpelier before the end of the day, then continue on down to Charlottesville for the night. But since the day before didn't go quite as planned we had to make a quick stop at Arlington National Cemetery to see President Taft. Now on this trip I really came to hate the roads around Arlington, Virginia. We missed our turn and ended up driving past the Pentagon. We eventually made it all the way around ANC and got it right the 2nd time. We parked the van and my cousin and I headed in on foot. I knew that it wouldn't take long since Taft's gravesite is very close to the front gate. We made our way up to Taft's grave. It is a unique grave marker for the only man to serve as both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Not far away was the gravesite of Robert Todd Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln's only son to live to adulthood. We made a quick stop at Robert Todd Lincoln's grave before heading back to the van. Then it was off to Mt. Vernon.

The day before I got a map of ANC and all of the graves of interest to me marked on them. Taking the bus tour I wasn't able to see very many of them. But unexpectedly I would be back in the Washington DC area 6 weeks later for the weekend to see my nephew in the Boy Scout Parade. On that trip I was able to go into the Cemetery on foot with my cousin and see alot of those loose ends, plus a bunch of stuff that I missed in DC as well.

Taft's gravesite. Arlington National Cemetery

June 14, 2010  George Washington

We left Arlington National Cemetery after seeing Taft's gravesite for Mt. Vernon. We arrived shortly after they opened. We waited in line to see the house and started heading toward the Tomb, seeing the old tomb on the way.

There are just a few Presidential Gravesites that I have visited that I had to wait my turn to see, and wait for the crowd to clear some, in order to get my pictures. Washington was one of them. Also in this category was Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan.

I had last visited Mt. Vernon 6 years earlier on my honeymoon. In that time they had added alot. A museum, visitors center and reconstructed distillery. One could easily spend the whole day there, which I really hope to return someday and do. But we had a scheduel to stick to so we were on our way after a couple of hours.

Me at Washingtons Tomb

June 14, 2010  James Madison

After Mt. Vernon we were on our way to James Madison's Montpelier. Montpelier had undergone a huge renovation in recent years. The Du pont family owned the house for a long time and added to it over the years. The recent renovation restored the house back to how it looked in Madisons time. Having worked in Construction since High School I was very impressed with all that they had done. After the house tour we headed down to the family graveyard. James and Dolley Madison are buried together there. Dolley's smaller marker is just behind James's larger one. We then headed to our motel in Charlottesville. On the campus of the University of Virginia. Being on campus I figured that it would be a decent place. But it turned out to be a dump. After dinner we headed to the older parts of the U of V campus that Thomas Jefferson designed. It was pretty cool.

James Madison's large tombstone in the front. Dolley's smaller one in the back.

June 15, 2010  Thomas Jefferson

We got up early to leave the craphole motel, and head over to Monticello. I must of got bad information because we showed up at 8 when I thought they opened. The guy at the gate told us that they don't open until 9. He mentioned a donut place called Spudnuts nearby to kill time at. So we went there for some donuts. They were pretty good.

We made it back to Monticello in time for the first tour of the day. The house tour of Monticello is very interesting. Jefferson was a brilliant inventor on top of everything else, and his house is proof of that. Like Mt. Vernon, Monticello has also added a museum and other things that we didn't have time to see. So sometime I would like to return. After the house tour we walked the grounds alittle. It is a beautiful property that is mostly unchanged since Jefferson's time. We then headed down to the family cemetery where Jefferson's family members are still being buried on occation.

Thomas Jefferson's gravesite at his Monticello home. Charlottesville, Virginia

June 15, 2010  John Tyler
                       James Monroe

After we left Monticello we were making good time so we stopped by James Monroe's Ash Lawn Highland home. It was a nice tour. The home is owned by the College of William and Mary. After Ash Lawn we headed to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. The burial place of Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, and also Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Confederate Generals J.E.B. Stuart and George Pickett are also buried there.

First we saw the 2 Generals. And then we headed to the area where both John Tyler and James Monroe happen to be buried near each other. There are 3 places that can claim 2 Presidential Gravesites. The first is the United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are both buried. Another one is Arlington National Cemetery were William Howard Taft  and John F. Kennedy are both buried. The last is Hollywood Cemetery.

John Tyler's gravesite,  Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia. The black birdcage in the background to the left is the gravesite of James Monroe.

James Monroe's gravesite

June 15, 2010  Jefferson Davis CSA President

After we saw the 2 U. S. Presidents there was one last stop before we left the cemetery. Any real gravehunter can't visit Hollywood Cemetery and not visit the grave of Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederate States of America.

The grave of CSA President Jefferson Davis

That concludes the Presidential Gravesites seen on this trip. However the trip continued for 3 more days.

When we left Richmond we headed towards Williamsburg for the night. On the way we stopped at Berkeley Plantation, birthplace of W. H. Harrison, Sherwood Forrest Plantation, home of John Tyler, and the roadside marker marking the birthplace of John Tyler.

The next day Wendesday June 16th was the Lighthouse and beach day that I promised my wife. On this day we saw 4 lighthouses. One happend to be on the same island that Jefferson Davis was imprisoned for 2 years after the Civil War.

On Thursday we visited Appomattox Court House, where the Civil War ended. Then we hit Lexington, Virginia where Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried. And finally we stopped in Staunton, Virginia at the birhplace of Woodrow Wilson.

On Friday we stopped in Shankesville, PA at the Flight 93 Memorial. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 there was a memorial started near the crash site of  Flight 93. It was a mooving experience. We then hit French and Indian War sites Fort Liggioneer and Fort Nessesity. Fort Nessesity is the site of George Washington's first battle.

All in all it was a pretty great week. We went home to soak it all in, and of course prepare for the arrival of our son Nicholas, who would be born the following November.

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