The Land of Stonewall

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I decided to end my last day of vacation by visiting Lexington, VA.  I have been visiting Lexington, VA since I was a kiddo.  It has always been a special place for me and my family.  I have often referred to it as my second home.  It is a great small town packed full of history:  Lee's Chapel, Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson's House, Virginia Military Institute, Washington and Lee, and so many other places.

Upon arrival into Lexington, I headed straight for Virginia Military Institute.  Have you been?  A breathtaking campus!  Anytime I visit VMI, I always start with visiting the statue of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (professor at VMI) and the Gospels (the cannons are named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).  They were named the Gospel's by Confederate General Pendleton, father of Sandie Pendleton who was an officer in Jackson's staff during the Civil War.  As a side note (& book recommendation), the book Stonewall's Man:  Sandie Pendleton by WG Bean is a great read! 
I crossed the street to visit the chapel on VMI's campus. 

That mural!!!!  There is a very informative museum downstairs that has Jackson's horse, Little Sorrel, stuffed and on display.  After a quick walk around the campus, I headed for the cemetery to visit Sandie Pendleton and Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson's graves.

 Sandie Pendleton's Grave.
 Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson

This cemetery is beautiful!  By now I bet you've heard me describe many a cemetery as beautiful but honestly I don't know what other word to use for these historic cemeteries.
I stopped for a quick lunch at The Palms because when you visit Lexington, you eat at The Palms...well at least that's what my family always does.  I will always recommend their chili but this day I got the Haystack Burger and was not disappointed!  If you're in Lexington, eat at The Palms, tell them Amber sent you....they won't know who that is but I've always wanted to tell someone that...you're welcome!
Okay, so after a filling lunch I headed to Lee's Chapel.  After a nice walk along the campus of Washington and Lee, I entered Lee's Chapel. 
The chapel is simply beautiful!  Downstairs is a very informative museum, Robert E. Lee's grave (along with other Lee family members), and his office.  His office is said to be left exactly the way Lee left it before he passed away. 
 General and Mrs. Lee's graves.
 Lee's Office.

Exiting the chapel from the downstairs, I visited Traveler's grave.  Traveler was General Lee's horse and I adore the fact that he is buried within such close proximity to his riding mate.

I ended my visit to Lexington by touring the only house that Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson ever owned.
Lovely house with a gorgeous garden!





I decided to try to cut some time off my upcoming drive to SC on Saturday, so I decided not to spend the night in Lexington but to drive to Wytheville, VA.  Wytheville is a cute small town (also the birthplace of Edith Wilson, President Wilson's 2nd wife) where I saw several groundhogs playing in an open green space.  Those groundhogs were adorable!

I returned back to SC on Saturday, excited, exhausted, and ready to go again.  Traveling is in my bones (thank you Dad & Mom).  I've been traveling since I was 6 years old and I can honestly say that my life is so much better for it!

Happy Travels,
Amber

Vacation Day 6: Patsy, Stonewall, & a Cavern

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Cool morning, leaves changing, light jacket, vacation, continental breakfast, ....maybe I can be a career traveler because how easily I got use to all of these things is a smidge ridiculous.  After another great continental breakfast (these hotels were on point when it came to their breakfast....I remember when continental breakfast was just cereal, milk, juice, and fruit).  I headed to Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters.  Seeing as I share a birthday with General Jackson, I feel justified in my love/adoration for him and the need to visit any historic site that is connected to him.  Anyway, I arrived a little early for the tour so I walk around the neighborhood for a few minutes and this place is just beautiful!  Winchester very quickly became one of my favorite places. 


The above-photos are of the Handley Library.

It was almost time for my tour of Stonewall's Headquarters, so I headed back.  Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters is run by Winchester Frederick County Historical Society.  My tour guide was extremely knowledgeable of the subject matter and gave a wonderful tour.  When Jackson was in Winchester, he was constantly surrounded by many people.  Everyone wanted to see the great Stonewall and they were constantly waiting for him in large mobs at his hotel, in the streets, and even at church.  He met Lewis Moore and he offered Jackson his house to set up his headquarters.  This was a great relief to Jackson as it gave him some much needed privacy.  In his headquarters, there are several of Jackson's items like his mirror, his prayer table, his prayer book to just name a few.  Mary Anna, Jackson's wife, visited him at his headquarters in Winchester and commented that the mirror that Jackson hung, he had, again, hung to high (he was much taller than Mary Anna)...I thought that comment was really cute because he wanted everything to be really nice when she arrived.

One of the rooms has very beautiful wallpaper that appears to change colors depending on where you are standing in the room.  Jackson made a comment in a letter to his wife about the changing color wallpaper.  When restoration work was being done on the house, a descendant of Lewis Moore, Mary Tyler Moore (yes that Mary Tyler Moore) visited the house and funded the wallpaper expense.    They were able to find a company that could replicate the wallpaper to almost an exact match to the original.  Mary Tyler Moore, would continue to send funds to the house each year on her birthday.



Before leaving Winchester (sad), I stopped by Patsy Cline's house for a tour.  Her house is an adorable white house on Kent St.  Patsy was born in Winchester, VA in 1932.  The house is owned by Celebrating Patsy Cline Inc., and they hold a Patsy Cline Music Festival each year.






After leaving Winchester, I was Luray, Virginia bound.  Upon arrival in Luray, I headed straight for Luray Caverns. 




Luray Caverns is breathtaking and a beauty like none I've seen before...am I right?
 Wishing Well.
Fried Eggs.

Since I was really close to an entrance of the Shenandoah National Park, I decided that it would be fun to actually stay in the park.  I stayed at Skyland Resort in the park and I am so glad that I did!  There is a delicious restaurant, grab-n-go place, and a gift shop on site.  I saw rabbits, deer, bear, and birds.  The birds were constantly singing, which I would be too if that was my home.  The views were amazing.  My cabin had a view of the mountain and the town below so at night sitting on the porch, I heard all the night critter sounds and saw the twinkly lights from the town below. 



Happy Travels,
Amber

Vacation Day 5: Winchester, VA

Friday, September 29, 2017

After an amazing stay and delicious breakfast at my hotel, I packed up the car and hit the road to continue my road trip.  The drive was extremely tiresome not to mention I was getting an education on toll booths on the PA Turnpike.  However, I think I mastered the PA Turnpike!  Anyway after that very long, boring interstate drive I finally arrived in Winchester, VA.  Oh to be back in Virginia just healed my soul (too much???).  My first stop in Winchester was to the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  You can never go wrong with a Welcome Center/Visitor Center...such a wealth of information.  The lady that was working was very nice and helpful.  She directed me to 2 small exhibit, 1 of which happened to include a piano that was played by Patsy Cline. 


She then shocked me by asking if I played the piano and if so then I could play on THE piano.  WHAT?!?!?!?!?  Could you say that again in my good ear?????  I was extremely nervous, not about playing and not about playing without music (one would think that after 32 years of playing the piano that I would have tons of music memorized....nope, I guess I need to start carrying my hymn book in my purse), but nervous about playing on the same piano that Patsy Cline had played on...seriously a musician's dream, well at least this musician's dream.   I thought it fitting since Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson's headquarters were in Winchester and the other exhibit in the visitor center was about the Civil War that I play (as much as I could remember) the score to North and South.  You remember that television miniseries, right?  Orry Main played by Patrick Swayze....melt my 1861 Civil War loving heart!  Or  Brett yelling, "Momma, it's Billy".  Side note:  When I first received the sheet music to the film score, I called my parents, put them on speaker & played a game of 'Guess that Tune' and started playing North and South.  My mom said that she didn't know the tune as she was only able to hear bits and pieces due to our connection (sure, Mom) but as soon as I said "Momma, it's Billy" my mom knew exactly what I had been playing & I could hear my Dad laughing in the background.  To say that we have watched that miniseries a few times is an understatement.  Okay, back to my piano dayview in Winchester.  It was AMAZING!  Pictures were taken, autographs given (I kid)....


After a quick stop at my hotel, I was off for what promised to be some really great Mexican food (I could live off tacos, no judgment).  While on my way to dinner, I passed Shenandoah Memorial Park, the cemetery where Patsy Cline (aka Virginia Hensley) is buried.  I found her grave and felt an overwhelming sadness for her (1) because she had died so young and (2) because she just seems so far away from her loved ones (her parents are buried 'in' Winchester).


A bell tower was erected in the cemetery which was funded by Loretta Lynn and Dottie West.  I had read that every day at 6p, the bell tower plays hymns.  I arrived after 6p so I don't know if that information is correct but I think it's great if it actually takes place. 


So after visiting with Patsy, I drove the 7.846 seconds to

This place is OUT OF THIS WORLD!  Serious talk, I have contemplated moving to Winchester just so I can eat here on a weekly (let's get real, daily) basis.  I ate the Don Grato Burrito with marinated shredded beef.  Again, when can I move to Winchester?  The burrito was full of rice, beef, black beans (my reason for living), sour cream, and cheese.  After the first bite, I knew that this burrito was a gift from God.  I have never in all my Mexican food eating years tasted a better burrito.  I know that y'all probably think I've gone over the edge about this burrito but it was perfect!  Go to Taqueria Guadalajara, you won't be disappointed and you'll probably see me there!

Happy Travels,
Amber

Vacation Day 4: Niagara Falls & a Cemetery

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Does anyone else think of Marilyn Monroe when you hear Niagara Falls?  Is it just me????  (It can't be, right?)  I watched Marilyn Monroe in the film Niagara when I was younger (have you seen it?) and fell in love with Niagara Falls.  I immediately added Niagara Falls to my list of places to travel.  I have watched that film several (ok, fine! at least 50 times) times over the year and when the opportunity to travel to Niagara Falls presented itself, I very quickly said yes and started the countdown!  There is a slight (huge) chance that I watched the film again prior to leaving for vacation!  I mean, I had to prepare!  Well the falls did NOT disappoint!  The falls are massively impressive and the constant roar that they make, to me was their way of saying hello.  There are all types of places/gift shops to visit and many places to grab something to eat but I decided to skip all of that and just hang out anywhere I could see the falls.  I watched the falls for about an hour+ and was just in awe at this amazing creation.  Of course, I couldn't help but envision Marilyn Monroe's character, Rose, sneaking around with her boyfriend (while her husband was at the hotel) on the stairs of the Cave of the Winds and Polly seeing Rose with her boyfriend refusing to go any further on the stairs even though her husband was being pretty persisted.  Then when Rose's husband George was in the getaway boat with Polly.  It was fun for me to just sit, sometimes stand, there watching this wonder.  Needless to say, if you haven't been to Niagara Falls or seen the film Niagara, you should, you won't be disappointed.






After leaving the falls, I had some free time before my dinner plans with friends so of course I found a cemetery to visit.  Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo is probably the prettiest cemetery I have been to (so far).  Forest Lawn was founded in 1849 and was designed to resemble a park....rolling hills, beautiful landscape, wildlife, etc.  It is 269 acres and has almost 200,000 burials like President Millard Fillmore, Rick James, Fredrick A Cook, MD (discovered the North Pole), Alfred P. Southwick (inventor of the electric chair), and many more.
 I saw deer all throughout the cemetery.  They are so beautiful!



 President Millard Fillmore Memorial
 Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
 Firemen's Monument
 Blocher Memorial.  Below are pictures are the life-like figures that show a son on his deathbed with his parents by his side.  I have never seen anything like this before in all my cemetery exploring years.  Fascinating!

 



Red Jacket, Chief of a Tribe within the Seneca nation

After a couple of hours in the cemetery, I grabbed a quick taco from Might Taco.  Have you been?  Probably the best fast food taco I've eaten!  I had just enough time to get back to my hotel and get ready before my friends picked me up for dinner.  We ate at Pearl St. and it was quite tasty.  Great food, great company, and great conversation....it doesn't get any better than that!  After dinner we walked around Canalside.  I would have loved to stayed out a little later but the long drive from New York to Virginia the next morning meant getting some sleep so I was well rested for that looooonnnngggg drive.

Happy Travels,
Amber