Front Royal, Manassas and Washington, DC

Trip Start Feb 12, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Where I stayed
Skyline & North Fork RV Parks

Flag of United States  , Virginia
Friday, July 14, 2006

Front Royal is located about 65 miles west of Washington, DC and is sort of framed by both the North and South forks of the Shenandoah River. Two of our membership parks are there and they are the closest ones to Washington, DC and they became our base for about the next six weeks.

We have a good friend Stephen (who we knew from his frequent visits to Maui), who has worked at the Library of Congress for over 35 years and will be retiring in the Spring of 2007. We drove part way towards DC, then took the Metro into the heart of DC, where we met up with him. He gave us a private guided tour around the Main Building of the three that make up the Library, which was extremely interesting and impressive.

The building has incredible architecture and artwork that when Mikhail Gorbachev once visited, he commented, "How was this magnificent building ever built without a Czar?" In other words, giving the Library a very big compliment, comparing it to some of the opulent buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

After touring the Library and lunch with Stephen, Terry and I went to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History on the National Mall. The world's largest collection of meteorites and geological displays of all of the awesome minerals, jewels and jewelry, including the infamous Hope Diamond were truly mind-boggling! We also rather quickly browsed through the dinosaur exhibits but we were really too tired to do them, or any of the other insects, birds and mammals exhibits, any justice.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum and research complex with 19 different museums and galleries. It truly would take many days, if not weeks, to actually cover all of the exhibits in the many buildings. Also, there is far too much for me to write about here.

There are also two IMAX theaters, one at the Natural History Museum and the other at the Air and Space Museum. They both show two or three different movies and you should plan ahead if you want to see any of them, which we unfortunately didn't have time to do.

There is also the Einstein Planetarium at the Air and Space Museum where you can even relax as you learn about the universe. We'll have to make time to do them and also the National Air and Space Museum on another trip.

On another day, we also visited an old friend from our childhood days in Madeira Beach, FL. Zellah was a few years older than me, but her family and ours were great friends. She and her husband Marshall, moved to Manassas a couple of years ago to be closer to her grown children and grandkids.

While we were in Front Royal, we canoed down the South Fork of the Shenandoah one lazy afternoon, just taking in the scenery and running the occasional small rapids. We also watched a Civil War battle re-enactment at the North Fork, needless to say, since we were in the South, the Rebel Greycoats won the battle.

Virginia is really quite a virtual history lesson. Much of what we now call Colonial American History, has taken place in Virginia over the last four centuries, starting with the first settlement at Jamestown in 1607. The colonial lifestyle can be seen in Williamsburg, where tourists can see the restored village with everything in it, people, clothes, houses, buildings, crafts, etc. all as it was in colonial times.

Virginia has given birth to more Presidents than any other state: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson. George Washington's home at Mount Vernon in Alexandria, and Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello, just outside of Charlottesville are two popular tourist attractions.

The American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War all had important and numerous battles on Virginian soil. Very often re-enactments of Civil War Battles can be seen all over the state, such as we saw in Front Royal.
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