Monday, October 22, 2012

Enveloped in Northeastern Wonder: Our Journey Begins with a British Defeat

Fall has officially arrived in Northern Virginia. As I drive out of neighborhood on my way to work in the morning each day bring new color in the surrounding trees and more leaves fluttering down around me. The Virginia Creeper on the freeway walls now shines forth in brilliant red as a waypost for travelers headed west to the mountains.

I grew up in Phoenix where fall means cooler temperatures, but nothing like the changes I have experienced here on the East coast. Here fall looks very different than what I am used to, and I love it! During each of the past two years Alison and I developed three special fall traditions in each of the three closest states to where we live: the National Apple Festival in Pennsylvania, the Lawyers Moonlight Corn Maze in Maryland, and visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. As we made plans to actively appreciate the wonder and beauty of fall this year, we had the added pleasure of including my mother as she would be visiting us the week of Columbus Day.

As we considered our options we decided that this year had the potential of not only offering the chance to share the mid-Atlantic fall with my mom, but also the opportunity of extending our autumn experience north into New England. Since so much of the work of my office had been centered on the 150th anniversary of the battles of Second ManassasHarpers Ferry, and Antietam, there was a natural lull in our workload at the end of September.  This offered the perfect opportunity to journey north and experience fall in New England before my Mom arrived to enjoy it with us here in Virginia.

Neither of us has spent much time in New England in general, and neither of us had been to the northernmost states at all. After our honeymoon and subsequent journey across the country our official states tally had risen to Alison: 43/50 and Garrett 45/50. We decided this opportunity was too good to pass by and began to plan a trip that would take us through a total of 12 states including 3 new ones for Alison and 4 for myself. The primary goal was to enjoy the colors of autumn, but we quickly identified two additional objectives: 1) sample some tasty New England cuisine and 2) visit a variety of historic, cultural, and National Park Service sites along the way.

After whittling the potential list of destinations down to a simultaneously manageable and variable itinerary we set forth on our adventure.     

In order to avoid tolls and see a new part of the country we decided to begin by heading north through Pennsylvania and into the Catskill mountains of New York 

We started to see color in Pennsylvania but it wasn’t long after we crossed the border into New York that we were enveloped by a wide array of color surrounding us in the Catskill Mountains. These pictures were all taken by Alison as we drove through the Catskill’s in New York. Even through the window of a moving vehicle the beauty we passed through is pretty impressive!

This is one of my favorites. :) The delay on the camera was just enough for this truck to drive into the picture and completely obscure the vista!

This hill was simply too picturesque not to pull over and try and capture in more detail.

We skirted Albany and journeyed a little further north to our first historic destination: Saratoga National Historical Park, site of the first major colonial victory in the American Revolution. It has long been on my short list of places I wanted to visit, so we designed our route to accommodate a journey through the battlefield.

We were excited to find that the visitor center came equipped with dress up opportunities, which anyone who saw our “save the date” card knows we love to take advantage of!

Our tour of the battlefield took us through both the American and British lines, which were clearly designated with signs reminiscent of Berlin after WWII.

The battlefield came complete with cannons so I was right at home. 

Memorial to Polish engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko

It also had some interesting memorials, including these three. 
Pay special attention to the wording on the first which reads:
Saratoga 1777
Here Morgan
Reluctant to destroy So noble a foe was Forced by patriotic Necessity to defeat and Slay the gentle and
Gallant Fraser

These words describe the mortal wounding of British General Simon Fraser by Daniel Morgan.

Another especially interesting memorial is this one, which consists of a downturned cannon upon which is hung a single boot. This memorial commemorates the brave gallantry of General Benedict Arnold at the Battle of Saratoga, but also clearly communicates the forfeiture of honor resulting from his later betrayal of the American cause.

Our visit to the battlefield offered an excellent ending to our first day of northern adventure.

We continued on from Saratoga, crossing the border into Vermont where we camped in the Green Mountains. But for that story you will have to wait for Chapter Two!

For more pictures Click Here

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