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Monday, July 02, 2007

Hiking in West Virginia


On Saturday, we decided to do a little local sight seeing. Periodically, we decide to be tourists and see what the area has to offer. Okay, I decide, Juice just comes along for the ride. One thing that I have been really into lately is this national parks passport book I bought in Assateague last year. Basically it's a small blue book with places to get stamps of each of the national parks. The stamping station is usually in the ranger station and it says the date you visited and the name of the park. I think I have everything for downtown DC. I'm now working on getting all of the national parks in Maryland. There aren't many. Had a free weekend so we looked at the list and decided which park to visit. Harper's Ferry has been on the top of my list to visit for awhile so that's where we decided to go. Juice was all for it because he thought it was an actual ferry.

It is not an actual ferry. It's a small town in West Virginia where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet. It's a very important town in civil war history. It passed hands 4 different times through out the war. Very interesting place.

So, on the way to Harper's Ferry, we got lost. We got to talking in the car and missed our exit. We missed our exit for about 50 miles. We were about 10 miles from Pennsylvania instead of West Virginia. Oops! It added an extra 2 hours in the car. (1 hour up, 1 hour back) My plan had been to get there, do a small hike and then down to the town for some lunch and looking around. But instead we had to get lunch in Hagerstown, MD and got to Harper's Ferry, WV at about 1pm (Butterfly's nap time). We passed through a very tiny part of Virginia and over a very beautiful bridge to Harper's Ferry. (Lots and lots of tubing on this part of the Potomac, looks like fun!)

The visitor's center is above the town, about 2 miles up. They have shuttle buses that run down there every 15 minutes. But we had Soot with us and couldn't go on the bus. So we took the easiest hike that starts at the visitor's center. That took us up to Murphy's Farm which overlooks the Shenandoah river. There is a very steep bank of about a mile down to the river. At the very end of the war, the Confederate troops (who had held this land before and so knew about the farm) climbed this bank (with cannons!) in the dark and surrounded the Union troops. They surrendered after their general died, close to this farm.

The farm is very hilly, and I can see how the troops got about half way across the farm before the other side found them. Here is Juice and Butterfly checking out the cannon marking the place where the Confederate troops stood. Imagine a big group of trees about 1,000 feet in the direction the cannon is pointing. That's where the Union troops were.

The weather was very beautiful that day, but it was still pretty hot. And oh the bugs!! I hate the little gnats that swarm your head no matter how much bug spray you put on. Soot was tuckered out by the time we got to the cannon and she decided to make use of the little shade it gave off. It's not every day you get to use a civil war cannon for shade!

One other interesting thing about this farm was John Brown's fort. From what I remember about the little signs they had up, John Brown was one of the slaves that started the Civil Rights movement shortly after the war. He was killed in the fire station house in Harper's Ferry. The fire house because known as John Brown's fort. It was moved to Chicago from Harper's Ferry in the late 1800s. From there, a lady saved it from demolition and moved it back to this farm. It was here until the mid 1900s when they moved it back to Harper's Ferry and it's original standing place. They left the foundation on the farm to commemorate this important building. Butterfly thought it was fun to jump off of it.

And because she fell asleep in the stroller walking back to the car and stayed asleep in the transfer, we just drove through the town. Besides, there is no place to park down there! I was disappointed we couldn't go wander around the little shops and the civil war picnic they had set up for the 4th of July. Yes, I have once again showed up at a place where they are having a celebration or fair and I didn't plan it. We drove passed the picnic and there were people dressed in period clothes passing out something. Stupid no parking rule! I made Juice take a few pictures of the town on the way through it.

I think it's worth going back to Harper's Ferry to do a few more of the hikes in the town, and also to see the part of the C&O canal that runs past. Plus, now I have to find out where the working ferry is (somewhere near Leesburg, VA?) so Juice can see it.


PS- Butterfly got a new state! I don't think she's ever been to West Virginia. So now she has been to 10 states. Pretty good for only being 2 years old. I have been to 41 states, and Juice, I believe 28.

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I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. --Helen Keller