Posts Tagged ‘US’

I must have driven past the signs for Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighey house several hundred times and last week I finally turned onto the road leading to the two historic and contrasting homes.

Woodlawn House Alexandria VAWoodlawn was a gift from George Washington to his nephew Major Lawrence Lewis and his wife Eleanor “Nelly” Custis (Washington’s step-granddaughter). They were married on February 22, 1799 which was George Washington’s last birthday. Nelly was raised at Mount Vernon after her father died when she was two and her mother was unable to raise her two youngest children. Nelly continued to live at Mount Vernon with her husband Lawrence Vernon until Woodlawn was completed in 1805.

The Lewis family lived in the home until 1846. Since 1846, there have been numerous owners including the Troth-Gillingham family who were Quakers intent on proving that successful farming could be done with a free-labor colony as opposed to slavery. They sold off parcels of the 2,000 acre estate to other Quakers, like-minded Baptists and freed slaves, leaving 120 acres today where the two houses are located. Woodlawn front door
Woodlawn is a Georgian/Federal style home designed by Dr. William Thornton who was the architect of the U.S. Capitol

Photography is not allowed inside the house but I snapped a few of the exterior:
Woodlawn Flowers
Crepe Myrtle flowers

Woodlawn Crepe Myrtal
Crepe Myrtle archway
Sign to housesWoodlawn on Bench
Bench at Woodlawn

Woodlawn Lion BenchWoodlawn pond and gardens
Pond and Gardens at Woodlawn

Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighey House are both owned and operated by the National Trust of Historic Preservation. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture formed a partnership in 2013 for the purpose of providing visitors a place eat, learn and garden. Arcadia, which has been operating a garden, agriculture programs and a Mobile Market bus at Woodlawn since 2010 will expand to include dining, agricultural production, educational programs and retail operations. Woodlawn seems like the perfect place to have experimental agricultural since George Washington was an innovative farmer when he owned the land.

Plan on two hours to visit both homes. Opening hours are Friday through Monday with guided tours at Woodlawn at the top of every hour from noon until 4pm.The Pope-Leighey House offers guided tours every half hour from noon until 4 pm. For more information and directions, click here.

It’s a short walk from Woodlawn to Frank Lloyd Wright’s house but more about Pope-Leighey house next time…

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A cold, rainy day in January made it the perfect time to visit Luray Caverns. The temperature in the cave remains constant all year so it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the outside ~ it’s always 54°F  (12°C) with the humidity making it feel more like  65°F (18°C).

Virginia has over 4,000 caves in varying sizes and Luray Caverns is the largest and most grand of the Virginia caves, It’s also the third largest cave in the United States. It’s a two hours from Washington DC and gets an average of  over 3,000 visitors a day. The tour takes about 1 hour and winds through 1.25 miles of paved walkways through enormous chambers. There are about 70 stairs so beware if you have bad knees.

Having gone on a much more organic cave tour in Doolin, Ireland with only six other people and having to wear a hard-hat, Luray Caverns felt much more commercial and sterile. But the Caverns are massive, beautiful and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Shenandoah area. Every once in a while I felt a drip of water which is called a “cave kiss” and considered good luck.

Luray Caverns Discovered point sign
Luray Caverns were discovered in 1878 by Andrew Campbell

Luray Caverns XX
The calcite (crystalline form of limestone) reminds me of candle wax.

Luray Caverns XXIIII
Stalactites (growing from the ceiling) and stalagmites (coming up from the ground) are everywhere.

Luray stalactites
I tried to stay at the back of the group to get photos but then it was hard to hear the guide.

Luray Caverns Rock Fish
Known has “The Fish Market” These stalactites are amazing and looked fake since their formation is so symmetrical.

Luray Caverns Redwood Tree
Looks like a waterfall

Luray Caverns Mirror Lake
My personal favorite in the cave is Mirror Lake. The illusion of it being so much larger than it is had been staring at it for a while.

Luray Caverns II stalactites
A beautiful chandelier made of calcite

Luray Caverns Dripping
Another chandelier like formation

Luray Caverns Archway
Archway in the cave

Luray Cavern Fallen
A fallen stalactite ~ looks like tree that’s been cut

Luray Caverns Organ
Another item which was a bit jarring ~ the Great Stalacpipe organ which vibrated off the walls and played “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” tune. According to the guide, there have been over 500 weddings at this location.

Even though the Caverns are on the US Historic registry, they are privately owned by the Graves family and unfortunately, as is too often the case, the siblings are squabbling over the future of Luray Caverns. A much more in-depth article here in case you want to read the details.

After the tour, we drove a little ways on the beautiful Skyline Drive which is beautiful even in the dead of winter.

Skyline Backpackers in the wild
We were looking for bears but only came across backpackers in the wild

Skyline Drive Ice Fall
Along the Skyline Drive: Icicles

Skyline Drive
Shenandoah National Park is fantastic year-round (well, maybe minus the snow days). In the winter, there will be less crowds but I’m looking forward to seeing it in the spring and fall as well.

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Jefferson Monument from the top of the Washington Monument

A view of The Thomas Jefferson Memorial from the top of the Washington Monument in Washington DC.

The memorial is in the style of the Pantheon of Rome (neoclassical architecture). It’s located at the Tidal Basin and a walk to the monument is a must when the Cherry Blossoms are blooming (usually in early April). The construction of the memorial was approved by an Act of Congress in 1934 but the site and the style caused controversy which delayed the building for several years. Several of the Japanese flowering cherry trees were removed which caused considerable criticism from the public. Additional criticism came from The Commission of Fine Arts who deemed the pantheon design a direct competition to the Lincoln Memorial. President Roosevelt gave the final permission on the pantheon style and he laid the cornerstone of the Memorial on November 15, 1939.

As the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was also a statesman, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, adviser of the Constitution and founder of the University of Virginia. Speaking of UVA, it’s on the list of college visits with my daughter this fall ~ along with what seems like every high school student in Virginia.

The bronze, 19 ft tall statue of Jefferson looks toward the White House. My personal favorite part of the memorial are the five Jefferson quotations on the interior of the building illustrating the principles to which he dedicated his life.

If you visit The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, it is located on the south bank of the Tidal Basin. It’s open daily from 8:00 am until 11:45 pm every day except Christmas Day. No fees for visiting and the closest metro stop is Smithsonian.

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Cleveland is not at the top of my favorite places to visit but that’s where my husband’s family lives so over the years I’ve come to know the area more than I ever thought I would. Would I suggest it as a vacation destination, NO. But if you find yourself in the area, there’s lots to do and there are beautiful parts of the city/countryside.   You just have to dig a little…

Here are some photos of our recent trip to downtown Cleveland:

The Higbee Building
Town City Hall, Cleveland, Ohio

Looking up II
Looking up

Looking out
Looking Out

Cleveland Winter Festival
Winterfest in Cleveland. Notice the “Leg” in lights on the building. A nod to “A Christmas Story” no doubt.

Cleveland view

Cleveland Stadiums
“How ’bout them Browns” or whatever the saying is…

Cleveland Soldier and Sailor Memorial Statue (2)
Inside the Soldier and Sailors Civil War Memorial (Cleveland)

Cleveland Soldier and Sailor memorial statue
Another Statue inside the Civil War Memorial

Cleveland Soldier and Sailor Memorial stained glass window
Stained Glass in the Civil War Memorial

Cleveland Shadows
Shadows in Cleveland

Cleveland Science Museum and the R&R hall of fame
Science Museum and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Buildings

Cleveland Old Stone Church
Old Stone Church

Cleveland church
Old Stone Church from Above

Cleveland Key Building
The Key Building

Cleveland Christmas Festival
Scene from The Nutcracker at the Arcade

Cleveland Polka Festival
Lucky Us ~ we were just in time for the Polka Festival

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