We explored our Mount Washington hotel thoroughly. We saw the Gold Room, where the setting up of and signing of the International Monetary Fund took place, and a few old fuses - well, I thought they were old. It turns out that the fuses, part of the original wiring put in by Thomas Edison, were actually still partially in use.
Honestly it sounds like a fire hazard, but I'm not an electrician.
We decided to skip the treacherous Mount Washington Auto Road due to the fact that it's a private road that doesn't have guardrails, and doing so in a car that has well over 100,000 miles on it and has just come off of its fifth road-trip repair in three years is just kind of asking for trouble, especially when the road is notorious for burning out transmissions and brakes.
It was just as well, since that was well out of our route.
We worked our way through sleepy towns in rural New Hampshire as we wormed our way back down amidst the towering granite faces of the mountains. As we kept on the route to Portland - towards the stadium of the Portland Sea Dogs (or, as my dad called them, the "Portland Dog Drips") - the towns increased in size and had signs that designated earlier and earlier dates of incorporation.
The roads leveled out as we neared the Maine border, but we could still look back and see mountains - some still with traces of snow near their peaks.
Conway was one of the towns we passed through, and its quirks included a motel with different "themes" for each room like storefronts in the Old West as well as bizarrely funny shop names.
Around 12:30 we entered Maine, and got some literature at the welcome center from a guy who was born in North Carolina but moved to Maine when he was young. He'd long since lost any southern accent he might have once had, replacing it with a thick northeastern accent that turned "Bar Harbor" into "Bah Hahbah" and "Bangor" into "Bangah." I didn't hear anything close to that in Boston, where I thought I would.
The potholes got really bad as soon as we crossed the Maine border. Only a few were absolutely unavoidable - the fault lines - but these were eased over as best we could. We slalomed through the rest, only hitting one - which was pretty good considering that there were as many potholes in one mile as there are living humans on Earth.
It didn't slow us down considerably, so we stopped by the Sea Dogs and got our customary pennant, then set off for the Portland Head Light. Before doing so, we ate pizza at a local place called Otto's, which converts old gas stations into "filling stations" - for your stomach.
The crust was flaky and buttery - one of the few crusts I actually liked. Onions, sausage, and marinara sauce gave it a little bit of kick. It was a filling and delicious late lunch.
We then got to the Portland Head Light, which was absolutely gorgeous.
The Head Light was built at the directive of George Washington and is now part of a municipal park complex encompassing both it and an abandoned fort. Rolling green grass saw much use from local citizens, but our main objective was to see the Head Light.
We saw so much more than that.
The Head Light itself was interesting - especially since it's still in use! - and the high-intensity fog signal that blasted out was close to deafening if you got too close to the lighthouse. We spent most of our time down on the rocks below, climbing and clamoring over the jagged rocks that claimed so many ships, even after the Head Light was fully operational.
Seaweed and assorted flotsam would get tossed up into the rocks. Most of it would just run off back to the ocean, but in a few places, it would pool up in large rocks. An algae that looked like grass flourished in these tiny ponds, anchoring themselves onto the rock bottom of their little world.
We were out on the rocks for the better part of an hour, enjoying the challenge of navigation, investigating interesting details in the rocks, and getting as far out on the rocks as was safe before heading back, taking care to avoid the slippery bits.
After this rather extensive exploration, we headed back to the car, over a curved drawbridge, and back onto I-295, which eventually merged quite unexpectedly with I-95.
Our destination was Bangor, just a short drive away from Bfahome. (He says that it's pronounced "B-F-A-Home," but I pronounced/sneezed it a little more as it's spelled.)
My dad and I met him at a bar & grill in Orono. By the end of the day, we wanted to keep him around to be our new GPS, found out that he owns every university from here to Kingston, Ontario, recited bits from old BIONICLE games and the asdfmovie series, discussed the fun and hats of BrickFair, and generally had a blast. 10/10, would Bfahome again.
Tomorrow: Acadia National Park.
After a protracted breakfast, we began the day at 11:30 and headed away from Winchester on Route 7. We rolled through rolling countryside and a half hour later found ourselves in West Virginia, on one of its little nubs. Our destination: Harpers Ferry, made famous by John Brown's 1859 abolitionist raid on its US Armory. After Brown's raid, Harpers Ferry continued to be an important stronghold during the Civil War, sitting at the confluence of two states at the war's beginning and three by war's end.
Sitting on the tip of West Virginia and separated from heights in both Maryland and Virginia by rivers, Harpers Ferry is now a historic town, with cobblestone streets, a mix of carefully preserved and even more carefully reconstructed buildings, and a fascinating terrain. Its strategic location has made its history complex - before the Brown raid, the location was selected by George Washington himself to be the location for the US Armory - essentially the Fort Knox of weaponry for the United States government.
The rivers there were so important as a jumping-off point that Lewis and Clark stopped there en route to the West. One of their favorite boats - a collapsable boat - was eventually ditched because it couldn't handle the waters they found themselves in, but a replica proudly stands near the Potomac.
Harpers Ferry continued to serve as the armory through the Civil War, which made it a common location for raids and battles as the supplies changed hands. After Virginia seceded, General "Stonewall" Jackson secured the supplies by placing cannon on the heights that surround it, and sent the supplies further south to be used by the Confederacy.
All in all, Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times during the course of the war. Later in the war, General Jubal Early did battle at Harpers Ferry, but in doing so, lost too many men to continue on. The usually aggressive Early did not know that there were not enough men to stand between his army and Washington, D.C. ... a route that, if taken, could have prolonged the war.
Harpers Ferry, with its heights and twists and turns, is a small but geographically interesting town. The iron moorings that once latched a pontoon bridge across the Potomac River are still in place, embedded in stone structures on the river's shore. Grimes Davis, a southerner who sided with the Union and the commander of the Union cavalry, once used the pontoon bridge to escape back into Maryland.
I had to navigate some wary geese, their droppings, and what appeared to be a mud-quicksand mix, but I found my way from the heights where the railroad used to go down along the stone infrastructure, which held the curved iron bars solidly at its base. Successful, and about to turn back, a train blasted its horn twice as it chugged across the Potomac on a railroad bridge of slightly newer construction.
Another quirk of Harpers Ferry was the John Brown building, probably the least important building in the town until his raid. Originally on the heights, quite near the pontoon bridge moorings, it was of enough historical significance that the whole thing was moved and displayed at the Chicago World's Fair. When it returned, the residents were rather disinterested in the building and now stands about 50 yards from its original location, which now has only an obelisk to mark its original foundation site. (It could not be moved back to its original location due to the proximity of the railroad ... which has since been re-routed over the river.)
It was there that John Brown was wounded in an exceptionally peculiar way. When the troops had surrounded the shed he'd barricaded himself into, he busted out - probably resigning himself to death. The soldier that he first encountered thrust his sword into Brown's gut ... only to have it hit his belt buckle and bend upwards, as the sword was made of a soft material. Thus, the soldier did what any soldier would do in that situation: bang John Brown over the head with the thing.
We explored all of Harpers Ferry that we felt like, then headed back to the car. Our next stop was along a famous route, one that connected Harpers Ferry to the bloodiest single day of the Civil War: Antietam.
But getting to Antietam isn't as straightforward as one might imagine. After getting to Maryland, roads hook around and follow the Potomac on the Maryland side. They were quaint, historic, and vertigo-inducing. Going from the Potomac - roughly sea level - up through mountainous terrain to Antietam was an absolute chore. The road bent this way and that, going up and down on blind curves, hitting you with blind entrances, and wavy hills that would make you feel weightless and twice your weight in the span of about five seconds.
The roller-coaster road was seventeen miles, and played an important role in the battle of Antietam.
We finally made it to Antietam - although I'm not sure my inner ear has caught up yet - and poked around the visitor's center, watching a film about the battle as narrated by the golden tonsils of James Earl Jones. Most of it - well, all of it - was already in my dad's head. He'd be an excellent park ranger, as he's read up enough on Civil War history to go toe-to-toe with any ranger. (In fact, he knows more about the Civil War than most of them know about it - or even the backs of their own hands. Fortunately, the historically ignorant on the payroll are generally stuck in the tiny admissions booths at the entrance to the various parks.)
We then began the driving tour around Antietam, crossing over and paralleling Confederate and Union lines. The Confederacy had invaded Maryland in the interest of bringing the war to Union soil in order to destroy what was left of the Union troops' morale, legitimize the Confederacy in the eyes of European powers, and bring the war to an end. After a skirmish or two, the armies collided around Antietam Creek, near the town of Sharpsburg. The carnage in about a two-mile area outnumbered the total casualties of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American War combined.
And it all happened in one day.
Dunkers Church, behind the Confederate lines, was damaged by the hail of bullet fire, which contributed to its collapse in a wind storm just a few decades later. (It has since been rebuilt, though it is no longer used.) General J.B. Hood led his notoriously rowdy Texans to save the day at Dunkers Church when the Confederates were being pushed back by the Union. (Hood would lose functionality in one of his arms at Gettysburg in 1863, and would lose one of his legs entirely at Chickamauga later in the same year.)
Three of the bloodiest areas were the Cornfield, Rohrbach Bridge, and the Sunken Road. Rohrbach Bridge which has since been renamed to Burnside Bridge after Union General Ambrose Burnside, whose impressive and precariously manicured facial coiffure let to the coining of the term "sideburns." (More on Burnside in a moment.)
The Cornfield is not a large area, but it was an absolute bloodbath. The date of the battle - September 17, 1862 - meant that the cornstalks, though dead, were still high and thick. When the armies clashed, confusion rippled through the lines. All you could hear was the din of cannon fire, and all you could see were the guys to your right and left and the flag of the regiment somewhere in front of you. Shooting blind, control of the Cornfield went back and forth as casualties piled up. One of the survivors - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. - went on to become a Supreme Court Justice.
Now, as promised, more on Burnside. The only thing that could outshine Burnside's sideburns was his incompetency as a commander. At Rohrbach Bridge, he was tasked with taking the other side. With a wide river and a steep hill on the other side, his men were forced to cross the river on the one bridge available. This may have worked if his men had charged and overwhelmed the thin Confederate line, but he sent his men off in smaller groups, which were handled by the Confederates. After enough waves, the Confederates were eventually worn down, but not before Burnside had wasted an unnecessary amount of manpower.
(This, however, does explain the tactic that Burnside used in December of that year at Fredericksburg, when he sent wave after wave of his men at the high ground held by the Confederates at Marye's Heights.)
A third bloody part of Antietam was the Sunken Road, visible to this day. The Confederates, under the command of North Carolinian D.H. Hill, post-war Davidson College professor, and his subordinate John Gordon, who got shot five times at the Sunken Road and only survived because his hat kept him upright just enough to keep him from choking on his own blood. He got hit four more times through the rest of the war and manage to see the end of the war alive and without having lost a limb or an eye.
Backed up against the river and with no place to go, Robert E. Lee had to think about the possibility of his invasion strategy backfiring and ending the war then and there, before Gettysburg occurs. But A.P. Hill's famous Light Division, so named because they could out-march anyone else, marched the seventeen miles of hilly terrain between Harpers Ferry and Antietam - on the same road we traveled on - in one day. Like a moment in a Hollywood script, his reinforcements held off the Union.
But the Union still had a chance to annihilate Lee's Army of Northern Virginia ... if they'd simply attacked on the very next day. But the Union, under the command of notoriously cautious, extremely egomaniacal, inexplicably popular, and newly reinstated General George McClellan, didn't push onwards, allowing Lee to slink back into Virginia, preparing a second invasion that would end up on the fields of Gettysburg less than a year later.
After that tour, we went back through Sharpsburg - which had a parade going through it when we passed through earlier - and looked for something to eat. The only place we saw looked like a bar, so we kept pressing on to Hagerstown, home of the Hagerstown Suns, a single-A minor league team affiliated with the Washington Nationals. They were playing the Asheville Tourists at 7:00. We entered the park at around 6:00, got free hats in their Memorial Day giveaway, purchased a medium-sized pennant for the ever-expanding Basement Collection, and got some food. I got a Cheddar Jalapeño hot dog (not as spicy as you might think) while my parents ate burgers.
We got some seats underneath some cover. It sprinkled a little bit and the wind brought a few drops to our legs, but these passed. Before the game could begin, the National Anthem was sung ... by two little girls.
They had heart, and they had the lyrics down (which can't be said of most adults who sing it), but they were both badly off key and in different keys - the closest they got to singing in unison was a wavering quarter-tone dissonance. Still, their attempt was valiant, and they were applauded greatly.
Since my parents had entered the park with hats, and they had given all of us hats upon entrance, a hatpile was a must. We piled five caps on my dad's head.
The Hagerstown faithful got into their hometown team, cheering the Suns on with all manners of whooping and hollering. One large black fellow had a proclivity to shrilly whistle the notes that precede the "charge!" cheer, much to the annoyance of a great many people in our section, including myself.
The Suns, from a better farm system than Asheville, scored early and then poured it on from there. Two triples with two outs helped them to a six-run lead. We split chicken tenders and fries and split before it got too dark, as we needed some light to get our way out of Hagerstown.
This early exit was necessary, as we had to navigate one-way roads in the less savory parts of Hagerstown in order to get to I-81, which got us to Pennsylvania a little after 8:30. Before 9:00 we arrived in Chambersburg and settled into our room.
Tomorrow: we're still planning the route. We're debating when to to Valley Forge - now, or on our way back. The route still isn't settled and likely will not be until the morning, but we're trying to figure out the fastest route to Connecticut and Rhode Island without having to navigate traffic-choked places like New York City.
My Heavily Armored Wasp ended up getting third, which was ridiculously cool - it actually ended up edging out Makaru's Kahu. Again, it's really just fun to get nominated, even if the concept of winning is hopelessly out of reach.
Also Xaeraz and Valendale and I slapped each other all weekend, especially after being ... moistened. With snipples and snapples.
My chances of actually winning, however, are somewhat less than slim: I'm up against DeeVee's Vayland Dragon III, Steve the Squid's wearable Bane mask, and Makaru's Kahu, so I'm basically just thrilled that I got nominated and have accepted the fact that I'm going nowhere beyond that.
Of course, many, many thanks to the always-awesome Nukaya for nominating the Wasp for consideration.
He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life
How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six
[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker
Sumiki is magic. - Cholie
Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles
Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo
"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker
LISTEN TO SUMIKI - Cholie
Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva
BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex
What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus
I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh
EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH - Kakaru
Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok
Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker
He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist
I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens
I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig
I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk
I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome
Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex
Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz
10/10, would Sumiki again. - Bfahome
Hat Enterprises CEO
Group: Premier Forum Assistants
Joined: 4-September 06
Premier: 9-October 06
FM: 20-February 12
FA: 29-August 12
Member No.: 45057
26th All-Time Poster
3rd All-Time PFA Poster
35th Most Profile Views
Cryoshell Album Winner
7th Most Commented Blog
4th Most Viewed Blog
10th Most Entries
Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.
10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith
11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/12 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi
Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.
Akuna Toa of Sonics
Popup2: The Camel
~System Of A Down~
Thunder on the Mountain
Toa of Vahi
WORT WORT WORT
Toa Kuhrii Avohkii
Toa Neya 2011 Edition
~prisma son of dawn~
.: WoLVeRINe :.
The Great Forgetter
Thomas the Tank Engine
Oh my miru
Element lord Of Milk.
Lexuk Toa Of Insanity
Michael J. Caboose
Lord Kaitan de Storms
Toa of Dancing
The Oncoming Storm
Toa of Pumpkin
Toa Zehvor Blackout
Lord of Ice
Zarayna: The Quiet Light
Vorex: Keeper of Time
Toa of Smooth Jazz
Click to join!
Blogarithm Contest #8: The Great Vine Challenge!Kitania - Jul 29 2014 02:40 PM
Blogarithm Contest #8: The Great Vine Challenge!Makuta Luroka - Jul 29 2014 10:25 AM
Blogarithm Contest #8: The Great Vine Challenge!Rahkshi Guurahk - Jul 28 2014 10:05 PM
Blogarithm Contest #8: The Great Vine Challenge!Makuta Luroka - Jul 28 2014 06:34 PM
Blogarithm Contest #8: The Great Vine Challenge!Takuma Nuva - Jul 28 2014 06:22 PM
1 user(s) viewing
1 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users
If you learn one thing in life, learn this:
You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.
just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle
so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay
nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION
[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange
Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra
have we mentioned hats
Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.
Also a long line of really great hats.
You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.
To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.
It's a long story.