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Monday, November 12, 2012

You say Remembrance Day, I say Veterans Day...

In any event, it's a national holiday, meaning that tomorrow I don't need to go to school, and thus further retarding my progress in the struggle to learn enough passable Mandarin Chinese to be posted to Shanghai 上海. But that's a problem to be put off until Tuesday - today was glorious, absolutely glorious (let me say it again!) weather-wise, with clear skies and warm temperatures, and a perfect day to take our new Honda Accord ホンダ・アコード out for a spin (well, at least I did, anyway).

Yes, the Kaminoge family has a new car. We weren't planning on buying one as I had assumed a privately-owned vehicle wouldn't be necessary in Shanghai, but apparently I was mistaken (like that's never happened before, right?). So we took the plunge and purchased a new automobile. Let's just hope the recent uproar over the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島 will have died down by the time we get there early next year, or our Japanese-made car (parts of which were manufactured in Suzuka 鈴鹿 in Mie Prefecture 三重県, not far from where Pamela and I used to live in Yokkaichi 四日市) may face the wrath of knee-jerk (and blatantly manipulated and misdirected) Chinese nationalism. Here's my daughter modeling the newest addition to our family:

And so it was that I drove the Accord today to Leesylvania State Park, yet another jewel in the Virginia State Park system. I'm starting to believe all those signs I keep seeing saying that Virginia's parks have been voted America's best. Leesylavania State Park combines beautiful riverside and gorgeous forest scenery with an informative dollop of history - the land was once owned by General Robert E. Lee's father. My hike consisted of two separate long walks on either side of the visitor center parking lot. I began by walking along the Potomac Trail, named for the river it parallels:

The railroad crossing saw a lot of action while I was there today. Just as I was walking under the bridge, an Amtrak express train came roaring across, while all day long lengthy freight trains passed back and forth:

The autumn colors have been with us for quite some time now, and the park was still ablaze with the foliage of fall:

The Powell's Creek Trail went past an overlook of pond lilies and waders searching for a meal:

A spur trail led to this beaver dam. The builder couldn't be seen, but at least a half-dozen snapping turtles and one loud goose made their presences felt:

After a couple of hours tromping along the Bushey Point and Powell's Creek Trails, I headed back toward, and then passed, the visitor's center, with the Potomac River on my right this time. As it turns out, most of the river lies in Maryland, as the state line on this fishing wharf indicated. In the late 1950's, a floating casino took advantage of this fact by mooring here, and thus avoiding Virginia's laws against gambling, even though the border was only a few feet away. You gotta love federalism:

Not far past this wharf, the two-mile (3.2 kilometers) Lee's Woods Historical Interpretive Trail led off into the forest. The first point of interest was this old fireplace, which is all that remains from a hunting lodge that was built on this spot in 1926:

Next up was the site of a Confederate Civil War battery. Looking out over the Potomac from here, it was obvious why this location was chosen to be fortified by the Rebs:

Some nice-looking homes or boathouses could be seen in the distance. I'm assuming the owners and/or residents have gotten used to the constant rumble of locomotives in the background:

On virtually every hike I've done in Virginia, I've come across the ruins of an old house. The Lee Woods Trail was no exception - the foundation blocks and chimney are all that remain of the home of a Confederate colonel named John Fairfax, first constructed around 1825 and destroyed by fire around the time the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series:

Later on, the trail passed by the site of the former Henry Lee plantation, built circa 1750 and named "Leesylvania", or "Lee's Woods" (this Henry Lee was the grandfather of Robert E. Lee). The path eventually came to the Lee-Fairfax cemetery at top of a ridge, where a wrought-iron fence and a bronze plaque indicate that Henry Lee and his wife lie in repose here. Please let me know if you see anything "ghostly" in this picture, so that I may post it on YouTube and generate lots of gullible comments along the lines of "Proof that ghosts exist", as well as the cries of "Fake", the latter being buttressed with homophobic slurs:

Eventually I made my way back downhill after only having encounters with the still-living instead of the dearly-departed, and soon returned to the parked Accord, calling it a day. In all, I walked 7.8 miles (12.6 kilometers) in about 4½ hours, with an elevation gain of 650 feet (198 meters). And because it was Veterans Day today, the usual $5 park entrance fee was waived. Considering what we've spent on buying the new car, any penny that can be saved is greatly appreciated.

On the way back to Falls Church, I drove past this restaurant in Woodbridge. According to this website:

Based on real customer spending behavior, Little Taipei is rated 31/100, making it #11 ranked Chinese place around Woodbridge and is frequented by 50-65 Year Olds...

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