Thursday, September 19, 2013

Touring Local Events

I could barely believe it when I managed to jump out of bed early on Saturday morning and find myself at Front Royal's airport by 6:45am. Why is it we struggle to get up for work yet can bounce out from the sheets when there's something fun to do?  There was an airshow scheduled along with some hot air balloons which I really wanted to see. Expecting a drift of a dozen or so balloons and a beautiful morning mist I was a little disappointed to find only three balloons preparing to take off and zero mist. But I did spend a lot of the time I was there chatting to a couple of friendly guys who both really knew their airplane stuff.
 There were a couple of vintage cars near the hangars and a beautiful old plane catching the first rays of the sun, waiting for owners to start their engines while we waited patiently fot the balloons and basket to be unpacked from their trucks. And finally the fans were switched on, gently blowing up the vast silk globes.
And in the space of about 15 minutes they were gone. I felt a little deflated so wandered about making sure I hadn't missed any cool vehicles before I left. I wasn't going to stand around for over 3 hours for the planes to start performing.
Someone camped overnight. I wanted to know the benefit of camping in a hard truck bed as apposed to softer grass but couldn't see the owner to inquire.
A glider glinting in the morning sun.
This cool truck caught my eye so I went over to stick my head inside and ask some questions.The sheriff informed me it had been bought on a Federal grant, costing over $300K. It's a Ford 550 Triton gas engine underneath with a heat and bullet resistant body. He chose a gas engine for stealth mode and it's used a lot for warrant arrests. Each tire costs over $5K and it only does about 5MPG, the same as an 18 wheeler. He wouldn't let me drive it.
I said a farewell to my new guy buddies and decided to move out. I wanted to explore a plantation house nearby that for today was giving free tours.
This was on the side of the road.
Belle Plantation is in Middletown, once owned by Jost Hite, and whose wife, Nelly Madison, was James Madison's sister. He was also very good friends with Thomas Jefferson and upon hearing this on the house tour, my ears pricked up, being a huge fan of this clever and inventive man. We weren't allowed to take photos inside the house but there's a few on the website, here.
Jefferson is assumed to have played a large part in the refurbishments of the house. The house on the outside is very symmetrical, one of his trademarks, and there are a few of his style windows. The ceilings are very high, 13'9", a sign of wealth, also indicated with the amount of closets in the rooms and doors painted in a wood grain. Hite had 12 surviving children and a notable feature in the house is that all the doors had special hinges made that ensured they closed after being opened, another probable Jefferson invention. With only wood fires to keep the rooms warm and so many people in the house, the heat would stay in the rooms and not escape to chilly hallways. Pine was used inside the house so all the woodwork was painted and the floors carpeted as pine wood was considered cheap and therefore had to be hidden. In the Dining Room a docket was found during renovation that revealed the old carpet had been brought over from England. The company still exists and a similar style was ordered and shipped over to once again cover the Dining Room floor.
I noticed that the sandstone hearth in the fireplace was hollowed out and I made a point of standing there and leaning on the mantlepiece above, assuming the position that I'm sure Jefferson must have once used while puffing on his cigar and drinking his after dinner brandy.
After the tour I went outside to join others where we listened to the Battle of Cedar Creek, which had been fought here.    It was freezing outside but we all stood determined to hear the whole saga. It was crazy to think that the temperature was nearly 30° colder than the day before.
I walked around the grounds, checking out the slave cemetery, the apple orchard, the out buildings and beehives and then had to return to the car and warm up. I decided to drive to another place I've been wanting to visit for a long time, Strasburg Museum.
I was amazed to find the place empty of visitors. It's not huge but there's a lot crammed in here, and I was to discover that today would be my day of seeing odd things...
I was cheered to see the old Union Jack flying in such prominence! There were so many nooks and crannies with display cabinets everywhere and the walls completely covered I had to be methodical as I worked my way round trying to see everything.
I loved this old poster, wish they sold copies...
I came across a door leading outside and found an old caboose on the tracks. Going inside it was completely open for visitors and I could even climb up to the high seats looking out over the roof to the carriage behind. I then walked into a vintage baggage car and found a model railway was set up, themed from 1939. This has been donated to the museum by John Schreiner, and he also spends a couple of days there each week interacting with the public and maintaining it. Since there was nobody else around I had a demonstration from him all by myself, seeing the trains run and with the lights off, all the buildings lit up with tiny lights. The trains puffed smoke and he even showed me a little house that caught fire with the residents rushing out.
He's put in an incredible amount of work here and is still adding bits and pieces to it. The museum should really mention his name on their website since this is such a generous donation. There's more photos here.
Loved this award.
An unfinished portrait of Washington. I couldn't see any information on it. Strange, why unfinished?...
and even stranger, an old perm machine. It really resembles a torture device and not something women would voluntarily stick their heads under.
And this was something I'd never seen before, a display of various kinds of barbed wire. And the panel was about 6ft tall!
A bag of Cavalier flour. I immediately spotted the font on the word CAVALIER recognizing it as the same font style sometimes used by UVA on their VIRGINIA shirts.
There were displays of period rooms, a still collection, a native american display, and a pottery display as this building used to be a pottery. I didn't like the pottery though, hence no photos.
Another couple of oddities spotted on the way home. I love rustic America!

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