Entries For: April 2011
I’m still in the North Carolina Outer Banks for a couple of days. I figured that this is so far from Asheville that I might as well see the sights. Today I head for Wright Brothers National Memorial.
It’s a warm but very windy day and I’m still tired. Maybe the adrenaline has just oozed out of me after yesterday’s climb to the top of Jockey’s Ridge or maybe I’m just eager to finish the Mountains-to-Sea Trail officially. But I’ve made hiking and shuttling plans for next week and I can't unravel them.
The Wright Brothers Memorial is three miles up the road from Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Wilbur and Orville Wright may have been Bill Gates’ predecessors. They were tinkerers but they were also very skilled in math and science. Their mother taught them math and languages - Yeah Mom.
The brothers felt that they had nothing more to learn from school so they quit high school.
From bicycle racers, they became bicycle repairers and then bicycle manufacturers in Dayton, Ohio. So how did they end up in the Outer Banks? A letter from Orville read, “We came down here for wind and sand and we have got them.”
They wrote to the Weather Bureau in Washington looking for places with wind, sand and no obstacles. The Outer Banks was on the list. They wrote to Cape Hatteras and the postmaster, William J. Tate, replied with an offer of free room and board.
“Now how many of you have been offered this today?” Steve Jones, the volunteer giving the talk, asked.
Steve showed how the plane worked by pushing and pulling on controls. They used bike pieces and principles of body motion like in a bicycle.
Steve said to me after the talk “The story is not about planes but about family and faith in each other and perseverance”.
That’s the beauty of visiting a National Park. You don’t have to know much when you go in. You just have to take the time to see and do what is offered.
I climbed up the hill to the memorial where you can see the Sound and the Ocean. Then I walked around the memorial to the outdoor sculpture. That's me up there with one of the brothers.
There’s a memorial plaque set in stone put up by the National Aeronautical Association in 1928 to mark the spot that their flight took off from.
If you just see these markers, you miss the most important story, the hundreds of unsuccessful flights that just dove to the ground. The big day was December 17, 1903 where they were – 120 ft. in 12 sec. first flight. But the story always seems to end here.
But what happened after 1903? The brothers tried to get a patent in the U.S. but there was a lot of skepticism about their flying machine. They went to Europe where they were granted patents. After that, aviation really took off.
Unfortunately Wilbur died of typhoid fever in 1912. By 1915, Orville was a multi-millionaire. He went back to Dayton and was on many boards and active in the aviation community. He saw the result of his invention for the first and second World War.
He was a tinkerer and inventor until he died in 1948.
I spent five hours at the site.Tomorrow Fort Raleigh.
Starting with 928.9 miles, 94,550 ft. ascent
Summiting Jockey’s Ridge
12.4 miles, 300 ft. ascent
My legs are like a layer cake, pale at the ankles where they’re covered by socks, dark calves punctuated by red heat rash. My left leg is pale again at the knee because of my knee brace. Then the legs gradually revert back to pale as they get closer to the bottom of my shorts.
Sharon is eager to drive home today so we get a shuttle. Dayna, who just graduated high school, is going to college at Western Carolina University, the other end of the state. She works for her grandmother’s motel but she’s happy to get up early to make a few extra dollars.
We start at ORV#2 and walk on the beach. Sharon takes off her shoes and socks to walk on the beach. I don’t want to expose all my band-aids and duct tape to sand, salt and water. But soon we see buildings and figure we’re no longer in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Good bye Cape Hatteras, hello Nag’s Head – what a difference.
A long row of houses that were built too close to the ocean are now derelict and condemned.
They were built on stilts and needed long and steep staircases to get to the front door. The quickest way to show that they are no longer habitable, besides a condemnation sign, is to knock off the bottom part of the staircase.
Some are tilted and we walk between those houses and the ones further back that are still occupied.
I keep looking at these houses fascinated and horrified, like watching a train wreck.
“This is just plain vanity,” I say to Sharon. “But no different from those who build on steep slopes in the mountains.”
We’re in town and pass two fishing piers and get on NC-12, now a city street called Beach Road.
We cross US 158, the bypass with all the fast food restaurants and beach stores, to Jockey’s Ridge State Park. It’s a small state park (426 acres) but has the tallest natural sand dune in the Eastern U.S.
We stop at the Visitor Center and meet Superintendent Debo Cox, who is so happy to see us and makes a fuss. We sign the MST visitor book, a book that only has four entries in 2011 before us – Scot Ward who started his fourth trip here, Heidi, and two guys whose name I don’t recognize.
Are we ready for the finale? We pick up four sparkling apple juice containers (no alcohol in state parks) and some dark chocolate truffles from my car that we had placed here overnight and start the climb up.
The trail starts with a boardwalk but soon leaves us on a sand dune which is the highest thing we’ve seen since Hanging Rock State Park, miles and months back.
We drudge up on the soft sand with the wind and sand blowing in our faces. Laura Arrington, a park employee, is waiting up to take our pictures with one of her volunteers.
This place looks like the Sahara Desert; even the brochure calls it that. Technically, the ridge is an example of a medano – a huge hill of shifting sand without vegetation.
We take pictures and have pictures taken of us but I know we’re nearing the end of an adventure. Sharon leaves for home. I have three more days of road walking which I’ll do next week.
When I’m officially done, I’ll try to summarize the MST adventure. In the meantime, I’m staying here to check out the rest of the sights.
Cumulative after 75 days, 940.1 miles, 94,850 ft. ascent
Starting with 916.1 miles, 94,450 ft. ascent
Pea Island National Refuge
12.8 miles, 100 ft. ascent
Today is all on the beach. We got a shuttle from the friendly owners of Sea Sound motel in Rodanthe where we stayed for three days.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail goes through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Sharon and I start south of the Pea Island Refuge sign and finish at the Bonner Bridge.
We’re not sure how we’re going to like walking on the beach for over 12 miles.
The forecast is for thunderstorms, which is not great if you’re the highest thing on the beach and carrying metal hiking poles. We figure that if the weather really deteriorates, we’ll run to the road.
So what is a refuge doing in the middle of a National Park? Pea Island refuge was here before Cape Hatteras National Seashore, created in 1937, while the Seashore was not formed until 1953.
According to Ron Marchard, a very involved refuge volunteer, Pea Island was named after a wild pea. Ron is proud of “his” refuges and seems to work at all the ones around the Outer Banks. I make sure to give him some information about the MST.
Close to the Pea Island Visitor Center, there’s a walkway and lookout station, part of the Kuralt Trail.The Charles Kuralt Trail was named after the the broadcast journalist who "shared the delights and wonders of out-of-the-way places like these." I know these are "out of the way" places for the general American public but to me, the refuge Visitor Center is an oasis, a landmark, in the vast beach walking that we're doing.
The Army Corp of Engineers built the ponds to attract birds and animals. When I visited, I only see red-winged blackbirds up close and lots of turtles.
The big difference in this setting is that the refuge doesn’t allow driving on the beach and has no ORV ramps. And I think I’m seeing a difference in the number of birds on the beach - more pelicans, whole flock of ducks heading north, more sandpipers and a few more oystercatchers.
We even find a shark that has washed up on the beach.
There are few landmarks on the beach and almost no visitors.
Everyone would have to walk here so only a few people venture where there’s easy access to the beach.
We spot a painter who has set up his easel in a hollow of three dunes. He’s out in the full sun in his baby blue shorts and is painting a seascape. I admire his work and wonder how long he’s going to stay out so uncovered.
Since we have no landmarks, we have no idea of where on the beach we are. We can only estimate based on how long we’ve been walking. We can see a blue water tower and the outline of the Bodie lighthouse but they’re a long way off.
Finally, the Pea Island life saving station. This large house was the base for the first African-American group of “surfers” who rescued sailors in trouble. These life saving stations were the precursors of the US Coast Guard.
We climb over the dunes and it feels like we’re marching into the Sahara Desert. See the picture above.
All I can see is sand. These climbs around the beach and over to our car is how we can get about 100 feet of altitude gain, measured by my altimeter on Suunto watch. Around the parking area, families are getting out their towels and picnic lunches and getting ready for a day at the beach. But we get out of the sun as soon as possible.
Tomorrow the big summit to Jockey's Ridge.
Cumulative after 74 days, 928.9 miles, 94,550 ft. ascent
Starting with 906.1miles, 94,350 ft. ascent
ORV ramp #27 to north end of Rodanthe
10.0 miles, 100 ascent
We’ve been starting very early every morning – out at 7 A.M. and hiking by 7:30 at the latest. And anniversary or not, today is no exception.
We’re on an empty beach before the ORVs wake up. Off road vehicles are allowed to drive on the beach with certain restrictions.
For some local fishermen, it’s a very contentious issue. They feel they should be cruising a National Seashore like a Brooklyn street in the 1950s.
We get on the beach on an ORV ramp. The sun rises early and quickly here and we’ve been fighting our sunburns; Sharon more than me since she’s so fair.
When I’m old and full of wrinkles, I’ll remember that it’s the MST that did my face in. We apply and reapply sunscreen and I wear a hat but it neer seems to be enough.
As soon as we reach a town, the trail takes us on the streets – in this case Salvo, Waves and Rodanthe. A small closed post office in Salvo still stands.
In the grass on the side of the road, baby killdeers scurry to keep up with their mother. She's not happy that we are in her territory. I remember that a couple of months ago, on the coastal plains, Kate and I watched a killdeer mating ritual and the chicks are the results.
The Midgett family name is all over Rodanthe. They own a campground, a large real estate business; even a water treatment plant is named after them. So they need a big cemetery.
Cumulative after 73 days, 916.1miles, 94,450 ft. ascent
Starting with 901.1miles, 94,350 ft. ascent
ORV ramp #4 to ORV ramp #2 and some extra
5 miles, 0 ascent
We drive to our next town – Rodanthe – and plan to work out where we’ll leave our cars the next couple of days.
We’re also curious about the Bonner Bridge which takes you from Hatteras Island to Bodie Island. It’s supposed to be a monster of a bridge to walk across.
We meet two US Fish and Wildlife Refuge Officers. They’re parked in the middle of Pea Island watching people.
We explain about walking the Bonner Bridge; it’s 2.5 miles according to Scot Ward’s book. DOT is talking about replacing the bridge and they had public hearings about it last summer but it will be a long time before they do it. I hope they put in a walking lane on the bridge as well.
The older officer looks at the younger one with a grim face.
“I wouldn’t do it,” the young one says. “It’s not safe. I’m a cyclist and I wouldn’t ride it either. Now I’m not talking for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, just for myself."
"I know that," I say. "But you're in uniform and you're local so your word carries a lot of weight with me."
"We’re just law enforcement for the Service. When they run a marathon, the organizations hire escorts and they close a bridge lane."
He seems a little put out that I’m taking notes but I don’t ask for his name, on purpose.
In for a penny, in for a pound - Sharon and I decide not to walk the bridge. We’ll do a few miles tomorrow and visit the Bodie Island lighthouse.
We’re staying in Rodanthe and I’m very disappointed in the town. I think I got taken by the movie A Night in Rodanthe. We’re staying in an adequate place; the only motel in town. There are no supermarkets in the three towns – Salvo, Waves and Rodanthe. There are a couple of restaurants and one good gallery. Avon was a lively place by comparison.
Happy Easter Sunday!
Sharon invited me to go to church with her. We end up at the Fairhaven Methodist Church in Rodanthe.
I know, I know, I completely ignored Passover this year and here I am at an Easter service. It’s an interesting cultural experience and unlike a Seder, it’s only an hour and in English.
We drive over the Bonner Bridge to see what it’s like. Traffic is zooming wildly both ways. Some joker tries to pass a slower car. There's a permanent wind advisory sign up - and that's just for vehicles.
Sharon says that if two RVs pass each other and we're on the side, we'll be squashed bugs or blown overblown.
Look at the top picture – any questions?
This is our rest day but we decide to walk a few miles anyway to shorten our last day together. We walk ORV #4 ramp to ORV #2 ramp. This is where Off-Road Vehicles can get on the beach. The rules and regulations on where and when they can do this has created a big controversy with fishermen. I won't try to summarize it here.
We start out on the road (NC 12) and the mosquitoes are fierce. Sharon pulls out her bug spray and sprays right into her eye. It’s very painful. She’s carrying a water bladder which just dribbles out and I only have a quart of Gatorade.
I’m hesitant about her getting sugar in her eyes as well as insect repellant but I offer her my bandanna and Gatorade water; it’s better than nothing. She swabs her eye with the liquid, though it still smarts.
After she feels a little better, we keep walking. In the excitement, we miss our turn off the road into the Bodie Lighthouse area. So we end up walking a mile up and a mile back down before we get on the Bodie Island Dike Trail.
It’s a short but beautiful walk through the maritime forest. A great white heron flies out of the pond.
We find three one-dollar bills that have been dropped, most probably out of someone’s back pocket. We pick up the “litter” and plan to put it in the Park donation box.
Soon we reach the Bodie Lighthouse, the third lighthouse in Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
You can’t climb the lighthouse so few people visit. Still, it’s an impressive lighthouse with a small house in front that used to hold the fuel for the lighthouse.
It’s hot and my feet are very cut up.
I’ve gotten a new blister every day. So if I have a new blister every day and I need to put band-aids on my old blisters as well, how many band-aids will I need?
Remember the Gaussian formula? N(N PLUS 1)/2. Who says that math is not needed after you leave school?
Cumulative after 72 days, 906.1miles, 94,350 ft. ascent
Starting with 873.0 miles, 94,050 ft. ascent
Village of Hatteras
13.75 miles 200 ft. ascent
Then the trail takes us on the beach where a solitary whimbrel feeds along with a large number of sandpipers and dowwitchers. A whimbrel has a long straight beak and then a little downward curve at the tip. But we’re not on the beach for long.
We walk through Frisco campground and we’re on a real trail, Open Ponds Trail, through a maritime forest.
The walking is not as easy as it sounds since the sand is so soft. Over four miles of slogging through sand giving our legs a real aerobic exercise.
We reach the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and Visitor Center. I have see replicas of this lighthouse in people's front yard since the Piedmont. It is an icon.
In 1999, they moved the lighthouse further from the ocean since it was about to get washed away by the sea. It took 23 days.
Hatteras Lighthouse is the only one of the three at Cape Hatteras National Seashore that visitors can climb. So we do - 257 stairs and 165 ft. up. The warnings from the rangers make it sound like you're walking up to Mt. Everest.
"Let's go up first," Sharon says, "so we don't get trapped by a lot of slower people." We're up in five minutes.
From the top, I can see Diamond Shoals, a point where the Greenland current meets the Caribbean Current - a very dangerous spot.
I had talked to Ranger Jennifer on the phone a couple of weeks ago.She was very friendly and helpful. Now I meet her. It turns out that she worked at Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Smokies.
It's a small world after all.
Cumulative after 70 days, 886.8.miles, 94,250 ft. ascent
Through the town of Avon
14.3 miles 100 ft. ascent
The trail today takes us on the beach for several miles.
It's hard walking with Off-Road Vehicles tire tracks all over the sand. Do we walk on the level soft sand or do we go on a slant toward the water where the sand is firmer?
Two oystercatchers are digging in the sand. But it's the piping plover that I want to see. No luck so far but we have several more days on the beach.
Avon is a relief from the sand. The town is charming. So are the people.
We stop in a coffee shop and ask a customer to take our photo.
Dwayne and his wife treat us to coffee and we tell them about the trail. Then back to the beach.
We move onto Rodanthe, the town made famous by the movie A Night in Rodanthe. It sounds very posh.
Cumulative after 71 days, 901.1miles, 94,350 ft. ascent
Starting with 857.6 miles, 93,850 ft. ascent
Cedar Island Ferry to Ferry
15.4 miles, 200 ft. ascent
After getting off the Neusiok Trail so early, Sharon and I drove east to catch the ferry to Cedar Island to continue our Mountains-to-Sea Trail trek. If you're really familiar with the MST in this section, you'll note that I skipped about 45 miles on the road. Sharon biked that section and she certainly was not going to walk it with me. So I'll catch it later.
We took the ferry to Ocracoke on Cedar Island. Ocracoke is a small, upper -crust island town. The only way to to get on and off the island is by ferry. Even though it's touristy, it's not crowded.
The next morning, we're walking from the ferry site through town. But going through town is very quick and soon we're on the beach. We're now in Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Finally on the beach. I never imagined we'd actually get here. It's buggy; the gnats and mosquitoes swarm my hat. We go through a Park campground and barely stop to eat because it's so uncomfortable.
Back on the road for a few miles and we pass the Pony pens. Ocracoke ponies ran free for centuries. But when the road - NC 12 - was put in in 1957 and the ponies had a few encounters with cars, the National Park Service penned them in.
After that, the tourists are gone. The only things on the beach are sandpipers and dowitchers. The wind has seriously picked up and the waves are topped by white caps. The bugs are gone and the only stuff going into my eyes is sand. My hat blows away and my legs are sandwhipped.
In at least two places, the beach is closed to pedestrians and everything else.
Endangered piping plovers are nesting and so are loggerhead turtles. We have a choice of:
* Breaking the law - NO. Getting caught in a National Park would be so embarrassing.
* Leave the beach via the dunes but the dunes are protected as well
* Walk in the water. This is the option we choose. I get my shoes and socks wet while Sharon takes off her shoes.
We takek the ferry to Hatteras. Children are feeding the sea birds creating a feeding frenzy.
When I finally take off my shoes, I find a new blister on my right little toe. I also find a tick on my waist which I remove with a large needle after I bust my blister.
I thought that this section of the MST was going to be easy but it's a jungle out here.
Cumulative after 69 days, 873.0 miles, 94,050 ft. ascent
Starting with 831 miles, 93,600 ft. ascent
Neusiok Trail, approach from the Minnesott Ferry and a few miles past Oyster Point
26.6 miles, 250 ft. ascent
We're doing the Neusiok Trail in Croatan National Forest. This forest is located between New Bern and Morehead City. This is not a well-known forest or a well-known trail. But after miles and days of road walking, I'm so glad to be back on a trail.
Croatan National Forest ain't the Smokies. So we were so grateful to have the company of Terry and John, two FMST board members who live in the area.
The trail is flat, buggy and swampy. It has poisonous snakes and ticks. But I wasn't worried because we were with locals.
Why do it? Well, it's part of the MST so there's no decision here.
But look at the picture above. It looks like a South Pacific island, like the Cook Islands, even though it's the Neuse River. And the wildlife is so different.
We saw two ospreys flying around a huge osprey nest and a kingfisher.
We passed a green anole, a tiny lizard, a box turtle and wild turkeys. The only snake we saw was a thin green snake.
But we were prepared for ticks. On Terry's advice, I wore long pants and long-sleeve shirt over a T-shirt. I was very hot all day.
We wanted to stay at a shelter because that's where the water is. Because of the placement of the shelters, we ended up walking 19.6 miles on the first day of the backpack, leaving only 2.5 miles on the second day. Yes, that first day was long but we just plodded along.
No discussion of the Neusiok Trail is complete without discussing the amazing boardwalks. We're walking in a swamp, so unless you really want a jungle experience, the trail needs boardwalks and bridges.
Most were put up by the Carteret County Wildlife Club and some by the US Forest Service. John and Terry spend a lot of time maintaining these boardwalks.
Thank you guys for your maintenance work and for taking out two Croatan newbies on the Neusiok Trail.
Cumulative after 68 days, 857.6 miles, 93,850 ft. ascent
Well, the vacation is over. Back to a sad reality of the state of conservation funding in North Carolina.
This below has been swirling all over the North Carolina Conservation Circles. I adapted this plea from Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.
The budget writers in the North Carolina House of Representatives released their first recommendations yesterday afternoon. Under their plan, conservation funding - already slashed by 50 percent in recent years - would take another huge hit. The Clean Water Management Trust Fund was singled out for a cut of 80 percent.
These proposed, draconian cuts would have a long-term, disastrous impact on conservation and the essential support it provides to North Carolina's economic health.
Please email your legislators TODAY and urge them to support restoring funding for conservation.
Numerous conservation projects in Western North Carolina -- from public lands at Chimney Rock State Park and DuPont State Forest to natural areas such mountain bog sites and habitat for native plants and animals -- have been made possible by these conservation trust funds.
Please use the link to Land for Tomorrow to quickly and easily communicate with your state legislators.
The General Assembly is moving quickly to formulate its budget. We need to create an immediate groundswell of opposition to these misguided bills.
The budget process isn't over. Legislators can reject these ill-advised, damaging proposals.
Click HERE to email your legislators today and tell them to keep funding for conservation in the state budget. Or better write a letter and put a stamp on it.
It's time to get out of town and back into the fresh air and maybe on a trail. There are lots of opportunities to walk in Washington but most of it is on pavement. So we pulled our car out of the lot for the first time in four days and headed for Manassas National Battlefield Park.
This is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and every battlefield, every site that is remotely connected to the Civil War is gearing up for this. Only 32 miles from Washington D.C. Manassas was the site of two battles - First Manassas and Second Manassas.
First Manassas is the battle that most talk about. Maybe it's because both sides were still innocent and thought that one battle would settle the conflict. Maybe because it's the first real battle between North and South.
The two sides met for the first time on July 16, 1861 on the property of Judith Henry - the only civilian casualty of the battle. Her house is shown above.
The 45-minute film makes a great deal of fuss over Judith, a sick, elderly widow. The South won this one and Union soldiers marched back to Washington defeated.
The Battle of Second Manassas (or Second Bull Run) was part of a larger campaign. Again the South won that battle and General Lee then attacked the north for the first time.
But enough of battles.
Manassas is also a beautiful setting for several trails on undulating hills. We walked the First Manassas loop, which took us past the Stone Bridge over Bull Run.
The area was overtaken by blue bells, flowers that we don't see in Southern Appalachia. We also saw Dutchmen's britches and daffodils, indicating a home site. The trail was muddy but well-maintained.
Here's Lenny on a long boardwalk.
The National Parks Service in cooperation with its sponsors has discovered that small parks can be the source of great walking. They call it the Healthy Parks-Healthy Living program. The result is that the trails are well-maintained and signposted.
And as long as the sponsors display their logos on brochures and not on the trails themselves, let them keep sponsoring.
Who would have thought that Arlington Cemetery in Washington would be so fascinating? It's just a bunch of dead people. I found the rows and rows of white gravestones mesmerizing.
We walked from our hotel in the center of the city to Arlington, via the Memorial Bridge. It took over an hour. This bridge goes from the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington House, Robert E. Lee’s House.
We stopped at the visitor center long enough to learn that if we rushed, we could make the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A soldier in full dress uniform paces back and forth in front of the tombs of the Unknown Soldier – World War II, Korea and Viet Nam.
Exactly on the hour, a sergeant comes out with another soldier who is about to come on duty. He explains briefly what is going on and asks us to be quiet and respectful. With lots of rifle play and caressing of weapons, the two soldiers exchange places. We thought the ceremony was over but it wasn’t.
A small group of school children, all dressed up, come down the steps led by the sergeant. One is carrying a wreath with a banner across it containing the school name. The soldier removes the old wreath and the boy places the new wreath on the stand. Another solder is playing taps. We all put our right hand on our heart. A second school group does the same thing with another wreath. I guess it’s a big honor for the school to have their wreath displayed for an hour.
We wander further up the hill to Arlington House, the home of several prominent historical figures. George Washington’s step grandson, George Washington Parke Curtis, was the first owner. Robert E. Lee, who married into the family, was the last owner. It pays to marry well-connected people.
From Arlington House, you can see the way we walked in – the bridge, the Capital, the Jefferson and Washington memorials. Pierre Charles L’Enfant who designed the city of Washington (1791-1792) is buried up here. The house itself is being refurbished. Though it’s now empty, visitors can walk through it. Lee had seven children and the second floor is full of bedrooms. The third floor was a storage attic, now closed off to the public.
A volunteer ushers us in. She wears a different type of uniform and I take her picture.
Robert E. Lee had a long career with the U.S. Army and was against secession. But when Virginia left the Union, Lee resigned his commission and went to Richmond to join the Confederacy. His wife and children left Arlington a month later when it was obvious that the Federal Government was going to take over the house.
There’s a small museum devoted to Lee’s life. It explains that the Memorial Bridge was built to unite Arlington (Lee’s residence) and the Lincoln Memorial across the Potomac River that divided South from North. After the war, Lee became president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia and died there in 1870. The site includes a small museum explaining the role of slaves and freemen at Arlington House.
Arlington National Cemetery was created in 1864 because the government had to have some place to bury all the dead. There doesn't appear to be any mass graves here.
The children of former slaves help in directing the restoration. The National Park Service acquired Arlington House in 1933.
The Kennedy graves are directly below the Arlington House. The grave site is ostentatious and frankly over the top. An eternal light burns; Jacqueline Kennedy and their two babies are also buried here. Edward and Robert Kennedy lie nearby.
Most visitors come by Tourmobile and spend little time at Arlington. But we were on our own schedule and stayed over four hours.
After doing this visitor classic, we went to the Dept. of the Interior at 18th and C St. to see if there was anything to see in the National Park Service offices. The building has been under renovations since 2001. It was supposed to be the “world’s finest office building” when it was built in 1935 – 1937.
The guards were the least friendly I’ve encountered so far in Washington.
“No, the museum is closed for renovation,” he said. “What do you need?”
But we weren’t deterred. We went through security and walked into the NPS visitor center, open only until 3:30 P.M. I asked the clerk a couple of simple questions but she knew nothing. But there were pamphlets of all the National Park units and we helped ourselves to a bunch for parks we were going to visit and hope we would visit.