Category Archives: Travel

Canvas: Ireland

I’m visiting my sister and brother-in-law this week and was reminded of two 5×7″ ink & watercolor pieces I made them for Christmas. I neglected to photograph them then, so please forgive the image quality below (it’s from a phone). Both pieces are ink drawings on paper with watercolor washes. These are the smallest dimensions I’ve worked in a while, and using ink so delicately was a challenge. Overall, I’m happy with the framed results.

This is based on a photograph of Greystones, Ireland, where my sister and her husband both spent semesters of college.

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This piece is based on a photograph of the DART, the train that runs from Dublin. As the dimensions of the pieces were so small, working in the details with ink was an intricate challenge.

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Travel: Girls in Grand Rapids

My college roomies and I reunited for our annual Columbus Day weekend adventure. This year, we went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, home of the roommate I had all four years of college. This occurred during Grand Rapids’s famous Art Prize, so we, of course, ventured into the delightful downtown. We had gorgeous weather, art was everywhere we turned, and downtown Grand Rapids has many wonderful dining options and coffeehouses.

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Here are my girls on a rooftop, where an interesting exhibit commented on America and war.

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This wall reflected light and dazzling color. Upon closer inspection, it was all made of plastic bottles!

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I am always drawn to water for the peace it brings me, so I was naturally interested in pieces that evoked water. Below is a graphite pencil drawing. Please excuse the poor image quality, but consider the fact that someone has captured a substance that constantly ebbs and flows with a mere pencil.

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Beyond Art Prize, we enjoyed great food and a beer fest at Founders during their Oktoberfest bash.  I am completely ashamed because we went to this amazing coffeehouse and I cannot remember its name. All I can tell you is they handcraft each cup of coffee, and my life-changing cup was black with honey. HONEY. I had never tried this before, and I cannot tell you how much I loved the combination. Also, this coffehouse was super busy, so they apparently have a reputation for well-crafted hot drinks. We also spent some quality time at Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery, enjoying an autumn lunch, cider, fresh, hot donuts, and, for a couple of us, the wine-tasting room. Our weekends are never super expensive or fancy, which is proof that with some research and know-how, you can have a great mini-vacation anywhere you go.

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Camera: Yorktown

Our vacation of historic Virginia comes to an end with the end of the Revolutionary War. We visited historic Yorktown, tracing the path of the battle, then the surrender. We explored French earthworks and American redoubts and old cannon.

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If you happened to watch the History Channel’s Sons of Liberty, you would have seen them using the redoubts below near the culmination of the miniseries.IMG_1960

Below is the Moore house where the British and American officers determined the terms of surrender.

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The front parlor of the Moore House was where the meeting of surrender occurred.

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Pictured below is part of Surrender Field, where British troops relinquished their weapons to General Washington’s army. It’s a beautifully green area where a vital moment in our nation’s history occurred.

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Below is an actual cannon surrendered by the British at Surrender Field:

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Camera: Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Virginia, is a living historical site. Buildings have been reconstructed or built to be an authentic replica of the colonial-period Williamsburg. It is the original capital of Virginia, the original seat of the state government. Below, visitors gather outside the Capitol to hear a wonderful, live reading of the Declaration of Independence.

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Visitors can tour the beautiful Capitol building with a tour guide costumed in colonial clothing. The tour is totally worth your time!

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Government officials met here to debate and vote. The large chair in the center is the Governor’s seat.

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Below is the church of Williamsburg, Bruton Parish Church. Parishioners included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Martha Custis (future wife of George Washington), and Patrick Henry. The building also served as a hospital during the Revolutionary War. It is one of America’s oldest churches, established in the early 17th century.

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The stone baptismal font was brought here from Jamestown around 1758. It is said to be the oldest Christian relic in the United States, as it was brought here from England.

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The Governor’s Palace:

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The Governor of Williamsburg decorated most of the first floor of his mansion with excessive weaponry. His goal was to instantly intimidate any and all visitors.

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A glimpse into the Governor’s Palace:

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Camera: Appomattox

One of our final stops in Virginia was Appomattox. Here, the Civil War formally ended. This place is beautiful and authentic, allowing visitors to get a clear glimpse of the profound events which took place here.

This is the McLean House, where General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant met to determine the terms of surrender.

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The historical meeting occurred in the parlor of the McLean house, with Robert E. Lee at the desk below:

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and Ulysses S. Grant sat at this desk:

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One of the terms of Lee’s surrender was to provide assistance for the Confederate soldiers returning to their homes. A printing press, such as the one below, was set up in the tavern. For each Confederate soldier, a parole slip was printed, and with that slip of paper, Confederate soldiers were able to return to their homes unmolested.

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Below are some recovered parole slips:

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This cannon at Appomattox is the site of the last “official” shot of the Civil War:

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Brigadier General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain received the Confederate surrender of arms. In a poignant display, Chamberlain and his troops saluted the Confederate soldiers as the filed past on the land below.

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Camera: Chancellorsville

The Battle of Chancellorsville is considered one of Robert E. Lee’s greatest victories in the Civil War. Confederate forces managed to flank the Union in a surprise attack which is frighteningly portrayer in the film “Gods and Generals”. Unfortunately for the Confederates, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was mortally wounded in the dark by his own men.

Below is the battlefield of the first day of Chancellorsville:

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Below is the Catharine Furnace. It was the proprietor of this location who told General Jackson about a new forest road, which was then used to surprise the Union flank. To give you an idea of how much the land has changed since the Civil War, the furnace “chimney” below was on top of a small building; now the chimney is all you can see!

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Here is where Jackson’s troops attacked the Union flank. Union soldiers were camped out here, when a bunch of woodland creatures ran out of the forest. Those animals were closely followed by 30,000 Confederate soldiers, screaming the famous Rebel yell.

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This is the approximate location of Jackson’s wounding. He was returning to his men in the dark, and his lookouts thought he was a Union officer, as he was coming from that direction. He was taken to the guesthouse of Chandler plantation in Guinea Station, where he contracted pneumonia and died on May 10.

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This monument to General Jackson was later erected by the Confederate veterans near the site of Jackson’s wounding:

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All that remains of the Chandler Plantation is the guesthouse in which General Jackson died. It’s a beautiful area, but this was the saddest historic site I have visited. Upon entering the little house, I was overwhelmed by a weight of sadness. Everyone inside was very quiet, and it felt as though the house itself still mourned. It was quite a unique experience. The room in which Jackson died, still has the original bedframe, blanket, and clock.

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Camera: Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg was a battle site featured in the film Gods and GeneralsThis was a huge win for the Confederate army, and a virtual slaughter of the Union army.

Here is the site where the Irish Brigade of the Union Army made repeated attempts to overtake the wall from which the Confederate army slaughtered them. At that time, all the trees in this photo were not there, and the Union soldiers continually tried to attack over a wide open area. Ironically, and tragically, the Confederate regiment on the winning side of the stone wall was also an Irish one.  It was a tragic battle for the Irish men who hoped to return to Ireland and gain freedom from England. Instead, the men cut one another down in a devastating battle. The Union’s Irish Brigade was demolished from over 1600 to a mere 256.

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This home has stood here since before the Battle of Fredericksburg. All of the house, and its interior, are still riddled with bullet holes from the Civil War crossfire.

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Here is the statue honoring Richard Rowland Kirkland of South Carolina. After a gruesome day of battle, all of the Union’s wounded lie moaning and crying out on the battlefield. Union soldiers could not retrieve their wounded for fear of being picked off by the Confederates behind the stone wall. The moans and cries for water from the wounded never ended, and Kirkland could no longer stand it. Without protective fire cover or assistance, Kirkland crossed the wall and began giving water to the wounded Union soldiers. It was a beautiful demonstration of compassion in the midst of a terrible battle.

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Chatham House was used as Union headquarters and a hospital. From this great height across the river, the Union battery had cannons trained on the city of Fredericksburg.

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A neat feature of this mansion is the graffiti from wounded Union soldiers. Men signed and wrote on the walls as they were being cared for, and these were re-discovered during the restoration of the home. Below is a signature from a soldier in Michigan’s cavalry:

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The tree trunk below belongs to a Catalpa tree that pre-dates the Civil War. Struck by countless bullets and shrapnel, the tree began to “heal” itself by growing over its wounds. The result is an extremely knobby, gnarled, interesting tree with quite a story to tell.

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I’ll leave you with this final image – this is a portion of the original stone wall at Fredericksburg, stones holding the blood, sweat, tears, and shrapnel of the most heartbreaking of wars.

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Camera: Antietam

The next stop on my family’s historic travels was Antietam, site of the single bloodiest day of battle in the Civil War. The loss here, on both sides, was devastating, and I could feel that weight as we toured the grounds. Since visiting Gettysburg years ago, this was the next battlefield that I most wanted to visit.

Here is the site of the Confederate cannon near Dunker Church:

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A memorial to Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross. Two bricks from her childhood home were used to create the red cross on her memorial. She was a dedicated, fearless nurse on the Civil War battlefields.

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Here is a portion of Antietam known as “The Bloody Cornfield”. It was strange to reflect on all the horror, violence, and death that took occurred in a place that is now so beautiful.

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A majestic memorial to the Union soldiers of my home state, Indiana, rises on the far side of “The Bloody Cornfield”.

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“The Bloody Lane” (you’ll find the adjective “bloody” is used quite frequently in descriptions of Civil War sites) leads to the Sunken Road. Here, Confederate soldiers created a great trench that allowed them to remain hidden from the Union army. When the Union soldiers neared the edge of the trench, the Confederates stunned them by popping up and shooting. In the photo below, my dad demonstrates how the Confederate soldiers would not have been seen well by the view from the cornfields above:

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Here is where General Burnside’s troops attempted multiple times to cross Antietam Creek and flank the Confederates. During the failed attempts, the Confederates strengthened their flank, and the result was disaster for Burnside’s soldiers. After heavy casualties, Burnside’s troops finally managed to capture the bridge. The bridge then became known as “Burnside’s Bridge”.

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Here is the site of the last portion of the Battle of Antietam:

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The hauntingly beautiful Antietam cemetery. Only Union soldiers could be buried here. Confederate soldiers were placed in a different cemetery.

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Camera: Harpers Ferry

This past summer, my family did a tour of historic Virginia. That may sound incredibly boring, but we are history people. Also, my brother got to choose the vacation, and that’s what he chose. Touring battlefields. In the high heat of July. With no lunch breaks. Just healthy snacks. Yep.

In all seriousness, it was a great vacation. Dad planned everything perfectly for a tour that began in Harpers Ferry, continued through major Revolutionary and Civil War sites, and ended in Lexington. Harpers Ferry is a beautiful town, its historic preservation adding to its charm. I’ll warn you: parking is extremely limited, but the walk around town, into the shops and museums, and a meal at a riverfront restaurant is so worth it. This is also the town where abolitionist John Brown had his famous raid, which historians agree sparked the secession movement and civil war.

Located at the point where the Potomac River merges with the Shenandoah, Harpers Ferry has seen its share of extreme floods. The old Hardware shop near the river has a post (to the left of the pipe) marking all of Harpers Ferry’s worst floods:

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This monument marks the site of John Brown’s original “fort”. Harpers Ferry is settled on the hill beyond.

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Harpers Ferry’s bridges were destroyed in the Civil War. Their ruins remain:

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See the old ad etched onto the face of the mountain above the bridge?

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Where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet:

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Five Years Later…

So, in October (yes, I’m a bit behind on some things), my college class had our 5th year reunion. Instead of going to that, my roommate and two of the gals we lived with for four years rented a flat in Sandusky, Ohio, for a long weekend. Why Sandusky? It’s relatively in the middle of all the places we currently live. The loft apartment we rented was in this amazing old paper factory, right on Lake Erie.

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Guys, this is the loft itself. Absolutely amazing.

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Our view from our third floor balcony was of Cedar Point. We were there before Halloween, before the park closes for the winter months, so every night, everything was lit up and it looked so whimsical across the water.

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Because we are born Midwestern girls and all enjoy the charm of small-town festivals, we chose to visit The Apple Festival in nearby Oak Harbor. There was a freakishly long, charming parade, freshly pressed cider, apples, apple dumplings, and all things apple-y. There was a flee market and an arts and crafts barn. The food alley had everything from homemade ice cream being churned in old wooden buckets to a jerk chicken truck (!) to kettle corn being hand-stirred in giant black cauldrons. Completely charming!

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Sandusky has a Merry-Go-Round Museum, so being that we are odd and randomly spontaneous, we ended up there. Yes, we went on a ride.

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We also went to Toft Dairy, because even though it was chilly, we are ice cream people, and Toft has tons of it. I highly recommend “Howly Toledo”. Plus, this is the oldest dairy in Ohio, and why not?

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The two nights in which we did not cook together, we went to this incredible restaurant, which you can look for in my next post. Lastly, some shots of interesting places that distracted me; where some see ruin and dilapidation, I see history, stories, mystery, and beauty.

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Anywhere can be vacation; it’s all about making it an adventure.

 

 

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