Tag Archives: vacation

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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Camera: Pure Michigan

This past summer, there were two perfect weeks in which all of my siblings were home. That first week, we did things here in town, but the second week, we rented a fantastic house a few yards from a quiet, private beach in Holland, Michigan. Lake Michigan was the warmest we’ve ever felt it, and we spent more time in the water than we ever have. Days were divided between our little beach camp and our lovely screened in porch, where we ate meals, played games, and read books. It was a relaxing, blissful week, and I loved having so much time alone with my family. If you’ve never been to Michigan, there are some incredible places along Michigan’s west coast, including the charming town of Holland. Michigan’s beaches are clean and lovely and you can easily forget that you are on a giant lake and not the ocean. Michigan holds many special memories for my family, and this trip was no exception.

Our beautiful coastline for the week:

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Wave patterns in the sand:

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Big Red Lighthouse:

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Glorious Michigan sunsets:

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On our way out of town, we stopped near Saugatuck for an insane dune buggy ride. If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt, you were dead. It was a blast.

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My sister, Maria, and brother-in-law, Andrew. Maria weighs about 95 lbs MAYBE, so she clung to the bar for dear life.

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Believe it or not, a town was here before the sands blew in from the lake. The trees here are actually tree tops; the trunks of these trees go on for yards beneath the sand where their roots find water.

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Also, I don’t know if I’ve ever shown them off, but this is my family I love so dearly: my younger brother, Zach, me, my brother-in-law, Andrew, my sister, Maria, Dad, and Mom.

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Camera: Pure Michigan

In the midst of the wedding chaos this summer, my family was able to escape for a long weekend to St. Joe, Michigan, one of our favorite places.  It.  Was.  Glorious.

We partied in glittery elevators, even after we discovered the security camera:

I stalked ducklings:

During a walk, we watched the sailing class tool around, then panic, when a huge barge came through:

We were enchanted by the beach carousel, which Mom & Dad actually rode because they’re cute like that:

A shout out to my beloved Lyzenga family:

Saw the most terrifying clown EVER:

Gorged ourselves on ice cream at Kilwins:

Wandered through the farmer’s market, where there were a few things I wanted to purchase, but I was firmly led away:

It’s not a vacation unless Zach gets yelled at by Mom:

Observed fishermen young & old, some who were clearly having far better luck than others:

Dora the Explorer seems freakishly serious about her job, floating across Lake Michigan on an umbrella:

Don Quixote! Get it?! This is for you, Val. There were whimsical animal statues like this all over the place:

Enjoyed some gorgeous Midwest sunsets over the lake:

Though the weather was different every hour (this is the Midwest, after all), we thoroughly enjoyed the beaches of Pure Michigan:

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“You’ll sit in the car…”

Remember that earlier post in which I told you about our family trip to South Dakota, in particular, when we went to the Badlands?  Here is an anecdote of that day:

My brother, Zach really loved standing at the precipice of the canyons.  He would stand at the edge, hands on his hips, taking in the great landscapes and the huge sky.  This behavior distressed my poor mother.  One huge gust of wind would have swept him off his feet and, perhaps, hurtling to his death.  Mom kept telling him to get away from the edge, and he knew she was distressed.

Instead of backing off, Zach posed for pictures, because that’s what eighteen year-old guys do:

“Zachary!” yelled Mom, a significant distance away, “If you don’t get back from that edge, you’ll sit in the car the rest of vacation!!!”

Somehow, it is far more hilarious when grown-up Zach gets yelled at than when little Zach got yelled at.

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Warmth from the Badlands

After a while, winter begins to wear me down with its constant grey skies, freezing temperatures, and cold and flu season.  My family often takes this opportunity to reflect on the warmth and sunshine of our previous summer vacation.

Lately, when I become so cold I cannot warm up, I remember the Badlands.  It was 102 degrees when we were there last summer, though we also experienced ping-pong ball sized hail and a torrential downpour, all within three hours of one another.  We had a blast.  If you’ve never been there, the Badlands feel like the desert, only far more beautiful.  The caverns and small canyons are filled with stunning color and the lighting is just incredible.  Be warned: the temperature can become stifling, and there is nowhere to find respite from the sun.  However, once winter returns with its frigid embrace, you’ll be thankful to have experienced such warmth.

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