Friday, August 13, 2010

Valley Forge and Washington's Crossing - Vacation Part 1

On Wednesday morning, we loaded up the car to head out on a family vacation.

The boys were very excited.

So was Smokey the Fish. (Can't you tell?)
This is a practice run for our PCS move drive across country later.  The primary reason for driving across country being so we can bring the fish with us of course.

I don't think we brought enough stuffed animals.

First, we drove up to Valley Forge, PA to tour the National Historic Park.  It was awesome and totally worth the trip.

We arrived about 3 p.m. hoping to get the kids to join the Continental Army.  Unfortunately, both the walking tours and the kids join the Continental Army activities were canceled due to the heat.

Instead, we watched the 18 minute introductory video in the theater, and then we went on the 90-minute Trolley Tour, and it was totally worth it.

Our tour guide, Brianna, was a local college student, and she was really enthusiastic and excited to talk about the American Revolution.

We stopped to see the replicas of the winter quarters the Continental Army built along the outer line of defense.

My youngest thought it was pretty cool to see life-size Lincoln Logs.

The tour guide said this was just like sleeping on a submarine.  I think the racks on a submarine are more spacious and comfortable.

Park Rangers Ron and Scott gave us an awesome lesson on life in the Continental Army.  Ron said their uniforms looked white because they were linen, and the linen wouldn't hold dye.  The wool coats the Continental Army would hold dye though, so those were blue.  They also explained the differences between the French and the American muskets and the things the soldiers had to do to keep the muskets in working order.

Next, they demonstrated how the Continental Army's muskets worked.


Then we went to see General Washington's Headquarters.  That's General Washington's flag in the grass in front of the HQ.

This is where LtCol Alexander Hamilton managed the day-to-day administration of the Continental Army, posting letters from Washington to congress about how inadequately supplied the army was.

That's the parade ground where Von Steuben drilled the 15,000-ish soldiers into a professional army.  Our tour guide pointed out a statue of Von Steuben and mentioned the fact it has been relocated to a less prominent storage location twice in history.  She asked if anyone knew why, and my Eldest chimed in that it was because he was German and they moved his statue during WWI and WWII.  Brianna said my son should come be a tour guide there.

You won't find any sort of Valley Forge National Cemetary since no battle took place there and nobody was killed in combat.  Those who got sick in camp were carted off to hospitals about thirty miles away from the camp so as not to spread the sickness in the camp.  Likewise, if someone did die in the camp, they took the body elsewhere.  Our tour guide told us that there are mass unmarked graves near those hospitals.
This monument is for the "unknown soldiers" who died during the winter at Valley Forge and ended up in those unmarked mass graves in other parts of the countryside.

This memorial was built in 1917 to remind America of the hardships endured by the Continental Army at Valley Forge while America endured the hardships of WWI.

At the visitor center, you can pick up a Junior Park Ranger activity booklet.  For younger kids, they have to finish 3 activities in the book, and older kids have to finish 4 activities in the book.  Both boys finished their activities and earned their Junior Park Ranger badges here like they did back at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

What I've provided above is a very brief glimpse of the things we saw at Valley Forge.  I learned a lot in our visit there and I'm very glad we went.  I highly recommend a visit and taking the trolley tour.

Continuing to test my theory that all breweries have good food, we went to the Rock Bottom Brewery in the King of Prussia Mall.  One of the park rangers recommended it to us as a favorite of the park rangers, and a quick check of Yelp found a comment, "I should pay rent here."  That's a sure sign of a place people go back to for a reason.  We weren't disappointed.  The food, beer, and service at Rock Bottom were extraordinarily good.

We stayed the night near Valley Forge before continuing our trek northbound.  Thursday we made a brief stop at the spot where Washington crossed the Delaware River.

Pretty Exciting, I know.  Try to contain your enthusiasm.

That's my family waiting for me back in the car.

Unfortunately, although the website claimed they just celebrated the reopening of the visitor's center, it was closed when we got there.  I understand there is another historic park and visitor center over on the New Jersey side of the river, but the bridge was closed for repairs and it wouldn't have been very a very quick or easy trip to get over to that side to check it out.  Maybe next time. 

We hit I-495 on the outskirts of Boston at just the WRONG time.  We spent a LONG time sitting here.  I took us 1 hour 45 minutes to travel 29 miles, and most of that was at a stand still here due to an accident blocking 2 of 3 lanes of traffic. Ugh.  

We have arrived safe and sound at our family place on Lake Winnipesaukee, thus opening a new chapter to our family's already long history here on the lake.  I look forward to updating my favorites list, navigating the buoy system, and getting out for a paddle around the lake.

1 comment:

Tabor said...

Life is good, isn't it?