Three National Parks

Ballena Blanca boondocking at Little Fort Campground in Virginia.

Ballena Blanca boondocking at Little Fort Campground in Virginia.

During our van build we took a little break at Thanksgiving time to visit some family in DC and Pennsylvania. We had our bed frame installed, so we decided to make it a mini adventure and do some boondocking and sight seeing. We spent a very cold night in a crowded Virginia hunting camp that appeared to have permanent residents living in their RVs and ate our Thanksgiving dinner of Chili in a quieter, less inhabited, less armed campground the next day before heading on to spend a few days with the grandson, Gabriel, and his parents Jessica and Chris in DC.

Grandpa and Gabriel.

Grandpa and Gabriel.

Our next stop was, Evertt, PA to see my Aunt Eunice and her family. Since it was a short hop from DC, we thought we’d throw some sightseeing into our mini adventure and ended up at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in West Virginia.

Duwan and Aunt Eunice.

Duwan and Aunt Eunice.

Harpers Ferry is part of the National Park Service. The NPS cares for and manages 417 areas across the country and in US territories including parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, recreation areas, trails, etc. Created 1916 by an act signed by Woodrow Wilson, the NPS, has been called “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” And we sooooo agree.

It has become one of goals for our land adventure across the US to visit as many National Parks as we can, to exerience the most of this “absolutely American” idea and also to squeeze every penny out of the $80 America the Beautiful park pass, which allows us free entry into all the parks, we purchased at Harpers Ferry. But really, as we continue to divide up every park visit out of our pass and count up its value, we are also getting a priceless experience. We are learning about this land and its history in a very personal way. We are exploring rare and amazing landscapes. We are digging down into the diversity of lives that have shaped who we are today.

Our American the Beautiful National Park pass. Only $80.

Our American the Beautiful National Park pass. Only $80.

After we completed enough of our van build to hit the road, we made a couple of stops in Greenville, SC and Cabbagetown to see friends and family, before hitting our second NP in Tuskeegee, AL, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.

From Tuskegee we headed to New Orleans where we found a couple more NPS sites, the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve French Quarter Visitor’s Center and Chalmette Battlefield.

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park

November 28, 2016.

Harpers Ferry is a picturesque town in West Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River where it cuts through the Blue Ridge Mountains. George Washington chose the site for a US Armory. It was a home to innovative factories of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. Abolitionist John Brown attempted to spark an infamous slave rebellion in October 1859. And after the civil war Baptist missionaries founded Storer College at Harpers Ferry in order to educate students of all races and sexes. The college became the host of the Niagara Movement led by legendary civil rights figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois.

Harpers Ferry, the corner of Shenandoah and Patomac Streets. (click this pic to enlarge)

Harpers Ferry, the corner of Shenandoah and Patomac Streets. (click this pic to enlarge)

Stone steps to St. Peter's Catholic Church.

Stone steps to St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

You can enter many of the buildings in Harpers Ferry and see displays of what the shops would have been like in the 1800s. Men's clothing was sold here at Philip Frankel & Co. (click this pic to enlarge)

You can enter many of the buildings in Harpers Ferry and see displays of what the shops would have been like in the 1800s. Men’s clothing was sold here at Philip Frankel & Co. (click this pic to enlarge)

The two buildings to the center contain the Dry Goods Store, and Provost Marshall Office (first floor) and Boarding house (second floor). (click this pic to enlarge)

The two buildings to the center contain the Dry Goods Store, and Provost Marshall Office (first floor) and Boarding house (second floor). (click this pic to enlarge)

Inside the Dry Goods Store. (click this pic to enlarge)

Inside the Dry Goods Store. (click this pic to enlarge)

Industry Museum. This machine makes gun stocks.

Industry Museum. This machine makes gun stocks.

The building on the right contains the John Brown museum. John Brown was a highly religious and very focused abolitionist. He believed that slavery would not be ended without violence. In October of 1895, he and his followers siezed the armory and other strategic points at Harpers Ferry. The raid failed. Most of the men were either killed or captures and eventually executed - including John Brown. (click this pic to enlarge)

The building on the right contains the John Brown museum. John Brown was a highly religious and very focused abolitionist. He believed that slavery would not be ended without violence. In October of 1895, he and his followers siezed the armory and other strategic points at Harpers Ferry. The raid failed. Most of the men were either killed or captures and eventually executed – including John Brown. (click this pic to enlarge)

Intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. (click this pic to enlarge)

Intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. (click this pic to enlarge)

After a day in Harpers Ferry we hiked back to the visitor's center on a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

After a day in Harpers Ferry we hiked back to the visitor’s center on a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

A view of the church at Harpers Ferry and the Potomac River from the Appalachian Trail. (click this pic to enlarge)

A view of the church at Harpers Ferry and the Potomac River from the Appalachian Trail. (click this pic to enlarge)

If you’d like to learn more about Harpers Ferry check the National Park Service site here.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

December 19, 2016.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military pilots. Resulting from growing international tensions, Congress passed the Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) Act in 1939 designed to turn out large numbers of pilots who could quickly move into military aviation if needed. Through efforts of the National Airmen’s Association of America (an organization of African American pilots), six black colleges, including Tuskegee Institute, became part of the training grounds for this program.

The Tuskegee Institute was  using a borrowed  field to train pilots in the CPT program. When they were awarded a contract to provide primary flight training to African Americans, they needed a new field. Funding for this field was a problem until Eleanor Roosevelt through her support behind the pilots at Tuskegee. (click this pic to enlarge)

The Tuskegee Institute was using a borrowed field to train pilots in the CPT program. When they were awarded a contract to provide primary flight training to African Americans, they needed a new field. Funding for this field was a problem until Eleanor Roosevelt through her support behind the pilots at Tuskegee. (click this pic to enlarge)

P-51 plane. Tuskegee Airmen painted the tails of their planes red. Due to this distictive coloring and because the Tuskegee Airmen were known to never to abandon bombers in their care, they were known as the "Red Tail Angels."

P-51 plane. Tuskegee Airmen painted the tails of their planes red. Due to this distictive coloring and because the Tuskegee Airmen were known to never to abandon bombers in their care, they were known as the “Red Tail Angels.”

The 99th served as bomber escorts in Africa, Sicily, and Italy. The 99th didn't lose a bomber in 180 missions.

The 99th served as bomber escorts in Africa, Sicily, and Italy. The 99th didn’t lose a bomber in 180 missions.

Keep us flying!

Keep us flying!

Replica of cadet waiting room at the Tuskegee Airfield

Replica of cadet waiting room at the Tuskegee Airfield

Poster designed to help recruits identify German soldiers.

Poster designed to help recruits identify German soldiers.

Despite living in an era of segregation and discrimination, many African American's jumped at the oppurtunity to join the armed forces as pilots.

Despite living in an era of segregation and discrimination, many African American’s jumped at the oppurtunity to join the armed forces as pilots.

Stearman PT-17.

Stearman PT-17.

Just as important as the pilots were the ground support crews.

Just as important as the pilots were the ground support crews.

Civilians joined the effort with such things as parachute folding.

Civilians joined the effort with such things as parachute folding.

Those wings may look like polished metal, but they are not. Starting from the left we see that the wood frame is covered with linen which is then painted with layers of waterproofing 'dope'.  Colors are painted on last.

Those wings may look like polished metal, but they are not. Starting from the left we see that the wood frame is covered with linen which is then painted with layers of waterproofing ‘dope’. Colors are painted on last.

Some of the men and women of the Tuskegee legacy.

Some of the men and women of the Tuskegee legacy.

If you’d like to learn more about The Tuskegee Airmen check the National Park Service site here.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

December 24, 2016.

The Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve is actually 6 sites spread across the Mississippi River delta area of Louisianna, including the French Quarter Visitor's Center and Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery which we visited.

The Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve is actually 6 sites spread across the Mississippi River delta area of Louisianna, including the French Quarter Visitor’s Center and Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery which we visited.

French Quarter

Our new heros have become the National Park guides who lead us on tours making sure we are a little smarter at the end of each one.

In the French Quarter we visited the Park Visitor Center and took a guided tour. Our new heros have become the National Park guides who lead us on tours making sure we are a little smarter at the end of each one.

A fog rises on the Mississippi River.

A fog rises on the Mississippi River.

Monument to the Immigrant.

Monument to the Immigrant.

Chalmette Battlefield

In the War of 1812 the British campaign to take control of the Louisiana Territory ended here. About 5,000 US troops and local volunteers including businessmen and some of Jean Lafitte’s pirates, all led by General Andrew Jackson, held an excellent position in a ditch. Their entrenchment stretched across the Chalmette plantation between the Mississippi River and a swamp. The Americans also had cannons on the opposite side of the Mississippi. The attempt to attack this battery failed when the Brits were swept downstream. Key British leaders were taken out, confusion reigned, and after a few hours there were 2,000 British casualties from the original force of 7,000.

Chalmette Monument honoring the American victory at New Orleans.

Chalmette Monument honoring the American victory at New Orleans.

The American defense line at Chalmette.

The American defense line at Chalmette.

Malus-Beauregard House. Build nearly 20 years after the Battle of New Orleans, the house is named for its first and last owners.

Malus-Beauregard House. Build nearly 20 years after the Battle of New Orleans, the house is named for its first and last owners.

Inside the Malus-Beauregard House.

Inside the Malus-Beauregard House.

If you’d like to learn more about The Jean Lafitte Park and Preserve check the National Park Service site here.

One thought on “Three National Parks

  1. Jo said:

    Again, love the pic of Greg and Gabriel.

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