When my brother and I were young my dad would take us on these weekend excursions to Civil War battlefields. Never really sure if this was a hobby of his or just something he thought would be cool to do with his two sons. For whatever reason we went to many battle fields over the years and it stuck with me. Not so much the love of the Civil War but the love of traveling and getting the most out of a vacation. A vacation should be relaxing but it can also be educational as well. These trips I think help sparked my curiosity and love of learning.
When I was traveling down to Asheville for The New Mastersounds and beer I found a few spots on the side of the road that looked interesting. One of them was the Virginia Museum of the Civil War in New Market. When I finally got around to checking out their website I noticed they had their annual reenactment later in May. I asked my brother initially on Mother’s Day if he wanted to go. I thought it would be something cool to do with him and the kids. He initially said no but by late in the week he was on board but keeping the kids at home.
The park had activities all day but we only cared about the reenactment which was happening at 1 in the open field. Almost on the dot we hear the loud boom of the cannons signaling the start of the battle. It was really cool how they played it all out. They stated way off to the left of the field and battled initially with little forces right in the middle of the tall grass. The battle progressed just like they would have in the real battle, just on a smaller scale.
Different phases of the battle raged around the structures, the orchard, open field and tree line. Eventually the Confederates charge the Union line breaking it and winning the battle. This is certainly over simplified but the end result is the same. It was really cool seeing all the people firing the guns and acting in real life what could have happened all those years ago.
All in all it was a solid hour of reenacting which was great. With the black powder guns and the humidity in the air the smoke would just hang covering the field of battle. I can’t imagine a humid summer day wearing a heavy wool uniform with thousands of guns firing. In the end the VMI cadets make a valiant charge to capture a Union artillery battlement.
It was a long drive out the museum so after the battle we didn’t stay long. We went up to the museum for a few minutes to walk around. Saw part of a documentary about the battle while we cooled off. We were so tired from standing outside and me double so because of the previous late night before.
As an adult I have never been in to reenactments. Seeing one now not much has changed from when I was a kid. Now the crowds are smaller and I think the participants are becoming older and fewer. If you haven’t been, I recommend going at least once before they themselves fade away into history.
Earlier in the day I was disappointed with the Eastern Short park so went here to get a better hike in. I wasted a lot of time at the other park but it was alright. It just took longer than I wanted to travel to and from. I at least knew First Landing would have a lot more trails to choose from, something I could spend several hours hiking.
This forest was much denser with lots of trees. You could tell it was near a beach as most of the trail soil was sand. Still hard to imagine all the trees this close to the ocean. There were also shallow swamps areas as well with bald cypress trees.
All the hiking and I had worked up quite an appetite. I found a local beer joint called Tapped Ghastropub in Virginia Beach. I really wanted to just sit and have a couple of craft beers and this place was exactly what I was looking for. I arrived well after lunch so it was pretty empty except for two others, one of whom was a business traveler.
When I finally made it to the venue I can’t tell you how great it felt to sit down for a while. I would spend the rest of the night standing but at least before the show I could relax and get my energy back before rocking to a great Phish show.
York River State Park I more or less found by accident while driving to Portsmouth for the first of two shows at the nTelos Pavilion. I got a late start because I needed to get my car inspected but thankfully Portsmouth isn’t that far from my house. At first I thought about heading straight to First Landing State Park but that meant passing the hotel to get there so I decided against it. I was driving down 64 looking at parks on my phone and stumbled across York River. I didn’t have any information on it but it looked large enough that it should have several miles of trails, it was along the water so that was a bonus.
I was very surprised when I arrived at this park and started exploring. First off it was much bigger than I had expected with 10’s of miles of trails to explorer. Most trails are open to hiking but there are also dedicated trails for mountain biking and others for horse back riding. A small section of the park also takes you along the water with a small sandy beach. I forget the name of this beach but apparently they have dug up fossils as they remind everyone that taking anything from parks is illegal.
This park has some great hiking available. For the most part, the elevation changes are gradual except when you get close to the water. The paths are well maintained, wide enough to accommodate all the traffic. Being the middle of the week it was empty with most people that I saw near the entrance enjoying the playgrounds and open fields. Other than that I mostly ran into joggers and bikers but no hikers. There are some great marsh shots along the water with dense forest inland. One path I found near the bottom of the park takes you to an observation point along the marsh land. If it wasn’t for the mosquitoes bothering me and find ticks crawling all over my legs, I could have spent a lot more time here just looking out towards the water.
I can certainly see coming back to this park to enjoy another long hike. The scenery is nice and I like the changes from dense forest to marsh and the river. This allows for a wide range of photos to be taken while hiking. It is also nice that it can accommodate many different types of outdoor activities besides hiking which sometimes is hard to find in parks. Well worth the $3 entrance fee that was on the honor system since the booth was unmanned while I was there.
Monday was a day off from Phish tour. No concert that night and the next city Portsmouth is an easy 3 hour drive, 4 with traffic. I ran a few errands but also took the time to hike Leesylvania State Park. I don’t believe I have hiked at all in 2014 and while on tour it was a goal of mine to hike at least twice.
It’s never really busy, especially during the weekday. The trails were empty but it provided a rather easy 2 mile hike. It has some pretty steep hills so you are always changing elevation. This park provides some views of a cove and out towards the bay at an old Civil War gun emplacement. Other than that there isn’t much to see but take a couple hours to wonder off trail and take lots of pictures.
I can’t remember the last time I went hiking, it certainly would have to be in the fall of 2010. If I can’t remember the last time, I know I needed to get out and I have been itching for months now. I tried to hike Seashore State Park in Delaware over the long New Years Even weekend but my hangover killed that idea real quick. Now that spring is coming my opportunities to hike are getting better as the weather turns warmer.
On Saturday after my biology lab, I decided to hike Leesylvania State Park. A friend fishes here regularly and talks often about it so it was about time I check the place out. It was suppose to be a fair weather day, no rain and good temps. Class was going to be short so I would have plenty of time to get a good hike in before getting ready for a wine tasting at Rob’s house later that night.
Looking at a map the park is rather small and doesn’t offer many trails of any significant length. For the first trail I decided on the Lee’s Wood Trail at just over 2 miles and an adjoining loop trail. On arriving at the park it certainly is a multi-use park with plenty of picnic areas, camping, a boat launch with access to the Potomac River, fishing pier and miles of shoreline. You can even bring your dog for a lazy afternoon at the park.