What an awesome weekend! To kick things off, my good buddy and fraternity brother Scott stopped by the house en route to a wedding he was attending in nearby Leesburg. We hung around and passed out early on Friday, which allowed us to get up really early (meaning 8AM) for a bike ride into Reston Town Center. We met Kristin and Layla there and had breakfast at the outstanding Community Canteen (get an omelet - you won’t be sorry). It was a bit chilly on the way there, but on the way back the temperature warmed up and the day bloomed into something truly fall-ish. The only downside was the strong cross-breeze, which pushed us around on our bikes like it owned us. I will say one thing, though: I didn’t help my case by wearing a loose-fitting jacket that acted more like a wind sail.
Sunday morning had Kristin and I champing at the bit to get outside. We bid Scott adieu, then debated going to either Leesburg and Harper’s Ferry, but ended up deciding to head down to Shepherdstown, WV instead - I ran a half marathon there about two weeks prior and really enjoyed the surrounding town, and made a pact with Kristin to return (we couldn’t explore too much that day because my legs could only carry me so far). To Shepherdstown we went!
We mainly walked around (not wanting to spend too much money), window shopping and site-seeing. I really enjoyed the older buildings and the personalization of the storefronts around the area:
Kristin liked the old facades and pointed out a couple of the sites she had seen there before (she meandered around the town while I was running my half):
Being near Antietam, you can see what must have been the remnants of some defensive action along the Potomac. It’s always cool to see this sort of stuff preserved:
Layla particularly enjoyed being carted around town. She was a total trooper - never making so much as a peep in the several hours that we were meandering around the town and in the coffee shop. She did get a little sweaty, so we decided to stop in the store so she could get some time out of her car seat with Mom and Dad:
As I mentioned before, Shepherdstown is right near Antietam National Battlefield. Being the Civil War buff that I am, I couldn’t resist a visit! This was the second time I’d visited the battlefield and all of its grim history: the battle was the single bloodiest day in American history, with 23,000 men killed or wounded in a single day. A single day! That’s unfathomable! It was a sobering experience to walk those fields, to say the least.
All of those artillery positions were cool, but what really got me was visiting Burnside's Bridge. I think it's because the bridge is still the actual bridge rather than something arranged by the National Park Service after the fact. Sure, it's been patched over the years, but the core remains the same one that sustained so much action back in September 1862, when the battle occurred. There's even a tree nearby called the "Witnesses Tree" because it survived the battle (when apparently others did not). Very cool indeed!
After I stopped by the bridge for a few pictures, we rushed over to the observation tower near the center of the battlefield so I could get some panoramas of the overall landscape before leaving. Those pictures (along with some other panoramas I took in Shepherdstown) will have to wait for now, as they take more time to post-process - look forward to all of those at some point in the future! After taking those, we had to hurry home so Layla could get some sleep. Our timing was a little off after a bit of unexpected traffic around Harper's Ferry, so she got a little grumpy in the car on the way. Nothing that a little bit 'o Mom + bottle couldn't handle! Bottle in mouth, she calmed down for the rest of the trip and arrived home almost ready to pass out. It was a big day for us all, but especially for her. She hung onto Mom and Dad for another hour before succumbing to the call of lala-land. Kristin and I ate dinner, then plopped on the couch for some much needed football time. Weekend, complete!
Update 10/29/2010: Here's the whole gallery of pictures taken that day, including the panoramas I posted later!