- Where We Started: Richmond, Va.
- Where We Ended: Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
- Miles Driven: 231 (578 total)
- New States: 1 (North Carolina)
- Total States: 2 (Virginia, North Carolina)
THE DAY'S HIGHLIGHTS
We hit a few places in Richmond and its surroundings before we headed toward the Outer Banks. Our first two stops were the Virginia State Capitol -- which also served at the Capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War -- and the museum that once served as the White House of the Confederacy. But the two spots in Richmond we spent the most time were Monument Avenue and the Hollywood Cemetery.
If you haven't been to Richmond before, I highly recommend a drive down Monument Avenue (the part inside Richmond city limits; the northern portion is more residential). Monument Avenue is the city's grand avenue, lined with antebellum mansions and homes. Every few blocks along the way, there's a huge statue of someone with a major connection to Richmond, including Arthur Ashe, Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee. (By the way, if you're curious, like I was, who the heck Matthew Fontaine Maury is, he's listed on Wikipedia as an astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator. In other words, a friggin' show off).
After that drive, we headed over to the Hollywood Cemetery, where many famous folks are buried. Among them are three Civil War military men who played major roles at Gettysburg:
- Confederate General George Pickett, whose troops suffered brutal losses at Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, though Pickett himself survived that battle and lived another 12 years.
- J.E.B. Stuart, the legendary Confederate cavalryman whose biggest black mark was his inability to provide Lee with the much intelligence about the location of Union troops leading up to Gettysburg.
- Union General Henry Heth, who started the whole Gettysburg mess by taking his troops into town looking for shoes. There, he ran into the rebels, and the rest is history.
The three most famous "residents" of Hollywood, though, are two former U.S. presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler, and the only president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. There, things got a little sticky for us. We found Jefferson Davis pretty easily -- and, I mean, how hard can it be to find these guys; they're not exactly moving around. We then went searching for James Monroe and John Tyler, who -- according to the cemetery map -- are within a few hundred feet from each other. We drove around for 15 minutes, and couldn't find them. We went back to the cemetery map, and then drove back to where I was absolutely, positively sure they were. Again, no luck. Another 15 minutes of circling a huge cemetery. No Monroe. No Tyler. By now, Joan is gritting her teeth and starving. Finally, after what probably totaled 45 minutes, we decided to leave the dead presidents alone, and decide to spend some dead presidents on lunch. Before we left, we snapped some shots of the James River from the high ground where the cemetery sits.
We then stopped at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Va., where our ninth president, William Henry Harrison, was born. If you don't know much about Harrison, just know that he had the most mistake-free administration in history. He gave the longest inaugural speech in history, then got sick and died after one month in office.
But Harrison's birth is not all that's happened at Berkeley Plantation. This place is like the Forrest Gump of plantations. It is where Benjamin Harrison -- not the president, but a three-time governor of Virginia and signer of the Declaration of Independence -- was born. It's where Lincoln came to inspect troops during the Civil War. It's where the song "Taps" was composed. It's where the first official Thanksgiving in America was held in 1619. It's where the first bourbon whiskey was distilled in America. Berkeley was also where we took Fred and Hank on a walk to wear them down, and found success. We walked up to the James River, and got some shots of two exhausted dogs.
After leaving Berkeley, we made a quick stop at the one-time home the aforementioned Tyler, the president who succeeded Harrison. Though we never did find where he rests today back in Richmond, at least we found his house. That gave me the illusion of closure I needed, and we decided to declare victory and head to the Outer Banks.
THE DAY'S LOWLIGHT
- Joan and her computer, Part 2. The first stop of the day was Best Buy in west Richmond, where Joan stopped to get some Geek help with her computer. Their quick diagnosis: Joan had only installed one of the two disks required for a full Windows install. She had not installed the disk will all the drivers in it. Now in her defense, there had been no prompt to install a second disk. Nonetheless, she returned to the car with a sheepish look on her face, and had to admit user error. Joan thinks he's probably still talking about the idiot old lady who came by at store opening, and teared up after his diagnosis. But let's end with good news: When we got to our hotel in the Outer Banks, Joan completed the install and is now back up and running.
- The computer issues Joan had over the past three days had her up into the wee hours trying to troubleshoot, and add the stress that comes with computer issues just exacerbated her fatigue. And it's showing. On Saturday night at dinner, Joan picked up her place setting and put the napkin on the table and her silverware in her lap. And she didn't notice for five minutes, until she tried to wipe off her hands on her knife. Then, Sunday, when making hotel reservations, she was asked to spell our last name, and said "B-R-A-D-E-E." Now, in her defense, at the time she did this, she was writing down the phrase "dog fEE" in her notebook. But I didn't know that at the time, and found this disturbing. Nonetheless, I've decided to call her "Jane" today.
- Fred acted bizarrely throughout our entire Hollywood Cemetery experience, acting all agitated and holding a low growl. We interpreted these actions differently. Joan suggested that maybe "Fred sees dead people." I thought maybe he was just as annoyed as Joan at how long I was spending looking for Monroe and Tyler.
- One detour we forgot to mention in yesterday's missive: On our way to Richmond on Saturday, we passed through King William County, which is where Hank was found wandering the streets before he was picked up and put in a shelter. We decided to stop and see whether we could find the county shelter and take a picture to mark Hank's new life in front of the place where his life began badly. Unfortunately, we could find nothing. The King William County courthouse -- where the animal control department is located -- is about the size of our hotel room, so we're pretty sure they don't keep dogs there. Either way, Hank seemed unaware of where we were, which put him only slightly behind us. After 10 minutes, we declared defeat and left.
- Virginia has WAAAAAAY too many historical markers. There seems to be one every 10 feet, and many seem utterly irrelevant. "This marks the spot, where in 1771, Patrick Henry stopped to have smoke on his way to get his carriage repaired." OK, that's not real, but I swear, some of these markers don't seem any more relevant.
- Those of you who received these e-mails in 2003 remember Joan's crazy obsession with laundry. Early in the trip, Joan couldn't wait to get me out of my clothes. This seemed like a promising development, until I realized she just wanted to wash my clothes. Well, she did our first two loads of laundry last night, at the home of our friends, Tammy Kennon and Chip Sellarole, who own a kick-ass wine and beer store on the Outer Banks. The gleam in her eyes when cleaning clothes is scary.
- One issue we've had with packing the car is that the size of the dirty laundry bag changes by the day, so it has to move all over the car, depending on its girth. Before we did the laundry yesterday, it had reached the point where we had no choice but to put it in the back seat. But, as usual, Fred adjusted quickly.
- Random iPod shuffle song of the day: "Cryin'" by Aerosmith. I don't really have anything to add. I like old Aerosmith better than new Aerosmith, but this one seems relatively tame.
- Most played albums Saturday: "Discipline," by King Crimson; and, yes, I'm still obsessed with "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today," by David Byrne and Brian Eno." Best track: "Life Is Long."
- Lunch: Quizno's, Williamsburg, Va.: We made another healthy lunch choice, after skipping over a dozen Subways in protest of Saturday's horror-show lunch. Jim Nutrition Check: I had a regular-sized turkey sandwich and a bag of chips. Solid. Restaurant Rating: (3 stars).
- Dinner: Tammy & Chip's house, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.: As a policy, we don't rate meals at friends' houses. This meal was phenomenal, but you never know, and there's no quicker way to kill a friendship than to rip someone's cooking. That's never a problem with Tammy and Chip, who are amazing cooks. Jim Nutrition Check: Tammy made a delicious chicken, stuffed with Madeira-soaked prunes, goat cheese and walnuts and topped with terrific yogurt sour cream on top. Overall, a totally healthy meal. I did have my first few beers of the trip, however. When I do, I'm trying to drink local brews. The brew of choice last night: Gaelic Ale, brewed in Asheville, N.C.
Clarion Hotel on the Ocean, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.: We got a room near the front of the hotel, which is key when you're lugging all this stuff around. The room was huge and comfortable, with the only downside being I couldn't get any reception on my wireless card and the hotel's high-speed line wasn't so hot. Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5).
TRAVEL WEB SITE OF THE DAY
- SeatGuru: Again, this won't help us on this trip, but this is a great site if you want to find the best seats on any type of aircraft. I never fly anymore without using this site.
COMMENT OF THE DAY
We're getting a ton of great comments and suggestions on the blog. Wanted to start calling out some of them. Now, I made a comment yesterday about how my friend Casey Taylor once accused me of being a closet Celine Dion fan (are there any other kind?). Matthew Greenberg responded yesterday:
- "Let Casey Taylor off the hook -- I was the one who saw the "Titanic" soundtrack on your desk. Try as I might, I couldn't get the Celine Dion rumor to stick."
OK, I stand corrected. But Joan adds one major fact to explain why I thought this. When Joan and I first started dating -- after my marriage to Christie Brinkley -- Casey, in an effort to protect Joan from a possibly disastrous romance, told her about my "unholy interest" in movie soundtracks, most notably, "Titanic." I confused two stories. My apologies. Please keep the comments coming.
UPCOMING PLAN (subject to change)
- Today: Outer Banks to Charleston, S.C.
- Tuesday: Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga.
- Wednesday: Some random Georgia sites -- Plains, Warm Springs, Andersonville -- on the way to Atlanta.
BONUS BEAGLE PHOTO
Fred with his old friends Tammy and Chip. Back in his younger days, when we came down to the Outer Banks and stayed at a non-dog-friendly house, Fred stayed with Tammy and Chip. Last night was a happy reunion. And does he look happy, or what? Fred had a good time as well.