Tuesday, 24 July 2012
We start the day with a family breakfast and spontaneous mini-college reunion. We meet Tony, Laurie and her five-year-old daughter Beatrix for breakfast–so great to see Laurie and finally meet her (not-so) little one, adorable with personality to spare. During our meal, Karen’s college roommate pops by for an impromptu and very brief meet-up. Rebbie is days away from moving to Hawaii and just happens to be in Manassas at the same time we were. Thanks to Facebook postings, we’re able to get together for a quick catch-up over coffee.
We say our goodbyes to Laurie and Beatrix and follow Tony over to the Manassas Battlefield National Park visitors’ center to begin our personal guided tour. As we stand over-looking the Bull Run battlefield, he gives us a run-down of the First Battle of Manassas. Throughout the hour we’re there, other visitors wander over and eavesdrop on Tony’s lecture.
Next, it’s time to see the sights of Second Manassas. We all climb into the car and drive from one battlefield to another as Tony tells the tales of what transpired in 1862. Tony really knows his stuff and communicates the history like a master storyteller, bringing the past to life. As a veteran himself, Tony’s first-person perspective of battle are given a certain amount of gravity. Four hours and as many stops later, we can’t believe how time had flown by. This has been a phenomenal way to immerse ourselves in history and we can’t wait to do it again, hopefully sometime soon.
After saying goodbye to Tony, we head back to the gift shop to buy postcards and walk the first battlefield, shooting photos in the light of late day. Next stop, Fredericksburg, our base for the next few days on the Civil War battlefield tour.
Our hotel is located in the historic section of Fredericksburg and we enjoy walking the streets (the same trod by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) and window shopping on our way to dinner. We score big at yet another local/sustainable/organic eatery, Foode, a small, vibrant restaurant with fantastic food and an impressive beer and wine selection. Jan and I have the BBQ chicken, served over tasty mashed potatoes, and crisp green kale with cherry tomatoes and lemon. So good.
On our way back to the hotel, we walk over a bridge to get a peek at the nearby Rappahannock River, which is looking very low. After treating ourselves to ice cream at a local shop, we spend a quiet evening writing and reading.