Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15
Friday, October 1, 2010
The Journey Home (SC to WA), September 25 - October 1
On my way back north from Congaree National Park in South Carolina, I received a call from my husband John. He had an abdominal CT scan for an intestinal issue and the doctors coincidently found kidney cancer. He would likely need to have one of his kidneys removed in 3-4 week. After overnighting at Char's in Virginia, I headed home. My intent was to take the scenic route home, but stay close to the Interstates in case I needed to get home more quickly than expected.
1,492 Union deaths on Neil McCoull's Farm,
an unknown number of Confederate burials
Many thanks to my friends who graciously changed their plans, even canceling airline tickets, from our scheduled rendezvous.
On my first day traveling west (9/26), I visited Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield (which was a continuation of the Battle of the Wilderness). When I stopped at their information station, a historian was there ... enthusiastic about sharing information about Spotsylvania and the Civil War period of US history.
Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania
20 hours of hand-to-hand fighting
After learning about the Fredericksburg Battle earlier in the month, I had some basic, larger questions about Civil War history. He helped me understand the political climate of this time when the country was expanding west, and both the North and South battled for control of each new state. He explained that "the Southern Way of Life" was about living the Jeffersonian Ideal, each family being self-sufficient on their own land. He further shared how it was the North's victory that freed slaves vs. the Emancipation Proclamation. I also found out that Abraham Lincoln was not popular during his tenure as President ... and much more.
My head was spinning as I left to join the ranger-historian and other visitors for a guided tour at the Bloody Angle where, for 20 hours, during pouring rain and into the dark, men fought hand to hand. Bodies laid 4 to 6 feet deep. May 12, 1864: a very terrible, very sad day. Hard history to hear.
Sculpted Walls on the
Lincoln Boyhood NM
Now late afternoon, I continued going west to overnight at Shenandoah National Park. The next day (9/27), the fall colors on US Hwy 33 were spectacular.
One sculpted wall at
Lincoln Boyhood NM
I drove some beautiful scenic roads, overnighting in West Virginia and then in Kentucky. Next, I visited the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in southern Indiana (9/29). The building itself had beautiful sculptured walls depicting significant times in Abraham Lincoln's life. Lincoln lived at this location from age 8 to 22. It is here that his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, is buried.
Upon leaving the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, John called to tell me that one of our beloved dogs would need to be put down that day and that his scans showed two swollen lymph nodes which may mean that the kidney cancer has spread. Here is the post on our family blog about that hard day. I decided it was time to stop meandering and get home straight away.
Bad Land in southern unit of
Theodore Roosevelt NP
I overnighted in southeast South Dakota, and the following night in southwest North Dakota (9/30) at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I arrived a couple of hours before sunset. Although I was dog tired from long days of driving, I decided to at least do the scenic loop around the southern unit of the park for a bit of relaxed sight seeing.
Buffalo at Theodore Roosevelt NP
I'm glad I did. I saw buffalo, deer, wild horses and elk. I went to bed early, and woke up before sun rise to bugling elk and coyote howls ... magical.
Wild Horse at Theodore Roosevelt NP
I took scenic State Hwy 200 across Montana, and then hopped onto I-90 through Idaho and Washington. I arrived at my Western Washington home at 10pm that night (10/1).