Fern Ridge Review
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 27, 2019
By Pat Edwards
A couple of weeks ago, I promised to tell you a bit more about our wonderful 11-day American History East tour that we took at the end of May. The tour itself was only in Washington, D.C. for two nights, so the four of us opted to book two extra nights before it started to allow for a travel day and an extra day to explore on our own.
Fortunately, when we began planning our trip, we wrote to the office of Oregon’s U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, and applied for tours of the White House and the U.S. Capitol. We were sent passes for the White House tour to take place on our “free day” and it was definitely one of the highlights in D.C. Getting to actually see and be present in the beautifully furnished salons on the main floor where so much history has taken place was breathtaking.
The blue room, shaped as an oval—a symbol of democracy—was easily my favorite salon with its French-inspired rich blue and gold sofa and bergères (arm chairs). Also on the tour were the red and green rooms and the state dining room. So much of our nation’s structure and history took place within those walls. One window-lined hallway we took passed by the beautifully-designed Jacqueline Kennedy garden, too.
We joined our tour group that evening. Of the 44 people in our group, we discovered that there was a couple from Cottage Grove and another woman who had graduated from Grants Pass High School. Oregon was well-represented and it is indeed a small world!
While in D.C., we toured the U.S. Capitol, the National Archives, Arlington Cemetery and, of course, many of the memorials and monuments honoring presidents, patriots and veterans—Lincoln, Jefferson, Martin Luther King, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and U.S. Marine Corps memorials were the main highlights. In addition, we had the opportunity to tour the beautiful John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The most memorable part of these first few days took place while we were visiting the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. The day was sunny and in the high-60s, but the sky had taken on a dark, almost black, hue as we looked out from the memorial to the Washington Monument across the way. On leaving to go to our bus, we were suddenly assaulted by extremely strong winds and rain. The downpour wasn’t so much “down” as “sideways” and we became instantly drenched by what we learned was the outer parts of a nearby tornado. We had to make our way down tree-lined streets for several blocks where branches and limbs were sailing past us before we got to our bus. We passed some of our fellow passengers who were huddled around a small kiosk, hoping the short eaves would somehow protect them, but it wasn’t. By the time we got to the bus, all of us were soaked to the skin, literally, and dripped our way to our seats. As we boarded, Jim greeted B.J., Dwight and me with a big smirk on his face, since he and one or two others had opted to stay on the nice, dry bus. The rest of that day’s planned tour was cancelled and we were taken back to our hotel to dry off. The only time I was ever in that much wind and rain was during the 1962 Columbus Day Storm… that’s another story!
Our bus tour then took us to Mt. Vernon, Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg. In Richmond, we visited the historical St. John’s Church which, I could easily imagine, still echoed with the proclamation of “Give me liberty or give me death!” that Patrick Henry gave in a speech there to raise a militia and put Virginia in a position of defense in the approaching Revolutionary War.
After leaving there, we continued to Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Monticello, then into the beautiful Shenandoah National Park with its spectacular views, hiking trails and wildlife.
The next day, we followed Robert E. Lee’s invasion route to Pennsylvania where we visited Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, and beautiful, serene Amish country where horse and buggy are still the norm.
Just before entering Philadelphia, we visited beautiful Valley Forge where George Washington endured the harshly cold winter of 1777-1778 and avoided the disease that took so many lives of his troops.
Our farewell dinner was held aboard the 1904 Moshulu sailing ship in the Philadelphia harbor and the next morning we saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed before boarding our afternoon flights back to Oregon.
Our trip was wonderful and, at the same time, exhausting. I wouldn’t have changed a thing, except for maybe the storm. Traveling adds a whole new and exciting dimension to our lives, but home is truly where my heart is.