(C)  2002-2014  J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters
 RV Travel notes from
         the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 16  No 3                                                                                                                                                                          September, 2006
One of the former W&M students who became US
president was a guy named Thomas Jefferson.  A
remarkable person.  He designed Monticello, his
mansion outside of Charlottesville, VA and you can
see a few similarities to the Governor’s Palace in
Williamsburg.  He designed his home with a
number of innovations.  For instance at that time
the kitchen and other “services” were in
outbuildings.  He placed these beneath his main

He considered   himself primarily a farmer and
reported his occupation on the US census as a
“farmer”.  A tour of his estate shows that he worked
on creating new hybrids of his plants to improve
the species.  

It continually interests me that leaders of our
country have excelled in diverse disciplines.  We’ve
seen that in the past.  We also see it with today’s
leaders.  In this letter I’ve mentioned both
Eisenhower and Jefferson.   Jefferson was a
scientist, inventor, writer and more.  Eisenhower
was a brilliant leader of men and more; in fact in
addition to farming he was a skilled amateur
painter.   It is clear that both had refined
organizational and communication skills to exploit
their talents.  

That's it for now
Heading south the Skyline Drive in northwestern
Virginia is a marvelous route – take it if you have
the time.  The speed limit is 35mph.  With
spectacular scenery like this most people average
considerably less, as there are many turnoffs at
viewpoints and trailheads.  The Appalachian Trail
crosses the drive many times.  It is rugged
country.  Having just visited Gettysburg we couldn’t
help thinking of the troops marching through the
mountain passes in 1863.  Keep in mind they wore
heavy wool uniforms in the severe July heat.  

This road was another CCC (Civilian Conservation
Corps) project that was undertaken during the
Great Depression.  At its south end it joins the Blue
Ridge Parkway that continues into North Carolina.  

One stop was at the Luray Caverns – what a great
display.  We had toured this back in ’57.  Of
course, that was so long ago that I’d even
forgotten that we’d seen it before.  We’ve visited
other caverns but certainly this is outstanding in its
use of artificial lights to highlight the formations.  At
Carlsbad Caverns, operated by the National Park
Service, they are so conscious of the effect of light
and heat that they limit the lighting.  Luray Caverns
is privately owned so they seemingly are able to
illuminate the stalactites and stalagmites as they
Dear Gals… Your guys …
Our grandchildren… our sisters


We’re home – that is the fixed one, the one on
wheels is in storage.  Last Friday we arrived and
have been getting established since then.  Picked
up the mail, and that’s a chore as we only had mail
once all summer.   

We hated to leave PEI but the calendar couldn’t be
stopped.  Right after Labour Day the temperature
hinted that it was time to go south.  The average
daily temperature ranged from 10°C to 20°C (50°F
to 68°F) certainly the highs were comfortable with
an invigorating nip in the air.  Residents say fall is
their favorite season.  (We kid them that they
prefer it when their island is not so crowded with

By looking at photos of the lighthouse at the end of
the Panmure Island Provincial Park and a nearby
farm you can see the beauty that pulls us back
every other year.
was pivotal and the south’s fortunes went into
decline that Lee could not reverse.  

We toured the battlefield, saw the numerous
memorials that have been placed at key positions
held by the various regiments and stood at high
points (photo) overlooking the battlefield from
which the generals commanded their troops.  

Fast forward to 1961; General Eisenhower was a
student of the Civil War, especially the battle at
Gettysburg.  After his terms as US president he
retired to his farm in Gettysburg and set as his
goal the improvement of the farm by introducing
conservation measures and improving his breed of
cattle.  He lived comfortably in Gettysburg and
occupied offices in Gettysburg College to write and
conduct his activities as former president.  The
farm is now a national historic site and open to
visitors.  Gettysburg is pleasant rolling countryside
with no interstate highway to smother the area.
For years we’ve intended to visit Gettysburg and
haven’t squeezed it in.  This year we did.  

The Civil War was one bloody mess with more U.S.
casualties than all our other wars combined.  
Gettysburg was the scene of the bloodiest battle of
the war.  It happened almost by accident.  Yankee
cavalry happened to observe the opposing army.  
Had they not, the advancing Southern army would
have passed close by without incident.  During the
three-day battle 170,000 troops met and there
were more than 51,000 casualties.  At the time of
the battle the war’s outcome appeared to be a
toss-up with both sides fatigued and the home
front in shambles with civilians, north and south,
wondering if the bloodshed and deprivation was all
worthwhile.  (I’m not sure that slaves shared this
thinking.)  As it turned out, the battle’s outcome