Virginia Trip
July 2005



Once again, it was realized that it would be unfair for my mother and 
sister to stay home during the summer's duration, so a vacation was planned 
for the entire family. This time, we were going to go get five more presidents: 
One in Pennsylvania, four in Virginia. Since Pennsylvania is closer to our home 
than Virginia, we headed for the "Keystone State" first. Our first day was solely 
spent traveling, with no graveyards in sight. When dusk fell, we stopped in a 
small town to meet with one of my father's friends. We had dinner together at 
a restaurant, where my father's friend, a toy collector, proceeded to take out a 
hand puppet of President Carter at the table and began to use it. Of course, I 
was mortified at the moment, but now I can just look back at it and laugh. We 
also met for breakfast the following morning, after which we resumed our 
journey. 80 miles later, we arrived in Lancaster, where possibly one of America's
worst presidents lays buried. 

Fittingly, Woodward Hill Cemetery was a chaotic mess. Much of the 
cemetery was overgrown with weeds and vines, and over half of its grave 
markers were toppled over or shattered. Finding President Buchanan's grave
was not a hard task, as it had an American flag flying nearby. The 15th 
president's grave actually appeared half way decent, standing out like a sore 
thumb amongst such dreadful surroundings. Once we took our pictures, we 
made a U-turn and headed East toward Maryland. We ended up staying in 
Baltimore, where we walked around the city's piers, went to an aquarium, and 
watched the Red Sox defeat the Orioles. After departing our hotel, which was 
right across from the Orioles' ball park, we drove South to Washington, D.C. 
While there, we visited the National Archives and Woodrow Wilson's home. We 
also found out that the hotel we stayed at during each of our visits to D.C. is 
right across from the hotel that President Reagan was shot at. A day or so 
later, we drove into Virginia and to President Madison's beloved home, 
Montpelier. Unfortunately, the mansion was going under extensive renovations 
at the time of our visit, so there was very little to see. We were still able to 
walk to the family cemetery however, and take some pictures of James Madison's obelisk. Shortly after, we piled into our vehicle and flocked to 
Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's renowned mansion.

Jefferson's home appeared very elaborate, filled with sculptures and 
many of his inventions. One of the home's most notable artifacts was a clock 
that Jefferson had constructed, operated by various pulleys. The contraption 
took up so much space that Jefferson had to make holes in the floor for the 
pulleys to go through. Eventually, we exited the house and began to wander 
the grounds, at which point we came upon the president's grave. Interestingly 
enough, Jefferson omitted the fact that he was president from his epitaph, 
evidently disliking the office. Unfortunately, Jefferson's grave is surrounded 
by a very large metal fence, and we could not even find an entranceway to get 
inside. As the distance between the bars was great however, we discovered 
that I was able to slip in through the fence. At first, we were going to wait until 
all of the other visitors standing there left, but it did not appear that they were 
going to be leaving any time soon. At one point, my father explained the 
situation and asked everyone if they would be offended if I were to slip in 
through the fence, and no one minded at all. Relieved, I squeezed through the 
metal bars, strode up to the tall marker, and stood while my father took some 
photographs.

After our adventure at Monticello, we drove to Richmond, where we 
stayed the night. The following morning, we got up and went to Hollywood 
cemetery, where Presidents Monroe and Tyler are interred within 30 feet of 
each other. I was delighted to visit President Monroe's ornate cage-like 
structure, but was less than thrilled to be at the grave of Tyler, who gave up 
his US citizenship for a Confederate one. Of course though, I had to get my 
picture taken with both, so I tried to put on a smile and get myself through the 
ordeal. Before we departed however, there was one more grave we had to 
visit. The first and only president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, is 
interred in the same cemetery. After we gazed upon Davis' statue for a few 
moments I prepared to depart, only to be halted by my parents. I was told to 
get up next to the grave for a picture. As a loyal and somewhat stubborn 
American I fought against it, but eventually I sulked over to Davis' final resting 
place and posed for a few photographs.

With all of us exhausted, we chose to head home. As we began the final 
part of our journey I sank back into my seat and thought to myself, "28 down, 
and only 9 to go." I then began to contemplate what an accomplishment this 
whole thing truly was and is.
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