Leesburg, History & Wine...

We played tourist locally today. Since we are staying in Loudoun County we thought we'd learn more about this picturesque place. You wouldn't know it by looking at it now, but at one time it was the northwestern frontier of Virginia and a dangerous place to visit until the 1722 Treaty of Albany. The treaty kept the American Indian nations west of the Blue Ridge. With this buffer, settlers began slowly to move into the piedmont of present day eastern Loudoun and the rolling lush lands of the Loudoun Valley in the western part of the county.

I love this library. Library service started here in 1907 when a small private subscription library society was opened in a private home. Following fundraising efforts and construction, this building was dedicated in 1922 as a memorial tribute to Thomas Balch (1821-1877), father of international arbitration and a native of Leesburg.

We began at the Loudoun Museum which had a surprising beginning and continues on a rich journey. In the mid 1960’s, The Town of Leesburg needed to make room for more parking and planned to pull down a former dry cleaners. Hidden under the siding, they discovered Stephen Donaldson’s silversmith shop, a log cabin dating to as early as 1764. Along with this, the Town later bought two additional buildings that ultimately formed the Museum complex.
One item I found intriguing was this Magic Lantern Slide which has its origins in 17th century optical viewing devices. The earliest slides for magic lanterns consisted of hand-painted images on glass, projected by itinerant showmen telling stories about the images that were projected.

This however is a children’s toy magic lantern whose slides are rectangular strips of glass of many sizes, with blue, green, red, orange, pink or yellow paper edging glued on so not to cut children’s hands. Slides are transfers or decals stuck onto the glass strips. I would love this.

Loudoun saw a small but savage battle October 21, 1861 (155 years ago today) at Ball’s Bluff, northeast of Leesburg, when a Union force was driven into the Potomac with heavy losses. Early Confederate success was replaced with Federal occupation by 1862. It was through Loudoun that Lee’s army marched to and from Antietam, followed on the return by Federal troops under McClellan. A year later, Union forces marched through Loudoun on the way to Gettysburg. Each time, the county was wiped clean of forage and horses, often leaving county residents in dire straits. A number of county residents fought back as members of Mosby’s partisan rangers. Mosby, often call the “Gray Ghost of the Confederacy,” was known for his enormously successful hit and run tactics.

Located at the Battlefield is a National Cemetery. This cemetery is the third smallest national cemetery in the United States. Fifty-four Union Army dead from the Battle of Ball's Bluff are interred in 25 graves in the half-acre plot; the identity of all of the interred except for one, James Allen of the 15th Massachusetts, are unknown.

Established in 1855 on the immediate outskirts of town, the Union Cemetery was created as a public cemetery open to people of all faiths. It predated three other “Union” cemeteries in Loudoun County. The cemetery contains the 1908 Union Chapel and several notable monuments, including a Confederate War Memorial at the north end of the site, and an imperfectly cut 30-foot- high granite column, allegedly designed for a D.C. public building, but rejected and brought to the cemetery in the 1890s.

Wildest business combination- ever... Bullets & Beans.

We concluded our fun day with a wine tasting event. The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery housed on a refurbished dairy farm (c. 1910).  The winery is located just off of Route 7 in the quaint, historic town of Hamilton, Virginia only ten minutes from historic Leesburg.  Beginning with carefully selected Virginia grapes, winemaker Michael Shaps creates wines inspired in the Bordeaux French style, but are uniquely expressive of Virginia. Eleven breathtaking acres surround a beautifully restored hundred and six-year-old stone and wood barn, which has been transformed into a unique tasting room.

"The best wines are the ones we drink with friends."

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Exploring Washington D.C. Day 2

With limited time and a desire to do it ALL, we started our day early at The White House.

Margaret arranged our tour and we delighted in meandering the halls that the First Family meanders too.

The Library contains volumes of history, biography, fiction, and the sciences, all by American Authors. The furniture is American of the Federal period.
This is a great "Where are Denise & Steve?"
This is the oldest work of art that has been in the White House since its beginning (1800).

We loved how the carpets were rolled up to allow us to visit.
April showers might bring May flowers, but White House florists keep the executive mansion in bloom year round. Today the White House Chief Floral Designer and her staff have a flower shop in the basement of the mansion, beneath the North Portico. They create and maintain arrangements for display in the public and private rooms of the White House and design fabulous centerpieces for events of all kinds. There is hardly a table or mantel that goes unadorned—flowers have become central to the building’s d├ęcor.

After touring the White House, we headed to the National Mall.
From a distance, we were drawn to this monument. The Second Division Memorial is located in President's Park and commemorates those who died, while serving in the 2nd Infantry Division of the U. S. Army. The artist was James Earle Fraser. It was dedicated on July 18, 1936, by president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen. This amazing monument, built to honor George Washington, the United States' first president, is a 555-foot marble obelisk that towers over Washington, D.C.

I love the image of the Lincoln Memorial in the Reflection Pool.
Service, Sacrifice, Unity, and Victory Through stone architecture and bronze sculptures, the World War II Memorial recognizes the ways Americans served, honors those who fell, and recognizes the victory they achieved to restore freedom and end tyranny around the globe. I found it interesting that Iowa and California were right next to each other as my father, a WWII veteran, was from Iowa and concluded his Navy career in California.
The Capitol Building was one of the views from the Mall- spectacular.
Lee and Margaret are in front of the brand new National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution and tickets to go inside are impossible to get. This is the only way we could see it today.
Election Time was a great time to be here in D.C. The campaign propaganda is alive and well.

We ended our visit at the Smithsonian's American History Museum. With our limited time, we focused on the Food Exhibition and Julia Child, who I loved. Legendary cook and teacher Julia Child (1912–2004) had a tremendous impact on food and culinary history in America. Through her books and television series, which spanned forty years, she encouraged people to care about food and cooking. She inspired many Americans to conquer their fears of the unfamiliar and to expand their ideas about ingredients and flavors, tools and techniques, and meals in general.
This was Julia in her Paris apartment in 1948. She was 6'3" and this apartment shows her 'magnitude'.
In 1976 Julia Child wrote an essay for Architectural Digest about her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In it she called her kitchen "the beating heart and social center of the household ... both practical and beautiful, a working laboratory as well as a living and dining room." This this her actual American kitchen. It contains tools and equipment from the late 1940s, when Julia Child began her life in food, through to 2001, when she donated this kitchen to the Smithsonian Institution.
In the 1950s, public television programming consisted mainly of lectures, book discussions, science demonstrations, and classical music performances. Julia Child marched into this rarefied atmosphere in 1962, with a show based on her new book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is a great photo. In this playful moment, the TV show staff are spoofing the fiction that Julia did everything herself.

This section called "Resetting the Table" was a flashback for us. Between 1950 and 2000, Americans experienced immense changes in what and how they ate, and in how they thought and felt about food. Direct challenges to conventional diets and cooking styles came from immigrants, activists, and global travelers, and spread from local communities and restaurants to supermarkets and suburban backyards.

This photo, in an exhibit about chips, was a super cool flashback for me because I always enjoyed eating at Casa de Fritos when we went to Disneyland. 
After a full day in our Nation's Capital, we could have totally used a Power Nap. It was a great explore of D.C.

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