Wednesday, July 6, 2011

john brown's body is a-moulderin' in the grave

Ross and I both had the weekend of the fourth off (the only weekend I'll have off all summer, I'm afraid, thanks to my stupid demanding job), and so we decided to go camping. We were able to get reservations at the Treehouse Camp, which is about an hour away from us, right near the West Virginia border (and no, there aren't really tree houses. They're more like cabins on stilts). On the way, though, we stopped at lovely, historic Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, where we found these signs posted on nearly every door:

Harper's Ferry is a remarkably well-preserved town, made famous during the Civil War by John Brown's raid on an armory building. This building, to be more specific: 

In case you've forgotten your Civil War history (and since most of my readers are from the West Coast, I'm betting you have), John Brown was an avid abolitionist. His raid, in the course of which he and eighteen other men held the building for several days, was intended to spark a slave uprising. He was caught and hanged, and is still a super controversial figure, which was obvious in the town. Although we saw a lot of plaques and thing honoring him, there was also this carved gem: 

I was going to write out the whole inscription, but I'm too lazy. Instead you should click on it and read it. It's a masterpiece of double-talk and innuendo. Good stuff. 

This being the Fourth of July weekend as well as the Civil War's Sesquicentennial (didn't know that? Me, neither), there were a lot of Civil War reenactors in town, which made my nerdy little heart almost explode with happiness.  

Our favorite of the day's festivities, surprisingly, was the gun talk and demonstration. During the Civil War, apparently, Harper's Ferry was a huge gun manufacturer, and we got to learn about all the different types of guns they produced. Ross and I were fascinated, and I say this with no trace of irony. I never thought I'd find guns at all interesting, but it turns out that guns plus historical locations plus costumes equal an interested me. Learning!    

Guns are loud, by the way. Also, after being fired a bunch of times they get freakin' hot. I know this 'cause I picked one up. What?! I know. It was a first.

From Harper's Ferry we drove a few miles to our campground, which was crawling with these incredibly creepy dudes. I'm not usually very scared of spiders, but these guys were intense.

Saturday night there was a huge thunderstorm. Luckily we were already in our tent (which dealt with the rain like a champ), but it kept us awake for a long time.

Sunday afternoon we rented kayaks from this shop in Shepherdstown, WV, which is officially the most charming town I have ever seen.

Here are some things Shepherdstown has to offer on its historic, tiny Main Street: a tiny university, a juice bar, a yoga studio, a store devoted to "Natural Running" (which means as close to barefoot as possible), the aforementioned kayak and bike rental place, at least one independent coffee shop, several lovely restaurants, an organic food shop, a twice-weekly Farmers Market, and a bakery. It's also right next to the Potomac River and the C & O Canal Trail. Seriously, it's my new favorite place. Although we did have a brief and tantalizing conversation with a resident who said that sure, the town may be cute, but the local businesses had "a dark underbelly." Um, that's awesome.

Anyway, like I said, we rented kayaks and used them to stalk wildlife. We saw a groundhog, a turtle, and a lot of fish, but mostly we just stalked this Great Blue Heron.

Shepherdstown is really great. I think someone should take me there for a romantic weekend away. 

Sunday night it rained for a couple hours, during which we sat in the car and read junk food books, which was delightful. After it stopped raining, we made tin foil dinners and banana boats/bombs and went to bed. Thanks, Western Maryland! We liked you.  

Up next! Fireworks on the Mall and the most Mormon Mormons I've ever met. 


  1. Delightful! West Virginia is beautiful and the Civil War is fascinating. I miss you!