From one Battle to Another

Thursday, March 29, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Fredericksburg, VA to Arlington, VA
In Fredericksburg this morning, we went by the battlefield visitor center and picked up some maps and brochures to inform our driving tour of the battlefield park.  Ken made the unfortunate mistake of answering "no" when the eager volunteer asked him if he knew anything about the battles that took place in and around Fredericksburg.  Fifteen minutes and a thorough briefing later, we escaped with a well-marked map to ensure we didn't miss the site of even one minor skirmish.
Strategically situated midway between the wartime capitols of Washington and Richmond, Fredericksburg was highly prized by both sides and saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Civil War.  Over a period of 18 months, four major battles were fought in the area at a cost of more than 105,000 casualties.  The city itself wasn't spared either, sustaining significant property and structural damage from the bombardment.
From the visitor center (exhibit pictured above), we went in search of a couple of letterboxes and then on a self-guided walking tour of the historic downtown area, where we saw numerous sites significant in the life of George Washington, who had a close association with Fredericksburg.  At age six, Washington moved with his family to Ferry Farm just across the Rappahannock River, where he remained until his late teens.
Ferry Farm
The Washington home no longer exists on the farm, nor did we see a single cherry tree, the legendary victim of George Washington's childhood mischief.  Ferry Farm is also the location where the young Washington was said to have thrown a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River.  Upon his father's death, George inherited Ferry Farm while his older brother Lawrence was granted a plantation on the Potomac River named Mount Vernon, a property George acquired when Lawrence died.
Washington's mother, Mary Ball Washington, also retains quite a presence in Fredericksburg, where she lived from 1772 until her death in 1789 in a home purchased for her by George.  Though we did not have time to visit it, the Mary Washington home is operated as a historic museum and is said to house antique furnishings belonging to the family.
Mary Washington House
In 1833, President Andrew Jackson had a monument erected and dedicated to Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.  Though the obelisk built to honor her son wasn't begun until 15 years later, the memorial to Mary was designed in the same shape.
The University of Mary Washington, Mary Washington Hospital, and numerous other entities in Fredericksburg immortalize the name of the mother of the Father of our Country.  Mary Washington is buried near Kenmore, the Fredericksburg estate of her daughter Betty.  Kenmore is also open for public tours.
Mary Washington Monument
After our walking tour, Yelp led us to Foodē, a local restaurant which puts locally grown organic ingredients together in new combinations and suffuses them with flavor.  As usual, Yelp reviewers led us to a great spot. 

In the afternoon we took the driving tours of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania battlefield parks before stopping to search for some letterboxes at the Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery.  We were able to locate the seven boxes in the cemetery, as well as a surprising visitor to the Logan mausoleum—a sleepy black snake awakened by our visit. 
By the time we tracked down our last letterboxes in Spotsylvania Court House, it was late afternoon and time to drive to Arlington and see the apartment that would be our home for the next couple of weeks.  Thanks to cousin Pam and her connected friends, we found ourselves in a perfect location, five minutes from the Metro, in a one-bedroom apartment on the 15th floor of a high rise near the Pentagon.
With our full kitchen, a little grocery shopping was in order.  Even though we were tired, we needed sustenance, so we located a Harris Teeter in Pentagon Row, a nearby shopping center.  After entering the underground parking garage, we noticed a parking pay station near the elevator and a sign indicating we should keep our ticket with us.

Ticket?  What ticket?  When we drove into the parking area, the gate was up and we did not notice the ticket dispenser.  No problem.  We walked over to the entrance to obtain our EASY PAY ticket.
Except that no matter how many times we punched the button, without the weight of our car there, the machine would not respond with a ticket.  Of course, we couldn't drive the car there because there was a gate preventing us from reaching this spot in our vehicle.

No problem.  The pay kiosk had a phone number we could call, so we did.  First Ken tried.  The person who answered the phone told him, "Yoo moost glebtra zeus bweking sangste anden ah woo deeb yoo teekeet."  For some reason, Ken didn't know how to proceed based on this direction.  I tried three times with the same result.  On the third call, the attendant became frustrated and hung up on me.

What to do?  There was an after hours number on the kiosk so we tried it.  The guy who answered the phone had only a mild accent.  Now we'd get somewhere.
Me:  We are visitors to the Washington area and are trapped in your parking garage at Pentagon Row.  The gate was open when we entered and we didn't realize we needed to get a ticket.  We've tried calling the attendant on duty but we cannot understand what she is saying because of her heavy accent.  We need to know how to obtain a ticket so we can get out of the garage.
Parking Guy:  So, what's the problem?
OK.  Maybe he didn't understand English as well as he spoke it.  He transferred me to someone's voice mail.  Perfect.  Perhaps we'd get a call back on Monday and find out how to get out.

Since we had been unable to obtain help from the parking vendor, we even tried the garage's emergency phone, only to discover it's like an elevator in the event of a fire— not appropriate for use in an emergency situation.  Uh, okay.

Finally, it was time for the dummy method.  Forget using common sense.  Just try any desperate means that comes to mind.  We cornered a young fellow rounding up grocery carts in the garage, described our dilemma, and asked if he knew where we could get help.  He kindly pointed us to the parking office, where we found a sign outside the locked door indicating that one of the garage's exits had an attendant. 

Forgetting our groceries, we drove to said exit where we discovered a testy attendant who told us, "I tale yoo ven yoo cullee beefod I geevy yoo teekeet."  She handed us a ticket, and we paid our bail.

"Step on it!" I urged, and Ken did.

Beware Colonial Parking