Saturday, April 19, 2008

Today we drove from Hillville to Staunton, Virginia, up the Blue Ridge Parkway and into the famed Shenandoah Valley. We saw flowering pink dogwood and blossoming cherry trees everywhere. Here in this great valley, European settlers traveled south and west from Pennsylvania, gradually displacing native Americans between 1700-1750.

We drove along the ridges of the Appalachians, a narrow but beautiful parkway with great sweeping vistas, stopping at Mowbry’s Mill to see restored buildings from the 1840s and catching glimpses of what life was once like. I feel much more aware of our history here in the eastern half of the US. Everyone worked to the bone to survive. I cannot imagine the tremendous hope and energy that went into moving into frontier lands.

During yesterday’s visit to the Moravian community in Old Salem, we visited (among 15 other buildings) a tavern (more a way station in a long journey) to find a very well organized kitchen. A typical meal of the 1830s might include chicken with herbs, fresh baked bread, meat pasties, boiled cabbage and gingersnaps (very dark because of the sorghum molasses).

Rain and more rain for the next several days will have us mostly driving north and east. Gas has now topped $120 a barrel, bringing, Allen says, the retail base price over $3. This does not promise any financial dips in the heavy travel season this summer. But the economy and the war seem lost in the current sniping between the two Democratic candidates in the lead up to the Pennsylvania primary. Obama seems more ephemeral than ever, and Clinton (sans Bill) seems every day more shrill. Only Indecision 2008 makes fun of all and helps me remember that the real contest is not now but in the fall.

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