Independence Day

The Fourth of July brought an unusual outpouring of patriotism at my house this year.

My wife and I kicked things off on Friday.  After dropping the kids at summer camp, we went out to Antietam National Battlefield, where we finally completed what turned out to be a more than 22-mile bicycle ride.  The ride initially follows the auto tour of the battlefield and then takes cyclists down to the C&O Canal towpath before ending back at Antietam’s Visitor Center.  I discovered the cue sheet for this ride some time ago on Bike Washington’s website.  We tried to do it last year but I couldn’t complete the ride.  The 90-degree plus heat and humidity and my less than stellar physical shape combined to doom me to a puking, shivering mess.

Saturday night found us back at the battlefield where we met some 30-thousand of our closest friends for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Salute to Independence.”  It was the 25th annual concert and, since we moved here more than six years ago, it’s become a tradition for us. The orchestra always puts on a fine show  and the fireworks after the concert are the best in the region.  Here’s a quick clip.  I took it on my Blackberry, so the quality isn’t the best.

I expected Sunday to be a day of rest but my wife woke up with other plans. She wanted to visit George Washington and his wife Martha so we piled the kids in the car and off we went to Mount Vernon.

I must say the Mount Vernon estate is beautiful.  G.W. must have loved the expansive view of the Potomac River from the back porch of his mansion.  It’s unparalleled.   I have to hand it to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association for maintaining things in such fine fashion.  The only thing that marred the day was the long wait to tour the mansion. The holiday brought out a larger than usual crowd. It took us more than two hours of waiting in 90 degree heat just to get to the head of the line.

Once the mansion tour was over, we visited George and Martha’s tomb.  It was a moving experience for me.  G.W. is one of my heroes.

It was around 5pm when we got back in the car after treating ourselves to some overpriced ice cream at the visitor center. I feared we might get caught in the usual mess that makes driving in and around Washington, DC such a pleasure but I needn’t have worried. The holiday took a noticeable number of cars off the road and our drive home proved uneventful.  Once we got back, we went to a friend’s house for July 4th hamburgers and hotdogs and the ritual lighting of sparklers and other assorted fireworks.  No one got hurt and when I finally put my head down, I went right to sleep.

That was our weekend.  We haven’t had a better one in quite some time.

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