Saturday, June 29, 2013

We Did the Booth Trail and We Went to Natural Bridge!

It's time to knock two more things off the Bucket List! We just got back from following the Booth Trail and then spent two days in Natural Bridge, VA! Pics are below!

  • I will get a job at some kind of animal shelter, and I'm going to be damn good at whatever I end up doing there.
  • I will get at least one old, beat up piece of wood furniture, save it from going to the landfill, and refinish it. Holy crap, I'm actually doing this one right now!!! 
  • I'd like to go on an LCAC ride with my husband before he transfers to his new command. I had to cross this one off finally, because Shane left this command already. This bummed me out. I never got a ride on an LCAC out on the bay. Some of his family members did, and even though I offered to take any number of half days off from work, I never got to ride.
  • I will go to see the Booth Trail in 2013.
  • I will go to Natural Bridge, VA and the Shenandoah Valley and stay in a cabin in the woods in 2013. 
  • I will go to Hiddenite Gems, an emerald mine open to the public, in NC in 2013. 
  • I will go to the Richmond Zoo and the Virginia Zoo (they have done a lot of remodeling and I haven't been there for a several years). 
  • I will go to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 2013. 
  • I want to go to Tokyo some day. I would like to go to Hiroshima as well, but I've heard that Americans are unofficially unwelcome there, and I don't blame the Japanese people if that's true. 
  • I want to see the pyramids and sphinx in Egypt.
  • I'd love to see the Mona Lisa (she's in the Louvre in Paris) and The Scream (there are a couple, two of them are in Munich). 
  • I want to go to London, and maybe look for the TARDIS and the Doctor. 
  • I want to go to San Diego to see my best friend, go to Comic Con, wear a costume, take lots of photos, find an awesome looking Spider-Man so I can give him a hug for just being Spidey, and then walk a beach on the Pacific Ocean, looking for shells. 
  • I'd like to go to a taping of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" if we ever go to California. 
  • I want to have at least one great, wildly creative crochet pattern published in a real book somewhere. 
  • I'd like to have our yard be featured for our Halloween decorations with a local tv station, so people might understand you don't have to spend big bucks on decorations and still put together a great display (I say this because we don't go as crazy for Christmas decorations).
  • I'd like to win a challenge on Craftster.
  • I'd like to compete on Craft Wars on TLC. I had to cross this one off too, because I'm pretty sure it's no longer on the air. I can't find any updated information on it.
  • I will finish the Jedi costume finally and I will join the Rebel Legion in 2013. 
  • I will finish the doll house I started several years ago. 
  • I want to go to Ohio and see Ralphie Harper's house from The Christmas Story. 
  • I want to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert, and maybe even the Bangles if I ever get to California. 
  • I want to see the Barenaked Ladies again, the next time they come to Hampton Roads. 
  • I want to take my friends to the Virginia Safari drive through park in Stanton, VA.
We learned about the Booth Trail by watching an episode of Brad Meltzer's Decoded in 2010 (the series' first season): "Best-selling author Brad Meltzer and his Decoded team examine claims that John Wilkes Booth actually escaped to freedom after murdering President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The "official" version of events says federal agents cornered Booth and killed him just days after the assassination. But Brad and the team uncover glaring inconsistencies in that 150-year-old account: Why did the authorities hide Booth's body from public view? Why was Booth autopsy's conducted in complete secrecy in the cramped confines of an ironclad gunboat? Searching for answers to these and other troubling questions, the team finds startling evidence that strongly suggests Booth may indeed have lived into old age without ever facing punishment for his crime."

I don't even know how I first learned about Natural Bridge. I've been hanging onto a brochure about it for a few years now, keeping it tacked to my bulletin board. It became kind of like an obsession. I needed to take a vacation, and I needed my husband and I to take a vacation: trips for just the two of us that didn't involve family. We haven't been able to do that since March 2009 when we went to Atlantic City for our anniversary.

We took a ton of pictures and videos, so this is just a small sampling.

Wok N Roll Restaurant, formerly the Surratt Boarding House
631 H Street Northwest, Washington, DC

Wok N Roll Restaurant, formerly the Surratt Boarding House. The entrance into the restaurant was not the original entrance into the house. The original entrance is on the second floor, far right (behind Shane's head). The Mary E. Surratt Boarding House in Washington, D.C. was the site of meetings of conspirators to kidnap and subsequently to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. It was operated as a boarding house by Mary Surratt from September 1864 to April 1865.

We stopped for lunch.

The second and third floors were closed to regular business and were only available for special events.

Ford's Theater

The boarding house where Lincoln died. This is across the street from the theater.

Surratt House and Tavern: Clinton, MD

Built in 1852 as a middle-class farm house for the family of John and Mary Surratt, the historic Surratt House also served as a tavern and hostelry, a post office, and a polling place during the crucial decade before the Civil War. During the war, it became a safehouse in the Confederate underground system which flourished in Southern Maryland.

Today, the museum presents a variety of programs and events, recapturing the history of the mid-19th century life and focusing on the fascinating web of the Lincoln assassination conspiracy and the involvement of the Surratt family.

Restored to its original form, the site offers a view of middle-class farm life, Civil War intrigue, and a lesson in American history as the events surrounding the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln are brought to life.


A visit to Surratt House offers a walk through a page in American history. This simple country home was built in 1852, at a crossroads later known as Surrattsville. By the spring of 1865, that name would be linked to the greatest crime of the 19th century - the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

John Surratt and Mary Jenkins married in 1840. The first years of their marriage were spent on lands near Washington that he had inherited. After a disastrous fire, the family moved to a new area of Prince George's County, Maryland, a few miles from where Mrs. Surratt had been born and raised. The couple and their three children settled in by the fall of 1852.

Mr. Surratt quickly saw a business opportunity in his location at a crossroads. He opened two rooms of his home as a tavern and public dining room, and offered sleeping space upstairs for 25-cents a night. A livery stable and blacksmith shop across the road provided extra services to travelers and neighbors. By 1854, the tavern had become a community gathering place. A post office was opened there, and the town became known as "Surrattsville," with Mr. Surratt serving as the first postmaster. New election districts were created; in the Ninth (Surratts) District the "Surratt Hotel" was designated as the polling place.

As the 1850s drew to a close, Surratt Tavern was a hub of secessionist activity. One can imagine the names that presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was called within its walls at the time of the 1860 election. The Surratts were slaveholders, as were most of their neighbors. In the presidential election that year, Mr. Lincoln garnered only one vote in Prince George's County. When the Civil War began, Mr. Surratt was a vocal secessionist, and his home soon became a safe house in the Confederate espionage system which flourished in the area.

Dr. Mudd's House 3725-3739 Doctor Samuel Mudd Road, Waldorf, MD

Samuel Alexander Mudd I, M.D.(December 20, 1833 – January 10, 1883) was an American physician who was convicted and imprisoned for aiding and conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the 1865 assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. He was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson and released from prison in 1869. Despite repeated attempts by family members and others to have it expunged, his conviction has never been overturned.

Mudd was just 49 years old when he died of pneumonia on January 10, 1883. He is buried in the cemetery at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bryantown, the same church where he once met with John Wilkes Booth.

Rich Hill, near Bel Alton, Maryland, was owned by Colonel Samuel Cox during the US Civil War, who harbored sympathies for the Confederate cause. The house is significant in its own right, showing characteristic features of southern Maryland house construction.

Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, Cox hid assassin John Wilkes Booth and his companion, David Herold, in a swamp near Rich Hill. Booth and Herold left the property on April 21, crossing the Potomac River in a small boat. Following Booth's capture, Cox was tried and convicted of aiding Booth, receiving a light sentence. 

Crossing the Potomac River, 11410-11495 Popes Creek Road, Newburg, MD

This is now a private residence, on Ferry Dock Road in King George, VA.

The cottage that stood here in 1865 was much smaller than this house. It was the home of Elizabeth Quesenberry, a Virginian who ran a way station for agents of the Confederate underground. After a second night on the Potomac River, Booth and Herold reached Virginia. Instead of rowing 8.5 miles, they somehow got lost in the dark from Maryland and rowed about 23 miles. Eventually, Herold had to set out on foot to find Mrs. Quesenberry's home.

This is now a private residence, on Peppermill Road in King George, VA.

On the afternoon of April 23, 1865, Booth and his companions came to this house seeking medical assistance. They were permitted to eat but were then sent on their way. It was the summer residence of Dr. Richard Stuart, a cousin of Robert E. Lee's.

The Brockenbrough-Peyton house on King Street in Port Royal, VA.

One of Booth's companions came to the house and persuaded the lady of the home to take the fugitives in. But when Willie Jett and Herold brought Booth up to the house from the landing, Sarah Jane Peyton changed her mind. It was she that recommended they go to Garrett's Farm, two miles south of town.

Garrett Farm A P Hill Boulevard, Port Royal, VA

The culmination of the trail is at Garrett’s Farm, which is in Virginia. The site is designated by a roadside marker. Booth was shot and pulled from a burning barn at the farm and died shortly thereafter. The barn is long gone so all that is at the site is a roadside marker.

Less than two weeks after the assassination, the manhunt for Booth closed in as he hid at a farm in Virginia. Surrounded by cavalry troopers on April 26, 1865, Booth barricaded himself in a barn, was wounded, and died hours later.

Okay, so now my computer is acting up and won't let me rotate my pictures of Natural Bridge for some reason. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I'm not going to include a lot here, but it's completely stunning!

Twenty stories tall, one hundred feet wide and forty feet thick -- discover Virginia's immense Natural Bridge – a National Historic Landmark shaped by Mother Nature over thousands of years. A very long time ago: Natural Bridge was formed when a cavern collapsed and left the span that stands today.

A long time ago: Monacan Indian legend has it that Natural Bridge appeared just as they needed to escape from an advancing enemy.

George Washington carved his initials here on the side of the bridge, above Otter Creek in 1750 for Lord Fairfax. Landmarks remain of the work and on the wall of the bridge where he carved his initials.
BTW, Natural Bridge is up for sale, if anyone is interested. I would love to buy all of it and keep everything running just as it is, if I only had about $45 million.

"Unlike other historic places and landmarks, the Natural Bridge has been in private hands ever since Jefferson became its first landlord in 1774, when he bought the property from King George III for 20 shillings - or the equivalent of less than $3.

"The current owners, led by Washington businessman Angelo Puglisi, are looking for someone equally committed to preserving the famed limestone arch as a public relic and tourist draw and not as some site for new condos and a shopping mall.

"The owners have hired Woltz & Associates, a realty firm based in Roanoke, to market and sell the bridge, as well as a neighboring 150-room hotel, the Natural Bridge Caverns and about 1,600 acres of adjoining forest and rolling landscape."

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