Memory failure

The day after our return from the road trip was to be a quiet relaxation before we went home the day after. Jens had taken a plane to California early in the morning to attend a meeting, and Annette and Dorte wanted to do a little shopping in Vienna, and I just followed along. After a few hours of shopping we went back to the house and relaxed with a card game with Britt and her friends for the rest of the day. The next afternoon we had to return to Denmark, and as we didn't have to be the airport until 4pm, there was no need to do our packing pack until the next morning.

The next morning, Dorte found our airline tickets, looked at them and discovered that we had remembered wrong about the departure date. Lucky for is wasn't the day before but not until the next day that we were supposed to leave. We then had to find something to do that day, and when Annette was busy in the house, we decided that we could visit Harper's Ferry once again, so we did. We would drive up there through Maryland, on small roads, but first we had to get out of Vienna, and here we agree that the Dulles Toll Road might be the fastest road and certainly faster than Route 7. We could then stay on the toll road until we met the Washington Beltway  and drive along this to the I-270, which we would follow northwest.

First time we entered the to
ll road on this trip, we had had problems with the payment, like I told in "Waterfalls, Wine and a kissing bridge" so this time we prepared in good time, taking out money and verifying that the amount was right, so nothing could go wrong!! But just before we got to the toll booth, Dorte who was driving, spotted a sign for the Beltway, which she tought meant that we had stay on the Toll Road and not use the exit. So she did not think that we should pay at this junction. It looked indeed as if there was no collection of payment in the lane we took through the toll area. And she was right. There nowhere to pay - as this lane was for cars with E-Zpass only. We didn't have such, so once again bells rang and lights flashed as we drove through. When we had gone about 500 feet, and was about to enter the  Beltway, there was suddenly a siren behind us and with the bad conscience we had, we agreed that we had better pull over. So did the car behind us, and behind him a police car. Two officers got out and one walked with purposeful steps past the car behind us and toward out car. We were very buy digging up all out excuses: mainly that we were tourists, and therefore did not know the system, when the cop said it was the car behind us, they wanted to stop and that we could drive on. After this little fright the rest of the way went well. We have passed toll bridges, driven on toll roads in several states, used toll ferries and nowhere have had anby problems, and now we managed to do it wrong once again on the Dulles Toll Road. That particular road must be cursed, and not the no longer existing U.S. 666 (Devil's Highway) that we drove on two years later.

After following the beltway, and later I-270 to about Rockville, we left the highway and drove onto Maryland Route 28, which we followed to Brunswick. Here we crossed the Potomac and then drove along real narrow roads, with road numbers like Virginia Road 695 and 672 to Harpers Ferry.

View from Jefferson RockLast time we were in Harper Valley four years before, we only saw part of the town, so there were still things we missed. Also this time we parked the car in the large parking lot outside town, but before we took the bus down to the city we heard a park ranger talk about the battles that had taken place outside town, like in Bolivar Heights. When we got off the bus, we heard yet another ranger talk, this time about Meriwether Lewis' connection to Harper's Ferry. It was not a very large connection, but it was the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, so everything counted. The lecture taught us that Lewis had visited the town before the expedition to order equipment. He had, among other things ordered rifles, spare parts, knives, pipe tomahawks (it was tomahawks with a hollow shaft, that could be used as smoking pipes as well as axes ). They were to be used as gifts for the Indians, the expedition was expected to meet. Moreover, he ordered a grindstone, fish spears, fish hooks and a few other small items. And then he ordered the skeleton of a collapsible boat. The idea was that it could be transported folded, and when they then have to use it, the skeleton would be unfolded and they could then coat it with the hides of animals they had shot. The lacings would be sealed with resin, and then the expedition would have a boat. It was supposed that they would use this boat after they had crossed the great waterfalls of the Missouri River where they would have to abandon the larger boat they used for the first part of the trip. The idea unfortunately proved to be useless. Sure enough they shot animals enough to coat the boat with hides, but unfortunately there grew no pine trees west of the Mississippi, so they could not obtain resin to seal it with. Therefore the portable boat was quickly abandoned.

During the lecture we were shown the places where the old weapons factory and the old arsenal used to be. Afterwards, we climbed a fairly steep staircase which was carved into the rock, past the house, Robert Harper for whom the town is named, built for his family when he established his ferry across the river. The building still exists, and it is the oldest house in town, although it is integrated with a newer building. From there we continued up to the Catholic church in town and continued past the ruins of a former Episcopal church. We ended up at "Jefferson Rock" where Thomas Jefferson in 1783 had stood and looked down at the two rivers Potomac and Shenandoah, which meets below the rock. When we had enjoyed the view over the rivers and the  town, we walked down the stairs again, and went out to Virginius Island. There are still ruins of many of the factories that were started here in the early 1800's. Out here we also saw a portion of the canal system "Patawmac Canal" which we had also seen near the Great Falls. Up here it was called The Shenandoah Canal, which led the barges around the rapids, formed by the meeting of the Shenandoah River and the Potomac River. Today, the channel is almost dry, and is closed at both ends, so that it's no longer connected to the river.

When we were done looking at ruins, we took the bus back to the car and returned to Vienna. We chose to go west to Charlestown, where John Brown was hanged in 1859, and from there we crossed the Blue Ridge and back into Virginia again. Just before we met the mountains, it started raining, and I have to say that it rained. We could not see the cars ahead of us, not even their tail lights, so drove somewhat slow, but after about an hour or so the rain eased off. In this hour we had driven less than 15 miles. We drove to the town of Berry Hill and thence to Leesburg. Here we took the Virginia Route 7, which of course led directly to Jens and Annette. It is not as quick as taking the toll road that actually begins in Leesburg, but we would not risk another payment problem. Again, the trip took a couple of hours (this time due to rain and traffic on the Seven) and we were at home around 6 pm and enjoyed the evening with a game of cards.

We spent the next morning packing everything, including that which had been deposited with Jens and Annette, and so we  just had to wait, while watching the weatherforecast on TV. There was a tornado warning for the area around Washington, but luckily nothing happened. On the other hand was promised storm and rain, and it seemed that there would be plenty of both. We should be at the airport 3.30 pm (and the plane should leave at 5.30), but around 1.30 however, we could see on TV that the storm was approaching, so we agreed with Annette that it was probably a good idea to drive to the airport immediately. So they (Annette and Britt, who was driving) might manage to get back to the house before the storm broke loose. It appeared however that the thunder storm was already on the way out to Dulles, but despite very heavy rain, Britt got us there without problems.

At the airport we said goodbye to Annette and Britt out in the parking lot and thanked them for their hospitality. They returned to Vienna while we checked in without problems. Since we were now in very good time and had not had lunch, we found a place where we could get a sandwich and a cup of coffee. When we had eaten, we went to the gate where there was a sign that said that the plane would depart on time. But when we had waited for an hour, and boarding time approached, it was announced that because of the storm earlier in the day (now the sun was shining again), the aircraft hadnot landed in Dulles, but in Norfolk, Virginia, and and there it still was. We were also told that they figured that it would land in Dulles around 6 pm and that we could leave at 7, but that was not to be. I think the time was around 8 before the plane had landed and was made ready for us to board. Then we drove out to the runway - and because of the plane had not being able to leave as scheduled our place in the take-off queu was taken and therefore we could not start on time. In the end we waited on the runway for over an hour until the plane finally came took around 9.45 4 hours delayed. Luckily the plane was a direct route to Copenhagen, so we did not miss any flights during the trip.

And this completes the story of the familyvisit trip 2004.

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