Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Travel 2019: Maryland, Pennsylvania, DC, Virginia

Hello! Ready to travel to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington DC and Virginia with me - in photos, that is? This post is a bit belated. I'm writing it in September, but it's all about July!

My late mother's family has been having Hess reunions in Pennsylvania for several decades. The first I remember was 1976, which is when and where I became a Christian. Other more recent reunions in 2006, 2012, and 2014 have also been important to me. And this time, the older generation, my mother's cousins, decided to pass along the responsibility for organizing it to someone younger. I gladly volunteered! We started planning last year.

Fortunately, I found round trip tickets from Orlando to Baltimore for under $100. I took my three teens and my daughter's friend.

I always travel with my scarf / shawl, a present from one of my daughters a long time ago.


Butterflies in the front yard as soon as I get to Maryland! I didn't even make it into my dad's house before I was snapping photos!

The day after we arrived, I drove our rental SUV up to Philadelphia to retrieve my sister from Jefferson Memorial, where she had gone for a week of migraine treatment. She wanted to take a short diversion to get our photo at LOVE Park but she was disappointed by the size of the iconic statue.

Another adult son flew up the day after us. We headed down to Washington, D.C. on the Metrorail for the day. The older ones split off on their own while I took my youngest to the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art. I took a lot more photos, but my phone met an unhappy demise a few days later and I lost whatever I didn't upload to Facebook along the way.

Of course the kids were ready to play cards with their three cousins while we were in Maryland. By this time, two other adult daughters and a son-in-law had also arrived.

These two look and act like twins, but they were born 10 years and two days apart!

On Friday, we split into three cars with kids and my dad, and headed to Pennsylvania for the reunion. One son lost his glasses out the van window on the highway. Oops. We had a buffet dinner scheduled for the evening with our relatives before the main reunion picnic the next day.

Here's the whole clan - 70 or 80 of us?

I'm with my sister, who due to her migraines didn't last very long at the picnic. She's still glad she came to see our relatives.

I was the MC, and since I was counting my work at this reunion as my community service project for a seminary class, I also shared some of our family's faith heritage. This started with two tales of Puritans-behaving-badly, but there were some positive ones, too! We have a long Quaker and Methodist heritage which I've written about elsewhere.

These are my mother's remaining cousins, all grandchildren of Charles and Mary Hess, who were married in 1904. These are their grandchildren, and with all the new babies, there are another four generations after that! Unfortunately, one of my duties was also to report the many deaths in the family since the last reunion. Sigh.

I planned a "fun" hike for the next day. I remembered back to my college days when we had hiked at Rickett's Glen State Park, where there are gorgeous waterfalls. I invited anyone who wanted to join us... My daughter tried to warn me how steep the trail would be, based on the web site. Well, about that! We started with my aunt, my father, my cousin's family, and another of my mother's cousins, as well as my own kids. Three of our hikers were over the age of 80. Remember that.

It started well. Let's just say it all went downhill from there. Literally.

I asked my son to take a photo of my sitting at the edge of this small waterfall. Unfortunately, in the process, I lost my balance and tumbled headfirst over the waterfall into the water, miraculously missing the rocks. Two of my children saw me go over and thought I'd be dead. But I popped back up and climbed out laughing, just a bit shaken. We eventually located my glasses and my phone. The glasses were fine. The phone was not.

So I thought I'd be OK....

But I wasn't. The trail descended 1000 feet in the next mile, and it was filled with slippery mud, tree roots, and loose rocks. My legs were wobbly from my waterfall woman-fall. I kept falling on the trail. Over and over. Eventually, two of my sons had to walk me down by the hand. I still barely made it I managed to make it out of there! I did some damage my backside! Don't laugh.

My daughter who is a nurse coached me down the trail too, keeping a close eye on me.

By this time, my mom's cousin had turned around, and my aunt and cousin's family had gone on ahead. My elderly father kept trucking along. He's in amazing shape. Better shape than me, actually.

We were supposed to climb up the 1000 feet along another path to the parking lot where our cars were. I knew I couldn't make it. My daughter discovered an alternate flat trail out to the road. We split the group, and four of us went the easy way, while the others, including my dad, went up up up. They retrieved the cars and picked us up later. Thus ends the exciting hiking saga. Remind me about the trails next time, will you?

The next day, the kids took off for King's Dominion (an amusement park in southern Virginia) in the rental SUV. My dad took me to Verizon to buy a new phone, then dropped me at the Metrorail station so I could carry on with my original plans for that day. I wanted to go to the Museum of the Bible, especially to see their Tapestry of Light exhibit, and then visit with friends in northern Virginia, where I had gone to high school.

I was limping all the way. I exited the subway station, walked six blocks in the wrong direction, and ended up calling Lyft to get me to the museum. The museum, which is six stories, is absolutely gorgeous. I was running so late that I only had about 2 hours there. I could have spent the whole day, and I will when I go back to Maryland next time. I'll have to give it it's own blog post!

Tapestry of Light exhibit created by Irene Barberis with glow-in-the-dark thread

Tapestry of Light exhibit 

The Good Samaritan by Egbert Modderman
Luther's Bible translations

The Bible translation exhibit

I stayed at the museum until closing, then took a Lyft back to the L'Enfant Metro station, then took another train out to Vienna, Virginia to meet up with my friends whom I knew in high school. We reconnected on Facebook a while back, and I knew I wanted to see them! They picked me up and drove me past our high school, W.T. Woodson, before going to their house. Then another high school friend came a bit later. We had an amazing time. I am so very thankful for their friendship. My kids picked me up that night on their way back from King's Dominion.

And the kids and I flew home the next day!

Phew! What a week! What a trip!

Thanks for coming along!

Family Reunion & Legacy Links:

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