The East Coast Adventure

I went to visit some of my delightful family a few weeks ago in their new digs. Mr. Wonderful and I flew into Reagan National  and drove to Frederick, Maryland. It’s so pretty there! Rolling countryside and beautiful skies. The town of Frederick has spectacular old brick buildings. I love, love, love old brick.

On Monday, my younger brother, Mr. Wonderful, and I went to the Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg for short. We took the bus tour, which was a good move on our part. The guide was really an interesting fellow, full of tidbits about the battle and the surrounding area. All good.

While I loved visiting the site, even though unspeakably sad things happened there. I was disheartened about something else. The Gift Store. I know. How petty. Well, not really – and here’s why.

The Gift Store is located in the Visitor Center,  a very nice, recently restored building with lots of interactive exhibits and gallery spaces. My younger brother and I went in to the Gift Store to  see what they had. I thought there might be something The Mom might like and  search for a hat of some sort. It was getting really hot outside and I don’t always do well in the heat.

I did find a hat that actually fit my large head. Sadly, it was made in China. As we looked around some more, we noticed that most of the items were made in China. Really? At Gettysburg? What the hell?  Admittedly, most of the stuff for sale was junk, but still. We don’t make doo-dads here? Ugh.

A note – they had an enormous selection of Civil War books for sale and I didn’t look at them to see where they were made. It is possible that the books were printed here.

Anyway, this did bother me greatly. There are so many people out of work in our country; you’d think we could at least offer things made in this country at a National Park. But no. Apparently not.

Later in the week we went into Washington D.C. We checked into our hotel and wandered down to The White House, took the obligatory snaps and headed over to the museums. Ah, yes!

First, we went to the Renwick Gallery. Bliss! What a beautiful building! Fabulous art! Go! You will love it! Then, we went to the Museum of Natural History to see dinosaurs and mammals. Lovely! On our last day, we went to the National Museum of American History. I love this museum. (I love them all, but this was so wonderful, once again)

At the American History museum, we saw some great exhibits. Lighting a Revolution,  in Electricity Hall,  was very cool! My particular favorites were the older electric  appliances. They even had a toaster from childhood memories! My Grandmother, born in 1890, had a toaster that opened on the sides. One put the bread in, toasted one side, opened the doors and flipped the bread to toast the other side.  Although it was fun to see, it wasn’t lost on me that my age was showing.

Of course, we went to see Julia Child’s kitchen. How could we not? I am wild for her! It’s funny that by today’s standards of McMansions, her kitchen was small, but oh so well thought out.

The thing that struck me most, was how much we used to produce in the United States. Good things. Beautiful things. What happened? Look at this, from the electricity exhibit:


Machinery from the Smithsonian

Isn’t this beautiful? (I know the picture’s not great) There were all kinds of amazing looking transformers, engines, batteries, bulbs. Although I don’t really get how it all works, from a sculptural standpoint, it was stunning. And we used to make this stuff. We did. Beautiful things. Makes me wistful.

More later.

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