September 29th – Today we drove from Morgantown, West Virginia to Gaithersburg, MD. Boy did the scenery change! In Morgantown we were in the mountains and by the time we were in Gaithursburg it was city and more cars and buildings than I’ve ever seen in my life! There was in fact so much traffic that we didn’t get any pictures. But hopefully we will tomorrow.
So we left the hotel in Morgantown and kept driving through the mountains. Mom says these mountains are nothing like the Rockies that she is more used to from when she lived in Utah. They are still higher than the highest hill we have in Iowa. And so lush and green. There are trees everywhere!
We crossed another border, this time into a place mom calls Maryland. Mom says we were in the panhandle of Maryland, way at the western end. In this picture you can almost see how you might hold Maryland like a pan, so I guess that’s what she means. We drove on through Maryland along that panhandle until we stopped in Cumberland.
It looked a lot like West Virginia. About the time we stopped in Cumberland mom’s GPS quit working. She doesn’t know what’s wrong with it but she really misses it. It helps a lot to find things. Since it belongs to her folks, she hopes to get a hold of them and see if they have any idea what might be going on with it. She says she never thought she’d like having a GPS but after driving with it from Iowa, she loves it!
So we stopped in Cumberland. We went to the Visitor’s Center and found out that this is where a canal was built to carry goods inland. It operated until 1928 when a flood caused it to shut down. It never reopened since the railroad was much more effective for shipping. We went through a little museum and learned about how the barges were built and operated. Mom thought it was interesting, and I had fun looking at different stuff. I had to check out this one sack that was like they would use on the barges. But what was really exciting was this barrel! It made weird sounds like I’ve never heard before. So who was Mutt? Mom opened the lid and that’s when things got interesting! The barrel started making sounds like I’ve never heard before. It turns out that Mutt was the last mule used to pull barges on the canal and so the barrel made mule sounds. You see mules would be used to pull the barges along the canal. You can see in this picture where they would walk beside the canal. They even stayed on the barges when they weren’t working. Can you believe that? They had a cabin built just for them.
We walked around town a bit, while mom read some historical information on plaques about Fort Cumberland along the Fort Cumberland Trail. Apparently Fort Cumberland played a big role in the French and Indian War and Colonel George Washington had a headquarters cabin here. This was his first command which he had to take after the General he was aide to died. We tried to see it but it was closed. I don’t know anything about wars and mom says I don’t really want to, so I guess it’s enough to know that it was important.
After that we kept going across Maryland heading toward Washington, DC.
Wow did the scenery change as we came out of the mountains. There’s a lot more open fields and a lot less trees and much flatter. It’s still got more hills than home in Iowa though! I sat up and looked out the window. And watched it change. After Frederick, there got to be more and more city and mom had to pay a lot more attention to the road as there were a lot of cars on the road. More than I’ve ever seen. And the free way was huge! There were 4 lanes going each way and it kept getting bigger and bigger and more and more traffic. Also because the GPS wasn’t working, she had to work harder to figure out where we needed to go.
We stopped tonight in Gaithersburg, MD. Mom says we’ll stay here a few days. She’s visiting another old college friend that she went to graduate school with. So she spent the evening catching up with him and his family. They reminded her that she lived with them for a couple of semesters in Utah. Unfortunately she doesn’t remember it, it’s one of the many memories she finds that she lost when she had some medical treatments. It makes her sad that she doesn’t remember it, but she’s very happy to get together with old friends and see how they are doing. He works at NIST and is going to show us around there on Thursday and then we will go to a workshop he’s leading on Friday.