Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Busy Labor Day weekend

What do you do on a beautiful Labor Day weekend when all of your kids are sick? Well, you don't take them to the mall; that's how my kids got sick. I still can't understand why some trashy local mom would bring her sick kids to a play place in a public mall; it drives me crazy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor activities to go to, such as the Chancellorsville battlefields and many parks. If you're a history buff, and have read up on the American Civil War, then you have no doubt heard of Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania. Some epic fighting went down there, and the battlefields have been largely preserved for you to take your family to.

Since our kids are so little, and taking into consideration that they're all sick as a dog, we didn't take them trekking for miles on end in the woods of Spotsylvania; a half mile round trip at a time seems to be the logical distance before you retire for a couple of hours for naps, lunches, bottles, and such. First though, we hit the museum to see guns and stuff which left my kids unimpressed:

Click to make bigger and more beautiful.

In that last picture, you can see a cannon ball stuck in a piece of a tree. Now, if you could only imagine being in a line of battle marching toward your enemy when the guy next to you gets smashed in the chest with one of those! That would surely take away any morale that you might have had!

There were small arms in the museum too, like muskets, rifles, carbines, sidearms, and sabers:

I was itching for a gun show after leaving the museum.

Wandering the woods gives you a sense of how scary fighting in that terrain must have been. All battles are fought with some sort of formation of troops - at least initially anyways, and I can easily see why Union officers loathed "The Wilderness" so much; marching your troops through any forrest would suck to say the least. Ten feet into the brush here are Confederate trenches, which means that if you're in the front of some clanking and cursing formation trying to fight your way through the undergrowth, you would have walked right into the teeth of the enemy who lies there unseen and very protected in the earth:

I grew up in the area, and just casually strolling the woods here can be exhausting. Fighting in it would be unimaginable. My kids didn't finish the walk on the first evening, and needed a hand getting back to the car:

On another day, we checked out some of the artillery that is so abundant here:

This particular spot is Hazel Grove, and was a pretty big tactical blunder for the Union Army back in the day. For some reason, they gave this high ground up, which was promptly taken over by the Confederates; they paid for the mistake in blood as the Confederates rained ordnance down on their lines from 1,200 yards away:

I highly recommend the battlefields as a day trip for the kids. This place is saturated with American history. There's much more to see than can be done on a weekend, but in my case my kids are not very interested in the historical aspect. They don't mind hanging out in the shade for awhile though:

Now do you see where the bulk of my time goes?

We also took them down to Alum Springs park and let them play in the creek. Kids need a free pass to get dirty every once in awhile, and yesterday was that day:

The Fenix PD20 helped point out the fish. My kids aren't very outdoorsy, as we found out this weekend. Again, taking into consideration that they were sick, they could go from happy to irate to happy again in about two seconds, so the whole thing was an adventure. My wife and I have agreed that this was more fun than anything we could find to do in town. We're going to be taking little trips like this again in the near future.
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