Day Thirty-Four: Edgar Allen Poe, a long drive, Welcome to Virginia

This will be a slightly truncated blog tonight. Today was mostly a travel day, with only one tourist-type stop. This trip is about constantly deciding priorities – what to see, whether we want to see anything at all, the business of actually completing our Lap Around America. So, yes, there were things we wanted to see in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, but today, the ultimate object of completing our Lap took precedence.

I was tempted to detour to Virginia Beach, Virginia, not just because it is beautiful, but because The Association of Research and Enlightenment is there. If you’re not familiar with ARE, it’s the organization that Edgar Cayce founded in the 1930s. I’ve always been interested in Edgar Cayce, and I would have enjoyed a walk-through of the Association, but it really wasn’t worth all the extra driving we would have had to put in to get there.

So, we essentially shot straight up the middle of North Carolina and Virginia, stopping for the night in historic Fredericksburg. The truth is, just about every town/city/hamlet in this area can be called “historic,” though, can’t it?

Our one stop for the day was in Richmond, Virginia, where we stopped at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. I can hear your question already – wait a minute, isn’t Edgar Allen Poe most associated with Baltimore? The answer is, yes, he is, but he spent most of his formative years in Richmond, Virginia. When you reach the stratosphere of literary acclaim that EAP did, people fight over you. I can only dream of having Mossyrock, Enumclaw, Orting, and Long Beach, WA, fighting over me. 🙂

I am a big Edgar Allen Poe fan. I discovered him when I was twelve, staying home from school sick one day. Desperate for something to read, I grabbed a book off the coffee table, and read Murders in the Rue Morgue. Yep, I was hooked. I haven’t read everything he wrote, but a good chunk of it, including, of course, The Raven, The Telltale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum. I also saw The Oblong Box at the drive-in in Baker City Oregon, in 1970, and it scared the heck out of me, if that counts. (I also love Vincent Price, so it was a twofer.)

Unfortunately, the Edgar Allen Poe Museum was another place that doesn’t allow photographs of the inside, so I only have pictures of the outside of the building, the garden, and what they call the Edgar Allen Poe shrine at the back of the garden. One of the cool things about the museum is that it is in the oldest standing house in Richmond, built in 1740. As in 276 years ago.

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It’s called The Old Stone House, and for its age, it’s standing up pretty well. The Old Stone House and the other surrounding buildings contain a rich array of Poe memorabilia, including rare first editions, Poe’s writing chair, a lock of his hair, and his childhood bed. Everything is clearly presented, so it’s possible to get a good feel for Poe’s life, even if you don’t know much about him going in. One oddity is that, because of the age of the building, none of the rooms are very big, but they all have closing doors, like a bedroom. So you are in these very small rooms, arranged as a museum, closed in with people that you don’t know. A slightly surreal experience.

Here’s a couple of shots of the garden and what they refer to as the Poe Shrine.

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By the way, someone had left an Emily Dickenson poem at the statue of Poe. Dueling poets, anyone?

Like my visit to Hemingway’s House, I came away inspired to finish reading the rest of his output. Except maybe some of his poems. I am just not that much of a poetry guy. 🙂

After the Poe Museum, we drove another hour up the road to Fredericksburg and stopped for the night. Tommorow, we have all sorts of options and ways to go: West Virginia, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Maryland. We’ll almost certainly skip DC on this trip, because we spent four or five days there two years ago and loved it so much that we want to come back and spend an entire week there. Maybe two. I could spend more than a week just on the various Smithsonians.

I’ve never been to Baltimore, so that’s a possibility, but there are things we want to see in Pennsylvania, as well. Priorities, priorities. If you’re thinking, “just do it all,” well, we’d like to, but I have a goal of having us home in Long Beach, Wa, by October 15, and that means we just can’t do it all, unfortunately. We have to be a little choosy. I might even have to pass on seeing my Seahawks play the Jets in the Meadowlands, a week from today.

Cheers, and safe travels!

Shawn

 

15 comments

  1. Good luck with your decisions of where to go from there, that’s got to be really tough. If you need any guidance through any of that area up through New England, let me know. I’ve lived in Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and basically New Hampshire, too. 🙂 Safe travels.

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  2. Wait a second. Baker city scared the heck out of you?

    Given that you’re skipping DC, you’re now in the part of the country I’ll have very little advice on what I think you should be doing instead of whatever you did. 🙂 (Actually I think you hit that point shortly after leaving Galveston although I’ve been to a few of the places you’ve gone through including Richmond a couple times.)

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  3. Any plans on going thru new jersey? You mentioned Pennsylvania but didn’t say Philadelphia which is the hot spot as far as the bell and statue of rocky. Jersey Shore and Atlantic city but before that cape may I think would be your kind of town. Laid back town. You might even see someone riding one of those old fashioned bikes. You know the one with the giant wheel in front and the really tiny one in the back. The bike you almost needed a ladder to get onto.
    Enjoy your trip. And remember my dawn is waiting for you to get to michigan.

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  4. As far as travel goes, you’re now completely out of my league as well. Looking forward to hearing about your choices; seems kind of bittersweet as you’re now on the downside of your journey. I discovered Poe about the same time in my life that you did; I think I read most of his works, though. His complete works occupy an honored place on my bookshelf and I enjoyed introducing my girls to his work at an early age :-).

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  5. Ah. I work in Emily Dickinson’s home town! You might consider a stop there once you get up to New England. Fredericksburg, VA is a great stopping point, isn’t it? We discovered it by accident a couple of years ago when we’d taken a detour to visit friends on our journey to Florida. I’m curious where you venture to in Pennsylvania. As always you keep us hanging and waiting for the next bit! Enjoy!

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