Monday, May 27, 2013

Kiptopeke State Park, Cape Charles, VA

Today I met up with some friends at Kiptopeke State Park. Kiptopeke is three miles from the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on Route 13. Turn west on Route 704; the park entrance is within a half mile. There is a $12 charge to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel one way; and $5 to return. Although one of the ladies in the toll booth does give seagull shaped dog cookies to you if she sees dogs in your vehicle!
There is also a $4 charge to park since it is a state park. Kiptopeke has lodges, yurts and a few trailers for rent; and  all are pet friendly for an additional $10 per night.
But of course, we were there to walk on the trails. The trails are level and easy to walk on. Take a trail map with you, though--there are 6 or 7 different trails and they don't all loop around back to the starting point.
There are more than four miles of trails. We walked through upland hardwood forest along Baywoods and Songbird Trails. People can also bike here. There are many, many birds here. This refuge is a stop on their migratory path.
Sammy did not want to stay on the trail; and he was covered in ticks by the end of the walk! He had at least one tick between each toe on all four feet; as well as several ticks on all four legs. Dozens of them! After the walk we sat under a shade tree and tried to get them all off of him.
We drove into Cape Charles, a few miles north of the park, after our walk to have a little picnic. We found a shady place to sit down and purchased a few sandwiches from Kelly's Pub as take out.
We also spent some time at the Cape Charles War Memorial to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces because it was Memorial Day.

Wish you were here,
Sammy & PG

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ball's Bluff Battlefield Regional Park, Leesburg, VA

Over the weekend we went north for the Grapehound Wine Tour. On Sunday, the greyhounds took a walk at the Ball's Bluff Battlefield Regional Park. To get there, take Route 7 west towards Leesburg, then Route 15 Bypass north. Turn right on Battlefield Parkway and left on Ball's Bluff Road. Travel through a housing plan and the park is located at the end of the street.
We were fortunate to have Jim Morgan, Chairman of the Friends of the Ball's Bluff Battlefield, give us a personal talk about the Civil War battle before the walk through the park.
There were about 20 greyhounds and their owners there for the walk.
PG and Sammy were ready to go! It was kind of chilly. And the pollen was miserable! Everyone's eyes were watering and sneezing all around. Even the dogs.
Finally the talk was over and we were on the trail! I am nowhere near as versed on the subject of this battle as Mr. Morgan--but I'll try to give you a rough overview. The battle at Ball's Bluff was one of the first battles of the Civil War and was an accident, not a planned attack. Union Brig. General Charles Stone took action against the Confederate troops because he was given faulty intelligence from a recon patrol. The recon patrol reported that a Confederate camp sat in a field but it was really just a row of trees. General Stone had his men maintain their position near Ball's Bluff; and he also ordered more troops across the Potomac River and put Colonel Edward Baker in command. The Confederate soldiers noticed the big troop movement--and this was also their back yard so they had a kind of home field advantage. The fighting began around 3pm on October 21, 1861 and raged almost non-stop until dark. The Confederate soldiers had a clear advantage and they pushed the Union Army back towards the bluff. 223 were killed, including Colonel Baker, who was a lifelong friend of Abraham Lincoln.
There is a tombstone at the spot where they think Colonel Baker was buried.  Colonel Baker was a US Senator from Oregon and was the only US Senator ever killed in battle.
The Union Army placed "mountain howitzers" on the knoll overlooking the field, but these were captured by the Confederate soldiers.
The cemetery at Ball's Bluff is a national cemetery, the third smallest national cemetery in the country. Although there are remains of 54 people in the cemetery, only one soldier was ever identified.

If you are interested in learning more about the battle, you can go to the Ball's Bluff Regional Park's website.

The park is a very pretty place to walk with views over the Potomac along the bluff. We enjoyed the interpretive walk with Mr. Morgan but now PG is ready to leave!

Wish you were here,
Sammy & PG

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Airborne Art Installation, Norfolk, VA

On April 25th, I took the dogs to downtown Norfolk to participate in an art installation, Airborne by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. This was an interactive installation projected onto the wall of a parking garage; and it turned that wall into a shadow play that changed as we moved. As we moved, computerized monitors mapped our shadows into video projections of bellowing smoke. The smoke, in turn, rearranged projected poetry and turned it into vanishing clouds of text. I thought this would be a great venue for Sammy's dog dancing. In the end, PG joined us, too. You can watch a video of us here:

 All of the poems were about shadows or light. One of the poems from the wall, that were also read aloud as they vanished:

$$$Expensive Magic$$$

By Cedar Sigo
            I stumble down        around torn peaks
                          “Fit the right suit
                                                      to trick them all.”
                                         the questions fall
                                   around allure. Poems floated
                           from the hearth
                                 out the mouth. I am wound up, bored
we are only strangers on our way
the hotel                turned slender to mind
                now written out (sloppy)
                                                to music
                dark brown wood
                                 gold mirrors
                                 The drinking songs from upper stories
drag us to sleep                 a bend in the basement wall
                              scorched. pulling on clean clothes
                  I let myself out
                                                              walk up
                                        to a far off hill
                                                             smoke on top
“The orchestra of the
                           immense magnified
       inner life
                   is now prodigious.”
the strings sound down
             make the surface of a mirror
                                                    & hang the head
                           my forbidden past

                                        Rose & Silk
           the wine is young
                                  The brooks still hum
                                                               with melted snow

This was a fun time for us in downtown Norfolk!
Wish you were here,
Sammy & PG