a drive through northern virginia to shepherdstown, west virginia

Saturday, November 14: This morning, Mike and I are driving through Loudoun County and the quaint Village of Waterford, Virginia and making our way to Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  It’s our anniversary weekend.  Legally, it’s our 27th, as we got married on November 13, 1988.  But Mike, who has a great sense of humor about the whole thing, says it’s really only 20 years as we have to account for our 7-year separation, initiated by me.

a stone house in Waterford, Virginia
a stone house in Loudoun County, Virginia

So, it’s been many years since we celebrated an anniversary.  Last year I was in China, although before I left for China, we decided to give it a go again.  We separated in 2007 and got back together in 2014.  I argue that Mike has been married 27 years because he’s always been there for me, while I, on the other hand have only been married 20 years, as I considered myself a free spirit during that time.  Truth be told, I think he enjoyed his time being a free spirit too, but that’s another story.

barn in Loudoun County
barn in Loudoun County

The separation really wasn’t about Mike at all, to be honest.  It’s one of those cliché things about me having a mid-life crisis, needing to find myself, blah blah blah.  Actually, as much pain as I caused to my family, I really needed that time to find my adventurous and independent self.  I regret any heartbreak I caused, but I can never regret finding the sense of wonder, adventure, independence and confidence that those seven years gave me.  It will be the subject of a book I hope to write one of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later.  I do have some stories to tell. 🙂

a horse comes to visit
a horse comes to visit

Anyway, thank goodness Mike is forgiving and that he has a sense of humor.  I doubt many men would forgive and move on as he has done.  I cherish him for that, and for being by my side even when I wasn’t by his.  Marriage is a strange thing all around, and people make of it what they will.  Everyone’s is different and no one can understand other people’s relationships, no matter how much they observe from the outside.  I try to never judge other people’s relationships, as they’re complicated and rich and often messy things. I know many people, even some of my “closest friends” do judge, but I’m not concerned with their judgments.  I’m beyond all that.

So, today, we are driving.  Mike had the idea to come to this corner where three states meet: Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.  I have been on many drives through Loudoun County and it’s a beautiful part of our state, with rolling farmland, horse farms, old barns, and small towns with general stores.

Mike and a horse friend
Mike and a horse friend

I love driving through horse country because I’ve always been a horse-lover, ever since I was a little girl. We stop at a horse farm along the road to take some pictures, and the horses, happy for some human company, come over for a friendly visit.  I think they’re hoping for food, but alas, we have none and the owners probably wouldn’t appreciate us feeding them anyway.

friendly horse in Loudoun County
friendly horse in Loudoun County
another horse comes to visit
another horse comes to visit

Looking away from the horse farm, you can see what most of the countryside looks like in the western part of northern Virginia.

Loudoun County farmland
Loudoun County farmland

Outside of the little town of Waterford, we see some cows in a pasture.  One of them is making his way through the creek.

cows outside of Waterford, Virginia
cows outside of Waterford, Virginia
Waterford, VA
Waterford, VA

In town, we see some log cabins and the Presbyterian Church.

Presbyterian Church in Waterford
Presbyterian Church in Waterford
Log cabin in Waterford, VA
Log cabin in Waterford, VA
another log cabin
another log cabin

Once we leave the town, we pass through more farmland, this time with some sheep and llamas.

farm on the water from Waterford to Shepherdstown, West Virginia
farm on the way from Waterford to Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Llamas and sheep
Llamas and sheep

After our leisurely drive, we arrive in Shepherdstown, where we first come upon Elmwood Cemetery.  On the plaque at the entrance to the cemetery, the history is told:  On Wednesday, September 17, 1862, twelve-year-old Mary Bedinger, asleep at her home Poplar Grove outside Shepherdstown, was awakened by the roar of canons.  Confederate and Union forces in position near Sharpsburg, Maryland, just across the Potomac River, were desperately trying to dislodge one another.  The bloodiest day in American history had begun.  Soon a seemingly endless stream of wounded men flowed into dozens of buildings in and around Shepherdstown that were pressed into service as hospitals.  Unfortunately, not all of the wounded men would survive.

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

The Southern Soldiers’ Memorial Association of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was organized in 1867 to acquire a burial site for Confederate soldiers who died during and after the battle.  In 1868, the association purchased a lot … adjacent to the Methodist Cemetery.  A total of 114 men, many unknown, are interred here from other initial burial sites.  The cemetery was dedicated on Confederate Memorial Day, June 5, 1869, and a monument to the dead was dedicated the next year.  The Confederate Soldiers regimental monument erected in 1935 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the State of West Virginia lists the names of 535 Jefferson County men who served in the Confederate army.  in addition to the men buried in the Confederate cemetery, about 125 Confederate veterans are buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

Mary Bedinger Mitchell wrote, about that bloodiest day in the Civil War, “On Thursday [September 18] … they continued to arrive until the town [Shepherdstown] was quite unable to hold any more disabled and suffering.  They filled every building  and overflowed into the country round, into farmhouses, corn cribs, and cabins. … There were six churches, and they were all full; the Odd Fellows’ Hall, the Freemasons’, the little Town Council room, the barn-like place known as the Drill Room, all the private houses after their capacity, the shops and empty buildings, the school-houses … and yet the cry was for more room.”

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

The history of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle in Antietam is all around us, and after we explore some of Shepherdstown, our plan is to explore some of Antietam.  Little do we know at this point that the battlefield is so huge it will take us hours and hours to explore just a portion of it.

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

We arrive in Shepherdstown too early for lunch, so we take a walk around the streets of the small town, ducking into spots that look inviting, like Four Seasons Books.

Four Seasons Books
Four Seasons Books

Here we chat with the bookseller about places to see in West Virginia, and she tells us to explore Babcock State Park and Beckley, West Virginia.  Those places are quite some distance from here, so we take note of her recommendations for another trip.

Inside Four Seasons Books
Inside Four Seasons Books

We walk up and down the charming streets.  It’s actually quite a cold and blustery day, but at least the sun is shining and skies are blue.

Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia
church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia

We stroll past The Press Room, one of Shepherdstown’s recommended eating establishments.  We don’t know at the time, but we will be eating here tonight for a special anniversary dinner. We’re actually going to be staying at a bed & breakfast in another town close by, Sharpsburg, Maryland, no more than 15 minutes by car, The Jacob Rohrbach Inn.

The Press Room
The Press Room
pajamas
pajamas
Mellow Moods Cafe and Juice Bar
Mellow Moods Cafe and Juice Bar
our town is so small that we can't afford a town drunk so we all take turns!
our town is so small that we can’t afford a town drunk so we all take turns!

I like how the Public Library sits in the median strip between two one-way streets.

Public Library
Public Library
Public LIbrary
Public Library

Shepherdstown is home to Shepherd University.  Shepherd State Teachers College was “established in 1872 as a branch of State normal school system. It was an outgrowth of the old Shepherd College.  This is the site of early settlement made by Thomas Shepherd who built a fort here during Indian days.”

Shepherd State Teachers College
Shepherd State Teachers College

We see an old bank that’s been converted into a Mexican restaurant, Mi Degollado Mexican Restaurant.  It turns out we end up eating lunch here on Sunday before we leave the area.

Mi Degollado Mexican Restaurant
Mi Degollado Mexican Restaurant

We discover small community gardens and some overgrown, derelict buildings.

a garden in town
a garden in town
overgrown
overgrown
overwhelming nature
overwhelming nature

After walking up and down the streets of Shepherdstown, it’s finally lunchtime and we head to the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery where we eat their special grilled cheese sandwiches and vegetable chipotle chili.

Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery
Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery

Then we drive to the Rumsey Monument, completed in 1915 and dedicated to inventor James Rumsey, born in 1743.  He built water mills and, later, “two of the earliest steamboats, designed the first true water turbine and envisioned the entire field of power hydraulics.  He was America’s first engineer,” according to The Rumseian Society, which was “founded in 1788 to develop Rumsey’s inventions.  It was disbanded at his death, but was recreated in 1903 to build the Rumsey Monument.”

The Rumsey Monument
The Rumsey Monument

Though the monument today is pretty scraggly and deserted, it does offer a nice view of the Potomac River and the railroad bridge.

The Potomac River
The Potomac River
railroad over the Potomac River
railroad over the Potomac River

After our brief visit to this little park, we head to Antietam National Battlefield, home to the bloodiest one day battle in American history.  On that fateful day of September 17, 1862, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat.

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24 thoughts on “a drive through northern virginia to shepherdstown, west virginia

  1. Again, it’s always great to get your up-dates and pictures. You do a great job!!!
    Here’s wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    As for up here in good ole New Hampshire it’s been warm and no snow for Christmas

    1. Thanks, Ron. Sorry I never responded to this comment before! I’m glad you enjoyed my update and pictures. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too! We’ve had unseasonably warm weather here in Virginia too. We did have some snow flurries today, but they’ve all melted and the sun is shining. I can’t complain about that! 🙂

  2. Lovely countryside to explore – nice to see some green which is a relief from our white world. I’m happy things are working well with you and Mike. Wishing you a holiday season filled with love, laughter and all good things.

    1. Thanks Carol. I was happy to have this weekend in this area. Though I’ve been through Loudoun County before, I’d never been to Shepherdstown, Sharpsburg or Antietam, so I was very pleasantly surprised.

      So you are covered in snow? Last week was unseasonably warm here, but now it’s cooling off a little. I like it to be winter in winter!

      Happy holidays to you and all your family as well. 🙂

  3. Lovely pictures. We spent time last year not far from there in Harpers Ferry. We also stayed, amongst other places, in Fayetteville which is handy for the mining museum at Beckley and Babcock, though we didn’t go to the latter. Too many other places to choose from! We’ve been to West Virginia twice and I think it’s wonderful, but the locals think we’re very odd coming from Scotland to visit (we explored Virginia both times too.)

    1. Thanks so much, Anabel. We thought about dropping by Harpers Ferry on our way home, but we’ve been there numerous times and were too exhausted after two long hikes through Antietam. I heard Fayetteville is great too! That is awfully funny that you came from Scotland to visit West Virginia! I can understand wanting to come to Virginia, but then I’m a Virginian by birth!! I’m so glad you enjoyed visiting some of our states. 🙂

      1. Well, Virginia was the main destination but we detoured into West Virginia both times. I got the impression from people we talked to that most other tourists were Americans on weekend breaks like yourself so we must have seemed unusual.

      2. That’s probably right, Anabel. We usually don’t see many foreign tourists except in big cities like Washington or New York, or other cities. Most foreigners don’t venture out into rural America, but that’s where most of the treasures are found. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Sylvia. Those horses were so sweet! I’m pretty contented, and as far as Mike, yes, certainly. As for my job (or lack thereof) situation and the problems with my son, not so much!

      Like Sonny says in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Everything will be okay in the end, and if not, then it’s not yet the end!

  4. You are a lucky lady! I look forward to reading that book someday. It should certainly be interesting 🙂 🙂 (did you give up on the other one, Cathy, or are you still editing?) Merry Christmas to you, darlin’. Have a wonderful time with your family.

    1. I think if I ever write that book, it will certainly be interesting and even a little risque! I’m sending the completed one out, ever so slowly. For some reason, I’m meeting self-resistance at every turn. Scared of rejection, I guess, and even expecting it! 🙂 Merry Christmas, Jo!

      1. Well, mine is a much more quiet story, Jo, so don’t be hoping for a “killer” story from me! Haha! Anyway, I’ve read a lot of BAD books, and somehow they got published. I’m hoping it’s a numbers game, but of course that means I actually need to send it out to lots of “numbers!” Hugs to you!

  5. So nice to see a proper blue sky! A bit too grey here for me. Lovely to wander around your area with you, and learn something about the history and I am so please that you and Mike are enjoying being together again. As you said, marriage is different for all of us. I wish you both the best for the new year in whatever you do, and look forward to exploring more of the US with you. Have a good Christmas xx

    1. Hi Jude! It’s so nice to hear from you. Yes, sometimes we get some beautiful blue skies here in Virginia, I guess I’d say more often than not. Certainly bluer than Chinese skies, except in Yunnan province. 🙂 Thanks for your good wishes for Mike and me; we’ve been having a lot of good times together, although we have our struggles too, especially with our youngest son. Marriage is a complicated thing, sometimes good, sometimes stressful, sometimes comfortable, cozy, and fun. At other times it can feel like an anchor, especially for someone like me who is restless and a hopelessly addicted wanderer! It can be all of those things at once and at different times! I hope all is well with you. Is your move to Cornwall coming up soon, or did I miss it already? Hugs and happy holidays to you and your family!! 🙂 Happy 2016 to you!!

      1. Still waiting to move Cathy, I am crossing fingers (and toes) that it happens early next year. I sort of understand what you mean about the anchor. I love to travel, the OH not so keen, but I am taking a leaf out of your book (no, not for the whole year!) and going places solo, otherwise I would be very unhappy. If he wants to come, then good, if not then his decision. There are too many places I have yet to see. Saying that at the moment I’m quite content to explore in the UK, some lovely places here too. Take care and I hope the issues with Adam sort themselves out. Parenting is another of those relationships that is never easy xx

      2. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you too, Jude. Believe me, I know about the spouse who can’t or won’t travel. Mike is game and a good sport about travel but his job is so demanding that he never even takes all his vacation time in a year. During this entire year, the only time he took time off was for two weeks to come to China. So, I definitely can’t count on him to be my partner in crime. It’s hard for me to be gone a whole year, but I do like actually working and living somewhere. I only wish I could do it for no more than 3-6 months. I keep thinking I should start a travel business where I take people who want to travel solo, especially people our age, traveling (& walking; or even a road trip American-style). But of course, it’s just a fleeting dream that pops up and I never do anything about it.

        Exploring in the UK is a great option for you, as is exploring in the USA is for me. There are plenty of places I have yet to see and could probably spend the rest of my life just seeing things within the US. But of course, those exotic locales always entice.

        I do hope the issues with Adam do sort themselves out. One day it looks hopeful, and the next it seems like doom and gloom. A lot of angst and emotional issues, which he refuses to acknowledge are a problem. But that is one of those things I’d prefer not to talk about. It’s way too painful.

        Take care and I hope you have a wonderful holiday. 🙂

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