On Saturday of our stay at Front Royal we drove about an hour to the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy National Air And Space Museum near Dulles Airport, Washington, DC. The museum is a large hanger with an impressive front on it. The first thing we did as take the free Highlights tour which lasted about 90 minutes. It was well worth the time and we highly recommend it. Our docent took us in chronological order starting with early winged flight. We saw originals that are preserved, replicas made up of several planes, and some planes that are in the process of being restored. One of the restoration projects is from WWI. It has the original cloth wings and even has marks where it was hit by bullets — amazing! We saw spy planes, as well as many military planes,crop dusters, racing planes and even the baskets from several hot air balloons. I enjoyed seeing the Spirit of Columbus, a Cessna 180 flown around the world in by Jerrie Mock in 1964. The final and best stop of our tour was the Space Shuttle Discovery. It has been left as it was upon completion of it’s final journey into space: somewhat dirty and “bruised” and, of course, awesome to see.
Our day at Shenandoah National Park driving Skyline Drive was a fun day trip. We drove down a state highway south around 60 miles and then entered the park to travel the two lane twisting Skyline Drive back to Front Royal. The views are amazing all the way along. There are many pull offs where one can absorb the views and take lots of photographs. There are welcome areas with restaurants with gift shops along the way but we opted to pack a lunch and eat at one of the overlooks. We were lucky enough to see a few deer and actually saw a black bear. By the time we could get turned around in hopes of getting a better look the bear had moved back into the trees. Scott just loved the drive and I agree that it is a great way to spend a day.
Being in this historic area I had to visit a little of the Civil War History. There’s a full driving tour but we chose to see a very small portion. We saw the cottage of Belle Boyd who was a Confederate spy, Williams Chapel CME which was finished in 1845, and the home of a young woman named Lucy Buck who daughter of a prosperous planter and kept a diary throughout the Civil War. We also visited Prospect Hill Cemetery where in 1882 the remains of 276 soldiers of the former Confederacy are interred. Ninety of the soldiers are identified and buried in a circle and the others are buried in a common grave in the center where an 18 foot high monument is erected above them. The cemetery is a sobering reminder of the tragedy of war.
Our stay in this area has been quite enjoyable stay and we recommend it for both it’s scenery and it’s history.