With apologies to Thomas Jefferson for being much less erudite under the title he coined.
Well, first up, do they ever speak funny down there. And so do I, of course. Many episodes of mutual incomprehension while speaking the same language.
The first thing I saw when I stopped for dinner was this sticker on a car.
Think about it for a moment ...
I was down in the Old Dominion to do a 20 mile run, the Stonewall Jackson Ambulance Run. Good event. Well organized, nice up and down course, and a solid 20 miler on the roads. If you're going to race a road marathon you face a dilemma -- you want to practice running on the surface you will race on, but if you run too much on the tarmac your risk of a stress fracture or whatever goes up. Not so good. I lucked out—in the New Zealand sense of getting bad luck—with the weather: four days out the forecast was for calm and 45 degrees, a sort of distance running ideal. What we got was 73 degrees, a 69 degree dewpoint and hours of rain that varied from the misting to torrential. Not quite the same as 45 degrees and calm.
I took the opportunity to have a gander round the Fredericksburg area after the race. In this endeavor I was transported by a car that is, in fact, worse than the Chevy Classic, I derided just last month. I speak of the Chevy Cobalt.
Even less acceleration than its stablemate, a rear window that difficult to see out of, large blind spots ... But it did have this cool feature I'd never seen before. Perhaps I just haven't been around long enough.
Northern Virginia is an interesting place for the suburban sprawl that is occurring on top of Civil War battlefields. Thus you see scenes like this:
Yes, yes, that's Jefferson Davis Highway outside the anonomall. Now, you could make the argument that commerce cures old war wounds, and all this is well and good, building over the scars of the past. That might me true. But I was put in mind of the argument that Tony Horwitz makes in Confederates in the Attic: that the South still hasn't really accepted that it lost the war. When you get right down to it the South was fighting to preserve slavery, and there's not a lot of glory in remembering that. It's necessary and right to remember the war, and preserve parts of its history -- the parks that now sit on old battlefields seem appropriate. But naming a highway after someone—in this case US 1—seems like a commemoration of what they did. Not so good.
At least it was reasonably clear what the Civil War was about. Now we have a war in Iraq where it's not clear what the objective is, and what the troops are doing there. Nevertheless we should support them according to Budget Rent-a-Car who adorned the windows of all their cars in the National Airport lot with these stickers.
The quibbler in me wanted to point out that by national affiliation they're not my troops, though I am paying some amount in taxes for their upkeep. It's true that supporting the troops should be a rather anodyne, apolitical opinion, but these yellow stickers have been rather commonly linked to support of the Republican Party. Surely they know that at Budget?
The rain kept teeming down all day, so I sought out indoor activities, including the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library. It's a little more modest than the modern presidential museums and libraries, but then James Monroe did not die a wealthy man or fundraise for his library.
Soaked from the rain and tired of repeating everything I said I bade farewell to James Monroe and drove the