Saturday, November 2, 2013

Manassas, VA

Though I only travelled 58 miles to my overnight stop in Manassas, it was the most grueling travel day of the trip.  All things relative, of course :-)

My first objective was the Clara Barton National Historic Home – only 20 miles away.  

Venting ahead:

But ..... the congestion on the interstate (on a Saturday, yet!) made for a dicey drive.  I also managed to get lost, run into road construction (the kind where you have to wait 10 minutes for a pilot car), go through a very hairy toll booth (the locals driving like demons with an irresistible attraction to the GDB’s rear bumper), and (no surprise) got stuck in gridlock behind an accident on I-66 W.

All this aggravation on nothing but a bowl of cereal early this morning.  All I had left in the larder was dried apricots and a soy burger patty!  Why does this stuff never happen on a full stomach and empty bladder?  I had planned to make lunch at Clara’s but the location is in a public park where I didn’t have the heart to fire up my generator.  So it was almost 4 PM before I finally stopped and grabbed a McChicken sandwich off the dollar menu. 

Finally in Manassas, I stopped at WMT and asked permission to stay the night from a very irritated Customer Service Manager who told me I had to get the OK from Mall Security.  This WMT is connected to a massive mall – you walk out the WMT doors into the mall.  I couldn’t find the security office anywhere, not from the locals or the store directory.  I returned to the CSM and he rudely informed me that I’d just have to find it myself.  So I left.  About 1 mile down the street I obtained permission from Lowe’s to stay the night.


But the aggravation of getting to the Clara Barton house in the dense and dangerous DC traffic was completely worth it.  It’s a fantastic site, nestled in a beautiful pocket of Maryland.  

As a nurse myself, it’s gratifying to see a nurse who is recognized in an historical context.  She was quite the innovator.  And a self-made woman - unheard of in her era. 

Click to enlarge

Even if the home were not associated with an historical figure, it would be worth touring as a wonderful example of Victorian architecture and furnishings.  Almost everything in the 30-room  mansion is original. 

Red Cross employees worked and lived here.

The history of the house itself is fascinating.  But this post is going to be long enough as is.  For some reason, my interior shots were blurry.  Bummer.    

View from the staircase landing

I had my very own docent all to myself!  She is an interning history major at a nearby university and concentrating on the Civil War era.  She declined to have her photo taken but she did an outstanding job giving an overview of Barton’s life, work, and home.  It was an enjoyable 45 minutes. 

I knew that Clara Barton had served nobly as a nurse in the Civil War and later established the American Red Cross, but I didn’t realize she developed the first First Aid Kit – with all the elements used today.  And she was instrumental in making the kits available everywhere.

Glen Echo Park, now belonging to the National Park Service, is also on the premises.  Years after Barton’s death, an amusement park, of all things, was built on the adjacent land!  The Glen Echo site preserves the park.  The 1920’s Art Deco influence is everywhere.  

This building houses a fabulous, all-original, carousel

Sadly, you can't go inside due to NP funding woes

Tomorrow I’ll tour Manassas Battlefield, then on to Front Royal, VA where I will be poised to enter Skyline Drive.  

After being enveloped by throngs of urban humanity, I’m ready for some pastoral serenity.     

In Memory of my Mother-In Law: 1924 - 2011


  1. I wish that things like traffic snarls and irritable customer service personnel didn't have to happen, but they do. Hopefully you have checked that block off and won't encounter it again.

    I also didn't know that Clara Barton developed the first aid kit, and was a pioneer of emergency preparedness and natural disaster relief.

    I'm not sure about the memorial to Blanche Helen Raines. I'm guessing that is your mother-in-law? Although I am doing it rather blindly, I'd like to offer my condolences (if they are in order). :)

    Hope tomorrow is a beautiful day with blue sky and clear sailing!

  2. TC,

    I need to edit in order to clarify the memorial. You are right - John's mom. Today is her birthday.

    Thanks for sending your very positive vibes my way!

  3. Interesting on the first, First Aid Kit. Something that has never crossed my mind before - the invention of it!

    Nice of you to remember John's mother at the end of your blog.


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