Thanksgiving brought us up to Connecticut to spend time with my side of the family. We started the drive on Tuesday evening, with our Chihuahua, Felina, in tow. We arrived in Connecticut on Wednesday evening and spent a nice night with my parents and grandmother. Thanksgiving morning Anthony, my sister, brother-in-law, their dog Leki, and I ran the 5 mile Turkey Trot at Hammonasset Beach State Park. It was warm, and the course was flat. I also almost literally ran into a friend on the course, which was really nice! We spent the day with family, then headed up the day after Thanksgiving to visit the only NPS site in Rhode Island, Roger Williams National Memorial. The site consists of a small visitors center and a few acres of park that is used for multiple events by the city of Providence. At the visitors center we watched a film about Roger Williams, who was basically kicked out of Massachusetts for his separatist views. He fled deportation back to England and spent the winter under the protection of the Wampanoag, afterwards founding Providence on the basis of freedom of religion. There are a few relics in the visitors center. A chilly day, we spent a little time wandering through the park. Lunchtime found us on Providence’s famous Thayer Street, at Nice Slice, which specializes in vegan pizzas. We picked up a couple of pies and brought them up to visit friends in Massachusetts, who just had a baby! Kate, Bowen, and baby Wesley are doing great and we spent a while with them, meeting Wesley and chatting.
We began our drive home on Saturday, planning to stop in New Jersey to visit some more with my sister and brother-in-law. My sister is a veterinarian at Popcorn Park, a Humane Society shelter, and had been telling me about a kitten she rescued and mended. Vespa (her shelter name) was hit by a car when she was barely a month old. My sister basically sewed her head back together. All healed, her stripes don’t match up anymore, her eye is pulled a bit tight in her skin, and her skull is bumpy – but she’s a perfectly normal, rambunctious kitten. Even though we already have two dogs and an older, ill cat, we ended up taking Vespa (who we’ve now named Nessie) home with us. She was irresistible and very sweet, so we added her to our menagerie.
The next day, after a nice evening with my sister and brother-in-law, we completed our drive back to Asheville. We stopped briefly to purchase kitten supplies, and to visit Manassas National Battlefield Park. Since Manassas is mostly an outdoor experience, we walked Felina around the park after watching the film in the visitors center and viewing the exhibits of Civil War regalia in the museum. Troops fought at Manassas (also known as Bull Run) twice. The first battle of the Civil War was fought here, and the most amazing detail (to me) is that families set up picnics on either side of the battlefield, on hills overlooking the scene, in order to watch their husbands, fathers, and sons fight. Apparently they didn’t think it would be so bloody and brutal. Everyone thought it would be a quick skirmish that would end the conflict. How wrong they were. 900 men lost their lives that day. At second Manassas, 3,300 men died. Both battles resulted in gains for the Confederacy. Being there is erie, and the peaceful landscape belies the sacrifice of these men, many of them volunteers. Visiting the unfinished railroad bed was especially touching, since the dead were lined up on top of each other in this spot during the fighting.
After a few hours of wandering around, we completed our drive home to Asheville, and got settled in with our newest family member.