Showing posts with label mid-Atlantic States Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mid-Atlantic States Travel. Show all posts

Monday, January 12, 2015

Two Reasons to Plan Your Visit to Brandywine Valley Area Now.

Longwood Gardens: Orchid Extravaganza
Some people would not automatically consider a day trip to rural, southeastern Pennsylvania in the winter.  In fact, I can almost hear you thinking, "Drive to Pennsylvania, in the winter? In the snow? Oh no!"  However, I don't think I will have to work very long or hard to convince you, there are two very exciting reasons to visit the Brandywine River area of Pennsylvania. Especially at this time of year.

Longwood Gardens: Orchid Extravaganza


The first reason to travel to Brandywine Valley, during the cold months, is the Orchid Extravaganza.  Longwood Gardens is an amazing botannical garden and is a highly recommended destination during any time of year. Last year was my maiden voyage to Longwood Gardens and it was just coincidence that the orchid extravaganza was in full swing at the time. It was amazing. I will never forget the sights and the scents. I was lost in a world of tropical flowers while there was still snow on the ground outdoors.

This year the Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens dates are January 24 to March 29, 2015.  I will return this year. I advise you to not miss it. 

Brandywine River Museum: Wyeth exhibitions


The second reason to travel Pennsylvania during the cold months is Brandywine River Museum and the Wyeth art exhibitions. If you like Wyeth art, as I do, you will be thrilled to learn that the Andrew Wyeth; Lines of Thought exhibition continues until March 15, 2015 and the Jamie Wyeth exhibition will be held January 17 through April 5, 2015.

I think Wyeth art (all three Wyeth's) is breathtaking and well worth the drive to see it in person. I've been to the Brandywine River Museum a handful of times and have had a wonderful experience each time I've been there.  I will go up for the Jamie Wyeth exhibit this year. 
Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic

If you aren't able to visit the museum in person, but enjoy Andrew Wyeth paintings, I highly recommend Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic.  It is a 224 page in-home art exhibit.  Clearly, seeing the paintings hanging on the wall just a few inches away is the best way to view them. but this is the second best way to see a wide selection of Andrew Wyeth's works. 

Snow and cold, or not, just go.  I don't think you will regret it.  Longwood Gardens and Brandywine River Museum are just two little nuggets of travel gold in this area of Pennsylvania.





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Monday, November 10, 2014

Gramma Plans a Bucket List Day Trip to a Mid-Atlantic Ski Resort

"The key to happiness is freedom, and the key to freedom is courage"
Here in the mid-Atlantic, as the local meteorologists begin to vaguely mention the words "cold" and "snow" in the extended forecast, I begin to dread the shoveling, slush, cold, and mess that snow brings. And yet a large part of me welcomes the snow. There is a beauty that snow brings as it covers the earth in a pure, white blanket. And snow brings opportunities for adventures and fun.  A chance for me to continue to participate in checking a bucket list item off as completed.

Gramma learns to snowboard


On December 12th of last year, at age 49, I learned to snowboard.  It was a wondrous experience.  The Mister gave me my first lesson in a nearly empty schoolyard late at night. It was amazing and I regretted that I hadn't tried snowboarding earlier in my life. Yet, I probably wasn't ready at an earlier age in life.  There is a freedom that comes with maturity that brings a different kind of brave.  I was finally courageous enough to try to snowboard.

I continued to practice a few times last year, practicing in schoolyards and on fire lanes in local wooded areas.  While last year was brutally cold and icy, there wasn't much snow that was good for snowboarding. I would have loved more opportunities to practice.

That is why I became excited when the news forecast included talk about the approaching Polar Vortex. I can't wait to go snowboarding again. And I think I will plan a trip to one of the local ski resorts. 

I had never expected there to be ski resorts on the east coast. Before traveling here on a regular basis, I expected the area to be too tropical for snow sports.  Oh, such a silly girl I was. There are ski resorts here.  Nearly every Monday, during the winter season, there is someone at work who talks about having been skiing, tubing, or snowboarding nearby. This year, I hope that I am also talking about snowboarding down a real hill. I am definitely ready to try snowboarding on a slope.

Let's keep in mind that the Mid-Atlantic region is nowhere near the elevation of Telluride, Colorado. But even so, there are plenty of places in the Mid-Atlantic to find a lift to take you to the top and a hill to come down.

A helpful snowboard tutorial.  

It is not as difficult to learn to snowboard as I expected. And not half as scary.  For me, getting up from fastening my bindings was the most difficult part. But this young lady shows a way of getting up that I will try this year.  If you are very nervous and not starting at a ski resort with lessons, I'd advise starting on a smaller hill than in this video. With the right snow, your board will slide on the smallest of hills.  




Popular ski resorts convenient to the Baltimore and DC areas.

I am listing the four resorts that my co-workers and client families most visit:
Here is a complete list of the 34 mid-Atlantic ski resorts as listed in DCSki.  This list also includes resorts in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.  

If you have ever wanted to snowboard but have just been too nervous, even if you are my age or older, I recommend that you give it a try.  It is not nearly as scary as it looks.  You can be bashful like I was and start in a yard with the smallest of incline if the snow is right.  Or you can go all out and start at a resort. Either way - be courageous and live your dreams. 


Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.





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Monday, October 20, 2014

Visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

I have many favorite places to visit in the mid-Atlantic, but Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a special place. I wish I could visit every weekend.  Frankly, I wouldn't mind living in the area.  But so far, I've only taken day trips to the beautiful little town. 

Photographic print by Jeffrey D. Walters
Personally, I go to Harpers Ferry in order to enjoy the scenery and to climb the hill to the Maryland Heights overlook.  Or I spend the day walking around the town among the old buildings.  Occasionally, I stop before I get to the town, and sit at the river's edge and watch the flotilla of humans, enjoying the river in innertubes, kayaks, and canoes. I love the look and feel of this little water community; tucked in at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Where the states of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland meet. 

Recommending Harpers Ferry as a place to visit is easy for me since I think everyone can find something they like while there. People who like historical towns, architecture, outdoor recreation, civil war and black history will especially enjoy their visit.  

Hilltop Church Harpers Ferry by Greg Dale
A bit of trivia, Harpers Ferry was originally spelled with an apostrophe (Harper's Ferry) and continues to be found this way in literature. However, It is now correct to spell it without an apostrophe. I don't know what caused the change but I do know that I tend to revert to the apostrophe version frequently.  I am trying to break that habit.  But you will likely see it spelled both ways. 

Outdoor recreation 
Tour the area by raft, zipline, horseback, or bicycle.  There are several different adventures and outfitters to choose from
Indoor recreation (a.k.a shopping)
There is no mall or superstore type of shopping located in this town. Not that I have seen. But there are many little shops offering beautiful items for sale. Shop-a-holics can find great gifts or treats for themselves. 

Appalachian Trail  (AT)
Harpers Ferry is considered the "psychological halfway point" by the AT thru-hikers. Because of the close proximity to the AT trail, Harpers Ferry is also an excellent place for day hikes on the AT

Maryland Heights Trails
The Harper's Ferry National Historical Park is a highly recommended walking park and offers 20 miles of trails. There are riverside paths, battlefield trails, and my favorite Maryland Heights trail.  Maryland Heights is across the Potomac river from town and up that giant hill.  It is miles long and a steep and difficult (for me anyway) trail. But it is well worth the effort when you are able to see the town from the overlook area.  The first photograph in this article shows the breathtaking sight from that area. 

Civil War and Black History 
Abolitionist John Brown Wax Museum Photo by Joel Sartore
I can't even being to share the importance of this town to both civil war history and black history, and history in general.  The John Brown raid precipitated the civil war in Harpers Ferry.  Three civil war battles occurred here. Harpers Ferry was the site for the first academic college for freed slaves (Storer College) as well as the site for the US of the Niagara Movement (which later became the NAACP).  I was aware of the civil war history in the area but only became adequately aware of the importance in shaping history for freed slaves when I accidentally parked in a parking lot between the Storer college buildings in order to get my bearings.  I was there that day to hike, I will return to look more closely at these buildings and the self-guided tour.

Maybe you can begin to understand why Harpers Ferry is one of my favorite places to be.  This is just the smallest peek at what this town has to offer.  

Replica of John Brown's Fort by mamaGeek cc by 3.0
If you go, I have two important bits of advice. Be sure to wear good walking shoes and bring water. Parking in this area is limited because of the layout of the town.  Tourists have several parking lots to use but the closest fills up early.  I have seen days where there is no parking in the park or at the train station. There are shuttles from the more distance parking lots. Also, if you plan to walk or hike, pack plenty of water.  I always walk farther than I meant to.  Being thirsty is not safe or comfortable when you hike. 

If you ever have the chance to visit Harpers Ferry, I hope you take it.  It is a wonderful place to experience.

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.  



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Monday, October 6, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Fall Foliage

I love the mid-Atlantic region during every season of each year. As summer comes to a close, I am a bit sad that the window of opportunity for hiking, camping, swimming, and fishing is coming to a close.  I feel a rush to cram in as much outdoor activity as possible, before the snow flies.  And yet, the gorgeous color palette of autumn in this area more than makes up for having to put shoes back on my feet.

I am a little far-reaching in what I consider the mid-Atlantic. Therefore, from as far north as the Adirondacks in New York, as far west Central West Virginia, as far south as the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, and everywhere in between the fall foliage viewing reigns supreme.  

Let me try to show you why I believe this.

Blue Heron photograph by Nancy Rotenberg

Adirondack Park, New York --  The Adirondack Park was established in 1892 in New York and is the largest park in the lower 48 states.  I have spent some time in the Adirondacks during one summer (July) and it was a wonderful experience.  I dream of returning during the autumn. I would love to sit lakeside, in the peaceful setting, and watch the autumn colors of the Adirondack Mountains dancing on the smooth lake water.

Gauley River Photograph by Raymond Gehman
Fayette, West Virginia -- West Virginia is a magical state in regards to flora and fauna.  I have made many Sunday drives through portions of the state but I haven't seen half as much as I have wanted to.  I want to spend a length of time in Central West Virginia.  It turns out that my oldest son beat me to it.  Through work, he went to the Fayette area and rafted the white water of the Gauley River.  The rafting adventure was amazing and he encourages me to go.  I will at some point. Can you imagine seeing the fall foliage from rafts in the river? Breath-taking.  If you look closely, you can see the shapes of the rafts in the photograph.  



Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC photograph by Panoramic Images
Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia and North Carolina) -- I've driven down a good portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We went at a leisurely pace and stopped at many of the over overlooks just to look and breathe.  Again, I went during the summer or late summer months.  I intend on making the drive again, with some overnight stops, during the autumn.  I can't even imagine the blues of the mountains (for which they were named) in combination with the firey colors of falling leaves.  I want to drive every mile of the 469 mile mountain top miracle. 

The beauty of the mid-Atlantic is that I don't have to drive that far to find beauty.  I can find it within minutes of my own home.  


Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.




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Monday, September 22, 2014

Horsin' Around in Historic Maryland Horse Country

As a young, horse-crazy girl growing up in the midwest, I loved horses and everything about them. I spent my days riding and many of my nights watching the stars, reclined on their bare backs while they munched their hay.   Don't tell anyone, but there were times that I sat in the barn to do my homework.  Somehow, math was slightly more palatable if I did it near the horses. 


Horses Looking Over Fence at Alfred Vanderbilt's Farm by Jerry Cooke
At one point, I had a wonderful black and white pinto pony. He was my best friend for as long as we owned him.  One day, he and I were meandering down a lonely dirt road.  A herd of deer were just off the edge of the road.  Somehow we had managed to walk right up to them, too close for their comfort, so they picked up their good-bye flag tails and waved as they slowly bounded off into the woods.  

My pony's ears perked and he stepped toward them. To this day, I can't tell  you who wanted to go more, but I gave him his head and clucked with my tongue. Off he went, following those deer through the woods.  There wasn't thick undergrowth, thank goodness, as he sped through the woods trying to join those deer.  I hung on, crouched low and clinging to his bare bare back, one hand wrapped in his thick mane. I only concentrated at not letting myself get scraped off by a tree.  At one point, he jumped a very large downed tree trunk. We moved as one being and I felt as though we were flying.  Clearly, the deer were long gone and we would never catch up. But for a moment, we were running, jumping, and flying along.  From that moment on, I had a great appreciation for the machine that is horse and how amazing it is that they can jump like they do.

From my livingroom, I would watch the Olympic equestrian events when they were televised and I would watch the triple crown races. All of those things seems so fantastical.  Clearly, horses also existed in other parts of the world, but my world consisted of my backyard ponies.  Racehorses, horses and hounds, and hooved Olympic athletes seemed like fairy tales.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that horses are more than back yard companions to little girls.  As an adult living in the mid-Atlantic, I can enjoy the deep history of horses in Maryland. 

Just a handful of the big-ticket horse attractions are:
In addition to those things, there are many opportunities to witness horse shows, expos, and events here.  A few years ago, I got to see a jumping event with Olympic riders participating. That was quite a thrill. But so far, my very favorite horse related event has been the Shawan Downs Legacy Chase.

There is a 300 acre piece of farm land near Hunt Valley, Maryland, that was purchased by the Land Preservation Trust to preserve the non-residential use of the land.  Since that purchase, it has been "Re-branded as Shawan Downs, the property has grown into a first-class equestrian center and steeplechase course." 

Man Riding Horse in a Steeplechase by Eric Horan
The Shawan Downs Legacy Chase is a steeplechase event, to benefit GBMC Healthcare. This year, it is being held on Saturday, September 27th.  I attended a few years ago and hope to return this year.  Picnicking and spending the day on the rolling, green grounds is reason enough to go.  Watching these amazing horses over fences at full speed is thrilling.  The flying hooves, churning up clods of ground, flying over the obstacles as though they have wings is something I'll never forget.  Between races there is plenty to see.  The year I attended, there were groups of spectators in period attire as well as some antique cars.  I truly felt as though I had been transported to decades prior. 

If you hope to attend horse events in Maryland, or if you are in the area on Saturday, I highly recommend that you attend this benefit event.  The Shawan Downs Legacy Chase is not something you would soon forget.  Bring a comfy blanket, your camera, and a good bottle of wine.  


Written by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.




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Monday, September 15, 2014

Poe, The Raven, and Walking with Ghosts

As the mornings turn chill and breezy in the mid-Atlantic, I find myself thinking that it won't be long until the leaves on the trees change color.  Dying and rattling like miniature bones in the trees, before being dropped to the ground to crunch under our feet.
The Raven


In addition to noting the change of season, I have spent some time reading wonderful blogs and articles about costumes for the fast-approaching All Hallows' Eve. While I have really never been one to dress up for Halloween, I do love the focus on ghosts, spirits, and things that frighten.  I'm not sure why. But I like curling up with a good, scary book and listening for things that go bump in the night.  This year I have thought about ordering a few new decorations.  During that search for decorations, I have run across more than one Raven themed item.

I am referring to the bird that Poe made frightening in his writings.  As I pondered Edgar Allan Poe and his ominous bird I realized how many opportunities for ghostly travel destinations there are in this region.  There are far too many to list in one article, so I will only share a few.

I will begin with the Baltimore Edgar Allan Poe house. Instead of telling you about it, I will show you this three minute tour of the area and the house:



Yes, Poe lived in many places throughout the mid-Atlantic and north east regions.  But he lived in this row house for a bit and eventually passed away while in Baltimore.  He is buried locally.  The Baltimore Poe House has had difficulty remaining open due to funding, location of the home (in a difficult section of town and off the tourist path). It is currently open to the public on weekends. Thank you mnolanporter for this video glimpse of the home and the surrounding area.  After watching the video late last night, I read Poe's short story Berenice. That short and morbid story put me in the mood for more scary stories.  

Are you in the ghostly mood yet?  Do you enjoy ghost walk tours?  I am and I do.  Here are three highly recommended places to walk with ghosts:

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a small town with many reasons to visit; history, architecture, and a stopping spot for the hikers of the Appalachian Trail.  I love visiting for the day.  When I stay for a longer period of time, I will take the highly recommended Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is another  popular West Virginia haunted spot to visit. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum appears to be a bucket list item for folks who are interested in old architecture, Civil War history, mental health history, and ghosts and the paranormal. I'd love to see the building on the outside, but I'm not sure that I'm brave enough to see the inside in person.

Ghettysburg, Pennsylvania.  It is impossible to know where to begin when talking about the plethora of civil war history, old architecture, monuments, and ghost tours when talking about Ghettysburg. Instead, I'll just leave you with a list of the large variety of area ghost tours

Whether you are in the mid-Atlantic or elsewhere, I hope you are able to celebrate the season, however you celebrate, in spooktacular fashion. 

Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.








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Monday, September 8, 2014

Elk Neck State Park and Turkey Point Lighthouse




Located in northeastern Maryland is a nice place to visit called Elk Neck State Park. Perched high atop an overlook, at the southern edge of the Elk Neck Peninsula, is the Turkey Point Lighthouse. It has stood watch above the North East River, the Elk River, and the Chesapeake Bay since 1833. 

We found this park by chance during one of our Sunday drives.  And I am so glad we did. We have returned several times through the years in order to walk out to the overlook area and then to meander along the trails along the bluff.  I supposed I shouldn't call it meandering. The trails we choose can be very steep from the lighthouse to the water.  It is an interesting terrain filled with tree roots poking out from the hard-packed soil banks.  At some points, we climbed down the bank and walked along the rip-rap at the water's edge. 


I should point out that the trail from the parking lot to the lighthouse is a somewhat long, but an easy and wide gravel path.  I did read some reviews about complaints at the length of the this path. This lighthouse overlook is definitely not an area where you park next to the attraction. There is a bit of a walk. So wear your comfy shoes and bring the good stroller if you have a baby.  When I go, I bring my back pack with water, snacks, a blanket to sit on, and as always, something to read.

The Turkey Point Lighthouse provides a peek into history as well as an area for camping, swimming, fishing, and hiking.  The accompanying home was razed in 1972 but fortunately, the lighthouse and one small outbuilding remain. During the weekends April through November, you can climb the inside of the lighthouse.  I have not yet toured the inside of the lighthouse.

I have not yet ventured into the park for more than day trips so I do not have first hand experience with the recreational beach, and camping areas. However, many local residents go there and recommend it to others.  Overall, it seems to be a well-liked camping area; complete with tiny rustic cabin rentals, an easy access swimming beach, and plenty of less treacherous hiking trails to choose from.  For some of these first hand reviews and  photographs about the camping area I suggest that you read the reviews on TripAdvisor.

Finally, I was thrilled to find Glen Fortner's video of the lighthouse area.  It is a very brief video (under a minute) that will give you a sense of the beauty of the lighthouse, overlook, and flora and fauna.  

Written by Dawn Rae
Image Credit: Skip willits (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons





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Monday, September 1, 2014

Interactive History Lesson - the Memphis Belle

I live near a state airport that serves both the public and military.  Some folks might think living near an airport is a drawback but I consider it a community amenity. Imagine being able to experience mini airshows from the comfort of your own balcony.  


Photo by Dawn Rae
All weekend I have had the pleasure of watching a B-17 fly about. Today, I finally left the comfort of my balcony and drove around the corner to Martin State Airport to see that historic plane up close and personal. 

The Memphis Belle, the original one, is sequestered away and is being restored.  However, there is a B-17 that has been done in her likeness, apparently for the movie of the same name. The movie version Memphis Belle was taking people for rides during this entire weekend. When not in the air with a load of human cargo, it was on the ground and you could tour it inside and out.  It was great fun watching the smiling and happy faces of the passengers disembarking from the plane after their ride in the sky. There was not a dissatisfied customer in sight. It was better yet, watching older gentlemen being given special treatment with photos at the front of the plane and airport staff escorting them on to the plane.  I can only imagine that these gentlemen may have first hand memories of these planes.

A few bits about the B-17 during the campaign against Nazi Germany from eyewitness to history:
* up to 1,000 aircraft would take part in a mission
* each plane was manned by a crew of 10 men
* a mission would last about 8 hours
* planes were unheated and temperatures could reach 60 below
* planes were open to the outside 
* B-17s often took fire or were shot down
* crewmen wore helmets and suits to help protect against enemy fire
* on average, a crew member had a 1 in 4 chance of completing his tour of duty

Again, I am not a history buff.  But the personal stories of the men who flew in these "flying fortresses" in order to fight in WW II both intrigue me and touch me.





If you are a history buff, you have to make sure you find a way to take a ride in one of these pieces of history.  You can follow the Movie Memphis Belle schedule and plan your purchase of the $450 ticket.  If I had the spare money, you can bet your sweet bippy I would have been on that plane today.  My chance may not be lost as she is scheduled for the remainder of this year in nearby states: GA, NC, SC, TN, and VA

Whether you agree with military intervention or not, it is clear even to me that B-17s had an important part in ending the horror that was happening in Nazi Germany. And for that reason, I highly recommend that you tour a B-17 and you take a ride in this amazing bit of history if you are able.

Thank you to all who served during WWII; especially those of you who piloted and manned these flying fortresses. Thank you to the Liberty Foundation and Martin State Airport for providing such a wonderful glimpse into our history.

Written by Dawn Rae


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Celebration

There are many places in the United States of historical significance and the mid-Atlantic region is no exception. In fact, the area landscape is dotted with historical markers, buildings, bridges, and grounds.  I would like to spotlight one location that is highly rated and of great importance to visit.  I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting but I will soon.  That place is Fort McHenry.    


Photo of Fort McHenry courtesy www.fortwiki.com via CC Share Alike license
Have you heard of Fort McHenry? Before moving to this area, that name would have been something that sounded vaguely familiar but I would not have been able to pull any details from the storage files in my mind.  I guess that goes to show that students should pay more attention in school. I should have anyway.

In the event that you too daydreamed through high school, this list may jog your memory

  • The War of 1812 had begun and was still raging.
  • The Battle of Baltimore occurred on September 13-14, 1814
  • The star-shaped Fort McHenry and the people who battled there were able to withstand 25 hours of bombardment by the British Navy.
  • This battle inspired Frances Scott Key to write the song: Star-Spangled Banner
You may wonder why I'm choosing to tell you about Fort McHenry now, especially since I have yet to visit. It is because I want to spread the word about the Star-Spangled Spectacular September 10-16, 2014. 

Over the years, each celebration at Fort McHenry has been showcased in the local news, and each year I think, "I won't miss next years celebration"  This year's celebration is the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner and I find myself thinking, "I don't want you to miss this celebration". 

For more information and other reviews about Fort McHenry from travelers who have been there check out the tripadvisor reviews.   

As I shared with you, I am not a history buff.  I know the bare basics of some bits of history.  While searching for something that teaches the history of the War of 1812 or the Battle of Baltimore, I came across this highly recommended book 1812: The Navy's War by George C. Daughan.  I cannot bring myself to learn about history through dry factual texts. I can learn history, and enjoy it, through factual story-telling.  This book is highly recommended both for it's readability and for it's factual accounts.  If you'd like to know more about this history, be sure to check out this book.


*note: the amazon affiliate link is not mine. I do not make any profit from the sale of this book. Thank you Ruth for letting me use your link to share this book with others.




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