Harper's Ferry

This past weekend me and few of my classmates here in Frederick took a break from studying and went for a visit to Harpers Ferry. Most people might recall Harpers Ferry as the location where the abolitionist John Brown made his attack against the federal armory. Harpers Ferry was also a highly valued strategic geographic point by both the Union and Confederate forces in the American Civil War, changing hands several times during the corse of the war. After the war, the economy never really returned to the small town at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and as a result left the area frozen in time. 

What is there today is a great example of what a small town in the mid 19th Century would have looked like. Nearly the whole of the downtown and the surrounding area covering the states of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland is now a National Historic Park

On our part, we couldn't have picked a finer fall day for a visit. My roommate Jake, along with Heather, Steven, and Rubin spent the day there taking in the sights. We also got our daily dose of exercise as the walk from the main parking area to downtown then across and up to Maryland Heights was quite the workout! 

I did discover a link to my personal family history while I was there. I noticed that the Confederate General that commanded the troops in the battle of Maryland Heights in 1862 was General Joseph B. Kershaw from South Carolina. Since my family is from the Kershaw and Lancaster County area, I wondered if my ancestor William Joseph Flectcher (my grand father's great grandfather) might have been apart of this battle.  

Knowing that he was sharp shooter in the Flat Rock Guard, Company G, of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers it didn't take very long to find out that he probably did fight in that battle (As a side note, the company was also present at the battle of Antietam, Cold Harbor, Chickamauga, and Gettysburg, and many others). I also found a map of troop movements before and after the battle of Maryland Heights that show that he most likely marched right through Frederick and the streets that I now ride my bike to work upon. The Flat Rock Guard was apparently a rough and tumble group of soldiers. One of it's members "cut and wore a pair of cuff buttons from a fragment of his own skull." Yikes! 

Skull jewelry aside, I recommend that if you ever get the chance to visit Harpers Ferry. It's rich history and natural beauty are well worth the effort. Check out a mix of photos taken by Jake and I here and at Stephen's photo stream here.


Frederick, Maryland


As most of you know, I started a new job in August with US Customs and Border Protection. It is an awesome job that utilizes all of my strengths and interest. Plus, it actually pays well with great benefits. Monday marked the sixth full week of work there and my third week of training at the USDA Professional Development Center in Fredrick, Maryland. And Tuesday marked the first day of furlough on account of the conservative side of the House of Representative having their heads up their anal orifices. 

So, today, six weeks and two days in to my employment, I find myself at home with Mary and the kids, which ain't all bad. Since I got to Frederick I have been trying to find the time to do a blog post on life there and now I seem to have found the time to do just that. I do expect to go right back to Frederick when the intestinal obstructions are cleared as we still have approximately seven weeks of training to complete. For now I will enjoy my mini vacation and being with my family.

Frederick is an interesting little town. Actually, it isn't that little. The metropolitan Frederick area has a population of about 66,000 people. It lies about 50 miles west of Baltimore and about 50 north-northwest of Washington DC. Established in 1745, it is an old town with a rich history. It served as a major cross road in both the American Revolution and the Civil War. The town is the final resting place for Frances Scott Key. In fact, my daily bike commute goes past the Mount Olivet Cemetery where his family plot is located.  

Frederick is the home of Fort Detrick and just outside of town you can find the presidential retreat Camp David. The town is in  Maryland's piedmont between the Appalachain Mountains and Chesapeake Bay and outer coast. Ten miles to the south is the Potomac River. Along the rive is the C&O Canal bike trail which runs from Washington DC to Pittsburg. I would love to take a few days off of training and ride the the entire trail, but since my training is a condition of my employment, I'll wait to do that some other time. My first weekend there I did manage to ride about 40 miles of the trail up to Harper's Ferry and back which was fantastic. 

Downtown Frederick is pretty neat. It has a vibrant downtown area with many shops and places to eat and there are many old and interesting buildings to see. There is a canal that runs through town that I thought must be linked to the C&O Canal in some way, or at least harken back to a bygone era when goods moved easier on little barges than on the stiff wheels of a wagon. When I googled the Frederick canal I did not find a thing about it. I ended up asking one of the instructors at our training center about it's history and he told me it was built in the late 1970's for flood control. Not the answer I was expecting. When I googled "Frederick flood" I did come up with many images showing Frederick underwater. So in the end it seems as if the Frederick Canal had more influence from a civil engineer than an urban designer. Either way, I found that the canal adds lots of charm to the downtown area. 

We are living in a Marriott Suites Hotel and the rooms are actually quite nice. Most of us share a suite with a roommate, however, we all have separate bedrooms. My roommate is Jake. Jake is from Utah but his CBP duty station the Blaine border crossing in Washington State where the Peace Arch is located. He is also a botanist, so we have much to talk about. The hotel is on the south side of town and our training center is on the north side of town. We are provided vans to get to get to and from the training center, however, I brought my bicycle with me and ride it to the training center every day. It is only about 6 miles each way and only takes me about 20 to 25 minutes to get there. I occasionally stop a the Starbuck's Coffee in downtown Frederick which adds a little time to my ride, but it sure makes me happy.  

My training program is demanding, fun and interesting. Our class is made up of 35 people from all over the United States, and I am certain that they will all be a new set of life long friends. I especially like the diversity of our group. Perhaps half of our class speaks english as a second language or are bilingual. There are even a few southerners in the class so I can speak my native tongue - Southernese. However, with no other Philadelphians in the class I generally keep that tongue to myself as it is a lexicon that most adults generally find offensive. I don't even know what you call that tongue. How about "Yo, youse got sumtin to say, din say it", or how about just "Yo?" Yes, that's it, I speak Yo!

So, like, yo, if'n youse want, click on the word "here" over dare -----> here  and check out sum shots of Frederick and my friends and stuff. Aright? Aright den, dats what I'm talkin'bout.