Paving the Way
By Greg Barbera
As we think about the future of our country, it’s important to remember the past. Below are a few suggested routes to four cities that our Founding Fathers called home. Using OnStar, forward these destinations to your Traverse from Map Quest (where they’re automatically downloaded to your vehicle’s turn-by-turn navigation system) and go!
WHERE: Mt. Vernon, Virginia via Washington, DC
WHY: Home to George Washington, the first President of the United States
HOW: Navigate your way through our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., a city rife with history and rich with museums and cultural landmarks (including the Washington Monument, the world’s tallest obelisk). Yes, the city’s grid—designed by Frenchman Pierre Charles L’Enfant—can be confusing. Here’s a tip: Most of the diagonal streets are named after states, east-to-west streets are named with letters and north-to-south streets are numbers. Cross the 14th Street Bridge into Alexandria, Virginia, and go 8 miles south to Mt. Vernon.
SIGNIFICANCE: Our first president’s retirement home was also a plantation where he grew more than 60 crops including tobacco, flax and hemp.
WHERE: Boston, Massachusetts, via the Berkshires
WHY: Home to Samuel Adams, credited with leading roles in the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party.
HOW: Boston is a harbor town on the Atlantic Ocean. By entering the state from the west, you can travel through the Berkshires, a mountainous range made famous during the Revolutionary War when Henry Knox brought ox-drawn sleds carrying captured cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. In autumn, the multicolored leaves of maples, birches and oaks create a kaleidoscopic scene. On your way to the city, you’ll pass through Lexington, the town where “the shot heard round the world” was fired and arguably the spot where the Revolutionary War started.
SIGNIFICANCE: One of the most important political protests in our country’s history took place in Boston, when as an act of defiance the Sons of Liberty dumped 342 chests of tea into the water.
WHERE: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania via Pennsylvania Dutch Country
WHY: Home to Ben Franklin, not only a politician, but also the inventor of, among many other things, the furnace stove, bifocals and the lightning rod.
HOW: Drive east through Pennsylvania Dutch Country (home of the first “five & dime” store), populated by the Amish and their horse-drawn buggies, birch beer, apple butter and ginger snaps. Continue toward Philly through Bucks County’s horse country, where covered bridges and stone- and log-built houses dot the landscape until you reach Chadds Ford Township and Brandywine Battlefield. Then follow Interstate 95 north, which parallels the Delaware River, into downtown Philadelphia, where you can visit the Liberty Bell on Market Street.
SIGNIFICANCE: Our country’s most iconic document—the Declaration of Independence—was drafted and signed in Philadelphia.
WHERE: Monticello, Virginia via the Blue Ridge Parkway
WHY: Home to Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States.
HOW: Travel the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Mountains. Along the way, you’ll see Humpback Rock, the three mountain peaks known as Peaks of Otter and numerous vistas overlooking rolling hills. You can also stop to hike trails dotted with mountain laurel and rhododendrons. A little-known fact about nearby Charlottesville: General Custer had a short encounter with the Confederate Army there during the Skirmish at Rio Hill.
SIGNIFICANCE: This piece of real estate is depicted on the back of our nickel currency.
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Greg Barbera of DadCentric is a dad blogger, beer magazine editor and the singer/bass player for the punk band Chest Pains. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. You can follow him on twitter @gregeboy, tumblr, Facebook and Blogger.