This morning we set out with renewed vigor (a hot breakfast always helps with that), determined to conquer anything that the day could possibly bring--the biting cold...the elusive Civil War history of Winchester...what have you. I had devised a cohesive plan through solid Internet research: first we would visit the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Park. It sounded so exciting--there would be walking, and a plantation to explore, and...other cool stuff! I confidently set my phone's GPS to guide us there, and off we went. So far, so good; we couldn't miss the huge sign proclaiming that we'd arrived at the right place...um, a field clearly visible just off the road...populated by a large herd of grazing cattle...with no discernible entrance. "Turn right," Moon Unit (the name of the invisible lady who calls out the directions...but that's a long story for another time) insisted in her polite-but-firm manner. So, to summarize our first Sunday foray into all things Winchester: we never did locate a Visitor's Center...or a way of accessing the "nature" part of the alleged park, and contrary to the website's information, the plantation did NOT in fact open at 10...but rather at 1:00. Well. We just don't have time for these shenanigans, so we bailed on the disappointment and headed for the other option: the Third Winchester Battlefield.
And...hurrah! There's a marker...and a parking lot...and an actual path! Now, we're talkin'! We optimistically strolled onto the walkway to see where it would lead us and what interesting things it would reveal. After meandering along for 15 minutes or so, the answer was a clear and resounding: NOTHING. Don't get me wrong, the scenery was lovely--grassy meadows, clusters of trees, gurgling streams--all tranquil and unspoiled. But as far as "battlefields" go, it was...how shall I put this...L-A-M-E. I voiced this to the boys, complaining, "All I need is a few cannons. Is that too much to ask? Maybe a reconstructed shack or two, with an explanation of their significance..." Riley piped up in accord, "Yeah...and statues! Where are the statues?" (Dude! That's all I'm sayin'! Thanks for the support...) So we did appreciate our time spent communing with the great outdoors, but this was a pretty obvious indication that we have, indeed, scraped the proverbial bottom of the barrel in terms of "tourist spots to try" in our region. Yep, must be time to move the heck on...
But wait, we weren't quite done--through sheer coincidence, the hotel I chose at random just happened to be situated right next to a place called the Alamo Cinema Drafthouse. Now, the moment I laid eyes on it, this building brought back a flood of fond and happy memories of the many...MANY hours I spent with friends watching movies, eating dinner (and perhaps consuming an adult beverage) at the Bethesda Cinema & Drafthouse, back in the day. (That would be "before kids", in case you were wondering). On Monday nights, when the admission was a ridiculous $1, my buddies would park at my apartment, and we would walk over together, then stand in a mile-long line to see whatever film happened to be playing. (Didn't matter if it was good or bad, or whether we were interested or not...for a buck? We'd sit through darn near anything...) Good. Times. So before we even checked into the hotel, I had already vowed we could not leave Winchester without patronizing this hallowed institution. There was but one...teensy...ever-so-minor glitch: the only kid-friendly offerings were 1) The Nut Job--which as far as I could tell involved 90 minutes of squirrels...running amok...acting stupid; or 2) Frozen--which has gotten rave reviews from critics and...everyone who's ever seen it...but in my sons' eyes represents nothing less than the absolute purest evil on this Earth: Singing. Princess. Movie.
Therefore, I mentally prepared myself for an epic clash of wills about dragging them to this torturous event. But--who could've guessed--the prospect of being fed and entertained at the same time was enough to sway the masculine minds into agreeing with me. (GASP!) Derek even said, "I don't really mind seeing Frozen, because I've heard good things about it....but if you post this on Facebook, be sure to say it was NOT my idea!" (That's a deal, my dear...and done!) And, as expected, a good time was had by all. I got to relive a nostalgic era from my past, and everyone got to nosh while viewing what turned out to be a fantastic flick. Everyone's a winner!
Then we could in good conscience vacate the 'burg of Winchester for the return to our home state. We may not have added to our Civil War knowledge, but we did accomplish my modest goals of getting out of the house, and taking a short trip. Bonus: we even had some fun in the process. As for tomorrow? We rest! : )