May 21, 2009

Why I Was Late to Class

Last week I wrote about online mapping and finding the route to Fort Harrison near Richmond. Our NVCC class was meeting there on Saturday for a field trip.

We left home at 7 AM to get there at 10:30. Until we reached Richmond, we made great time. Traffic was light and we were in the outer suburbs of the city at 10:00. I felt comfortable stopping for gas and a snack for Frank. We even found a branch of Suntrust Bank so he could cash a check while I studied the differing versions of the directions again.

Google's version required three turns in quick succession (as little as 430 feet apart). I decided to use another version which seemed easier to remember. I was driving and I like to memorize any turns that must be made at high speed. It seemed simple: take the Laburnum Avenue exit off I-64, bear right, turn left onto VA-5. But I didn't know that there were two Laburnum Avenue exits. I took the first one and it was wrong. I drove down a residential street and realized VA-5 was not in sight. Seeing a yard sale, I stopped and asked two people if they knew where route 5 or Fort Harrison was. Blank looks -- uh oh!

I got out our state map and realized we were far from where we should be. How far was unclear because in Richmond, the exit number sequences change unpredictably as highways merge and separate, so I could not easily tell how far the right exit was. With Frank urging me to stay calm, I got back on the interstate and eventually found the right Laburnum Avenue exit. We had to drive a way through a congested area but eventually found Battlefield Park Road. After passing a couple of other Civil War forts, I saw the sign for Fort Harrison and pulled in at 11:00, upset at being so late. Familiar cars were in the parking lot but my classmates were nowhere in sight. Well, at least they had not left without me.

I followed a path through the earthworks and caught up with the group in time to hear a cassette recording of a rebel yell. Dr. Poland said that WBT radio recorded it in 1935.

I found it online for you: Weekend America is one place to hear it, along with a brief introduction. Keep in mind that the veteran who demonstrated it was 92 at the time.

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