Saturday, May 2, 2009

Time to go Valley Forge park ... or at least read a book to plan your next trip there

I love Valley Forge park.

Before I share with you news of a new book that mentions the national historic site, which is one of my favorite places to hang out outdoors year-round, I'll share the inscription on the Memorial Arch (this pretty nighttime photo of which was borrowed from the Web but the rest of the photos posted here are my own) that always gives me chills when I pass through during one of my walking, biking or photo-taking outings there.

And here in this place

in this vale of humiliation

in this valley of the shadow

of that death out of which

the life of America rose

regenerate and free

let us believe with an abiding faith

that to them union will seem as dear

and liberty as sweet

and progress as glorious

as they were to our fathers

and are to you and me

and that the institutions

which have made us happy

preserved by the

virtue of our children

shall bless the remotest generation

of the time to come

~ Henry Armitt Brown

It's really moving if you're actually there in the park, at the site of George Washington's encampment during the winter of 1777-78.

I encourage everyone to go there and check it out for yourself.

You don't have to be a history buff. You just have to like being outdoors in a beautiful place. Or you could just drive through. But for outdoor-lovers, there's a path that runs in a 6-mile loop that's perfect for walking, running, biking, rollerblading or what have you in all four seasons. And plenty of places for a picnic or to let the kids run free or just watch the omnipresent herd of extremely tame deer. There's also a little shop (the Encampment Store) behind the Memorial Chapel where you can buy lunch (good coffee and homemade soup, as I recall) or a souvenir.

OK, now we can get back to the book:
Well, it's not an entire book about Valley Forge; The park was recently named in "USA 101: A Guide to America’s Iconic Places, Events, and Festivals."

Due to be released on May 19, the book was penned by award-winning travel writer Gary McKechnie, who highlights Valley Forge along with 100 other world-famous and "distinctly local" places and events revealing the patchwork of America, according to a press release sent to me by our friends at The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ltd. It says McKechnie included the famous encampment site largely because it helps create a better understanding of our nation’s first president.

“When you grow up in America you hear about George Washington, but it's only a one-dimensional image confined to an old man on a one dollar bill. When I went to Mount Vernon and Washington Crossing and then Valley Forge, the scope of what he did and who he was finally came into focus,” said the author.

“There was something extraordinary about him; some inexplicable power and presence that he had, and visiting Valley Forge illustrated that. Here was one man who not only preserved America's chances for victory, but he literally weathered the storm with his men until he was assured that they would come out stronger than before. That's what he did at Valley Forge.”

McKechnie, who has been published in National Geographic Traveler, People, Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post, details the historic winter at Valley Forge and gives tips on visiting the Park. The 90-minute History of Valley Forge Trolley Tour, currently running on weekends, is mentioned, as are local establishements of interest.

And if you want to read about the other 100 events and destinations featured in the book, you'll find everything from the Little League World Series to the Grand Ole Opry, Mount Vernon to Mount Rushmore, and polka festivals to truck rallies (who doesn't like those?).

"USA 101: A Guide to America’s Iconic Places, Events and Festivals" is published by National Geographic Books and will be available at the Encampment Store at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

To learn more about Valley Forge, visit

That reminds me, I haven't been there since the everything bloomed last week. I haven't taken an photos there since the fall:

Maybe tomorrow...

1 comment:

Greg said...

Nice blog Michelle. I too enjoy the park, a little piece of serenity in the midde of hectic society. Every time I go through here, it is as if I escaped the hustle and bustle of the day, even if only for a moment.