State #27 West Virginia

West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads. This John Denver song has become our traveling song. We first played it last summer on our road trip to Pennsylvania to a Gettysburg Civil War Reenactment. Driving through the Shenandoah Valley, the lyrics popped in my head and once Tucker heard it, it plays in his head over and over now.

Our destination was Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park. We picked this stop based on its close proximity to Maryland and Virginia. We really didn’t know much about it before visiting.

It’s a sliver of town that the NPS preserves. You stop at the visitors center and then take a free shuttle over to the town (parking is limited in the town).

The US had an armory there and in an attempt to stop slavery, John Brown and his men raided the armory. The history of this event is intriguing and sad. Mr. Brown’s hopes were that they would steal the weapons, take some hostages, set some slaves free hoping in return they would join the fight for their freedom, and that would lead to the start of the end of slavery in our country. In the end, many were killed, the hostages were freed, the slaves feared retaliation if the fight was lost and decided not to fight, the military was called in, and Mr. Brown was hanged for his crime.

The Potomac and the Shenandoah River meet at a place aptly named The Point a few steps from where the armory once stood. Three national trails coverage here- the Appalachian Trail, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and the Potomac Heritage Trail.

The boys earned their Jr Ranger badges.

As we were leaving the John Brown museum, Tucker turned to me and asked, “so was John Brown a good guy or a bad guy?” On one hand, Tuck knew slavery was wrong and wanting to end slavery sounded right. But on the other hand, stealing and killing was wrong too. If only all questions had a yes or no answer, life would be easier and parenting would be simpler but that’s not life. So we had a discussion about motives, laws, and conscience and how everything isn’t just black or white.

As hard as it is, these conversations wouldn’t just naturally happen like this if we were sitting at home. One of the reasons I love travel – it opens up so many discussions.

Our next stop is for lovers.

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