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We stayed relatively close to home over the summer, but did take short trips to West Virginia (for Holly’s annual family reunion), to Richmond for three days, and to the relatively nearby James River State Park.  We were both impressed by how much Richmond has been changing (though celebrations of its confederate past remain very much in evidence, most notably along Monument Boulevard).  We enjoyed meeting a friend of Holly’s from early college days, walking the suspension foot bridge to Belle Isle, where Union prisoners were kept and where many died.  Earlier Holly and I toured the American Civil War Center which, quite correctly in my view, underlines the central role of slavery in virtually all the conflicts that led to the Civil War.  We walked and enjoyed the relatively new Canal Walk along the James River waterfront, with both historical signs and contemporary popular art, having a nice lunch on the patio of an old warehouse along the way.  We visited St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Patrick Henry made his famous speech and which is currently undergoing extensive renovation, looking quite like, apart from size, our local Grace Episcopal Church.  And we had a nice riverside dinner at the recently-developed area known as Rocketts Landing, down the River away.

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In early August Holly and I drove over to the James River State Park, where we rented a canoe and drifted and paddled down the James River, to be picked up and returned from a landing aways down.  We also took a short hike to the Tye River Overlook, which faces out to the point where the Tye River comes down to the James.  It’s a bucolic scene, but a sign reminds one that during the 1969 Hurricane Camille and the subsequently flooding, the tremendous volume of water pouring down the Tye River resulted in the James River flowing back upward for eight miles or so.

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Earlier in the summer Holly and I drove up to the area where Holly’s mother’s family (the Molers) came from in West Virginia, where each summer Moler descendents gather to renew acquaintances and share lots of Southern food.  A welcoming experience, including the one Holly, Constance and I received sitting in the traditional Moler pew in church the next morning.