Day 1: December 23, 2013
Lights, camera, traffic

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I left home very early on Monday morning by immediately picking up US-22 and heading east. I passed Valley Vineyards in total darkness and reached Washington Courthouse well before sunup. I swear those flags were a lot brighter in person.

The sun was up but not exactly shining when I reached Cambridge, Ohio. The visitor's guides says there are 180 figures in 89 scenes in Dickens Victorian Village which is up from 40 scenes in the inaugural year of 2006. I believe 2010 was the first year I saw the displays and at first I thought the city must have re-purposed a department store's cast-off mannequins but soon learned that was not the case. Each figure is unique with a face hand sculpted around a styrofoam core. At night, lights on the courthouse are synchronized with music. Carriage rides and trolley tours are available on select dates and there are a number of themed weekends such as Queen Victoria Weekend and Sherlock Holmes Weekend.

I got a little surprise when I stopped to snap a couple pictures of the Black Horse Inn in Morristown, Ohio. The vacant 1807 building was purchased this past summer by the Morristown Historic Preservation Association (MHPA) with assistance from the Belmont County Tourism Council. Some work has already taken place and more is planned to stabilize the deteriorating structure. Refinishing and reopening the building is a longer term goal. My surprise was the appearance of MHPA Vice President Pamela McCort who I had met last month at the Ohio National Road Association's (ONRA) annual meeting. At that meeting, the MHPA received the 2013 Milestone Historic Preservation Award from the ONRA. We chatted about the building and the town. Morristown is quite the bright spot in terms of National Road related preservation or even preservation in general. There is a ton of history and a slew of historic buildings in this town. They did not do a Holiday Tour of Homes this year but they most likely will again before many years go by. My blog entry, which links to an Oddment page, on last year's tour is here.

These are a few of my favorite bridges. At Blaine, Ohio, it's the 1828 National Road S-bridge and the 1933 US-40 bridge. It looks like the newer of the pair has a new coat of paint and that's a lot of paint. In Wheeling, West Virginia, it's the 1849 National Road suspension bridge.

With time to kill before check-in, I decided to revisit the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum. One change since my previous visit in 2010 is the addition of a room to K'Nex toy construction system.

I had passed West Virginia's Madonna of the Trail monument on the way to the museum and stopped on the way back to say hi and make sure she was OK.

My room at the Oglebay Resort & Conference Center included a driving pass to the Festival of Lights but I sprung for a trolley tour. My thinking was that I could get to see everything and be free to take pictures. Flaws in that thinking surfaced quickly. When the driver collected tickets, each passenger seated next to a window was given a paper towel and I suddenly remembered what happens when cold glass is mixed with a bunch of people set on breathing. The condensation and the movement of the trolley made taking photographs all but impossible but I did see everything. I had managed to get on the first tour of the evening so, as soon as it ended, I headed back out with my own car and its roll down windows. I could now do something about the foggy glass but had to deal with the driving and the traffic. I mean the TRAFFIC! After snapping a couple of pictures, I bolted the line and returned to the lodge. But, as I said, I did see everything.

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