Saturday, May 28, 2011


Deb, John, Kathie, Louise
Today the Box carried me all the way to Gaithersburg, Maryland, to attend a meeting of the coordinators of the Washington, D.C. region of LEC, the French student homestay program. We are all in the midst of rustling up host families for French teens (how many may I put you down for?) coming to D.C., south central Pennsylvania, and northern Virginia, all places our coordinators live. LEC operates in a number of eastern and mid-western parts of the country, as well as in European countries.

Over lunch, we compared notes on our efforts to recruit families and swapped stories on past years' activities. General coordinator and new grandma Louise L. gave us a pep talk, and we exchanged ideas for publicizing our program.

It was a long, high-speed drive to the restaurant where we met, so afterwards I decided to make the trip home a little more leisurely.

When I approached Thurmont, Md., I veered off the highway onto Catoctin Furnace Road, which passes the famous colonial-era iron furnace. The state has rebuilt the stack where the iron melted and the cast house where the iron flowed into molds, or "pigs." I didn't take the time this trip, but you can climb the hill to see the impressive ruins of the Ironmaster's Mansion. I recall the last time I went to see it, a snake stuck his head out of the rocks and gave me the evil eye.

In a mile or two I was back on U.S. 15 and headed north toward Emmitsburg. Before I got there, I decided to stop at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, a re-creation of the grotto in Lourdes, France, where the Virgin Mary was said to appear to a young girl named Bernadette, after which miraculous cures were reported. Pilgrims still go to Lourdes in hopes of being healed.

The road to the grotto site is wooded and there are many flowering shrubs, which may or may not be Mountain Laurel. There were many pilgrims today, most of them Asian, interestingly. I took some pictures of the statue of Mary atop a very high stone tower, which is always visible from the highway. There is a path up the hill to the grotto, but I did not have the time to walk up there today. Susanne and I had gone up there once many, many years ago.

Seminary building at Mt. St. Mary's
Winding my way back down the hill, I took a small road parallel to U.S. 15 for a short distance and ended up on the main campus of Mt. St. Mary's University. There are some beautiful historic buildings and some cool new dormitories. For a while I was convinced that the rapture predicted last weekend had taken place and that I had been left behind. There was not a  living soul on the campus. Now, surely not every student goes home for the weekend! It was sorta weird. Perhaps they sensed the presence of a Protestant and took shelter. That might also explain the presence of a cannon on the grounds, aimed at approaching Presbyterians.

I got back on the highway and headed north again. Soon I was approaching Emmitsburg. I turned left, passing the National Fire Academy campus and the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint. My target was the Emmitsburg Antiques Mall, where I spent an hour browsing through many booths filled with all sorts of interesting things. A few caught my eye and are shown in the photos below. One item was rather bizarre -- a back-lighted picture of horses with movement and sound. You can see it here. C'mon, you know you want one of these!
Fill 'er up!

I ended up with a 19th century (1850-1880) ceramic ginger beer bottle, which I like (we have another similar one) but which I bought because it was such a bargain!

Back on the road, the trip went quickly with just a short stop in Dillsburg to gas up. I wanted to do that in Pennsylvania so that PennDOT, not Maryland DOT, would get its share of all the taxes on the sale of gasoline.

The rest of the trip was as uneventful as possible, considering the magic of riding in a Box!

Some things I saw along the way ~

 The statue  at the Lourdes grotto can be seen for miles.

 Cooling shade on the way up the hill.

I didn't get close enough to see if this was Mountain Laurel.

 A pretty stone chapel in the cemetery.
Here's the big gun that wards off intruders.

The main administration building.
Another historic building.
A modern dormitory.

 The charming main street of Emmitsburg.

A 19th century coverlet at
the antiques market.

A "redware" trade sign -- now where could
I put that? Hmmm...
A red barn in the Gettysburg area.

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