Saturday, June 7, 2008

My visit to Virginia

One of the highlights of my trips was visiting the University of Virginia campus. I had hoped to visit Monticello also, but lost luggage, including my camera, (Thanks United and American Airways) and lack of time, didn't allow it.

Who is interested in Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia? I found it remarkable that the campus is still used in such a manner. Instead of a museum, it is a University at work--inspiring the next generations. I'm a firm believer in sending our children to buildings that inspire and lift the mind and spirit to a place that allows for dreams to be nurtured. Unlike the steel buildings and dryvit facades that warehouse our young minds of tomorrow. I digress as usual to another of my soap boxes.

The personal gardens that are found behind the Academic Village were delightful, and made the whole trip. The famous serpentine walls that enclosed the gardens were more beautiful than anticipated. The plant pallet was ornamentals, English and agriculture. The theme was exploring the new world.

The early Federalist period did put Oklahoma on the map with the Louisiana Purchase, previously under French rule since the 1700s. The Federalist footprint in Oklahoma can be seen in its grid-iron property lines and road system. On my trip to Virginia I was astounded at the incoherent puzzle of property lines. I find gridded aerials easy to understand and read, aerials east of the Ohio must take on a whole new language.

I have read the history on how roads were laid out according to the easiest possible path from point A to point B, but I was very surprised when I visited my first non-gridded, city-Charlottesville. After living in the Oklahoma City Metro area for 7+ years now, I have lost all sense of north and south if I don't have a grid. Previously, I had used the North Cascades, I-5, the Ocean as my north south bearing line. In Oklahoma I use Interstate 35 as my north south bearing line. I have never had a great sense of direction, but I was almost completely unable to get my bearings in the spiderweb of Charlottesville's road system.

I just got a taste of the east, and I hope to take the kids back and explore more.