River Birch Animal Farm & Washington Birthplace

Following our Saturday day-trip to Tangier, we returned to the Northern Neck town of Kilmarnock, Virginia, for a good night’s sleep.

On Sunday morning we went to Mass at the cozy St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. There are not very many Catholics on the Northern Neck of Virginia; it is overwhelmingly Baptist and Methodist. Although the Mass was fairly small by Northern Virginia standards (maybe 150 people), the boundary of St. Francis Parish and its St. Paul Mission in Hague, Virginia, is not measured by streets and intersections, but by entire counties: “Comprising all of Northumberland, Lancaster and Richmond Counties, and that portion of Westmoreland County that lies to the east of a northeast/southwest line drawn through the town of Montross.”

After Mass we returned to the hotel to change, and then embarked toward Locust Hill, which is on the Middle Peninsula (south of the Northern Neck and accessible via the Route 3 bridge over the Rappahannock River). We had a good meal at Debbie’s Family Restaurant, including some delicious corn nuggets, and then visited the River Birch Animal Farm—a sort of mini-zoo. Afterwards we returned to Kilmarnock, watched some TV, and went out for ice cream.

On Monday we checked out of the hotel around 10:30 a.m. and started making our way back toward home. We headed up Route 3, which runs the length of the Northern Neck, and stopped along the way at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument, located on Pope’s Creek. When the monument was first built, the National Park Service (NPS) didn’t know where the actual house had stood or what it had been like (since it had been destroyed in a fire on Christmas Day 1779). They instead commissioned a replica based on a best-guess of where it had been, and designed it like other houses from the era. Not long after the replica was completed, archaeologists found the real remnants of the house a few hundred feet away, and discovered that it bore little resemblance to the replica they had built. Oops.

We walked around the grounds, but I couldn’t go into most of the buildings, including the replica house. I happened to be carrying a concealed firearm (which I am licensed to do in Virginia), and although carrying in accordance with state laws is now legal in our national parks, the NPS labels many of their structures as ‘federal facilities’ (because an inaccurate replica of the house Washington was born in is obviously just like FBI headquarters, or the Capitol Building, or a courthouse). The arbitrary application of the ‘facility’ label makes structures fall under different, more restrictive firearms laws. So, according to the NPS, my gun would be safer sitting in a glove box in an unguarded parking lot while I view their exhibits instead of safely secured on my person. Genius.

If the NPS decided that your First Amendment free speech rights or Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure didn’t apply in random, open-to-the-public buildings on their property, there would be a civil liberties uproar . . . but apparently some parts of the Bill of Rights are more equal than others. This could all be improved with a small adjustment to our gun laws: require that any facility that prohibits firearms provide a guarded gun-check at the entrance. That way, law-abiding citizens who choose to exercise their rights could at least be assured that their guns were being stored in a secure, guarded place while they were disarmed. Better yet, some agencies, when faced with the costs and liability issues of providing a gun-check, would just eliminate the stupid and unnecessary prohibitions.

But I digress. . . .

After leaving the monument we continued up Route 3 to Fredericksburg, where we stopped for lunch at the ever-cliché Cracker Barrel, and then took the scenic route home from there on back-roads through Stafford, Culpeper, Rappahannock, Faquier, and Prince William counties.

All-in-all, a successful and relaxing holiday weekend.

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.