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01 April 2006 - Saturday

 

Fred and Tom ready for departure

 

†††† It was about 9:00 am when we said our good-bys and departed Fredís home in West Deptford, New Jersey.It wasnít long before we made our first stop at the Cracker Barrel in Pennsville, NJ where we ate a sumptuous breakfast, the first of many.†† Soon thereafter we crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge where we entered Delaware the nationís first state.We do have ancestors who lived in this State but we decided to forego any research as this location is close enough to be explored at a later date besides we were eager to get into our new adventure as well as our first planned stop at the National Archives.We quickly covered the 15 miles of Interstate 95 that traverses this tiny State and entered Maryland.

†††† Around noon we arrived in College Park, Maryland.As it was Saturday there was plenty of good parking spaces at the nearly empty National Archives (NARA) lot.We had previously visited the NARA regional center in Philadelphia and were well aware that one must have a researchers card to gain access to the facilities. On that occasion all we had to do was show our drivers license and a card was filled out for us to sign.Our previous cards had expired and as they are effective for only one year our first thoughts were that we could obtain a new card based upon the issuance of the previous one.How naÔve of us to think that the government would believe that we were the same conscientious family historians as before!In order to obtain a researcher identification card we had to first show a driverís license, and in Tomís case his passport as he is currently living in Canada. Following this we had to complete a questionnaire giving full name,

permanent address, telephone number, and a brief description of the proposed research topic.Then because we were at the NARA headquarters we were required to view a computerized orientation program emphasizing the safe handling of records and explaining the most basic research procedures, responsibilities, and rules.In order to complete the process we had to pose for a photograph.The product of all of this was a really neat plastic Research Card much like a credit card in that it has a magnetic strip on the back just below where your required signature is placed.  

††††† It must be noted that we were fortunate that the person we dealt with was pleasant and most helpful, and as it was Saturday we had her complete attention.Armed with our new cards we were ready to accomplish some important research at this the Nationís largest and most significant repository of official records.We had previously decided to focus upon land and military records and eagerly requested directions to these records.To our surprise we were told that such documents are located at the facility in downtown Washington, D.C. Since it was nearing mid-afternoon we felt that a trip into the city would not leave us time for any research.As such the first of many research skills was further impressed upon us that is we would advise others to utilize the NARA website to plan any trip to the Washington and or College Park locations.†† Upon departing College Park we headed south on U.S. 301 to our first overnight stop at the Aqua Land campground.Aqua Land is so named because it is located on the Potomac River practically under the bridge.The campground didnít have any hook-ups or designated campsites so we just parked under some trees near the highway.We didnít use the bathroom or showers there because the building looked pretty decrepit.For all of this we paid $15.00.Little did we know at the time that this amount of money would buy much more at some really great state parks in the southern and western part of the country.On our 1 Ė 5 scale Aqua Land rated the lowest at a 1.

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