Last weekend, Brian Glass and I drove up to Harrisonburg, Virginia for a local gaming convention at James Madison University. This was my first chance to drive the Blue Ridge stretch of the Appalachians, and the first time that I’d really seen these older mountains as an adult. I still haven’t seen the South in the thick of spring or summer, but I’m looking forward to it even more now. One thing I really dig about “Back East” is how easy it is to drive through a couple of states and a whole bunch of history. This summer, I hope, will see us doing a lot of driving to the likes of Savannah, Charleston and even just back to D.C.

Strange thing, at least for me: After sitting in a north-bound car for something like eight hours, I got to hear the drawl out of people. (We don’t really hear that in Atlanta.) When I say “the drawl,” I mean on phrases like “I done bought.” So, I’m maybe further South than I really thought.

If you’re at all like me, though, you said, “James Madison was the fourth US President, right?” Then, after that, you said, “Uh… that’s all I got. I’m out.” Well, dear reader, he was from Orange County! (There’s one in Virginia.) James Madison actually was the husband of capitol sweetheart Dolley Madison (I thought about making a Dolley Madison joke, but figured I’d look like a dufus). He was also Jefferson’s Secretary of State and an author of the Constitution-defining Federalist essays. You know the War of 1812? That was him.

Madison wrote, in a note opened only after he’d died in 1836, “The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated.” Twenty-five years later, the Civil War began anyway.

How quickly we forget.