Duke and I have now completed our spring 2013 road trip. I still have a couple more blog posts to write about the trip. This post will be about the time we spent in Virginia. We saw a lot but there were several additional things I would have liked to do. I think I could easily spend another two or three weeks in Virginia and probably not see everything I would like to see.
On Monday, May 13 we left North Carolina and entered Virginia. Our first stop was at the site of Jamestown. In 1607 104 English men and boys founded what was the first permanent English settlement in North America. Up until recently it was thought that the fort site was under water below the current river path. But since 1994 archaeological excavations have uncovered the remains of the first Jamestown Fort and settlement. In addition they have recovered a lot of artifacts. The site and museum were fascinating.
We spent Monday night in Richmond, Virginia. Tuesday morning we toured the Virginia Capital building. It may very well be my favorite state capital. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson. The original model of the building that Jefferson had built and sent back from France. is on display in the capital
The Capital houses the statue of George Washington that is copied in lots of other places. It is supposed to be a very close resemblance to him. The statue is life size (He was 6'2") and the face of the statue was created from a life mask made of Washington when he was 63.
In 1870 the floor of a third floor court room in the capital collapsed into the House of Delegates on the floor below killing more than 60 people. The capital was repaired and rebuilt. More recently an underground approach to the capital has been built.
We had a long talk with a lady who was working at the visitor information desk in the capital. She told us all about Queen Elizabeth's visit to the capital in 2007 to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. The visitor desk lady also had lots of stories about the filming of the movie Lincoln in the capital. I believe that this room was used as the office of Thaddeus Stevens for filming.
From Richmond we drove to Charlottesville. Charlottesville is the nearest big town to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. We visited Monticello and had a lovely picnic lunch before touring the house and gardens. As we explored I could easily imagine Jefferson living there and walking where I was walking.
You can't take pictures in the house but we saw all sorts of things that I have read about. Jefferson invented lots of gadgets to make his life easier and to make Monticello work more smoothly. We saw the writing apparatus that would make a copy at the same time that Jefferson was writing a letter. We also we saw Jefferson's Great Clock. It is a 7 day clock. It is in the entry way and has a second face on the outside east wall of the house As the cannon ball clock weight descends a mark on the wall indicates the day of the week. We had to go to the basement to see the mark for Saturday. I loved Monticello's setting on a hill overlooking the country side and the vegetable gardens which were just being planted.
We rode a shuttle bus up to the house but we walked back down and passed Jufferson's grave on the way.
On Wednesday we drove to Mount Vernon to tour George Washington's home and gardens. No one has lived there since Washington. In the entry way hanging on the wall is the key to the Bastille that was given to Washington by Lafayette.
The place was packed with school groups which was a bit distracting but I still really enjoyed seeing such an important part of American history.
Mount Vernon is on a hill overlooking the Potomac River. We took a boat ride on the Potomac from the Mount Vernon wharf. You can see Mount Vernon in the distance in this picture.
On Thursday we drove into Washington D.C. I'll talk about our stay in Washington in my next blog post.