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{ Category Archives } Virginia

Yorktown

The battle at Yorktown was a critical event in the life of the USA-to-be, but it’s hard to get a grasp of it on the site: it’s a battlefield memorial, with lots of old emplacements and remains but little life to it. There is a hideous monument put up after decades of procrastination by Congress, the shaft of which is of Maine granite (but we didn’t learn which quarry).D7K_9318 On the way in to Yorktown we stopped first at the Virginia Victory Center, and yes Virginia, it is as bad as it sounds; if you ever go to Yorktown, give this a miss. … We left early, and one of the staff was clearly so distraught that we would abandon their narrative in midstream that she said we would be missing the sunken ships in the basement (or somewhere…..); we thought that we all have enough sunken ships in our basements and left. At the National Park Service site we took a short foot tour of the historic houses of Yorktown, and the NPS interpreter was terrific: great sense of humor, knowledgeable and with the capacity to blend past and present; a rare treat, as the visitor interpretive trade is often given to earnestness, or worse.

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Williamsburg

Rather than sty in a hotel or B & B in town, we reserved a house inside the historic village and were given an upgrade to a cottage that fronts on the Duke of Gloucester Street in the heart of this amazing reconstruction of an eighteenth century town. … The town lives all day long in front of the house: bullock carts, ladies in costume with baskets, crowds going to re-enactments in front of taverns that sell real ale and real food. Beautiful trees sport fall colors as girls and boys playing fife and drum march up and down with serious purpose. IMG_6247 D7K_9236 D7K_9244 IMG_6289 IMG_6290 IMG_6295 IMG_6301 D7K_9313 There is a streaming video clip here of the fife and drum corps. … and others who fought at the Old North Bridge, it was moving to hear Virginians act out their admiration for the New Englanders who drove the British from Boston, and called for Virginians to join them in New York.

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Fredericksburg

As we have wandered south we have been fortunate to have a series of friends who have kindly taken us in for periods ranging from 1 to 4 days, and who, in some cases, spend considerable time showing us the local sights. … So when we told Jerry and Ellen we were passing though Virginia nothing would do but that we spend the night, despite them just having returned from a three week trip to England a few days before! Jerry and Ellen gave us a personalized walking tour of downtown Fredericksburg, and Jerry showed us what he considers to be the most important monument in the US: to the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson. IMG_6200 IMG_6199 There is a monument to Mary Washington, George’s mother, a small, very well-done museum to GW’s friend, Monroe, who had an office in what is now a small museum, and a farm across the Rappahanock where GW grew up. … We are essentially giving the Civil War sites a pass on this trip, both because neither of us is fascinated by it and also because once you start to visit the Civil War sites, it’s a lifetime’s occupation, so we’ll do it in another lifetime….

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From Warm Springs to Cold Snow

This entry will cover a fair amount of ground, beginning with our travels from Warm Springs to spending a night in Staunton (called “Stanton” locally), traveling up onto Skyline Drive, spending the night at Big Meadow, and finally arriving to spend a night in Berryville with Polly and John Crawford and awakening in the morning to 2″ of wet snow on the ground!

…It turned out to be a little after the peak color season so we had the road very much to ourselves, picnic-ed in a deserted picnic ground (even the bears had left as there were no more soft touches to be found cooking lunch for them. One of the wonderful features of the drive was the huge variety of trees to be seen not only along the road, but out on the ridges and hills and down into the valleys; you could see by the patches of color that it is a wonderfully mixed deciduous forest, full of trees which we do not know at all – very frustrating not to be able to identify a third of the trees we were seeing.

…This is an excellent museum, with very well done displays of the cultural history of the area and a painting gallery full of little treasures, with two Gilbert Stuart portraits, and others by Constable, Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Guardi and several others; a wonderful treat in an unexpected place.

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Warm Springs and Hot Springs, VA

Leaving Charlottesville we wound our way by small roads over the Shenandoah to Warm Springs. One of the prettiest stretches was along the Rockfish River Valley: it looked a lot like Switzerland in the sense that everything along the road was tidy and well organized – even the garages! Then the route west over the […]

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Charlottesville & Surroundings

Both men ended their lives in debt, and largely for the same reasons: public service had high expectations of its high-level servants but was not willing to reimburse them for the expenses required to fulfill the expectations. jJefferson also bought everything he could lay his hands on related to his many passions and pursuits; he shipped back 86 cases of belongings from France. The Monroe house is small and was lovely and what original furnishings are left are beautiful. D7K_9011 IMG_6033 There were numerous things I didn’t know about Monroe, and the one that springs to mind is that Mrs Monroe, who had learned French well during their first term of service in France, was responsible for going in person to the Bastille to rescue the wife of one of the Monroe’s oldest friends: In Paris, as wife of the American Minister during the Reign of Terror, she helped secure the release of Madame La Fayette, wife of the Marquis de Lafayette when she learned of her imprisonment and threatened death by guillotine. … While in France, the Monroes’ daughter Eliza became friends with Hortense de Beauharnais, step-daughter of Napoleon, and both girls received their education in the school of Madame Jeanne Campan, who had been an advisor on court etiquette to Marie Antoinette.

…It’s especially pertinent when you contemplate the long hard work the people of that time put into building for their unknown descendants the civil society that we inherited and the value they placed on education as being critical to the success of the society.

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Friends and family in DC

Leaving Bronxville on the 21st of October, our journey south began with a drive north to the Tappan Zee bridge because of an accident on the GW over the Hudson river.  … Dan drove the worst of the NJ Turnpike until we got to Delaware and decided to go around Baltimore through the Eastern shore to the Bay Bridge near Annapolis. D7K_8874     D7K_8870       We stopped for a bit to admire the bridge from the Sandy Point State Park and arrived at Anne and Emil’s house in time to rest up a bit before dinner at a great pizzeria in Takoma Park.  … After much discussion, said pumpkins are ready for Halloween. IMG_5995           Sunday found all of us except Emil, who was participating in a “mud race”, eating Mexican food outdoors in Georgetown.   We left Anne to go on to the zoo with the not-so-smalls while we said goodbye to Allyson and headed west for an easy drive to Charlottesville where we are off to see Monticello in a few hours.

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