We arrived in Williamsburg to beautiful weather and wonderful accommodations at the Williamsburg Inn. Williamsburg is the Revolutionary War-period city and seat of colonial government for the fledgling United States. We strolled the streets admiring the beautifully restored and maintained structures. Eighty-eight buildings in Williamsburg were from pre-1800 and scores more had been reconstructed. Chris had been here when he was a child but remembered little of the town itself. We found a couple of pluses in Williamsburg: a) a very family friendly attitude, and b) many streets in the central historic district are closed to traffic and are wonderful pedestrian malls. We put Isabelle in the stockade and noticed how well behaved she was. We considered building our own travel-version of the stocks to ease the rest of our trip and are working on a prototype. This is a place where if the girls were in elementary school, the living history would be incomparable. As it was, Jocelyn and Isabelle had their run in with history, at Shields Tavern. This was a creaky floor boards, fowl roasting on the spit and tankards of ale- honest to goodness tavern. We discovered a wonderful concoction called a "rummer" from a 1700s popular tavern drink of dark rum, apricot and peach brandies, lime juice and a dash of cherry
. These helped the meal to pass more quickly for Chris and Kirst. When the strolling minstrels came by our table to serenade us, Jocelyn proceded to cover her ears and scream "too loud, too loud". This must have prompted the minstrels to summon Mr. Shields, the proprietor in period costume, who plopped down, powdered wig and all, next to Jocey and asked "and what do we call the little moppet?" Jocelyn looked at Mr. Shields sideways and went back to her coloring, to which Mr. Shields said "oh, we would rather scribble than speak with Mr. Shields?" Everyone in the restaurant got a big kick out of it, except for Shields himself.
June 10-11 (Days 41-42) Charlottesville, VA
From Williamsburg it is a 90 minute drive up to Charlottesville, home of Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia (founded by Jefferson). We really enjoyed Charlottesville and would put it at the top of the list of towns we have visited so far on our trip. The "horse country" is beautiful, with sprawling pastures framed by white fences, and we took several drives through the rolling hills surrounding the town. We stayed at a fantastic destination resort called Keswick Hall, just outside of Charlottesville. Keswick featured a wonderful Provence-style country home nestled in a valley with a patchwork of fields and woods. An Arnold Palmer golf course was added to the long list of great courses Chris was unable to play so far on this trip
. We did arrange some babysitting here and were able to get away to see Monticello, Jefferson's architectural wonder and 3,000 acre plantation. You cannot visit this region and not see Monticello. It is a must. Jefferson was a Farmer, a Statesman, Scientist, Draftsman and true Renaissance man. Several interesting juxtapositions with this man, who wrote that "all men are created equal" and yet owned slaves. The tour guides here are very knowledgeable and entertaining. We walked the UVA campus with the girls, with plenty of room to romp on "The Lawn", behind its famous Rotunda. We entered the cozy campus chapel, which was deserted, and showed the girls some wonderful stained glass windows and enjoyed a few minutes of silent prayer and reflection on our journey so far. We tried to check out the Asian art collection at the university art museum, but it would not open for two more hours so we had to move on. As we returned from the campus a storm was brewing and we had a spectacular light show as a strong thunderstorm rolled over the valley outside of Keswick Hall. Having grown up in Michigan, Kirsten and I both miss summer thunderstorms, which are virtually non-existent in California.
June 12 (Day 43) Fredericksburg, VA
We rolled into Fredericksburg, which is spelled slightly differently than its Texas counterpart but has a similar charm
. Some famous Civil War battles were fought in and around this area, including the Battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg. This town is heavy on Civil War history and merchandising, largely tastefully done. Unfortunately, we are not Civil War buffs. We window shopped on the quaint streets, reloaded on books and toys for the girls and took a self-guided historical walking tour with a couple of noteworthy sites, including a revolutionary war-period apothecary's shop, with living history demonstrations of bloodletting with leeches and the like. All very interesting and thank goodness for modern medicine.
June 13-16 (Days 44-47) Washington, DC
We split our time in our nation's capital between two locations, L'enfant Plaza (just south of the National Mall and the Smithsonian Museums) and then on to Georgetown, in Northwest DC. We absorbed as many museums as possible during our first two days, including some or all of the Air and Space, Natural History, Hirshhorn (Modern Art), Sackler (Asian), African (especially Moroccan tapestries), Arts and Industry. The Air and Space is the most visited museum in the world, and it seemed like everyone was there the day we went. It is an amazing collection of aerospace achievement with the entry hall itself showcasing the original Wright Brothers Flyer, Lindburgh's Spirit of St
. Louis, John Glenn's Mercury capsule, Apollo 11 Capsule, X-15 (first through sound barrier) among other artifacts. We tried to take the girls to an IMAX film on helicopters and that failed when Jocey bailed ("too loud, it scares me..."). Chris took in the entire Hirshhorn in half an hour (close to a world record) while the girls and Kirsten napped in the hotel. That evening, we took the girls for a special treat, a ride on DC's spectacular subway system, called the Metro. Their eyes bugged out as they entered the cavernous, honeycombed metro station and they giggled for two full stops as we zipped through subterranean DC. On Sunday morning, Kirsten watched the girls while Chris took a fathers day run around the Lincoln Memorial, stopping only to see the Korean War Memorial and the World War II Memorial (currently under construction). After the run, the girls played on the lawn beside the Washington Monument and rode the carousel beside the Smithsonian "Castle". We then moved cross-town to a fantastic new Ritz Carlton in Georgetown, in Northwestern DC. This new hotel is built inside what was formerly the Georgetown incinerator, with the theme of the hotel having to do with temperature (Fahrenheit, the restaurant and red color scheme throughout the brick hotel). This was the most kid-friendly hotel we have been in on the trip. They delivered a "Candyland" game to the girls upon check-in and the doorman brought milk and cookies to them at bedtime. We had Fathers' Day dinner at Benihana's, the girls loved the show and the food as well. The next day we strolled the streets of Georgetown with the girls in the morning, hired a babysitter for the afternoon, and worked out at the small spa and fitness center and had dinner at the hotel restaurant for a quiet evening together.