Extraordinary Men

Trip Start Jun 03, 2008
Trip End Aug 12, 2008

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Where I stayed
Aquia Pines Campground

Flag of United States  , Virginia
Thursday, July 10, 2008

We opted to get a leisurely start, assuming our Mt Vernon experience would be similar to that of Monticello and that we would be able to make our way through it easily in half a day. Arriving at Mount Vernon late morning, we discovered quite a complex of buildings including an orientation center, restaurant, education center, gift shops, and museum.  They were state-of-the art and we could already tell how much more impressive exhibits were than Monticello's.  Our children's attention is captured best in front of a motion picture and this facility had several.  There was a large variety of interactive and multimedia exhibits. A favorite was a hi-tech explanation of how they arrived at Washington's likenesses at various stages of his life in the ensuing exhibits. My guess, is that Rusty and Audrey absorbed more of this production that any other we've seen.  After the orientation center we moved onto the mansion which was wonderfully disconnected from the technology we had just witnessed. As we patiently stood in line waiting for the procession through the estate, various characters dressed in costume and in perfect theatrical character would come and visit with us.  A favorite was Washington's nephew, a pompous ass that actually shared a great deal about his life in the day.  At the very least, he and the others made the wait bearable.  It didn't take long before we were mentally back in time ourselves.  Born of middle class means, Washington too was very impressive, building a rather small plot of inherited land into a 8,000 acre plantation.  His farming practices were inventive such as crop rotation. He also developed a threshing barn, where the horses would tread on wheat separating the hulls from the chafe  with the usable wheat falling through the floor to be collected and ground at his own mill.  He abandoned Mt Vernon for 8 years while he was out fighting wars, starting countries, etc. yet it thrived.  Again, nothing that some good management and an ample labor force can't take care of.  Regardless, it has become very clear to us that these forefathers really were extraordinary men. They accomplished amazing feats and fought for noble causes with everything to lose. 

We terribly underestimated Mt Vernon and were kicked out at 6 pm with our experience being  incomplete. We were yet to see the museum.  We did dine at the inn that evening that was done in period and had typical food of the day such as peanut soup, hoe cakes and duck with apricot sauce; allegedly, a recipe from Washington's archives and George's favorite.  Audrey had traditional turkey dinner with cornbread chestnut stuffing from that time period. It was a great experience that wonderfully complimented our day.  Clarkism: "Kids, did you know that Washington's dentures were actually made from human and animal teeth?" Anybody out there want someone else's teeth in your mouth?   

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