Trip Start Oct 04, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Thursday, November 15, 2007

It was raining this morning - to the delight of the locals who claim they are in a drought.  As everything still looks green and we have passed many huge rivers, some called creeks, we think they have a different perception of drought than ours.  

We drove towards Charlottesville today, stopping at Monticello Visitors Centre then Monticello itself to learn more about Thomas Jefferson.  In case you don't remember, he's the man who wrote the Declaration of American Independence, the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom and who founded the University of Virginia, which is in Charlottesville.  This list of his achievements is what he chose for his epitaph; he also spent over 30 years in public service at a time when they weren't paid to do so, was Vice-President and served two terms as America's third President.  He died bankrupt so Monticello, the house and plantation he spent 50 years developing had to be sold on his death - as did all but the 5 slaves his will freed.  While working for his country, gratis for such a long period would not have helped his cash flow, we suspect the time and money he spent on his home and gardens and his not having the time to devote to income producing farm activities (rather than experimental farming) also contributed to his insolvent state.  Fortunately for history later owners of the property felt strongly that it should be preserved and maintained it until a Foundation was formed to run it as a Historical site. 

Monticello is different from the other homes we have seen.  Jefferson incorporated ideas from books and those he picked up when the US representative in Paris, features such as alcove beds and sky lights; which apparently always leaked.  He also installed two dumb waiters that carried one bottle of wine (each) at a time from the cellar downstairs.   He furnished it with educational items - portraits and busts of famous people (e.g. Napoleon, Lafayette, Isaac Newton), art works and native Indian artefacts.

Late afternoon we managed a short drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway where we saw magnificent Fall foliage - hills covered with different coloured leaves.  Unfortunately it was an overcast day so Tom was not able to capture a true impression of the spectacle.

We are now in the countryside, near Charlottesville in a quiet B&B - we are the only guests tonight.  It's so quiet you can hear the silence.  We have a cosy room (read small, especially compared with our accommodation in Richmond) with a small ensuite.
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