Saturday, June 23, 2018

Virginia - Williamsburg Part Two


The Colonial Parkway reminded us of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville and Hines Drive in Michigan. It is 23-miles long, stretching from the York River in Yorktown to the James River in Jamestown. There are stops along the way where you can hike, picnic or just learn a little bit of history.
Along the York River portion there are a couple of Naval stations and stops with beach access. A number of people were taking advantage of the nice day and cooling off in the river.

At the entrance to Historical Yorktown stands the Victory Monument. This monument was authorized on October 29, 1781 commemorating the surrender of Cornwallis to George Washington. Actual construction didn't begin for 100 years, it was completed in 1884. It seems the government has always moved slowly!

Hampton, VA is south of Yorktown and home to the Air Power Park. The park is filled with airplanes and missiles as well as the Mercury Test Capsule.

In the museum there are a number of cases of model airplanes, some donated from plane enthusiasts, others made by engineers. One room is dedicated to woman in space with a model of Colonel Eileen Marie Collins. She is a veteran of four space flights and she logged in over 872 hours in space.

As we walked on the boardwalk adjacent to the park there were signs everywhere that said "Crabbing is Prohibited". When we got to the center of the inlet the signs made sense.
The ground was covered with hundreds of crabs.

Leif Erickson 
Muffler Man 

We continued on to Newport News in search of other oddities. We found a Muffler Man outside of an auto repair shop. Leif Erickson, a Giant Propeller and a Metal Horse reside at the Mariners Museum Park.
Giant Propeller

Metal Horse
John and Virginia, our neighbors for the week were originally from Fredricksburg, VA and they encouraged us to visit there and we are glad we did. Of course the town is overflowing with history. Our first stop was at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. Here you can see the actual bed that Jackson died in and some of the blankets are the original ones.

On the night of May 2, 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville he was mistakenly shot by his own men. His arm was amputated at the scene and was later buried nearby in a family cemetery.
He was sent here to Guinea Station, it was the 740-acre plantation of  Thomas Chandler, which was well behind friendly lines and close to the railroad so he could be transported to Richmond after resting. He never made it to Richmond. Much of the railroad was destroyed and he was never strong enough to be moved. He passed away in the office building of the plantation on Sunday, May 10, 1863.

We enjoyed downtown Fredricksburg, there are a number of unique shops and of course plenty of places to eat, many of them in historic buildings. It makes you stop and think when you realize that George Washington walked these streets. Pretty sure they weren't as crowded back then.
You can do a walking or driving tour, with maps in hand from the well stocked Visitor Center.
The Rising Sun Tavern was built around 1760 by Charles, George's youngest brother, as his home. It became a tavern in 1792 when it was purchased by the Wallace family.

The Hugh Mercer Apothecary was built in the early 1770's. Dr. Mercer treated the citizens of Fredericksburg with medicines and treatments of the time. Leeches, lancets, snakeroot, and crab claws were just some of his remedies. He used a variety of herbs, many of which are still growing in the garden behind the house. George's mother, Mary was among his many patients.

There is a large memorial for his mother, Mary Ball Washington and it is placed in front of Meditation Rock. Mary would go here daily to meditate and pray for George.

The Historic Kenmore Plantation was built by George's younger sister Elizabeth (Betty) and her husband Fielding Lewis, a successful Fredricksburg merchant.

Our last stop of the day was at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument.
George was the first child of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary. He was born at their plantation on Popes Creek, on February 11, 1731, according to the Julian calendar, or February 22,1732 according to the Gregorian calendar. His great-great grandfather, John Washington, immigrated to Virginia in 1656 and began accumulating land. John's son Lawrence and grandson Augustine continued the practice. George's family was considered moderately prosperous.
Foundation outline

The foundation of the original house was discovered by archaeologists along with some silverware, buttons, and belt buckles. They have outlined where the house sat, it had been added onto over the years. The house was destroyed by fire in 1779.
The idea of the park was born in 1923. When the Memorial House (top right), the Gardens (top left) and the Colonial Kitchen (bottom row) were built it was believed that this is what the structures looked like on the plantation. They actually bear little resemblance to the original buildings. These early efforts to recognize Washington's birthplace led to the designation of this being the first historic site in the National Park System in 1930. Later, with the addition of the farm and farm workshop, this became a working colonial farm.
The plantation sits on Popes Creek, right at the opening to the Potomac River (top picture). At one end of the park there is a beach on the Potomac River, a popular place for the locals. Nancy of course had to put her feet in the river.

Washington was one of seven surviving children of Augustine's two marriages. He had two older half-brothers Lawrence and Augustine from his father's first marriage to Jane Butler Washington who passed away. His full siblings were Samuel, Elizabeth, John Augustine and Charles. Two siblings died in infancy and one half-sister Jane, died at age 12 when George was only 2
When he was 3, the family left Popes Creek and moved to Epsewasson, a plantation on the bluffs of the Potomac River. It would later be renamed Mount Vernon by George's brother Lawrence after he inherited it.
John Washington's first house
on this property
There is a small family cemetery on the property. Three generations of Washington's forebears are buried here. The first burials were made in 1668 when Anne, John Washington's wife and two small children died. Over the next thirty years twenty-nine more were interred here, including his father and grandparents. The cemetery today looks nothing like the one George visited during his youth. In 1930, the Wakefield National Memorial Association constructed the wall around the grounds, and consolidated the graves into a single casket, and interred the remains in the center vault.

Virginia Beach is home to the Virginia, Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian. He sits at the entrance to Mt. Trashmore Park - yes that is really the name, and as you probably guessed it was once an active landfill.
This is the 19th carving on the "Trail of Whispering Giants", it was carved in 1976 out of Cypress. He is titled Indian Chief and he stands 24-feet tall.

Virginia Beach itself is a little touristy for us but we drove through it and enjoyed some of the people watching. There weren't any shark head door entrances but there was a Light House and of course a Haunted Museum. Neptune guards one of the beach entrances.

The Edgar Casey's A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment) is in Virginia Beach. There is a bookstore and the grounds include a holistic health center and spa.

Les found another stowaway while setting up. This is the fifth frog we have found hitching a ride. We are not sure where they came from, we left four of them in Chocowinity, NC. This poor guy is all by himself and we hope he can make a home here! He hopped away pretty quickly once he was out of the RV.

On our way to Colonial Williamsburg we drove past a restaurant called Astronomical Pancakes and Waffles. Well, with a name like that you know we had to give it a try. The pancakes are as big as the plates! They were pretty tasty too! No, we couldn't finish it all.

While driving home one day we came across a true roadside oddity, or I guess you would call this a on the road oddity. We were wondering if we could just drive under it! Luckily he pulled over so we didn't have to try.

Next up Clarksburg, MD and more American history.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to you!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Making friends and staying in touch
We have commented many times about the great people we have met on our travels. A number of them have become friends and we keep in touch with them. Before we headed out we had business cards made that list our name, email address, phone and blog address. This way we could easily share our contact info.
We are not the only ones, and it sure makes it easy to remember everyone. There are a number of places you can order cards, they can be plain or very fancy or anything in between. We used Vista Print, good quality and inexpensive.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Virginia - Williamsburg - Part 1


May 20, 2018 was moving day to Williamsburg, VA. The end of our drive took us not only across the James River on I-664 but it also took us under the river

Williamsburg Campark was home for a week.
It is a very large park but most of it is no longer in use. The property is owned by the Williamsburg Pottery Company and they are trying to sell it. It was developed in the 70's as an Air Stream Park.
For the first few days our site was nice and wide, until they moved people into the sites on both sides of us. Then we were a little cramped. We weren't home much so it wasn't all that bad.
Our site was a grass pull through and level. We had full hook-ups and a picnic table. The park is well maintained and quiet. The pool is small but clean, and there are no chairs or tables around it. There is no laundry on site and we didn't use the bathrooms. The WiFi was decent. Verizon signal was strong. We paid $27.75 a night with our Passport America discount.

Jim and Sharon are one couple we met at this park. They are just starting their full time adventures.
We sat and talked with them for quite awhile and we got to see how they travel with their motorcycle. The automatic ramp is a pretty cool.

We were just minutes from Colonial Williamsburg. You can spend the whole day wandering the the village and seeing all the sites without spending a penny.
There is no charge to enter, only if you want to tour inside the homes and buildings, or take a carriage ride. We think it is wonderful that places do this so everyone can enjoy it without worrying about the cost.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is a private, not-for-profit education institution. It started in the late 1920's when Rev. Dr. Goodwin, pastor of the Bruton Parish Church shared his dream of preserving the history of the city with John D. Rockefeller Jr. More than 80 of the structures are original buildings. Dozens of people live in some of the historic homes, 75 of the houses are rented through the foundation and the people either work at Colonial Williamsburg or at the nearby College of William and Mary. That would certainly make for a short commute.

The entrance bridge into the village is lined with metal plaques noting a time in history. They line both sides of the bridge and the history goes back in time as you enter the park,

and forward in time as you leave the park. We loved the saying on the last marker. "What difference will you make?"  It is a very interesting start and finish to your day.

The Great Hopes Plantation is a recreation of a typical Virginia plantation of the 1700's. 90% of Virginians, both free and enslaved lived on farms similar to this one. The average plantation was 100-200 acres and primarily grew one crop, mostly tobacco, for sale and export. Any food grown was strictly for the family and workers.

On these smaller plantations the planter and his family worked along side any enslaved workers.
Most plantations consisted of the planters house, a modest structure (still to be built here); a tobacco drying house (top left), sometimes the largest building on the property; a kitchen house and smoke house (bottom row); and slave quarters (top right). The walkway that takes you through the exhibit is lined with informational signs describing what life was like here.

The welcoming committee 

The Governor's Palace was home to five Royal Lieutenant-Governors, two Royal Governors, and the first two Governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.

Construction of the palace was completed in 1722, and was destroyed by a fire in 1781 while it was being used as a hospital for Americans wounded at the battle of Yorktown. It was reconstructed on its original foundations in the 1930's, and is furnished as it was when it was home to the last British Royal Governor of Virginia, John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore.
Each side of the Palace Green is lined with houses and storefronts, some set up like they were at the time and others set up for today's tourists.

A few of the houses that line the streets 
The Bruton Parish Church is still an active church with weekly services. It has quite the history. It was first built across the street in 1684 and very quickly became inadequate as the congregation grew rapidly. In 1706 the current church was built and prospered for many years. By the end of the Revolution the church was barely surviving and the building fell into disrepair. In 1862 it served as a hospital for Confederate soldiers.  In the late 1820's an attempt to "modernize" the building left it unrecognizable from its glory days.  In the early 1900's restoration started on the church to bring it back to its original status. By 1939 the complete renovation was done and it is now an authentic replica of the original church.
It is surrounded by a cemetery with graves dating back to the late 1600's. Many of the tombstones were repaired during the reconstruction. Colonel John Pace, died in 1692, it is the oldest to date that we have seen in our travels. Oh, to think what life was like for this person?

The Colonial Gardens are beautifully laid out, with flowers and herbs. You can actually get your hands dirty and use tools from the time period. The poppies were a favorite for us, we used to grow them at our first house in Detroit. The spider was a fun find.

The Courthouse and Market are directly across the street from each other. We met a couple from Ann Arbor, MI while at the Market, and their gentle giant Obie.

The Capitol Building is not nearly as impressive as the Governors Palace but not too shabby either.
The House of Burgesses of the Colony of Virgina met here from 1705, when the capitol was relocated from Jamestown, until 1779. Two buildings served the colony on this site, the first from 1705 to 1747, when it was destroyed by fire. The second from 1753 to 1779.
This reconstruction, built in the early 1930's, is of the first capitol building.

The College of William and Mary was founded by King William and Queen Mary II. It is the second oldest institution of higher education after Harvard. Our third, fifth and tenth presidents, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler along with many other key figures of the day attended the college.
There is a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the campus that is fondly called the "Dead-beat Student". We don't know about dead-beat but the pose could be of any current college student.
There is also a statue of James Monroe.

Two other roadsides that we found in the area were a statue of Jimmy Maloney who started the Williamsburg Pottery Company and an interesting speed limit sign - do speedometers even show a 1/2 speed?

On our visit to Historic Jamestown we stopped at the Jamestown Glass House. They do live glass blowing demonstrations throughout the day and there is a nice selection of glass items to purchase. Nancy got a beautiful cobalt blue glass and we picked up a fun shaker for our friend Anne who shares Nancy's love of blue glass.

As you drive through the park it is hard to imagine living here as there is so much water everywhere. There are pull offs along the road that have informational signs about the history of the area. At Jamestown Rediscovery Village, you can see what life was like here back in Colonial days.

Part two will have more history and fun roadsides.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ tip will be included in part two.