Sunday, August 4, 2013

Yorktown and Mount Vernon

Have I mentioned that Virginia is absolutely beautiful?   I am very impressed with this area of the country. Everywhere I look is natural beauty and what man has built is breathtakingly gorgeous too.  The homes and yards are meticulously maintained and it is just all so lovely to drive and walk through.

Friday Tom drove us to Yorktown.  What a pretty little town this is on the York River with its own delightful beach.  We rode the trolley around and then visited the Victory Center.  Here we are with George Washington.  Ted was worried about him getting too much sun.  

There are three parts here - the farm, the encampment and the museum.  We toured them all and enjoyed talking with the doctor, the ladies on the farm and the soldiers.  Ted especially liked the muskets they were loading and shooting.  Afterwards he and Tom played ring toss and Tom won.  

I played nine pin and knocked down pins with the first ball but missed the rest entirely on my second try.  I guess I better stick to regular bowling.

After dinner at the campground we played a game of Mexican Train and I won.  Our friend Jay contends I win because I keep score!  Not true.  Just like life, you win a few and you lose a few.  Luck just happened to be with me.

Saturday was a rest day and that was a good call because it rained much of the day.  I did some laundry and worked on where we go from here.  At 5:30 we went to St. Olaf church.  Ted wanted to know if Betty White would be there.  As Rose on Golden Girls she came from St. Olaf, MN.  The priest gave a good sermon on our pre-occupation with our "stuff."  He said we worry about how much we can carry in our cars, how much storage our house has.  There are stores devoted to nothing more than containers for our stuff.  We hire people to organize our stuff and in the end we rent a storage unit!  It was great food for thought about what is really important in life considering no one gets to take their stuff with them when they leave.

After church we went to a local restaurant suggested by an usher at church and it was great.  The menu was varied and the food very good.  Two older (than us) couples were at the next booth and I heard the oldest gentleman play a few bars on a harmonica no more than two inches long.  When he got up to leave he told us goodbye.  I said I thought he was going to play a tune for us.  He asked what I wanted to hear so I chose "Oh Susannah."  He played it for us and we chatted a bit.  Our waitress said he comes in all the time and has given her several of the harmonicas!  It was a bit of added fun.

Today we went to Mount Vernon.  What a gorgeous setting!  We toured the entire place.  Here we are with George, Martha and two grandchildren.  Martha was a widow with a son and daughter.  She and George had no children.  Her daughter died young without marrying and her son died young too but left a son and daughter.  They were raised by Martha and George.  I am going to watch Ted and his hat more closely!

These are windows inside the Visitors' Center.

I just had to take several shots of the house as we approached.  There was no photography allowed inside.

The back of the house overlooking the Potomac River.

It is hard to tell but instead of the typical rooster on the weather vane, George chose a dove with an olive branch.

The views of the Potomac River and surrounding area are what the family enjoyed from the back of the house.  How beautiful.

Next we walked to the Old Vault where the Washingtons were originally buried.  Then we continued on to the new tomb.

We walked down to the wharf - 

Through the farm, up again using the forest trail - 

and made our way to the museum and education center.  We observed many fine things the Washingtons owned and saw several short films.  In the Crossing the Delaware one, it snowed on us!

We left the estate and traveled to the Grist Mill and Distillery.  George was an entrepreneur and Mount Vernon prospered under his direction.  He realized that tobacco ruined the soil and selling it brought the British too much into his business.  

The grist mill was built along a creek on his property.  The cornmeal and flour were sold at market and also used to feed those living on the estate.  This shows the meal being sifted from any chaff which falls into a container at the end of the box and is used for chicken feed.

This is one of several gears driven by the water wheel.

His new farm manager from Scotland recognized he had all the elements for a distillery present.  It took some talking but George finally agreed to two stills.  Later it was expanded to five stills.

We had a good conversation with the young lady since we had just been to the distilleries in Bardstown KY.  The same process is still being used today and their smaller stills allowed us to see the process even better.  Today, twice a year, whiskey is made and sells for $95 a bottle.  Last March they sold out in three days.

We left and decided since we were close we would drive into DC.  It was Sunday and traffic should be light.  WRONG!

We managed to drive past the Pentagon, the Washington Monument still under renovation, the Jefferson Memorial but you can't get anywhere near the White House.  Oodles of people were about so we decided to go to Georgetown to eat.  NOT!  Traffic was worse there so we headed out of town only to get caught in slow moving traffic on the interstate.

Eventually it cleared out, we drove awhile before stopping at a Cracker Barrel and eventually made it back to Williamsburg.  It was a 12 hour day and Tom had to be whipped.  I know I was but I am so glad we went.  It was worth it!

1 comment:

Carol said...

We loved our time at Mount Vernon - Dan and I went in the spring the year before we went on the road full time. It didn't look like you had many people there - they were lined up almost back to the entry to get to walk through the house - I didn't think Dan would wait in line, but he did. Sounds like your time in DC was like ours - Dan still teases me that I've "seen" everything in DC - and I tell him "I would actually like to stop and walk up to something instead of riding by in the truck". We made the mistake of being there during the Cherry Blossom Festival (didn't realize it until it was too late) and there was NO where to park and 1,000's of people. He keeps saying we'll go back sometime - we shall see. Enjoy your time.