I was trying to get us out the door at a reasonable time, and things were going well. Today Max asked ‘what next’ several times and was generally more helpful; has he been reading my blog? As we were walking out the door I noticed Jack putting up his pj’s, though I’d told Max to put them up earlier. Jack bristles at Max’s help sometimes/often. I’ve noticed him opening and closing the truck and bathroom door after Max has closed it, and today he took his pj’s out and put them up again after Max had put them up 10 minutes before! What a hard-headed son of a gun! In a lot of ways this independence is good for him, it pushes him to do more. But this is pretty ridiculous!
Why don’t we go to a Cheesecake church? Or should I be glad since it’s a “Cheesecake” church?!
Today we went to the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown. I planned for us to stay at this museum as long as we wanted, and then to go to the Yorktown battlefield and tour it, but we ended up staying here from 10:30 till 4:15! There was so much to see! We started off in the gift shop…Max wanted to go there before he was too tired to shop, heh. As we walked down the hall to see the actual museum there were handsewn coats of the different armies for us to try on. Jack’s coat was a little snug, and reminded us of A Christmas Story when the little brother couldn’t put his arms down.
We saw so many things, cannons, swords, rifles, and my favorites: just the general things people used back then like plates and bowls, cups and forks, shoes and furniture. I’m always interested how people used to do things, though I don’t long for that time…I’m super grateful for air conditioning and cars, etc. We watched a film about the beginning of the war and it amazed me that free black men fought for our independence and then were enslaved. What a crime! And Indians, too; they had even less to gain by our freedom but some were on our side. The first film we saw mentioned William Flora who was a free black man who fought (did he stay free?), Isabella Ferguson who warned her husband not to side with the British, Peter Harris who was a Catawba Indian who fought for our independence, among others. One phrase that got me I only got part of, ‘consent to be governed’. So many other countries (all other countries?) the king or leader takes power by force or is born into the family of the one who took power by force. But our country was built on a group of people fighting against that. All those many years ago we chose our leadership, we consented to be governed. Wow. We live in a great country. I don’t think we’re as great as we used to be; I think we’re so big and now we’ve become unwieldy.
We sat in on a presentation about the militia; about how stubborn and hard-headed they were, what they wore, and some major battles they helped win like the one at Bennington, NY (now VT) and Kings mountain.
We toured the inside of the museum until we were hungry, around 1pm, and then had meats and cheeses in the truck. Then it was time for the outdoor portion, but I was reminded that there was a 4D movie to see. It was a 9-minute show about the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War, the battle of Yorktown! This is where Cornwallis surrendered to us, and it’s what prompted the British to back off and let us be. For a while anyway. It was pretty cool with a 180 degree screen and smoke and coffee and gunpowder smells. The seats shook a bit when the cannons fired. It was a fun little film. The guy at the beginning of our day who let us try on the army coats told us that Cornwallis wasn’t actually at the surrender! He was sick that morning, and so he sent his second in command. That guy wanted to snub us a bit so he tried to surrender to the French; they wouldn’t accept him and sent him to George Washington who wouldn’t accept him either because he wasn’t Cornwallis, and sent him to George’s second in command who finally accepted his surrender.
Now we moved to the outside. This is the part I liked the best. We went into a tent that housed 6 men that really had just enough room for them to sleep; there was absolutely no room for them to do anything else. The boys both signed up to join the army; since there were no birth certificates back then whoever wanted to join just had to say they were 16 and sign up. They were given a little signing bonus, and the promise that if they fought for the duration of the war they’d be given land afterward.
We saw the ‘kitchen’ which was just a mound of dirt with a trench around it, and cooking stations dug into that mound at several points. Each person in the tent took turns cooking for the rest of the men in that tent each day to cut down on the number of campfires needed, and wood, and to allow the other guys to work.
The medical tent was the scariest. The hook they used to pull a vein up to clamp and sew was frightening. They didn’t give pain meds until after the procedure because alcohol would cause more bleeding and I forget what the problem was with giving laudanum before the operation; poor saps! We got to see tools for pulling teeth, trepanning, a tourniquet, a lard and sulfur ointment they used on everything, and lots of other menacing-looking tools.
We heard a talk on the rifles that were used, and saw a demonstration of loading and shooting one. And later we were there for the cannon firing. They asked for many volunteers to help clean and load and fire the cannon. After several boys and girls were called the guy asked for someone who could take charge like a mom and Max raised his hand and pointed at me!!! The guy asked if I wanted to go up and I was game. He gave me a sword to wear and a cheat sheet with all the commands on it, and then when I yelled out the first command he said it wasn’t loud enough! So I yelled as loud as I could through all the rest of the commands. He was a good speaker and led us all through the demonstration with me yelling my head off every time I had to give a command. Max couldn’t take any photos with my phone because it was locked, but that was fine. At the end of the presentation the older guy said ‘boom’ instead of actually firing the cannon and we all chuckled. He had us all go back to our seats and then they actually primed and loaded the cannon and shot it. What a jolt to the chest that was! We could all really feel it. It was awesome!
We saw a cabin with a huge loom in it; it wasn’t fully set up yet, but we got to watch a woman spin some wool with a hand spinner. We saw a little slave garden and heard a talk about that, and a tobacco barn where the woman also talked about the hardships of tobacco farming. She also told us about people who died in America who wanted to be buried in England. The trip across the ocean took at least 6 weeks, so they would have their bodies pickled in drums and sent! Crazy!
Well, I think that’s all we saw! I’m sure we missed some things, but we saw so much and learned so much. Times were so hard back then, but were better then than they had been before. I guess that’s the way the world always will be. By now it was about 4pm. I didn’t think we had enough time to really do the Yorktown Battlefield well, so we headed home. I’d picked out a Mediterranean place for supper, but it was too early to eat. We drove back on the scenic drive, which wasn’t too impressive. I was expecting beautiful houses or lovely lake scenery, but it was just tree-lined. They were beautiful trees, just not what I was expecting.
When I got to Richmond I pulled over to find us a place to eat. Max had asked for an American place (eyeroll), and I found a place that made both of us happy. Four Brothers Bistro and Grill had some good ratings on Yelp, so I started setting up Google to get us there. Google found 2 locations, and 1 of them was only 10 minutes from the bus! It had good reviews too, so that’s where we headed. Max got hot wings (and some lip from me for always getting the same thing), and Jack and I split the Honey Chicken Wrap (highly praised on Yelp) and the Volcano Fries. The wrap was OK, I ate it more like a salad. The honey mustard on that was as thin as a vinaigrette, and the whole thing needed salt, so Jack got the larger portion of that. The Volcano Fries, though, were wonderful! They started off with awesome fries, topped that with that soupy cheese, jalapeños, tomatoes and sriracha mayo! I ate most of those, but did eventually share with Jack. I didn’t realize how much I was saving him, though; those things were great, but I paid for all that greasy cheese later!
We got home at 7pm, the boys showered right away and we all got right into bed. What a great day!