July 2018

We’ve been checking the weather obsessively and it looks like we should try Jamestown today. It’s supposed to rain, but I think it may just be a steady light drizzle so we’ll make sure we all have rain jackets and go! We read the Bible on the drive out there; it was about an hour’s drive.

Some history about Jamestown: In 1607 104 men and boys sailed from the Virginia Company of London to Virginia in search of goods to ship back to England. They built a fort and faced a tough year, and by September more than 60 were dead from disease and starvation. The Virginia Company sent several more shiploads of men and supplies, and at one point sent 90 unmarried women in the hopes that families would stabilize the colony. At first Powhatan helped the colonists survive the drought and conditions they weren’t used to, but by 1622 the Powhatan tribe were attacking and killing colonists. The population of Jamestown ebbed and flowed, but in the end this was the first permanent English settlement in North America.

This is the Tercentenary Monument celebrating the 300th anniversary of Jamestown. It’s 104′ tall, I’m sure to represent the 104 men and boys that started the settlement.

I listened to a talk given by an archeologist who explained that they dig in 10’x 10′ grids. Here you can see the different strata; the top layer is what is used nowadays, next down is the plow zone (where people would plow, duh!), and under that is the natural strata. They often find in natural strata soil stains that help date the findings. You can see here a long slot trench that was mentioned in one of John Smith’s letters; and inside that 4 shapes with darker color that are the rotted posts from the fort.

For many years the fort was thought to have been lost to the James River, but now 1.5 million artifacts have been excavated and are displayed at the Archaearium which is completely cantilevered over the ruins of the Statehouse.

Inside the archaearium there were cutaway so you could see the foundations.

I started looking up John Smith info and quickly found many rabbit trails to go down; he seems to have led a pretty adventurous life, though I wonder how accurate the history is. From Wikipedia he “…killed and beheaded three Turkish challengers in single-combat duels, for which he was knighted by the Prince of Transylvania and given a horse and a coat of arms showing three Turks’ heads. However, in 1602, he was wounded in a skirmish with the Tartars, captured, and sold as a slave. As Smith describes it: “we all sold for slaves, like beasts in a market”. Smith claimed that his master, a Turkish nobleman, sent him as a gift to his Greek mistress in Constantinople, who fell in love with Smith. He then was taken to the Crimea, where he escaped from Ottoman lands into Muscovy, then on to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth before traveling through Europe and North Africa, returning to England in 1604.” Wow.

While sailing to America in 1606 he was charged with mutiny, was under arrest for most of the trip and was supposed to be executed. But when they landed at Cape Henry mid-1607 they received news that he had been promoted to leader of the new colony…so no execution! Later Pocahontas saved his life from natives and settlers, and later still she saved his life from Powhatan. What a life! Here’s a placard talking about him getting stung by a stingray.

This is the memorial church built in 1907.

We saw all of Old Towne and some New Towne. On our way out we stopped at the Glasshouse, and watched a little glassblowing.

The colonists came to find goods to ship back to England and one of the things they tried was glass! When I first read that I imagined them sending big panes of glass like we have in our windows these days, but I forgot that generally back then they had many small panes in each window; those would be much easier to ship. When I asked why that would be something they couldn’t make in England the museum chick said that England was running out of trees! They needed lots of wood to get the fires hot enough to melt the sand, and also wood was needed for potash used in making glass. Interesting! But what really took off and made this settlement stick was growing tobacco and shipping it back to England.

On the way out we could see the replica ships the colonists sailed over the Atlantic. What tiny ships for such a vast ocean!

Ted found us a great place for lunch. I had fish tacos, he had a fried oyster poboy, Max had fish and chips and Jack had fried shrimp. We split an ahi tuna appetizer, and everything from here was wonderful. Even our waiter; it was such a nice change from the grouchy woman in Williamsburg.

On the way back home we talked to Grandmom; we’ll arrive the day before their birthday and are planning to go out to supper with just the adults! When we got home Ted made grilled cheese for all 3 boys, and then we played Skip-bo. After the boys were cleaned and in bed Ted and I looked around for a new reminder program for me. I really like Remember the Milk but it’s gone to $40/year.

Ted only got about 2 hours of sleep last night, so when I got out of bed he came back to bed. While he was sleeping I made 3 calls he’d left me info on to see about availability for our next stop; they were all busts. The boys put up the dishes and made/ate breakfast, and I did a few chores.

I woke Ted up at 11 because we really need to figure out where we’re going from here! He has a whole timeline mapped out with us going to Gettysburg and then Niagra, then on to Boston for the month while he works. I’m hoping it works, because while we’re in Boston we can see VT, NH, CT, RI and ME!

After they ate lunch we worked and worked on places to stay in Boston or even MA, but nothing worked out! Ted says Labor Day is the last big push for camping since schools here start the day after, so we’re out of luck. We started looking all over then, PA, OH, etc. Nothing. Finally at 5pm we figured we needed a break and would start again tomorrow. I’m pretty bummed; it would have been so much fun to go to Jason and Micah’s church for a month! Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

We had meats and cheeses for supper with insalada caprese, and we watched some What’s in the Bible. We’re reading Isaiah now and I wanted an overview. As the boys were getting into bed Ted thought to check the campground he’d looked into in NJ a while back, and they had an opening! We won’t be able to ‘do’ as many States, but we’re fairly close to Grandmom, so that’s awesome! I guess we’ll have to re-work our whole timeline now.

Our last day in church here. I’m bummed Netty wasn’t around, but I talked to Donna more. It’s so interesting to talk about her 11-yo daughter with DS; she seems to have more comprehension than Jack, he’s a little more of a baby still. She seemed to understand that her Grandfather was in Heaven with Jesus; I can’t even imagine trying to explain that to Jack. She also said she wanted to be baptized, that that meant Jesus was in your heart. Today when I asked Jack who made that beautiful sky he said Grandmom. So there’s that. I think his understanding will grow and he will get there one day; I’m in no hurry, it’s just interesting to note.

Jack’s Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Christine, gave him a big book with pictures of him and the other kids, and with little cards the kids had written him wishing him well on his trip! Super sweet!

We came home and I made sandwiches for the 3 boys while they played Mario Kart. I went to nap and Ted joined me after lunch. He slept all night last night, maybe this will be an easy transition back to our time zone?

When I told him what I planned for supper he said how about steak instead? I was game! We went to Industrial Taphouse nearby and it was great! We shared the loaded Architectural Fries (awesome fries, shredded cheddar, jalapenos, avocado slices, bacon, diced tomatoes, onions, beer cheese; amazing!), Ted had the Hangover Burger (2 1/4lb patties, hard fried egg, potatoes au gratin, cheese and beer mustard, wonderful), and Jack and I split the Bacon Triple (2 1/4lb patties, 3 layers of Applewood bacon, beer cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles and onion; awesome). I gave up eating mine with my hands…it was just too messy! We didn’t end up having steaks, but this was a great place to eat. It’s a good thing we came here so close to the end of our stay or I’d have been tempted to come a lot!

We went to the nearby WM to get groceries and saw 3 women from our church; neat! They’re so sweet and stopped and talked to Jack everytime we met up in the store. We got some ice cream and had that as soon as the groceries were put away.

We lazed around today, resting after all the walking yesterday. Max finished up making the robot Grandmom gave him for his birthday.

We practiced our new verses today, and it’s going to take some time for Jack to really say them in time. He usually starts talking before the leader has stopped or he just says nothing at all. I’m starting us off with Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

I sent the boys out twice today to the playground. The second time I planned for them to come back in as I was walking out the door to go get Ted, but then I checked his flight and he was 25 minutes early! What the heck?! I hurriedly called the boys back in, showed Max what was for supper, and headed out to get Ted. I was right on time!

I could see from his face he was jetlagged, and at first he said he wanted to just go home. I asked if he would eat before going to bed, and then he decided to go with our first plan of going out to eat. When I got my hair cut the other day and then went shopping next door, the chick there suggested Yaya’s Cookbook and the Thai Basil Chicken. So we went there for that. We split the Thai Basil Pork Belly (stir-fried pork belly, bell peppers, basil, Thai basil, chili, onions, spicy basil sauce and jasmine rice; very good) and the Green Curry (coconut milk, Thai eggplant, fresh basil, bell peppers, bamboo, green beans, choice of protein and jasmine rice in spicy green curry sauce; awesome!!). Man, I wish the little jars of green curry sauce I find in grocery stores would give that flavor!

Those are hanging seats in the background on the left at the sushi bar. As cool as those seats look I think it would be annoying to try to have a conversation with a friend in them!

Next we went to the Apple store to see what I’ll be getting. We’re debating between a desktop and laptop. Such tough decisions! We headed home after that; Jack was sound asleep, but Ted got to say goodnight to Max.

We left for Williamsburg around 9am this morning. I’d been checking the forecast for a week now and it’s mostly been saying 60-80% rain every day, but this morning it was back down to 20%! Woot!

On the way we started memorizing new verses, but Jack can’t seem to get the hang of saying something ‘together’. We tried a million times with Max leading, and then half a million times with Jack leading and Max and me saying it together, but it just wasn’t happening. I guess we’ll try it at home when I can see Jack and maybe that’ll make some difference? Who knows. Who knew this was a skill that needed developing?

After buying our tickets we waited for the little intro video; I’ve really found those helpful in the historic places we’ve been. This one, however, not so much. It was more of a movie than an explanation of why Williamsburg is important. This photo is on our walk from the visitor’s center to the plantation.

This is us in front of the Governors palace.

And here’s a pretty garden we came across.

We walked through Hope Plantation and read about how a plantation works and the people there. The first house we stopped at was the Wythe House, the home of George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and father of American jurisprudence. The chick outside in costume was super interesting to listen to. She talked about how George Washington used the house as his headquarters in 1781. George Wythe was Thomas Jefferson’s legal mentor, and helped develop the use of mock trials. Inside the house what struck me was the garish wallpaper! Somehow you think of people like Washington and Jefferson and Wythe as sedate, wise old men; but how did they not induce seizures with the garish decorations in their houses? All three of these houses have such crazy wallpaper and bed linen combos! The woman inside the house talked about how wallpaper was a show of how wealthy people were, and the more intense the colors were the more expensive. I guess they were more interested in showing off that looking good or sane. Heh. The pink wallpaper below looks solid in the photo, but if you zoom in you can see the design.

We got to see some weavers making a tartan. There are 1,368 threads spooled onto this loom! We stood there and watched the weaver pass the shuttle back and forth several times. They told us how linen was harvested, and that it takes about 18 hours to go from wool to 1 square yard of fabric! No wonder people only had 1 set of clothes, and they patched the heck out of them! We saw the raw materials used for coloring the fabrics, and the woman spinning told us that indigo was made by the rotting of some plants and then letting them dry to almost stone consistency. All of this was so fascinating to me, mildly interesting to Max, and not at all interesting to Jack. Poor Jack!

We saw the cooper, the person who makes wooden buckets and barrels. She explained the process a bit and said she’s been doing this for 4 years. It seems funny that people can do this for a profession! Some of the people who work there full-time are able to live there in town…what must that life be like? We watched the blacksmith for just a few minutes, but I was sad the leatherworkers weren’t in; I’d been told they were super funny. We stayed by the kitchen a bit listening to what people ate during the times there…pretty much stew and bread. Unless you were rich, then you got to eat some choice cuts of meat. I ground some corn into something like grits while the guy there told us that they put that into a lot of stews for nutrition. We watched the tinsmith pound out a lid for a bit. She said that women went into some professions generally if it was a family business.

We ate lunch at the Kings Arms Tavern and got a not very happy waitress. Ugh. She didn’t give us the kids menu and this place was on the expensive side so I went and got some. I asked if they were strict with the age cut-off for the kids’ menu (most places aren’t so I like to ask), and she said that Max could order off that menu but he couldn’t have the fountain drink from that meal. Whatever. I ordered coke for Jack and let Max share it. The waitress the next table over was super pleasant to her table and Max said he wished we’d gotten her…I did too! Then I heard our waitress gripe to another table of 6 about how she’s supposed to be asked about the military discount before she prints the bill but she would go out of her way to re-ring it up. The women at that table said they thought she would know from the star on their tickets (which were given to us all with clips so most people wore them like name tags), and the waitress said she’d never seen that before. Whatever. She was grumpy and we made the best of it. I ordered the beef stew over mashed potatoes and it was pretty good; the boys both got cheeseburgers. Here’s Jack with butter on his nose and glasses; he really gets into eating!

After lunch we went to the Liberty Lounge which was a free lounge for military; sweet! I filled up our water bottle there and reapplied our sunblock. Next was the silversmith and watchmaker where we watched a silversmith file the bottom edge of a cup he’d soldered on; when he finished you couldn’t tell the cup had started out as 2 parts! I’d wanted to visit the apothecary but it was closed today.

We stopped at a talk outside the Raleigh Tavern and then followed the crowd inside for a tour of the place. Max didn’t want to do the tour but we had a little time to kill before the scheduled 4:20 display of firearms. We heard about how a tavern was run, and that it was also kind of a hotel. I thought this list of prices was interesting.

The costumed guy in the bar told us that Quakers had slaves! I didn’t remember this and was shocked! They knew it was wrong but were unwilling to set them free. Honestly, though, did people really think it was OK deep down in their hearts? What selfishness! In the Apollo Room we met George Washington who talked about how the King petitioned Parliament for funds, but the colonists had no representation in Parliament. Washington had no desire to fight England in the beginning, he’d fought for England just a few years before. We also saw the Daphney room and the billiards room where a woman talked to us about how much men of the time gambled. Here’s Jack in the Apollo room fireplace.

If they had had this shirt in a different color I’d have gotten it; it made me chuckle!

We looked around a little bit more, and then it was time for the musket and cannon show.

Not long after it was the fife and drum show. I thought we’d sit and listen to how each of the tunes were directions for the marchers and the army as a whole, but it was really just different songs they played. We sat on the grass and listened to 2 of them and then we marched to the truck.

In the truck I looked up a menu for Sonic, I was really wanting a chocolate root beer float, but does Sonic have chocolate ice cream? Their menu didn’t even say they do floats. We drove all the way home and stopped at the Food Lion 3 minutes from the house and bought root beer and chocolate ice cream. Problem solved! I wasn’t sure we were going to even mention it to Ted so we managed to eat the whole container of ice cream in one sitting. Go us! We got to Williamsburg at 10am and left at 5pm; I think we earned that! We all showered and finished up the last episode of the Cosby show we’d been watching, and then Jack went to bed and Max stayed up until 3am(!!!) playing his computer. Crazy kid!