Monticello and Natural Chimneys

I’d stressed planning this day a bit. When I asked Max what he wanted to do he said go see the natural chimneys. That’s a 2-hour drive away, and seeing them seemed like it would be super quick, maybe 5-10 minutes. I saw that Monticello was halfway between there and here and it seemed smart to knock 2 things off our list in one day, so I started a plan. None of us want to get up early, but this was my first pass at an itinerary:
8 wake everyone up
9 leave
11 arrive chimney rock
12 leave for bbq
1:30 arrive bbq
3 leave bbq
3:30 arrive Monticello
6 Monticello closes
I didn’t want to wake everyone up, and I didn’t like not having much time for Monticello…what if we loved it and wanted to spend more time there? Ted said we could lump the chimneys in with our Skyline and Natural Bridge day, but I worried about packing in too much and having to cut out the chimneys, especially after Max said that’s what he wanted to do.

After back and forthing, and much reading of websites, I came up with this itinerary:
9:45 leave to get gas and head to bbq
11 arrive bbq, they open at 11
12 leave for Monticello
12:30 arrive Monticello
Have 5.5 hrs for seeing Monticello
Whenever we’re done head to chimneys if Max still wants to. The park there closes at dusk, which is around 8:30 these days.

This plan worked perfectly! Even though I went to bed around 1am I woke up sometime before 7 and had some time for laziness. Max still isn’t a great help getting ready to go unless I tell him specifically and often what to do to get us all out the door, but we managed to leave on time. And though I’ve made this schedule it’s still summer; this is just a guideline to help us get to do all the things we want to do without rushing.

The BBQ place was suggested on a blog by someone who went to Monticello; it was really good, too. I bought us a pulled pork plate and a brisket plate, with sides of baked beans (good) , spicy slaw (good) , french fries (may have had some sugar in the seasoning, they looked great, but were oddly sweet, I wouldn’t order them again) and mac and cheese (really cheesy and good). I loved the meat, but didn’t really like any of the BBQ sauces. I didn’t realize how picky I was about BBQ sauce until this trip, and really until coming to the east coast. Oh well. The meat was really good on its own.

And that’s the icing/cupcake ratio I like!

On the drive to the restaurant and then to Monticello we listened to Bill Nye’s comical US history on podcast. I’m not a fan of Nye’s stance on evolution, but I do like his science shows when he doesn’t shove evolution down your throat. I think a quick, fun history of the US is in order considering that we’re heading into super US history territory these days. I hated his writing style though! I’m bummed because the basis of the book was just what I wanted, but he tried too hard to be funny.

Monticello was a beautiful place to see, but I keep being appalled at Thomas Jefferson talking about how he’d do anything to help mankind advance (or something like that), and he was totally against slavery, but he wouldn’t free his slaves. I think he was a pretty smart dude, but it’s always hard to give up your comforts. Crazy how many men and women pushed their consciences down so far that they could treat other human beings this way. I’d read before we came to watch the film at the welcome center first, and then take the shuttle up and walk back down, so that’s what we did.

I loved seeing all Jefferson’s inventions, and the cool clock he had hanging over the front door that he didn’t plan correctly for, and then cut a hole in the floor to accommodate. There were cannonball weights that ran the clock, and they indicated the days of the week as well, though Saturday was under the floor. The views from his estate were marvelous! It was so awesome to walk among his garden and look out over the vineyard and imagine his thoughts from so long ago. I’d never seen a kitchen with smaller stoves along the side like the one here, and there were several dumb waiters around the place. There were many conveniences here that other houses never had, like the ‘remote control’ door lock in his bedroom so he didn’t have to get out of bed to open the door.

The guy that gave our tour was very interesting to listen to. We went on the family friendly tour, but it had enough information to interest Max and me. He told us that Thomas Jefferson was the 1st Secretary of State, and that he was voted into that position while he was out of the country! Other interesting facts we learned there are that he had no middle name, and that he owned the Natural Bridge. I’m so glad we got to spend so much time here; I wonder what Max thinks of going here, and I wonder how he’ll remember this day. He said he enjoyed touring the place, so there’ s that.

When we’d seen all we could see I laid out the facts about the chimneys to Max and we decided to go for it. When we got to the Campground an hour later I couldn’t see the chimneys at all, and when Max said he saw them I thought he was fooling me. They weren’t far away from the parking lot, but they were hidden behind so much greenery. We parked and walked over and took some pictures. It took us a couple of seconds to see the angle I’d read about; one of the towers is leaning at the same angle as the tower of Pisa! I was glad to see a swingset and a playground, so the boys (and I) got to exercise after all that sitting, and before all that sitting, too. I’m so thankful and amazed that we get to live this life. It’s awe inspiring to see God’s handiwork all over the country. I’m glad we have so much time to just bask in his glory, and not have to rush around seeing and doing. I do feel rushed a bit when I think of only 1.5 more years, but standing there in front of those chimneys was calming.

After the boys played a bit, and another boy came over to play a minute or two we loaded back up in the truck for home. Google said 2:08 to get home, and it was right. We ran through the drive-through because Max didn’t feel like the peanut M&M’s and nutty bars I had packed would hold him. Heh. He had a quarter cheese, and Jack and I split a quarter cheese and large fry. We stopped at a scenic overlook and took a photo. Beauty.

Max stayed up late; he and I both went to bed around 11:30. Jack was already asleep in the middle of the bed with his feet on their pillows. Silly boy.

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