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!