Tag Archives: Williamsburg VA

July 9: Footsore, sweaty, and in my element

Wow, was it hot today. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much time in that much heat and humidity (90s, with 60-something percent humidity – they were saying the heat index was over 100dF, which is just Wrong, in the most Ivanian sense of the term). But it was so worth it, and all of the buildings were air-conditioned, at any rate. Their original owners would have been so jealous…

I spent the entire day wandering around Colonial Williamsburg. It’s pricey – one day is $41, getting the ticket holder into all of the historical buildings and all of the craftsman demonstrations, plus two art museums I didn’t make it to – but it was fascinating. I went through the Capitol, and the Governor’s Palace, and several residences, and a tavern, which is not a bar, but more like a B&B or a rooming house.

The capitol building, with a couple of the many re-enactors sitting out front.
The capitol building, with a couple of the many re-enactors sitting out front.
The equivalent of the Supreme Court's room.
The equivalent of the Supreme Court’s room.
A handsome young Colonial gentleman.
A handsome young Colonial gentleman.
The Governor's Palace.
The Governor’s Palace.
A mirror protected from flyspots in the Wythe (pronounced with) house.
A mirror protected from flyspots in the Wythe (pronounced with) house.
George Washington slept here.  In the Wythe House.
George Washington slept here. In the Wythe House.
Stove in the ballroom in the Governor's Palace.
Stove in the ballroom in the Governor’s Palace.

I saw bricks and furniture and barrels and clothing and fabric being made (oh, and fabric being dyed, using natural materials, of course – the red was cochineal and the blue was indigo and the yellow was some kind of bark, and the colors were amazing). Shoemakers and hat makers and wig makers and candle makers and metal workers and just all sorts of crafts. Everything your 18th century colonist needs, well, except that most of the raw materials had to come to them through England, which had a monopoly on shipping, which caused a great deal of trouble. Even local stuff, like the indigo from South Carolina, had to go to England, be processed, and come back to Williamsburg.

Practicing Mr. Gutenberg's profession.
Practicing Mr. Gutenberg’s profession.
Making candles by melting wax over an open fire (in this weather) and dipping the wicks.  It takes about forty dips to make a candle.
Making candles by melting wax over an open fire (in this weather) and dipping the wicks. It takes about forty dips to make a candle.
Another open fire in this weather, this one in the dyeing demonstration.
Another open fire in this weather, this one in the dyeing demonstration.

I ate lunch in the Merchants’ Square just outside of the historical area, because it was considerably cheaper. Still good food, though, just without the ambiance [g].

And I drank more water today than I have ever in one day, I think.

By the time I got back to my motel this evening, I was footsore, and I think I walked more in one day today than I have since I left home.

It was so worth it. Especially the gardens, which were amazing. My photos do not do them justice in any way, shape, or form. Even the little kitchen gardens were gorgeous, full of plants that I haven’t seen blooming in years, because the climate’s so different from home, and I haven’t been to a hot, humid climate in the summertime in I don’t know how long. The crowning glory was the garden at the Governor’s Palace. Boxwood hedges and long, long flowering borders just full of gorgeous blooms.

A simple kitchen garden.  The pink flowers are phlox (which I did actually grow at home [g]).
A simple kitchen garden. The pink flowers are phlox (which I did actually grow at home [g]).
Sunflowers, a house with a nifty chimney, and a garbage can disguised as a barrel.
Sunflowers, a house with a nifty chimney, and a garbage can disguised as a barrel.
Boxwood in a back garden.  Boxwood has a distressing tendency to smell like cat pee, but it is pretty.
Boxwood in a back garden. Boxwood has a distressing tendency to smell like cat pee, but it is pretty.
Part of the Governor's  Palace's gorgeous gardens.
Part of the Governor’s Palace’s gorgeous gardens.

 

I love Williamsburg. I suspect if I lived within a day’s drive, I’d buy an annual pass the way I do now for the national parks pass. And I’d get more than my money’s worth.

July 8: Headed back in time for a few days

I’ve been on the road for six weeks as of today.  That is so hard to believe.  It’s going fast.

I was only about fifty miles from Williamsburg when I woke up this morning. I did, however, get a late start, and then I made a wrong turn that added about ten miles to the trip, but it was a pretty drive, so I wasn’t complaining. Also, I got to ride a ferry! A free car ferry across the James River, which at this tidal point is more of a bay than anything else. Also, I drove right onto the ferry, and it left right away. No waiting in the heat at all.

The writing on the back window of this van says, "Gettysburg or Bust, Boy Scout Troop 92" somewhere, "North Carolina. There was a whole convoy of them, at least eight vehicles. I thought it was funny.
The writing on the back window of this van says, “Gettysburg or Bust, Boy Scout Troop 92” somewhere, “North Carolina.” There was a whole convoy of them, at least eight vehicles. I thought it was funny.
The James River ferry, the Pocahontas.
The James River ferry, the Pocahontas.
Looking back along the walkway to the south shore of the James River.
Looking back along the walkway to the south shore of the James River.

The ferry ride was fun. I could see the Jamestown NHS from the water, and some tall ships that are part of a living history museum next door (that I’m going to tour while I’m here). It was also about ten degrees cooler on the water, with the breeze (mind, that was ten degrees cooler than ninety-something with air thick enough to drink, but still).

Part of Jamestown NHS. I don't know what the column is, but I'll be sure to find out.
Part of Jamestown NHS. I don’t know what the column is, but I’ll be sure to find out.
Tall ships on the James River, part of the Jamestown living history museum (which is not part of Jamestown NHS).
Tall ships on the James River, part of the Jamestown living history museum (which is not part of Jamestown NHS).

After I got here, I found my motel so I wouldn’t have to worry about it (I’d made reservations last night – I was a bit concerned about arriving in such a tourist destination on a Friday night in the summertime), then I got seriously lost trying to find the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown NHS. I didn’t get there till about four, and most of the site closes at 4:30, but I did get to go through the visitor center. Yorktown will be on my way out of town when I head towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel in a couple of days (I may spend three nights here, I may stay four – there’s a lot to do and see here, especially for a history buff who eats up living history with a spoon like I do), so I’ll make sure to leave early enough to take the auto tour of the battlefield and see the rest of it then.

A view of the Colonial Parkway, which runs from Jamestown through Williamsburg to Yorktown.
A view of the Colonial Parkway, which runs from Jamestown through Williamsburg to Yorktown.
One of dozens of similar signs along the Colonial Parkway. I chose this one because the content surprised me.
One of dozens of similar signs along the Colonial Parkway. I chose this one because the content surprised me.
A cannon associated with the Marquis de Lafayette, inside the Yorktown visitor center.
A cannon associated with the Marquis de Lafayette, inside the Yorktown visitor center.
A mockup of one of Cornwallis's ships, inside the visitor center. They had the inside mocked up, too.
A mockup of one of Cornwallis’s ships, inside the visitor center. They had the inside mocked up, too.

Tomorrow I am going to visit Colonial Williamsburg. Finally. I’m sorta doing things backwards, from a historical point of view. Yorktown is the newest site (it’s where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at the end of the Revolution), Colonial Williamsburg is from an older time period, and Jamestown, of course, is the earliest settlement in Virginia (I’m thinking in what became the U.S., but I think St. Augustine, Florida, or Santa Fe, New Mexico, might be older). But that’s okay.

Anyway, tomorrow expect lots of photos of people doing antique trades and stuff, and fancy old buildings and their insides, and pretty gardens (the last time I was here was in April, 1999, and the place was full of tulips – I’m looking forward to seeing what the gardens look like in midsummer).

Oh, and I had an idea for another book today.  I’m kind of afraid it’s a mouthful that’s way more than I can chew, but then that’s what I thought about what later became Repeating History, too, seventeen years ago, so maybe not.  I hope.