Thursday, April 12, 2012

Heading for home

We have had quite a few adventures the past few days. Monticello was a hit with Roman (except for the garden walk - he'll be quick to tell you that). The next day we stopped at Montpelier, James Madison's home, which was sorta on the way to Richmond. That was also very interesting and I would have liked to spend more time there.

We made it to Richmond around 2pm and decided to hit the Civil War museum. As usual, I would have liked to spend more time there - but with 2 kids who have short attention spans, it was best to move along. We discovered at the museum (part of which is run by the National Park Service) that they have a "junior ranger" program; do a certain number of activities and earn a badge. They also have "trading cards" particular to a place, usually 2-3. I think Ro would have preferred just getting candy or something, but both kids liked doing the activities.

Wednesday was battlefield day. We started at Fredericksburg and did the short walk along Bloody Lane & Marye's Heights, then through the cemetery.  Just wow. Then we moved on to Chancellorsville, where the park rangers were super nice to our kids. The boys earned their trading cards by learning something in the small museum displays & telling the rangers; then they got booklets of activities to complete to be junior rangers. We drove to a couple spots and walked around, and I learned much more about this particular battle.  Then we had lunch (mmm... Sonic burger & tater tots!) and drove on toward the Wilderness battlefield. On the way there was a detour to see Stonewall Jackson's left arm's burial place. The home where it is buried near is closed for the season but people are allowed to walk back to the family cemetery. So the boys elected to stay in the car and watch a video while Doug and I made the trek. Of course it was awesome.

We drove through the Wilderness battlefield which is quickly being encroached upon. (is that sentence grammatically correct?). Roman was done getting out of the car, and Charlie was fading quickly, so we decided to call it a day and head back to swim.

Today was our last day doing touristy things, and we went to Colonial Williamsburg. Doug and I both had an expectation that was not met. I guess because we are used to Greenfield Village, we expected it to be similar; a free-flow in and out of the historic buildings, some signs to read identifying the buildings or history behind them; and that was not the case. We're not sure if it's because there were some school groups (I counted 3 separate ones) or because of Spring Break, or someone's genius idea to attempt to control people-traffic-flow, but they had people forming lines outside each building to get in. We thought at first that nothing was open, because all the doors were closed and people were just standing around. Then we realized they were waiting to get in buildings. Our first experience was at the gaol (jail); we waited about 5 minutes to get in there, then weren't allowed in 2 of the holding pens because there were school groups.

We walked in the silversmith's shop and then realized there was a line for the actual smithy; we ditched it. Decided I definitely wanted to see the wigmaker's shop and we waited over 10 minutes to get in there, then almost were pre-empted by a school group.  Roman really wanted to see the magazine (where the weapons are stored) so we walked down there. We missed the "entrance time" so ended up waiting close to 15 minutes to get in there, then since there was a school group being lectured to by a costumed person we couldn't really freely walk around. It was very disappointing, to say the least. Not sure we will make the effort to ever go back.  For the boys, though, it was made up for by a swim when we returned and a milkshake with dinner. Love that they are so easily pleased.

Tomorrow begins the car ride home. And when we talked about the best parts of our vacation tonight over dinner, my heart filled when Roman said, "hanging with my family."  And that's absolutely why we took this vacation.

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