Huzzah! The post for our family vacation is finally up! It took me long enough, but at last, here it is, in all its dubious glory.
First up we have the George Wythe House. Historians can absolutely, categorically confirm that George Washington DID sleep here.
George Wythe was a delegate to the Continental Congress, and Virginia’s first signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house also served as General George Washington's headquarters just before the British siege of Yorktown. The house is 'dressed' in the same way it would have been if George Washington and his staff were in the middle of their campaign.
Going through these historic houses always gives me cold chills. I find myself touching the walls, door knobs - and especially running my hand along stair banisters, wondering who has touched that banister before me - wishing some of the greatness would wear off; thrilling at the way I can touch history with your finger tips.
The details in these historic buildings are so meticulous - you almost expect George Washington to come walking through the room at any minute.
On to the Benjamin Powell House! Benjamin Powell was a carpenter and contractor in historic Williamsburg. His restored house now serves as a center to teach children (and overgrown kids) historic games, actives and the refined pastimes of by-gone days....such as playing a spinet.
Next - the public auction! The auction is usually held outside, but because of inclement weather we were all crammed into a cozy little building - which was fine, because my feet were sore and I welcomed the chance to sit down.
The two men that run the auction are wonderful actors and never step out of character, making this as much a theatrical event, as a shopping experience.
There is nothing like an auction to bring out the crazed shopping beasts that sleep in every human being's hearts - specifically female hearts. The bidding can get quite riotous. Some bidders get so carried away they even indulge in victory dances - or wiggles - after winning their desired object.
I enjoyed the rowdiness of the auction....as each piece was sold, the auctioneer would thump his staff against the oak floorboards, shout 'huzzah', and the entire room would shout 'huzzah', right back at him. As the auction progressed our enthusiasm kept growing.
The other fun thing about the auction was that each guest was given a numbered list of the items that would be available for sale. Items were brought up for auction as people in the audience requested a number. 'Requested' might be too nice a word. Whoever could yell the loudest was the one that ensured that their item would be the next item sold.
I stayed for about an hour, watching the fun. I needed to move on, but I really wanted to try bidding on one particular item, that had yet to come up for sale. Whispering to my sisters, all three of us began hollering 'my' number at the top of our lungs, completely overpowering all the other contenders in the room.
"Due to the overwhelming desire to see number so-and-so." The auction commented wryly, looking in our direction. "That shall be the next item."
While I was pleased with our success and tickled by our rowdiness, I'm sorry to say that I chickened out of actually bidding. I hesitated and 'he who hesitates; loses.' I disappointed myself, but I wasn't surprised to find myself backing out of the bidding. Even Ebay auctions make me nervous. I am no gambler.
Christmas Day! A lot of the historic buildings were closed and reenactments and special performances were at a minimum. I took the opportunity to leave Duke of Gloucester Street. and explore some of the less traveled paths of this beautiful location.
This was a solo venture, and I enjoyed the solitude as I strolled the gorgeous avenues and snapped a slew of pictures.
Williamsburg is a dream come true for artists. The place is full of ready-made-art that shouts at me to draw or paint it. I'm itching to commit these beautiful houses, twisted trees and charming streets to canvas. I'm very excited about the file of reference photos I now have and look forward to sitting down with my watercolors sometime in the future to recapture my vacation.
Next, we went to the Carleton Stage to hear 'James Madison' speak. What struck me the most about his talk, was his emphasis on how valuable the gift of parchment was in his day. Parchment was a wonderful thing to receive - it held the key to a multitude of treasures- because words could be committed to parchment....and then the parchment could be shared....and words on parchment could change nations.
'James Madison's' respect for the power of words, and the responsibility that power entails, shamed and intrigued me. Our modern culture takes words for granted. With a few clicks of the keyboard every random thought is instantly shared with the entire world. The men of this city and time put great thought into their words - and great purpose. They didn't go to all that time and effort to tell people how they were feeling - they were trying to change a nation. I wonder how they would have used the Internet with its modern conveniences of Facebook and Twitter....and how they would marvel at the way words have become so devalued in our culture.
My twin and I headed to the Governor's Palace to tour the amazing gardens and run through the famous Maze - and I do mean THROUGH the hedges, because what's the fun of using the paths?
Unfortunately, the gardens and the Palace itself was closed by the time we got there and we were only able to walk by the main gates and snap some pictures of the estates' grounds and outbuildings.
And now it's time for 'Silly Stories With Alli' - The part of the show where Alli comes out and does something silly!
A day doesn't go by when I don't do SOMETHING stupid that makes other people laugh. I won't disappoint you now....
Something Peculiar Happened On The Way To The Bus Station.... I was rushing to meet a family member and leaped onto a bus without paying much attention. The bus was empty and as we began to drive away I suddenly realized that we were going down a peculiar route. I was shocked to see my desired destination whip past my window. My mouth fell open. Buses stop at these various locations like clockwork, I didn't know what was going on.
We kept driving and I started to panic. I had never been on this route before, I wasn't recognizing any of the landmarks....where was the driver taking me?
Several things were rushing through my head by this point....the foremost one yelling at me that I was being kidnapped. For what reason, I had no idea. I'm not famous, I'm not wealthy. I have enemies, but I don't think they would bother to kidnap me.
I moved towards the front of the bus, furiously thinking out my options.
Option 1. Demand to be let off the bus, even though I didn't know where I was and try to find my way back to the Main Street.
Option 2. Start screaming.
Option 3. Overpower the driver with Krav Maga, render him utterly senseless and drive the bus to my desired location.
'3' was definitely my favorite option. I could easily picture myself doing something heroic and it would be a great excuse to satisfy my closet ambition to drive a bus.
But I didn't do any of these things. I waited, mouth shut, heart pounding, trying to figure out what was happening and stave off a mental and emotional break down.
Then without warning, we reached a familiar looking sight - the Visitor's Center.
I had boarded an Express Bus....buses that go back to the Visitor's Center by a slightly different route....and that never makes any other stops.
Feeling unutterably stupid, I climbed off the bus and boarded a regular bus, vowing to be more careful when I chose my next bus. Because of one small slip, I had wasted twenty minutes, given myself a scare and reaffirmed (unnecessarily) that I was an idiot. I did however, give myself a good laugh, and I'm sure a lot of people on the next bus were wondering what was wrong with the giggling fool that was sitting with them. I could have told them - but they probably wouldn't have understood....or appreciated it.
The Fife and Drums!
Hands-down, this is my favorite part about Williamsburg. As night falls over the city, your ears strain, listening for that clear, beckoning piping. Your pulse starts to speed up, ready to drub in time to the sound of the drums. Then you hear it, and the heart of every person in that city swells with patriotism, stirs with pride.
Human beings seem born to march. There is a magic to the fife and drum players, they have the same irresistible pull of the Piped Piper. I have watched extremely large crowds full of people of every age and description move like an ocean wave after the Fifes and Drums, powerless to stand still, pulled into the musicians wake like moths towards a flame. Who could resist those leaping torches, the glint of weapons, those magnificent uniforms? Everybody loves a parade, and a military parade is even better. Let's face it, these traditions may be hundreds of years old, but it's clear that the stirring rhythms of the Revolutionary drums still beat in American hearts, and our modern ears still strain to hear the fairy-like strains of fifes.
Last - but not least....we have....'drum roll'....THE CANNONS!
Technically, 'Firing in Christmas', happened on Christmas Eve. This series of pictures is not in chronological order. But I had to finish with the cannons, otherwise we wouldn't have had ONE BIG FINISH.
So without further ado - DAH CANNONS! It's shootin' time! I love a big fuss, especially if it involves explosions and military uniforms!
No, the cannon did not blow up...it just looks like it did.
And that concludes our feature presentation.
Happy travels my fellow wanderers....enjoy the journey....and above all....pay attention to what bus you board in life!
After lots of planning and rescheduling, my family and I finally got to visit the Tellus Science Museum!
It was a gorgeous day and we got to enjoy the beautiful grounds. Aren't these shady avenues lovely? I wanted to pitch a tent and stay there even more than I wanted to run through the sprinklers.
A special outdoor exhibit called 'Metal in Motion' featured massive earth movers, old automobiles, emergency vehicles and military transports.
A replica of the Jurassic Park jeep...but no dinosaurs. Too bad - I've got a bloodcurdling scream that I'm sure everyone would have enjoyed.
And the highlight of the trip.....'drum roll'.....helicopters! When we were driving up to Tellus, a Vietnam war era helicopter went right over our car and we could see it heading for the Tellus grounds before it disappeared into the trees. Though we didn't get to see the Huey land, we were there when a rescue helicopter came in for a landing.
I would have just posted a picture, but I included this video because it's so funny. I thought I was so slick in filming this, but it was so bright, I didn't realize that I had my tablet pointed in the wrong direction. You can see a little of what's going on...plus you get to hear me scream like a little kid...I thought for sure the bird was going to land on top of us.
When I checked my video afterwards and realized I had a minute worth of sun spots....I just about passed out.
We were getting tired of standing in the sun so we moved inside, where I could actually SEE where I was pointing my camera.
Next we looked at a lot of stuff that made me feel like I was in school again ('scream')...... Rocks and minerals were never my favorite thing....but I did walk away amazed at how God placed everything human beings would ever need on this planet at Creation. He knew what we would need in 30 AD and he knows what we need in 2016 AD. From an axe head to an airplane....He gave us all the raw materials we need and the wits to know how to use them. Secular museums can go on and on about how smart man is at 'discovering' a new mineral and figuring out how to process it - but God knew the mineral was there all the time and enabled us to create the infrastructure of technology that enables us to put the 'new' mineral to use. God is the amazing designer and provider - not man.
So happy I live in one of those lovely green areas....
A whole wall was dedicated to showing the Periodic Table with little boxes holding items that represented each mineral.
Next up was the Transportation Hall. Aside from the beautiful 'flying machine' and an old Bell Helicopter, there was a fantastic exhibit of crazy old jalopies.....I would give a lot to own one of these beauties. I got the biggest kick out of the car with the red wheels - a 1903 Waverly Electric Road Wagon. This was one of the very first 'electric cars' and was marketed to women drivers because it didn't have a hand crank and could be easily started 'without soiling hand, gloves or clothing'.
Next was the Cold War exhibit - featuring a MiG's fuselage. A small plaque stated that there are over 40 privately owned MiG-21s in the US, some still in flying conditions. I think I just decided what I want for Christmas.
Next, we went panning for gems. There wasn't anything bigger than a fly in all that sand, but it was fun. I discovered it was easier to just dig through the sand and water than use the pan. Do I really look like a patient pan-ner to you?
Next up - what my big sister appropriately dubbed: "The Hall of Lies." It was so sad to see mothers reading the evolution based plaques aloud to their kids--both of them convinced that it was the truth. We blew through this section in short order. It amused me to see how the displays would show how archeologists had found one bone or tooth and then 'scientists' had 're-constructed' an entire skeleton - swearing that this was what the beast had actually looked like. Amazing what one tooth will tell you.
Back outside again. Got the autographs of one of our Vietnam War veterans and then sat in a genuine Vietnam War helicopter. This was no replica - the Lucky Star has flown in dozens of combat missions. BEST. PART. OF. MY. DAY.
I only sat in that chopper for a total of perhaps 20 seconds....but with my imagination....that was all I needed to envision myself in a Top Gun type scenario.
Took a quick peek at the planetarium (we couldn't stay late enough to do any star gazing) and the outdoor displays of solar energy and wind energy.
We hated to leave, but it was time to go. As one last special little treat, we saw this magnificent Rat Rod in the parking lot.....it's definitely a one of a kind.
We had a wonderful time. One of these days, we'd like to go back....