Background Music: "Pachelbel's Canon in D" performed by Dean Shostak on Glass Armonica. We caught one of Dean's shows in Colonial Williamsburg and were fascinated by this instrument designed by Ben Franklin. There's a picture of Dean playing it later in this section, and you can learn more about the Armonica via YouTube by clicking here, or hear about it from Dean himself by clicking here.


At our stop in Gloucester, VA we’ve learned a great deal about the Revolutionary War. This area was witness to a number of historic events of both the Revolutionary and Civil War periods; however, since we’ve been to a few Civil War sites now, we concentrated mainly on visiting those sites representing the Revolutionary War era.

The major sites we saw this stop were:

Richmond- Capitol of Virginia
Mt. Vernon- last home and final resting place of George Washington
Jamestown- the first English settlement
Yorktown- place of the last major battle in the Revolutionary War
Colonial Williamsburg- tourist trap extraordinaire. Ha ha- just kidding. It’s great- sure it is.

Before Richmond and Mt. Vernon, we visited what is known here as the Historic Triangle: Yorktown, Jamestown, and Williamsburg. Each of these were established as British colonies and later played a part in helping to escape all of that “tally-ho” and “fancy a cup of tea” nonsense with the help of George Washington.

Each of these historic towns offers tourists a glimpse into the past, with restored buildings and street scenes that help portray life in the late 1700’s. With a National Parks pass it costs nothing to see these sites. Each town also has a private or state sponsored site which has not only historic buildings, but costumed actors playing the part of British and American soldiers, colonists and slaves. But, seeing these reenactments can cost big bucks, so we opted to save our dollars and visit only one of these places- the biggest reenactment village around- The Revolutionary City at Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest outdoor history museum. Among the hundreds of restored and reconstructed buildings you’ll find homes, taverns, churches, businesses, even a capitol building and a governor’s mansion, all reflecting a moment in the 18th century. The place is huge. Throughout the day, several reenactments take place from one end of the large Revolutionary City to the other- the effect of which is to have a thousand people all running in a big mob (jumping over the horse doody in the street) from one location to another. You listen to a historic speech, run mile, listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence, run back mile, and then watch the fife and drum parade while scraping horse doody off your shoe, onto the grass.

At the end of the day, you’ve learned a great deal at Colonial Williamsburg, but your feet are tired. Plus the mayhem of all the people clamoring for the best spot to see George Washington address the crowd, (“You do realize it’s not the REAL George Washington, don’t you people?), has taken its toll and could make even the sweetest soul a little cranky. Who could blame a person for wishing they could smack the tri cornered hat right off the head of that weirdo who’s wishing you, “liberty and freedom, and the pleasantest of evenings madam”. Luckily, we witnessed no such incident, but if anyone had started to get bored, crabby and horribly cynical, there’s always Ye Olde Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Shoppe right down the street, and a bakery right in Towne. At the end of our day Travis did ask me sweetly if I wouldn’t like to just try one of those muffins at the bakery, “Might make you feel just a teensy bit better there…uh, honey?” And wouldn’t you know it- Argh! Those muffins had nuts and raisins in them- gross!

You know, I should really say something nice about Colonial Williamsburg. There is a great deal to see there after all. Even if most of the buildings are closed or only open for a few hours each day during which times the actors aren’t actually doing much of anything but sitting around, talking and drinking (what is that, mead?) from out of those clay mugs they all seem to have. There is a great deal to see there, really. Oh, and the Crystal Concert was very neat. Trav has included lots of info on that, so I‘ll just leave it there- but it was probably our favorite part. Likely, because I had to stop complaining to listen to it.

Of course, we did have happier, less crabby days this stop. Before Colonial Williamsburg we took a day each to visit Yorktown and Jamestown. Each played a distinct part in the American Revolution. Richmond has a unique capitol building designed by whom else but Thomas Jefferson. Our longest day trip, but maybe one of the best, was to Mt. Vernon, the home of our first President, George Washington. The exhibits there are very well done and give you a sense of who Washington was, and what he stood for. We even got to see his false teeth, and learned that, contrary to the rumors, he never did have wooden ones. Wonder what he would have thought about thousands of people lining up to look at his false teeth every day.

Now we’re at the end of our stay in Virginia. Putting crabbiness aside and being serious for a moment, we want to say that the places we’ve visited here have been truly humbling and inspiring. To stand in the spots where such great men have stood, to see where the birth of our country was taking place- it’s really pretty amazing and it makes you very grateful for everyone that’s come before you.

Virginia has been fun, and it’s a beautiful place, but it’s time to move north. With this next move we’ll formerly be out of “The South”, but we’re definitely not going to run out of historically significant places any time soon! So much to see, so much to do, days of exploring ahead- where are those muffins?
 

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