In honor of the 4th of July, I finally pull myself together enough to report on the trip to Williamsburg. From a month ago. SO many photos, so overwhelming. If I’d blogged every day, like I did in Aruba, I’d have been fine. Or if I’d taken notes at night, like I did in Wisconsin…but no. So, in the end, it’ll be a few half-recalled anecdotes with supporting photos.
It was fun. It was h o t. So hot. We went to Jamestown and Yorktown on the first day. I only vaguely recalled these from my own childhood trip and I suspect they are much changed. I was jazzed to see the big ships, even though they’re not from my beloved Napoleonic era. Julianna was looking forward to the native American village. Ben and Lily were looking forward to rock candy, even though they wouldn’t get it until Williamsburg.
We headed to the ships first, since we all knew I’d just keep pestering everyone until I got my way. As it happened, you pass through the recreated settlement at Jamestown first, so I had to practice my patience. It was just the sort of thing I like, just a village set up that you can wander through, with the occasional re-enactor/docent to answer questions. We were free to touch most things, look into drawers, flip through the skins and furs. I tend to like recreated sites for that reason–you still get a sense of what life was like, but without the museum restrictions necessary for stuff that is Really Old. it’s cool to see that stuff, think “Historical Dudes made pancakes with this!” but I’d rather be free to immerse myself at will.
We all enjoy listening to the people who have learned some period skill and love to talk about it. Throughout our weekend, our favorite bits were always these encounters with enthusiastic re-enactors and tradespersons. The blacksmith worker at Jamestown was a woman who really enjoyed her job even though she was stoking a fire on a 95 degree day. She helped kids figure out how to get a spark with a flint and steel:
We poked around in the little houses and marveled at the tiny beds (as you do). We went into the church and I delivered an impassioned sermon about the need to get to the ships pretty soon:
Heading for the back gate, we encountered this guy, escorting a black snake to safety. He just walked along with it, like a snakeherd:
We walked out through the gardens–so much farther along than ours were, only a couple hours south–and to the waterfront. There were three ships, all pretty small for making a voyage like that. Nearly 5 months at sea in very close quarters. Passengers had to stay below decks almost the entire time. I was allowed up on the quarterdeck, though, b/c the captain rather fancies me, I think:
I’ve told him that those kids hanging around me can be put to work.
So then I went down to meet him back in his quarters:
After we left the ships, we had a snack on the dock and encountered a guy who knew a lot about navigation at sea. Sensing an eager audience, we went into a supply closet and hauled out his instruments. He showed us a whole range of equipment, showed us how it all worked–super cool. Steve and I were motivated to really learn how to use it all…for our extensive time at sea. At night. I was struck by how Super Smart the folks who came up with that stuff must have been.
Our return trip brought us through the recreated Powhatan village. Like the English village, we were free to meander around and pick things up and root about. Lots of “what animal was this,Mom?” as we looked at pelts tacked to the walls. And lots of “what on earth was THIS for?” I picked up a tool of some sort and tried to figure it out. Lily decided it was so that the Indians could paint their toenails:
Seemed as good a theory as any.
Done with Jamestown, we ate our lunch–I very cleverly put foil packets of lentil stew on the dashboard before we went in and they were piping hot for lunch!–and headed to Yorktown. Yorktown had a very cool shipwreck exhibit in a museum. When we exited the museum, it was into a re-created Revolutionary encampment. I got to chat with the surgeon (completing my Aubrey/Maturin experience):
We finally brought Ben up on charges:
There was a little settlement here, too, nearly deserted b/c of a heavy rain just as we arrived at Yorktown. Again, it was nice to just be able to poke around at our leisure. The gardens were inspiring–I either need more land or terracing.
It all closed down at 5, so we headed out to change, have dinner, and hit the pool. Dinner was at Food for Thought–so smug. So overrated.–the pool smelled bad. So we played board games and went to bed. Rest up for Williamsburg…