First, let's see if I can remember YESTERDAY! Seems like a long time ago!
Charlottesville Airport was blessedly tiny -- a great relief after Atlanta. I had the keys to the rental car before our luggage even showed up, and we were off to Monticello. The countryside is beautiful. Around Charlottesville along the highway were lots of deciduous trees. It must be really glorious in the fall.
Flying over Virginia
Our plane from Atlanta to Charlottesville
Joseph says to tell you this is our BOYota. He'll tell me why later.
On the way to Harrisonburg
We fell victims to a tourist trap on the way to Monticello -- Michie's Tavern, which was historic, and had a lot of other recreated buildings around it, but also several shops which we breezed through without spending any money, and a restaurant which was irresistible after our breakfast of trail mix and Vivannos. It was a fun, old tavern atmosphere, with a buffet of fried chicken, barbecued pork, green beans, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and some kind of applesaucey stuff that we liked until we discovered that it also had TOMATOES in it!
Michie's Tavern, trying to lure us into the gift shop
(I finally learned how to make the picture bigger after forgetting everytime on all the pictures before this.)
We REALLY enjoyed Monticello. The grounds are very pretty, and it has a magnificent view all around it. We strolled through the vegetable gardens and orchards that they have planted all around, just as Jefferson did. It was nice to see old friends like green beans and tomato plants so far from home, and it was really pretty the way everything was arranged. They used tree limbs and branches for supports. The grape vines were loaded, and the flowers were fun to identify. It was really peaceful. I can see why Thomas Jefferson liked living there.
A portion of Jefferson's gardens. They were so pretty!
The garden pavillion -- looks like a place to turn down a marriage
proposal in a Jane Austen movie.
Lots of grapes!
The tour of the house was really interesting. Our guide was entertaining and politically conservative enough to make us feel at home. After he took us through the main house, showing us some of Jefferson's innovative architecture and gizmos, we also went through the other rooms below the house -- the kitchen and cellars and smoke room (that still smelled a bit like smoked meat), and then we walked a trail back down to the visitor center, seeing Jefferson's grave along the way, and enjoying what felt a lot like a walk through Grandpa's woods -- birds singing and wind that sounded like water blowing through the trees.
A great place for a writer's retreat (if you don't need a kitchen, bathroom etc.)
Then we watched a video on Jefferson and Monticello, during which I kept finding my eyes closed, and we actually kinda enjoyed the gift shop. It had seeds and books about horticulture, since Jefferson was such an avid gardener, and a bunch of other stuff.
Joseph's happy foot at Monticello. It was hot, OK? (freedom!!!)
We decided to continue on to Ash Lawn Highlands -- the home of James Monroe, which was just up the road a couple miles. At first we weren't sure we had what it took to survive another house and grounds tour, but we ended up joining up with the last tour group of the day, and enjoyed the strange-humored tour guide and the information that he obviously enjoyed sharing with us all. There was a couple times, standing for so long after being awake for so long, that I thought I was starting to see the ground sway under me, but we survived, and were glad we had gone there.
The original and very bumpy walk up to Monroe's house
Then we had the 60+ mile trip to drive to Harrisonburg. I kept rolling the window up and down, trying to keep myself awake, and Joseph made some pretty weird looking faces as he struggled valiantly to stay awake along with me. We even resorted to some particularly obnoxious COUNTRY music to annoy ourselves enough to stay awake. (That should help you understand how tired we were.)
Of course, once we finally got into our room, we mysteriously revived, and stayed up too late looking through tourist pamphlets and writing stuff.
This morning was pretty laid back. We made it down to the breakfast room just before it closed up at 10. You'd like it here, Susannah; they had Fruit Loops. Our first stop on the road was a Goodwill store, in search of a cheap frying pan for our cooking. Alas, it had hardly any dishware or cookware. But, an unanticipated bonus of being in Mennonite country, it had TONS of dresses! And they were only $4 each!
A couple of Goodwill's 5 ROWS of dresses
We found our pan at the Dollar Store next door, and then set out for a Mennonite-Brethren heritage center, where we learned more about both religious groups, watched a video, and walked through an old farm house, blacksmith shop, and tiny church building. Joseph was able to learn a few things about the Harmonia Sacra from one of the guides, too. (The first guy wasn't too helpful, but very cute. He referred to it as the Harmonica Sakecra.) It's fun to talk to these folks that work in the different museums. They all obviously love what they are doing.
The Burkholder house-built 1853
We went into Harrisonburg's Old Town, and found the Farmer's Market location, and walked through, totally disillusioned, until we realized that the market closed at 1, and all the c0mmercialized fair-vendor type stuff we were seeing was not actually the Farmer's Market. We'll try again tomorrow.
So we headed down to Dayton, and went to the indoor market there, where we bought Farmer cheese, Muenster, Yogurt Garlic Herb Cheese, and Horseradish Cheddar, along with Amish butter, homemade blue cheese dressing/dip, and a cheese ball, and beef, turkey, and ham lunchmeat, a couple pork chops, a couple steaks (for our Sabbath feast), chicken breast, and turkey tenders, a loaf of bread, and a peanut butter chocolate Whoopie pie. If we ever find a regular grocery store for some lettuce and a couple other things, we should be set for meals now. Two desperate Burger King nights in a row have motivated me to get our meals going.
Bob's Red Mill. Can't escape it.
We headed back to our motel to dump stuff into the frig, and then we were off to Staunton. We really liked Staunton. It looks like you've stepped back in time -- lots of brick buildings and brick sidewalks and narrow streets. We spent some time in a music shop before our Shakespeare play. It had the most double basses I've EVER seen in one place. There must have been at least 20, along with guitars, mandolins, and banjos. We bought a couple CDs of local artists, and Joseph bought some picks as mementos of the trip.
The play was great. Joseph hid his camera under his program to get a couple shots of the theater, a recreation of Shakespeare's indoor theater. The actors really interacted with the audience. In fact, a portion of the audience actually sat lined up along both sides on the stage. Benedict hid in the "garden" behind some fake tree branches that he carried along with him, or that he had the stage audience hold. He was a really good actor. So was Dogberry, although he was portrayed less insanely than in the Branaugh movie.
The audience was a bit rowdy -- a couple bus loads of high school kids were there, and they did a lot of whooping and hollering -- probably a bit like the Elizabethan peasants of Shakespeare's day. We were getting a little worried about what the play was going to be like while we were suffering through the pre-performance entertainment. It was local "talent" that was anything but period, and actually pretty bad. But the play was much better!
Illegal photo of the inside of the Shakespeare theatre
We drove home a back road, through lots of charming little towns that we hope to see in the daylight tomorrow when we go back to Staunton in the morning to the Frontier Culture Museum. We didn't get done at the Mennonite place in time this afternoon to see the Frontier Culture museum before they were closing.
Well, it's tomorrow now. I guess I should quit and get some sleep before we start again. However, we both agree that we didn't come here to sleep...
Bonus question for the day:
Joseph asked the guide what the differences were between Mennonites and Brethren. What do you think he mentioned first? Send us your answers, and we'll bring a prize home to the winners! :-)