"We're really doing it," I said to my kids while leaning over Anna in the fifth row of the Jamestown theater. It was copying a great line from Dumb & Dumber, the only appropriate way to emphasize this momentous occasion, a family trip we've been talking about since last year, a trip to Colonial Williamsburg.
We had discussed making the trip this past fall, but once that didn't work out, I made sure to get it on the calendar for this spring. By mid-February we finally had our lodging taken care of, thanks in large part to my in-laws and a time-share exchange program they've held onto through the years. About a month ago, I started researching things-to-do while here, and three days ago, we set out about 9 o'clock in the morning from our home. For the trip out, we took it in stages, traveling all the way down to Beckley, WV the first day and covering just over 400 miles. By sheer luck, I managed to book a room at a Holiday Inn that was a mere 1/2 mile from a West Virginian attraction we knew absolutely nothing about. But, just prior to leaving I made a call to a kind couple in our church to see if they woulld keep up the rhythm of our Sunday morning Bible study in my absence. They were happy to do so, and in the course of our conversation, he revealed to me a lovely little place called Tamarack, a type of artisan and craft market right near Beckley. That was the lovely little find that mere 1/2 mile from our hotel. So, after grabbing dinner at Panera and relaxing in the pool Thursday evening, we took our time getting on the road Friday and spent part of the morning strolling through the wares at Tamarck.
Friday's drive was a bit shorter, but seemingly more difficult. We had to push through the steeper climbs of West Virginia, crawling up and hurtling down as we marveled at the earlier ancestors who pushed over these passes on foot and on horseback. By mid-afternoon, though, we were driving on the outskirts of Richmond, and we ended up at our condo at the exact hour of check-in.
Truth be told, Anna and I have actually been here before, although it seems like ages ago now. The day after we were married, we landed on the runway of Newport News airport and spent the next week (our first together) at the Marriot's Manons Club just on the western edge of Williamsburg. This time we are on the eastern side of the city, and we traveled with more cargo this time, of course.
Today, we set out early after packing our lunches. My goal: tackle Jamestown first thing, eat lunch in the cargo on our way to Colonial Williamsburg, buy tickets for Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, and then spend an hour or so getting our bearings in the streets of Colonial Williamsburg. Surprisingly, things pretty much went exactly as planned, and except for the fact that we didn't pack enough warm clothes, we had a great first day out exploring. We stepped aboard a replica of one of the three English vessels that landed on the James River back in 1607. We toured the simulated Jamestown fort, including a lively conversation with a well-informed and engaging blacksmith. We witnessed another pair of colonists fire off a few rounds from their muskets. We walked through a simulated Powhatan camp, with their more "integrated" living systems - much more to Anna's liking. And we stumbled upon a few wild Wellsummer rooster that immediately brought back memories of good ol' Thatcher.
Colonial Williamsburg turned out to be much more fascinating than anything I had envisioned, and I'm already looking forward to returning tomorrow. We stepped off the shuttle into the heart of the city, and immediately climbed the steps into the Magazine, the munitions storage on the opposite side of the courthouse. Up in the Magazine, an period-actor dressed in the style of a British soldier gave us the tid-bits and history of arms development in the colonies, and he happily answered Wyatt's question about the efficacy of the bayonets by saying that they were quite effective, especially because their triangle shape made for wounds that "would not easily close."
From there we walked about the streets, pausing at the gallows and much longer at the colonial garden. Anna and Elise already have plans to return there first thing tomorrow, and we took many pictures of old ingenuities that Anna wants to employ in her own garden.
Lastly, I persuaded everyone to go listen to James Madison in the Hennegan theatre. There were dubious, and I'm not sure the kids enjoyed his whimsy and whit. But, Anna and I thoroughly enjoyed this man's ability to so thoroughly immerse himself into the language, the thinking, and the times of America's youngest years. Plus, his description of the challenges of creating a just democracy without inevitably succumbing to either the tyranny of an unruly populace or the soul-sucking decrees of a heavy-headed empire seemed only too relevant.
We are eager for tomorrow's trip back to the Colony. The fireworks start at 10:15 am with a public protest on the Capital steps regarding the imposition of taxes from the ruthless British parliament!
Until then ... We return to our rest.