Friday, November 2, 2012

A True Vacation: Colonial Williamsburg

If I had doubted choosing DC over Santa Monica, Colonial Williamsburg broke the tie.  Have you seen this place?  It's amazing.  I would not call myself a history buff, but I know a little about America, and I love her.  And this is one of the places where her true identity began.

For those of you who are not familiar with Williamsburg, it is a little town in Virginia that hosted George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other of their contemporaries.  It was the capital of Virginia in a time when Virginia was one of, if not the, most influential of the thirteen colonies.  Not much of what is now the tourist area is original, but what needed to be rebuilt was done as exactly as possible, according to the many records left behind.  You really do get the sense that you are walking through colonial America.

Pierce and I arrived by train, as Nick travelled with his work companions by bus.  Our hotel, which was in the heart of the colonial area, was only a mile away, so we walked.  Well, Pierce can't walk.  I walked.  I sent Nick a quick text to let him know I had arrived.  It went like this: "I am here.  Walking to hotel.  Let's move here."
 The whole town was absolutely enchanting, and not just the colonial part.  It felt so... peaceful and small.  The air just smelled good.  I breathed deeply and felt clean.  Go.  And walk the mile.

That evening, Nick's work group was hosted by a local colonial pub.  Pierce and I were invited along!  We were taken to a private room upstairs, where we were transported back in time.  The hosts spoke with strange accents and used uncommon English words.  The menu needed a bit of translating.  Musicians played simple instruments and sang lyrical ditties.  The room was candle-lit and the food was great.

The next morning, Nick left with the group for his official duties nearby while Pierce and I got ready to play!  The path shown below was most of my walk into town.  You can see the crowd gathered there at what I believe was the local courthouse.  A sort of play was going on.  Throughout the day, these little reenactments would erupt around the city, illustrating for you the happenings of the times.  The people were getting fed up with England and their controlling ways.  There were ideas of independence floating around.  What a change to suddenly be a part of a play happening around you, rather than to watch it on a stage from your seat.  The characters then continue walking around town, asking the people (us) questions about if we've heard anything from so-and-so, or do we know when the governor will be back, or will there be a salt shipment soon, do you think.  And everyone just plays along like its totally normal and like blue jeans were all the rage in that time.
 After watching the little production, I walked around town.  The picture below is a cobbler's shop.  The shoes that the actors (and others) in the town wear are actually made here.  They had many pair, all in various stages of production, and the cobbler herself was there working and talking about what she does and taking questions.
 This is the textile shop.  The man below spins wool and weaves fabric.  Again, all the clothes in town are made of cloth from this shop.
 This is a pew from the local church.  It is still in operation, and has a large membership.  Pew 16, below, was General George Washington's pew.  If you look closely, you will see his name on the plaque.
 This is the room of a slave at the Wythe house.  The total living space for this girl was about three times what is in the picture.  She had a little bed and a stove, as well as a laundry press for doing her work.
 This is the study of the Wythe house.  Wythe was a lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence who tutored Thomas Jefferson in this very room of his house.

 The silversmith shop.  You can see the stages of the silver in making a plate.  Again, the smith was working on all sorts of beautiful things while answering questions about life and how things were made.  You can actually buy the pieces they produce in this shop.
 Just another day in the colonies.
 This lady loved Pierce.  Like every other lady.
 The redcoats are coming!  The man on horseback here gave a compelling argument for why we should not trust the rebelling colonists.  It was a different take on history.  It seems that politics was not clear-cut then, either.

 Just a few miles from Williamsburg is Jamestown, the first settled town in what is now the US.  We only had one day to spend in the area, so we drove out to Jamestown after most of Williamsburg closed down.  Jamestown turns out to be gated, so we couldn't even look at it, but here's a look-out point nearby.  Jamestown is just off to the right behind those trees.  I guess we needed to save something for our next trip out here.

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