Wednesday, September 2, 2015

a whirlwind trip to Virginia

In the less than two weeks between his summer class ending and the fall semester beginning, Thomas had about 7 days of various orientations. With hardly any summer vacation left, we decided to take advantage of the little time he did have off and squeeze in a super fast trip to Virginia. We left on a Thursday morning and came back Friday night. It was a lot of driving for two days, but we had a great time and saw some awesome places. Plus Jamie and Jacob crossed a new state off their lists. :)

On Thursday we drove to Appomattox Court House, the site where the Civil War ended. Last year we went to Fort Sumter, where the war began, and Jamie loved it. He is still talking about it. I had been to Appomattox before on a family vacation in high school and I knew he'd love it too. They have reenactors portraying soldiers and locals who were there at the time. They stay in character and make it a lot of fun. We had a great time.

the courthouse
the McLean house, where the actual surrender took place
Right before we took this picture, the lady was telling us about how this building is supposed to be haunted and how she had heard mysterious footsteps in it that very morning when no one else was there. So that circle in the middle... sunspot or ghostly orb? You tell me.
Jamie's favorite: the jail
chatting with a Confederate soldier
general store
and chatting with a Union soldier
the room where General Lee officially surrendered
Jacob loves to climb.

and just for fun... a picture from my first visit there back when I was 17

When we were finished there, we drove another hour or so to Charlottesville. My family lived in Charlottesville for I believe 8 years. They moved 2 months before I was born, so I lived there for 7 months prenatally. :) We made a quick stop by their old house.

Then we headed over to the campus of the University of Virginia, which Thomas Jefferson designed and where my dad used to teach. It's a beautiful campus and I loved showing it to Thomas and the boys, but there was one downside... the Rotunda is under renovation and it doesn't have quite the same effect when it's surrounded by scaffolding! After our quick tour there, we got dinner and went swimming at our hotel. We had so much fun, until bedtime. Sleeping with children in a hotel room is the worst.
Edgar Allan Poe's old dorm room
not the Rotunda's best look
Jamie running across the lawn
Jamie loved this amphitheater.
 We spent Friday at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. My brother Matthew drove down from Alexandria to go with us. We had a great time, especially because Monticello is extremely well equipped to deal with children. We went on a family friendly tour that was geared toward kids, and they had lots of activities to help kids learn about 18th-/19th-century living and Jefferson's home and innovations. We loved it!
Our tour guide brilliantly gave each of the children something to hold during the tour. I was really worried Jamie wouldn't be able to keep his hands off things in the house but this totally solved that problem.
trying out writing with a quill
Thomas with a wheel cipher
In the Discovery Room, where they had models of lots of the things from the house so kids could actually touch them and try them out. They also had a replica of a slave cabin, which was Jamie's favorite.
trying out the polygraph
and trying out the alcove bed
playing chess
Jacob got in on the action :)
view from the top of the mountain
exploring the gardens and orchards
sleepy baby
Last time I was there, there were still a couple of trees that had been there since Jefferson's time. They have since been cut down due to worries that they were going to fall on the house. Below, Jamie is by the remains of this tree.


And that evening we drove back to Knoxville! It was such a fast trip but very fun.


  1. Wow that's cool. Gotta love the less than jake shirt. I wanted more pictures of our old house, but I like how it's still yellow.

    1. I felt weird taking pictures of someone else's house, so I only very quickly took one. Sorry!

  2. That looks awesome. Now I must go.