A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law called and offered us a place to stay, free of charge to us, in Williamsburg, VA. What was there to discuss? It has been on my unending list of places to visit with the kids, so we said, “Yes!”
We left last Tuesday afternoon after our morning commitments of Classical Conversations and preschool and headed for Virginia’s Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown). Lindsay was excited to go back to the state of her birth and to a place we had visited with her as an infant. About an hour outside of Williamsburg, the kids were getting restless, so we began to play a game where we each stated our name and something we liked that started with the first letter of our name, then the following person had to repeat everyone’s information and add his own. When it was Luke’s turn, we explained that he had to name something that started with an “L” like his name. He responded, “My name is Luke and I like elbows!” I guess he figured elbows was spelled “lbows!” Then we played another game where we looked for all the letters of the alphabet on road signs. The letter we had the hardest time finding was, surprisingly, letter J. But we did find all 26 letters eventually!
When we arrived after 7pm, we enjoyed delicious chili that my mother-in-law had made for us in their apartment. After a short visit with my in-laws and some planning for the next day, we went to our apartment to tuck three tired children into bed.
Wednesday morning found us touring Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement established in 1607 on the banks of the James River. The marriage between Pocahontas and John Rolfe sealed peace for a little while between these English settlers and the Powhatan Indians. We started with a short driving tour of the island where we saw deer which were not too afraid of humans. They even posed for a few pictures! We got out at Black Point for some pictures on the river and then went back to the visitor’s center. After a brief history film, we ventured out into the cold to take in the sights. We saw the Tercentennial Monument, built in 1907 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown. We posed by the statue of Pocahontas and toured the church tower. We walked to the sea wall and saw the statue of Captain John Smith. Then we made our way to the Archaearium Museum where the kids were each given a picture of something to look for on display as a sort of scavenger hunt. All items in this museum were Jamestown artifacts dug up on site, where excavations still continue. Luke found his double sided fish hook, Lindsay found her “ear picker,” and Logan found his spiked tool. We also saw on display the skeleton of a Jamestown settler who had died from a right knee gun shot wound. J. R., as he was appropriately nicknamed, was found with the bullet still lodged in his knee. It remains a mystery as to how he received the wound, but it was determined to be either murder or an accident. It was quite interesting to my boys, and they had lots of questions! After a quick trip through the visitor center’s gift shop for a flattened souvenir penny, we made the short drive back to Williamsburg for lunch at Friendly’s.
On Thursday, my in-laws left after their 5 day vacation to return to their home in South Carolina, so we toured on our own. We drove back to Jamestown via the Colonial Parkway. On the way, I noticed an American bald eagle perched in a tree. We had been told that bald eagles make their nests all around the river, but we had not spied one until then. We stopped at the Glasshouse at the entrance to Jamestown and watched as two glass blowers worked on reproductions of German ring glasses. We learned what glass is made of and how hot the oven needs to be to achieve a melt. It was an interesting process, and Logan was mesmerized as he watched the liquid glass become a drinking glass. Visit this website for more information: http://www.jamestownglasshouse.com/How.html
We had lunch back at our apartment and then spent the afternoon walking the streets of colonial Williamsburg and reading about life in the 17th century. Jamestown was the capital of Virginia until the capital was moved to Middle Plantation, later renamed Williamsburg, in 1698. We did a little shopping, added another souvenir penny to the boys’ collection, and toured the Wren Building of William and Mary College. In those early days, the Wren Building was the first and only building of the college and it was where the students (only boys at the time) ate, slept, studied, and attended class. We walked over to a huge field in the middle of campus and let the kids run and play. We had received a dusting of snow the previous night, so the shady spots were still covered in white and the kids loved sliding and rolling down the hills. We made the mile long walk back to our apartment, stopping to take pictures along the way of sheep, horses, fences, and historic homes.
On Friday, we drove to Yorktown and took in another history lesson of the Revolutionary War. Yorktown is the site where Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington, bringing an end to the last major battle of the American Revolution. We did a walking tour of the historic sites, such as the Yorktown Victory Monument, Cornwallis’ Cave, the Nelson House, the pier and river walk on the York River. We ate lunch at the Carrot Tree in the Cole Digges House. We enjoyed walking a trail through the battle field and looking at Redoubts number 9 and 10 where the English were overtaken by the French and Americans. The kids posed for pictures on cannons.
Then we drove back to Williamsburg and shopped at Wallace’s Trading Post, the Christmas Shop (where we got Lindsay a beautiful nesting Russian doll set), and the Yankee Candle store. I don’t think I would have ever stopped at a Yankee Candle store if someone had not told me about it, but I’m glad we did. Even Brad enjoyed it! This was the biggest candle store I’ve ever been in. You could hand dip your own candles, buy Christmas ornaments, fudge, popcorn, and so many other gifts. The main room had the ceiling painted like the sky and it looked like a courtyard with a huge fountain and outdoor iron tables. The Christmas shop featured “snow” every four minutes in the form of soap bubbles. It was a very fun store!
The place where we stayed offered activities throughout the week. On Friday night, we all headed to the basement to play Candy Bar BINGO. It was the kids’ first time playing, and it was fun! We were the first family to arrive, but a few minutes later another family of four came in, followed by several others. After every number called out, Luke would ask me, “Do I have one?” On the second round, Luke got 5 in a row and he quietly called out, “Bingo!” His prize was a Kit Kat candy bar, and he was so proud! Logan and Brad went on to win candy bars, too. Lindsay and I didn’t win a thing all night, but we all sure had fun!
We came home Saturday at a leisurely pace. It was so nice to get away and spend a little time with my in-laws and still count it as school! Now that Williamsburg is checked off my list, another destination moves to the top!