It took longer than the kids really wanted for us to be ready to leave camp, but there's only so much you can do to dry off two tents wet with condensation. We had a yummy breakfast (yogurt, homemade bran muffins, bananas, and OJ), though the kids were shivering all the while despite Eilene's nifty little heater. Tobin retreated to the Suburban to read his book in relative warmth, while I took the other 4 on another walk to the lake. The sun was coming out, and we actually enjoyed our morning walk! This gave Ted time to tear down the camp in peace. (We did have the kids help as much as they could, but honestly, they couldn't have been much help even if they hadn't been so pathetically cold!)
By 9:30 we were on our way to Monticello, which was only about a half-hour drive away. We got our tickets and caught a shuttle bus to the top of the "little mountain" (which is what Monticello means in Italian) to begin our tour at 10:40. By the second room Lucan was getting squirrelly, so I took him and a tag-along Kenna outside to explore. They told me I could catch another tour, so I figured it would be better to trade off rather than deal with a squirmy Lucan, who was apparently not so excited to stay in the stroller.
So I switched with Ted when they came out awhile later, after having seen some of the areas outside and below the main floor. Kenna decided she wanted to go with me, which was OK until we got to the dining room, and then she had a major meltdown over not being with Daddy (sigh--who let her come inside with me anyway?!), so I had to leave my tour AGAIN to take her out to find Ted. Mercifully he was right in sight, so I sent her on her way and went back to catch the end of the tour.
To make this a little less wordy, the house is amazing! Thomas Jefferson was amazing, actually. I've learned a lot more about him in the last 2 days than I ever remember learning before. I am SO glad Ted mentioned that we should stop there on our way to Williamsburg. I absolutely loved everything about the house tour. I'm glad we read the book we did yesterday, as it prepped both us and the kids to get the most out of the tour. During the short time I was with the whole family for the first part of the tour, I was so proud of Charis and Tobin (and maybe even Arden, too, I can't remember) for answering questions the tour guide asked. They were the only kids in that particular tour group, and she seemed happy to have them there and to be so involved.
When we lived in D.C., Ted and I went to Mount Vernon a couple of times. (Well, the kids went, too, but they don't remember!) There are similar elements between the two houses, but Monticello is definitely in a class by itself. I was just as fascinated by daily life as by the clever inventions and decorating style--it was neat to hear the stories that the guides told.
(On a completely unrelated note, I can totally see Ted and me being tour guides in some historical place during our retired years! Wouldn't that be so cool?!)
Instead of taking the shuttle back down to the Visitors' Center, we walked down the trail and were so glad we did--some living history interpreters were spread along the trail, working the crafts that were done (by slaves) on "Mulberry Row." So we saw a man making nails, a man weaving baskets, and a man making shutters and window frames. We were able to ask questions and interact and learned a lot about life for those who weren't fortunate enough to inherit wealth and freedom.
Lucan fell asleep in the stroller on our way down, which worked out well (though he never did nap later on when we really WANTED him to fall asleep!!), as we spent quite a bit of time in the Discovery Center, which had all kinds of hands-on activities for the kids. If you ever want to visit Monticello, and you have kids, you simply MUST go here!! (Even if you don't have kids, this is a great place to spend some time!) Ted and I had as much fun as the kids did. :-)
When we were finally ready to go--and by "ready," I mean "we would be pushing our luck to make the kids do anything else here"--we drove less than a mile away to Michie's Tavern, which was a stop highly recommended to us by our friends and small group leaders Bruce and Shirley. Oh, my, the food was AMAZING!!! The dining experience was slightly stressful, as Lucan did not want to eat anything and spent most of his time deciding he wanted out of the highchair...no, in the highchair...no, out of the highchair...no, in the highchair... And Kenna ate a minimal amount and wanted to sit on someone's lap because she was cold. But other than musical chairs with the little ones, wow, what a yummy dinner! Fairly expensive for our family (though the little ones ate free, thank goodness), so the jury is still out--yummy food and great period atmosphere vs. squirmy little ones and high prices. I'm not sorry we stopped, but we'll definitely have to be careful with the budget from here on out!
After a stop at the gift store, from which Charis bought a real bullet from the Revolutionary War for $5.50 and the boys each paid $20 for toy rifles that should last MUCH longer than the pop guns we gave them years ago, we were on our way to Williamsburg. The trip was only a little over 2 hours long, but it seemed so much longer because of Lucan's melodious screams. (Did I mention he didn't nap when we actually WANTED him to?!)
Despite the fact that the older kids were convinced the exit sign would NEVER appear, we did in fact arrive and are now enjoying some peace and quiet in our two-bedroom condo. It is BEAUTIFUL! (Special thanks to my friend Claire for the info on this good deal!) I found a grocery store and got food for us for the next five days--it was a small store in a small town, so I didn't get the deals I might have elsewhere, but considering we're feeding 7 people three meals a day, Monday through Thursday plus dinner tonight and breakfast Friday...$112 isn't too bad! Ted took the kids swimming while I went out, and they were just getting back when I arrived.
Now everyone is fed and in bed, including Ted, but I am typing instead! (OK, it's really time to get to sleep--no more rhymes now, I mean it!)
Tomorrow, Colonial Williamsburg!