Saturday, August 16, 2014


Well, I haven't even caught up posting all the pics from our trip to Ontario, and here we are on another "vacation"!

This is a FIRST, in our 11 year marriage...a stay-cation! Brian was not able to come with us to Canada, due to the end of a big project he was on. But he finished, and took a week off work to vacation with us...only we aren't going anywhere:-) Well, no where far anyway! Amazingly, perhaps, in our entire marriage, outside of our honeymoon, we have never taken a "true" vacation for more than a night (Great Wolf Lodge one night stays and overnight camping are what we call vacations...but they really don't count). Usually, time off is spent visiting family, which again, is what we call a vacation, but isn't really. Unless that family lives in Jamaica, or Hawaii, maybe. Haha. Not complaining about how we spend our time off, but just establishing the fact that we've been nowhere, ever. Haha. Buuuuuut then, we DO live on the ocean. Who needs a vacation, right?! Stay tuned for plenty of beach bumming on our stay-cay:-)

We've also never taken time off and not gone to visit family. So a first all around! We decided to start off the stay-cation with a bang - or rather, a cannon boom - Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg is the largest "living museum" in the country, and is normally quuuuuuite pricey per person. So we've never been, for a variety of factors - cost, combined with the ages of the kids, really. They are *just now* old enough (the older two), to understand it, and like it, and not mind all the walking (of which there is a LOT). This week Williamsburg was offering free one day passes to all who live in neighbouring cities, all you needed was valid ID with your address on it! This is the first time in the 10 years we've lived here that such an offer has been made! I decided it was the perfect time to go check it out, see if the kids would like it, and if it would be something worth paying to go see again, or get a yearly pass or whatever. The perfect kick off to our vacation!

Well - it exceeded our expectations! I would definitely be interested in a yearly pass, maybe in a year or two (Grey is still a tad young, we needed the stroller, and he got quite bored on some of the guided tours). Our area of Virginia is SO full of rich history, from the settling of the pilgrims to the civil war and beyond. We had a BLAST learning more about the forming of "these United States"! Enjoy some of our pictures of the day!

Colonial Williamburg represents a time in history (the late 1700s) when America was settled but not yet its own nation. Every one of historical note was here. Washington, Jefferson, etc. The thing I found so interesting was the combination of English and American history here (Most things "American" tend not to focus on anything British). This town represents a period of history spanning from before the Declaration of Independence was signed (1776), until after the war ends in 1781. So there is quite the blend of both sides of the story, and depending on which house or shop you visit, you hear a different side (loyalist or patriot view).
The Governors Mansion - this was a building built by the British for the English Governor in Williamsburg, who at this time, was Lord Dunmore. The house, after Cornwallis surrendered in Yorktown (a few miles away), it became an American house, and Thomas Jefferson lived here, as did future President James Monroe, and others. Williamsburg was the Capitol of the Virginia colony, until they decided to move it more in-land to Richmond. It was eventually used as a hospital during the civil war, and was burned to the ground. Years later one of the Rockefellers bought up Williamsburg in an effort of preservation, and had the mansion rebuilt to exact standard of it's glory days in the 18th century. More pics of the inside later...

I think this was a private dwelling (not all homes in Williamsburg are for "tour"), but Brian and I both adore this Colonial style of home.

Going to Williamsburg is like stepping back in time - you participate in the Revolutionary City life, as a towns person. There was a local gathering of the citizens, on this day, July 25th, 1776. There, a member of the congress of the newly formed United States read the newly signed Declaration of Independence to all the people.

After the reading, there was rally call - Will you fight with us? Boys and men! Join us in the fight to independence! There was morale-inspiring flute and drum musical processional by some foot soldiers while other generals urged those in the crowd to enlist. Brooks was more than a little confused about our time-travel, and was more than convinced that a new war was breaking out as we speak. He was terrified at the suggestion of enlisting with the men.

A visit to a Jewelry shop - the Silversmith. She showed us how to make a bowl, and hammer it smooth, and gave an idea of the wages that one could make learning this skill.

The back of the silversmiths shop

Kenna loved the Millinery (sewing/tailor). They make beautiful dresses and bonnets there. I missed getting a picture of the Barbers/Wigmakers shop. But they showed us how they shave men and women bald, and then fit them with custom made wigs (the white curly hair etc for men, and fancy brown hair for women). It was very fashionable in those days, and they paid a high price for the fashion! 2pounds and 6pence would buy you one mans "middle of the line" wig - or a 1/2 acre of land. This wigmaker has a contract with Thomas Jefferson. They clean, curl and sew/supply all his custom wigs. Wigs that are handed down and willed to others!

British flags are everywhere - although Independence has just been declared, the war will rage on for many more years, and so the British flag flies high, all over

So pretty

The river runs under this house!

A coopers shop. A cooper makes pails and barrels. It is a skilled trade, and one in very high demand in this new world. They get paid more than any other labourer/skilled trade, starting out at about 35pounds per year, but a very skilled cooper could make 100 pounds per year.

The kids loved all the carriages and buggys!

Making bricks! You must mush the clay and water together with your feet. It's sticky, mushy, and pretty cool feeling, really. But kind of hard to wash off.

After this the bricks are formed, dried, and kiln-fired

uh oh! A loyalist and a patriot, in stocks together. Interesting...

In the magazine

Inside the home of Peyton Randolph. Peyton Randolph was a planter and public official from the Colony of Virginia. He served as speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, chairman of the Virginia Conventions, and the first President of the Continental Congress. He was a "patriot" and after his passing (before the end of the Revolutionary War) his wife took up the task of "fighting" Cornwallis through politics.

A proclamation is sent by Lord Dunmore, (British Governor in the Colony of Virginia). Any slaves wishing to be free may join the British military and obtain freedom. The Randolphs were very wealthy and owned many slaves and a few plantations. Cornwallis set up camp literally in the Randolph's front yard. He took their meat, and other things, to the point where the Randolph's were given to eating "slaves portions" which was basically only a porridge mixture of hominy and molasses. Many of the Randolph's slaves left to go fight for the British. It was very tough going for Mrs. Randolph for many years due to British oppression and all her "money" (aka slaves) leaving, (though, she doesn't sound like a very nice person). When the war ended in 1781, slaves were no longer free, and were returned to their original owners. If they chose to run, they were hunted, caught, and in many cases killed for their "insurgence". The Randolph's (prior to the Revolutionary war), had had slaves drawn and quartered, and other such atrocities, in order to keep the slaves from running or rising against their owners. Mrs Randolph's maid Eve, left to join the British, and tried to run after the war ended. She was caught, and then sold for her mis-behaviour (presumably running). Slave owners would sell slaves away from their families as the separation (never seeing each other again) was the punishment. It is unknown if the Randolph's were kind slave owners or not, there is only record of who was bought and sold etc. (Although it was established that slaves had been killed for insurgence in the past, but I guess that didn't make you automatically "bad", just protecting your "investments" ?) Many of their slaves left them to join Cornwallis, but we don't know the reasons why (due to cruelty? or they just desired better?). Many of their slaves never left, also for unknown reasons (were they happy? Or were they being threatened with death, separation, etc). Slaves in Virginia tend to the growing and harvesting of Tobacco. Something that makes the Virginia land owners very very wealthy. Wealthiest in all of the colonies, all thanks to fertile ground and long growing season for tobacco (and the high demand for the exportation of this product). Mrs Randolph attempted to grow cotton, but that venture failed, as it didn't do well in that area (compared to places further south)

The entrance to the Governors Mansion (British built) - it is decorated in a very typical English and Scottish manner - with weaponry. Always intending for a very intimidating welcome.

Lavish finishes, including maple chairs, carved to look like bamboo, and spanish tiles

The only house in the colonies to sport the latest of decor fashions (copying the trend in London-town) - silk damask covers the walls, with gold papier mache (and amazingly gorgeous) trim.

On the ceiling above the staircase

Queen Charlotte and King George III have a place of prominence in the ball room

a harpsichord

A Dutch warming oven, in the dining room

This flag they are holding (c1775) was apparently hung on the Williamsburg "Liberty Pole" just prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. It is black with white writing "Virginia for Constitutional Liberty"
We, the people (haha!) as "citizens" of Williamsburg gathered on September 28, 1781, to hear Washington, and (French) General Lafayette address the crowds. On to Yorktown, and on to victory!! The Allied Army has been gathering, and troops will engage the British tomorrow! Local militia with fife and drum fanfares, and cannon salutes march in review while the General addresses the citizens in preparation for the siege at Yorktown. Cornwallis will surrender in Yorktown, after this siege, and the war will be over. The United States of America will defeat the British. Brooks was again, quite confused, and under the impression that we are all going off to war, tomorrow!:-)


My favourite kind of fence.
Highlights  - I didn't get pictures of everything, unfortunately, but there was just so much to take in! We visited so many shoppes, saw how so much was made, and even enlisted in the militia for 3 years, or the duration of the war. All you had to do was sign your name, or if you can't write, leave your mark. Brooks, again confused by our "time travel" refused to sign, until I assured him we were not really going to go leave in a shoddy tent for the next 3 years:-)
Selfies! Afterwards we hit up Bellisimo's pizza in Williamsburg for dinner. YUMMY!

The faces this kid makes are unreal.

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