Continuing southward after that mind-numbing stop at the nation’s capital, we drove less than 200 miles and parked Betsy in Williamsburg, VA. One of our rules is to try not to drive more than 200 miles to our next destination (the only exception was when we were in Alaska). Following that rule, we will have a sloooow southward migration to Florida, making several stops before we finally vegetate for the winter (haven’t done that yet!).
As you may know, my posts can be tinged with a bit of history from time to time. As we’ve traveled through the eastern states this year, we’ve really gotten hooked on the history spanning from before the American Revolution through the Civil War years. I’ll try not to bore…
After getting Betsy parked and set up, our first visit was to Colonial Williamsburg. From the visitor center, we followed the path across a footbridge back into 1774, walking under thick double brick bridges and following the trail taking us to the historic town.
Colonial Williamsburg is billed as the largest living history museum in Virginia, a restored 18th-century capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest and most populous outpost of empire in the New World. When you enter the historic town you are brought back into the time when life was simple, yet still under control of the monarchs in Great Britain.
The historic area is 301 acres of restored, reconstructed and refurnished historic buildings. We tried not to compare this with our stop at Louisbourg in Canada, which was also a reconstruction. But Colonial Williamsburg is older by 100 years, and Louisbourg was a fortress, not a colony.
To complete Virginia’s historic triangle, we went from Williamsburg – via the scenic Colonial Parkway – to Yorktown Battlefield, and then on to Jamestown. Once again the documentary we saw several months ago – “America: The Story of Us,” – was coming to life in front of us. The documentary began the story from the successful English settlement of Jamestown, beginning in 1607. And here we were, walking through and experiencing the actual location of America’s first permanent English colony – established by a group of 104 men and boys on May 13, 1607. They actually landed on the shores of the James River 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts
We found the Voorhees Archaearium very interesting, as we perused the many archaeological remains of the old James Fort. Too bad photography was not allowed inside the museum, for there were centuries-old “skeletal remains” that told a fascinating story and have been featured on the History Channel.
At the Yorktown Battlefield, we learned about the defeat of the British by the joint American and French forces led by Gen. George Washington. After viewing the 16-minute film, we walked behind the British defensive earthworks, then drove the self-guided seven mile battlefield tour. We stopped at the “surrender field”, where some of the spoils of war captured by Allied forces were displayed.
The inscription on each of the mounted trophies of British brass guns, howitzers and mortars read “SURRENDERED BY THE CAPITULATION OF YORKTOWN OCT 19, 1781”.
On that date, British troops lay down their weapons following the surrender. Yorktown is remembered as the place where the British surrendered to General Washington, ending the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. It also remained in Union control during most of the Civil War.
I haven’t even mentioned just how significant the state of Virginia is, for I’m skipping many details learned during our historical exploration. But if you like history or are a history buff, I’d say visiting here is definitely worth your time. Virginia is where it all began in 1607!
About an hour’s drive from Williamsburg is Norfolk, where my childhood friends Kathy and Janice live. Good food and lots of laughter ensued as we reminisced our childhood days. As the girls were yacking away in our dialect, the boys, Edwin and Steve enjoyed their own exploration.
Since Edwin had access to Norfolk Navy Base, Steve was excited to get a personal tour of the docks and other areas.
Finally, they made a stop at the excellent Douglas MacArthur Memorial Museum.
After this final stop in Virginia, we are finally done with our history lessons! Since I did not learn much American history in school, our escapades have been very enlightening and I think it’s sticking in my brain much better than if I had to read about it in books.
So, beginning with our next stop, our slow trek to Florida will be along the Atlantic coast – which means lot of beautiful beaches! If the weather holds, that is.