Saturday, December 30, 2006

East Coast Trip Part 5 (final)

Okay, so I'm locking myself in today to finish writing about our trip from over a month ago. Then we'll get on to things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our final major destination was Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown where we rejoined with our friends Tommy and Tara. These are rebuilt towns from America's past, arranged like a theme park.

Williamsburg was Virginia's first capitol while still under British rule. Evidence of it still exists across the street where the University, The College of William and Mary, resides. The school is named after The King and Queen of England at the time it was built. William and Mary were cousins who looked very much alike. Alumns of the college were many of our first Presidents including Thomas Jefferson.

The Governors Palace, picutred below, housed the royal appointments until the first American born Governor was appointed. And he was Patrick Henry of "Give me liberty or give me death!" fame.

Inside the Governors palace were oversized welcoming rooms for entertaining, and gardens outside for relaxing. Except I didn't feel to relaxed when I became lost in the hedge maze.

The Capitol building below is the first representation of government in our country. Members of the House of Burgesses included Patrick Henry, George Washington, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson. During the Revolutionary war Thomas Jefferson recommended that the capitol be moved to it's current day location in Richmond. The original buildings of Willamsburg were all mostly destroyed in the war, except for the Magazine (armory). In the mid thirties Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller rebuilt the town as a living history museum based on historical data and the original foundations. Today, the Virginia State Legislature meets in the House of Burgesses within the rebuilt Capitol building (below) once a year.

Next stop, Jamestown, America's first settlement by the British. The Virginia company sent three ships of men to create a settlement, find gold, and ship it back to Brittain. They were never successful in that regard.

Neighboring where the area where John Smith and his crew landed were the Powhatan Indians. We learned how they lived on the land those 400 years ago and prepared animal skins.

We were so impressed, Tommy and I had to try them on and pretended that our sister was Pocahontas.

That wasn't enough pretending for us, we now wanted to be John Smith and John Rolfe.

Here I am again as John Rolfe rowing away with Pocahontas, my wife. These boats were projects for the indian men to get away from their wives. They carved them out by lighting fires on top and carving the ashes away with shells.

On our last day we fit in some good ol' North Carolina BBQ and Sweet Tea. I don't know why the rest of the nation wants to take the sweet out of the tea. It's like putting bones into your fried chicken, it's just ridiculous!

For more information on the history of Williamsburg and Jamestown:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mt. Vernon (East Coast Trip Part ... What are we on now?)

After leaving Washington DC, Joshua was determined to get right to Williamsburg, our next planned destination. But I convinced him to make a stop at Mt. Vernon, the home of our first president. I think he was glad we did. :) Here is a view of the house from the front.
And here it is from the back! The house was beautifully ornate with even the cielings decorated. George Washington was really into bright colors for his walls - blue and green like you've never seen before!
Here is the view from the Washington's back porch. Amazing, huh?

We spent most of our time in the education center and museum on the property where we learned all kinds of history (Joshua would love to share it with you, but I won't bore you now) and we even got to see George's dentures! Groos, I know, but interesting. They were not made of wood as you may have heard. They were made of cow's teeth. The bulky metal was not very comfortable, as you can imagine, and that would be why you rarely see Washington smiling in his portraits. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Washington D.C. (East Coast Trip Part 4)

Our one full day in DC was a wildy windy and rainy one. There's no stopping us however: we took the bus tour of the whole city! At around 3:00 we had to call it a day since our shoes, socks, pants, and jackets had been soaked through. Here is Joshua (dressed like "the people" to avoid being a target for mugging) in front of the National Archives. Inside a dimly lit and well guarded room, we got to see the original Declaration of Independence alongside the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was just like the movie National Treasure!
There are so many monuments to so many people in this town, we couldn't possibly see them all. We did see the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and here I am at the Lincoln Memorial (forgive the hair ... it was terrible weather!). Joshua did have me pose with a penny, since this memorial is featured on the back, but I like this picture better and I'm the one doing the blogging!
Again, forgive the hair, but this was the best picture of the National Mall. We got tickets to go up to the top of the Washington Momument, but, since it was so cloudy, we figured we wouldn't be able to see anything anyhow. Besides, did you know there is nothing supporting this structure? It is simply one brick stacked upon another, no cement, no steel beams, nothing. I did mention we were under a tornado warning, right?
Not only is this city full of monuments, it is jam packed with museums! And the best part? They are almost all free! We stopped in at the Natural History Museum where we saw the Hope Diamond, a 45 carat stone. It is the most expensive item that you can hold in just one hand at an estimated $250, 000,000. We also saw the oldest Bibles at the Freer Gallery. One elaborately covered Bible had a stone which is said to contain a splinter from the actual cross of Jesus. Our last stop was the Air and Space Museum where Joshua posed with the original Spirit of St. Louis. We also climbed aboard a space station and touched a piece of moon rock! Posted by Picasa

East Coast Trip Continued

So sorry to keep you in suspense ... we were so busy seeing the sights we didn't take time to blog. Our last stop in Charlottesville was the beautiful Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. (It is pictured on the nickel, which is what my darling husband has in his hand.) Joshua especially liked learning about Thomas J. because he had so many interesting habits. For example, he designed a clock and had it hung over his bed (which sits in the space between his office and bedroom ... how convenient) and would rise each morning as soon as he could see the clock's hands. He would then immediately record the date, time, and temperature. Then, he would put his feet in a bowl of cold water. Why you ask? He heard it would keep him from getting sick. It must have worked, since he was only sick about once every seven years. Not bad.
I really liked Thomas' clock displayed in the entryway. The weights hung down and showed what day of the week it was. One samll problem: There wasn't enough room for Saturday. Not to worry, T.J. was inventive. He drilled a hole in the floor and sure enough, in the basement, you can find the Saturday label.
Our next stop was our nation's capitol. We arrived in the late afternoon, so , in true Hardwick style we walked the entire city anyway!!! I have got to learn and wear walking shoes. We did see some great sight along the way ... the White House...
... and the capitol building. The statue on top of the capitol is named Freedom. No building can stand taller than her in D.C. which eliminates skyscrapers. We learned this little factoid on our tour the next day, which will have to be another blog since I have reached the maximum number of pictures.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

East Coast Trip Part 2

To begin I must tell you , be patient, there's a lot in this one.

As we left the Sant'Agatas we headed north through the lush fall colored trees of northern North Carolina and Virginia. Just before leaving NC we made a quick stop in Hillsboro, home of the last headquarters of the Confederacy. Located in Orange County in the middle of fall it was definitely more orange than the county we live in. The town is pre-Revolutionary as evidenced by the street names King and Queen.

Next, our travels brought us to Natural Bridge. This is a giant stone bridge that was carved out by the natural flowing river below. One of the seven natural wonders of the world (I don't know completely what all seven are) it certainly commands the same awe as the Grand Canyon in it's scale. At night they have a light show while they read Genesis' account of the Creation. On one of the walls George Washington carved his initials (which we weren't allowed to do). Thomas Jefferson purchased this property from the King of England who himself purchased the land for $2.60. Also on the site were natural caverns with beautiful mineral formations. Watch out for bats.As if the Natural Bridge was hurting for tourism, some Professor that was described as "creative" (I'd choose eccentric) decided to create a scale replica of Stonehenge out of foam. This attraction was free, and so are the samples you can take home from it.
Unlike the real Stonehenge in England you can walk right up and touch this one. For the rest of the day I was singing Spinal Tap's song Stonehenge to myself. (If you think foamhenge is completely stupid as I do, just think, it still got two pictures on this blog)
Lexington is the home of Washington and Lee University. All buildings are bricks and columns. If I had College to do all over again I'd probably like to study here, but that's just based on looks.
Just behind the picture above is the Chapel that Gen. Robert E. Lee built. He was the President of this University. One interesting thing I learned about him was that his Great Grandmother was Martha Custis. She gave birth to Robert E. Lee's grandfather before she was widowed at 27. Martha Custis did remarry to George Washington our nations first President. In case you missed the connection: George Washington is Robert E. Lee's Step-Great-Grandfather. Inside the chapel is a sculpture from a single slab of marble of the late General just behind the pulpit. Even though he and his family are buried in the crypt below, this is not a depiction of him on his death bed. It's him sleeping on a pile of hay out on the battlefield. Yeah, right.
Moving right along; on our way to Charlottesville we climbed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you get a chance I recommend driving it; it's almost 500 miles of pure beautiful vistas. But if your trip is pinched for time only spend a little time on it, I averaged about 20mph along the ridge highway.

Once in Charlottesville our first stop was President James Monroe's home. It's surprisingly small for being the home of the man who held the highest number of important government roles of any president ever. I'm sorry that I don't have pictures of the home as I'm not allowed to take any. If you're interested, I'm sure you can google up some pictures.
Just down the street is Michie (Mickey) Tavern. An old Tavern-Inn for travelers through the area. I'm not sure of the historical importance of this particular installation, but as a record of times gone by it's pretty interesting. Such as, did you know that we get the term "Bar" because that's what the person serving drinks had to do, bar the patrons from getting to the drinks? And, next time you see us ask us the origination of the song "Pop, goes the weasel."
Yes, this is a four-seater outhouse for guests of the Inn. A little privacy please.
For dinner, we found the perfect place about a block and a half from our hotel. They have the best fish and chips I think we've ever had. One look at the name and you'd think, of course, it was made for us."

Tomorrow, Monticello, Lord Hardwicke's for lunch, Washington D.C.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Visiting the Sant'Agatas (East Coast Trip 1)

Erin and I are now on our week long adventure into America's past, visiting North Carolina and Virginia. Our first stop is visiting our friends Tara and Tommy who are recent emigrants to this land.

Saturday is the opening of Pecan season and what better way to start it than by going to a plantation to pick pecans? But we were too late and they were all picked (bad season) so we went to the other side of the plantation and learned all about picking cotton and the importance of Eli Whitney's infamous Cotton Gin. (see below for picking)It is a beautiful time to come here during the fall season. All the trees are turning a brilliant red, orange, and yellow. Although pretty, Tommy spent the better part of Friday raking the leaves out of his yard to impress us only to find the leaves to double themselvs by the time we arrived the next morning. Below is a picture of Erin and I below a Red Lace-Leaf Japanese Maple from the Raleigh Arboretum. (My personal favorite of all on display)Sunday we drove to the South-Eastern tip of North Carolina to a town called Wilmington. Old, quaint, and celebrity hot spot. I didn't see anyone familliar on the horse-drawn tram ride, but I did see John Travolta's picture inside a souvenier shop. (don't laugh, bad hair day)
Across the Cape Fear river (from where we're standing above) is the final resting place of the Battleship North Carolina. With 15 battle stars and fighting in every naval offensive in the Pacific, it is the most decorated ship in all of WWII. Below is a picture of the bunk quarters stacked 5 high. This is how a majority of the 2300 crew slept aboard this floating city of men.
We'll continue as our trip progresses...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Williams and the Grand Canyon

Well, I was going to let Joshua blog about this since I wrote about the rest of our road trip, but he hasn't got around to it yet and we leave on Friday for two more weeks of adventures. So, here it is. On our way back from Albuquerque, we made a detour to see the Grand Canyon. Joshua had never been and my family stopped for about 15 minutes once on our way to Lake Powell. We decided to drive until we were too tired, and we ended up in a lovely place called Williams, Arizona. The first listing in our AAA guide book that matched our price range was the Canyon Country Motel. Low and behold, it was a terrific place to stay for under $40!
The caboose and train car are rooms available for surprisingly low rates. There is also an RV park on site as well as an indoor swimming pool!
We stayed here in this cabin-style room equipped with a king size bed.
I'm sure everyone has seen many a panoramic picture of the Grand Canyon, so I will not post them, but here we are with an amazing backdrop at the South Rim of the canyon. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Time Waster

Be forewarned this is addicting and a time waster. But then again so is television, puzzles, sudoku, etc...

First spend 30 minutes to an hour here.

Then when you think you've mastered that go here.

At first it looks like a drawing program but really it's a fun toy where you draw lines for a sledder to sled down.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Adventures in Albuquerque Part 3

While in town, we got to have lunch with Joshua's youth pastor and his family, the Bookers. We had a wonderful New Mexican meal with our new favorites: Carne Adovada and sopapillas. We spent a few hours talking and laughing while Dave and Joshua reminisced.
We also took a trip to the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe. Even Uncle Larry joined in the fun for this day. Our favorite site was the historic Loretto Chapel where a mysterious staircase was built without any nails or support.
Originally there was no railing, but the nuns who used the staircase were too frightened without it! The story goes that a carpenter showed up shortly after the nuns prayed for someone who could build them a staircase to get to the choir loft of the chapel. After he finished, the carpenter dissappeared, never to be heard from again.
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Adventures in Albuquerque Part 2

After our rained-out morning, we were looking forward to the evening's Balloon Glow where the pilots inflate the balloons and light up the night. It was cold and windy when we arrived, so of course we headed for the hot cinnamon rolls and coffee.
The Fiesta had tons of booths and displays to see. Here we are in a model balloon basket.
Since it was so windy, once again the scheduled events were cancelled. Instead of a Balloon Glow, the pilots simply lit there flames for what was called a Candlelight Glow. A dissappointment to be sure, but interesting none the less. We were able to walk around the fields right up to the balloons as they lit their flames. It certainly helped fight the cold night air!
There were over 300 balloons on the field (I guess I should say baskets, not balloons) all lit up at the same time. Aftreward, there was a terrific fireworks show that lasted about half an hour! It was definitely the highlight of the evening. Posted by Picasa