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Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, VA

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

September 24th

We were staying a couple of miles from Colonial Williamsburg so we decided to venture there on Saturday morning. We were overwhelmed by the Disneyland-esque visitor center and $40 admission fee to the sites, so we decided to wander around on our own for a while. It was too early in the morning and the town felt a little dead, so we decided to head to Jamestown for the day. At the Jamestown National Historic Site, we felt more inspired. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the U.S., a venture by the Virginia Bay Colony that almost failed from the beginning. The site they chose to settle was on a swampy island and ridden with mosquitoes. It was constantly a challenge to get fresh water. They endured with the help of the Indians and the town prospered. Today, we can visit the ruins of the old settlement (uncovered through years of archaeological excavation) and a reconstructed Glass Factory. This was my favorite part of the day- we watched as a skilled craftsman made glass objects (like candle holders and carafes) in a 2,000-degree oven.

By the time we had finished visiting Jamestown, it was still early, so we went back to Williamsburg. We wanted to get a beer in one of the old taverns. We walked through some of the old historic buildings, by this time there were a lot of tourists and a lot of actors in Colonial dress. It turned out that the taverns were only open for dinner (and not for beer only), so we headed back to the motel where we drank beer and made dinner.

Yorktown, where the American Revolution was won

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

September 23rd

Since we had covered a good distance the evening before, we decided to drive to Yorktown in one straight shot (about three hours.) We even stopped at a fast food restaurant for lunch (unusual for us, but reflective of our frustration with the weather.) We got to Yorktown mid-afternoon- it was pouring rain-but this didn’t deter us from exploring the famous battlefield where the American Revolution was won.

Our visit began with the obligatory stop at the visitor center. We saw a reconstructed Revolution-era battleship and George Washington’s original camp tents. Then we watched a video that retraced the history leading up to the battle and during the battle. By then it was time to venture out into the rain and see key battlefield sites. It’s important to note that the French had a key role in the American victory of this battle. First, the French Navy defeated the British Navy at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, cutting off Cornwallis’s (the British commander) relief. Fabien told me that this was the only naval victory for the French over the British. Second, the French sent almost twice as many ground troops to aid Washington’s troops. The weather (big surprise) also played an important factor- a tropical storm cut off Cornwallis’s escape route to the neighboring port of Gloucester. Cornwallis was humiliated as the American and French troops moved across his lines and took his redoubts (little stone forts.) We slogged through the rain and mud to see the sites of Washington’s encampment and the Victory Field. By the time we finished, the rain had let up and we drove in to historic Yorktown where we some 18th century buildings.

After a long afternoon of military history, we did our grocery shopping and checked into our motel for the next two nights. I even managed to catch up on a few blog posts.

Road to Charleston, South Carolina

Thursday, September 29th, 2011
September 20th-22nd We left Jacksonville after lunch just as the clouds were rolling in. We were hoping to drive all the way to Charleston before evening, but that was a little optimistic. We stopped on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia at ... [Continue reading this entry]

A stopover in Jacksonville- family, friends and festivities

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
September 13th-20th After almost seven months “on the road”, we returned to my hometown and sending off place, Jacksonville, Florida. Some major events had taken place while we were gone- mom and Ken had bought a fifth-wheel trailer and decided to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Birmingham and Montgomery…on the Civil Rights Path

Monday, September 26th, 2011
September 12th On Monday morning, Meaghan had school and we needed to get on the road. We had to cross all of Alabama and decided to make a couple of stops along the way. The first stop was in Birmingham, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Reunion in Florence, Alabama

Monday, September 26th, 2011
September 10-11th On our way south to Jacksonville, we made a stop off in Florence, Alabama to visit some friends, Meaghan (who I travelled Patagonia with) and her husband, Tim. They took two years off after they got married to ... [Continue reading this entry]

General Jackson, the Grand Ole Opry and a sniff of Jack Daniels

Monday, September 26th, 2011
September 9-10th Our second day of sightseeing in Nashville, we decided to visit the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home and plantation.  Andrew Jackson was a controversial president…he called himself the people’s president, a military hero that led the U.S. to victory ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nashville, TN, the land of country music

Monday, September 26th, 2011
September 8th We had been looking forward to going to Nashville since our stop in Memphis at the beginning of the trip. Everyone had said that Nashville was even more “happening.” We were actually disappointed when we arrived and started ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky and the road to Nashville

Monday, September 26th, 2011
September 7th We woke up to the same bad weather- gray and rainy. We dried off a table in front of our cabin to set up the stove to make coffee and toast our bagels. Then we ate inside sitting on ... [Continue reading this entry]

Crossing Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky

Monday, September 26th, 2011
September 6th We left St. Louis heading east towards Kentucky.  The temperature dropped about 20 degrees from the previous days, a welcome relief from the stifling heat. Our first stop was at the Cahokia Mounds Site to visit the most sophisticated ... [Continue reading this entry]