It was a beautiful drive, a gorgeous fall day and the trees were all changing and we drove through Baltimore and D.C. on the way. I had checked out some children's books on Williamsburg and Jamestown from the library the day before we left so I read to the boys on the way down, we sang, we laughed, we pulled into random parking lots and ran around and the boys peed in the bushes and Shaun tried to avoid a rather intimidating looking husky tied up outside a hotel where we ate pizza... fun things like that. ;)
We got there too late in the day to go much of anywhere the first night, so we got take out burritoes and went back to our condo where we turned on our fireplace and let the boys run around and explore, we played with them on the swings and then we got into our bathing suits and went swimming in the indoor pool. Not typical things you'd drive all the way to Williamsburg for, but they were perfect kid friendly activities and just the right amount of relaxation and quality time we needed.
The next morning (friday) we drove to the visitor's center and got our passes to tour Williamsburg, along with some three cornered hats and little wooden guns for Drew and Isaiah. I didn't think Jaden would be into wearing a hat but it turned out he LOVED them and shared his big brother's quite a bit.
Do you all know the history of Williamsburg?? I didn't before we went... Basically Jamestown Virginia was the first successful english colony here in America (Have you heard of Lost Colony of Roanoke? The one that disappeared before Jamestown was founded? SO interesting...) But anyway, Jamestown was founded in 1607, within a year only thirty something of the original 104 men who came over were still alive. They chose Jamestown's location because it was practically an island, surrounded on three sides by water and a fourth side by a swamp so it was easier to defend from the Natives, and the water near it was deep enough to moor their ships close by. However, even if it was a defendable location, it put them in a place of drinking polluted, salty river water and many of them died of disease, starvation and attacks from the Indians. Because it was the first colony, the capitol was located there. However, when it burned down they jumped on the opportunity to move it to a better, less swampy location and relocated to Middle Plantation in the late 1600's. Middle Plantation was renamed Williamsburg, and the town was laid out with wide, straight streets, 1/2 acre plots for homes and shops, a large palace for the governor, and a beautiful brick capitol building. It was in that capitol building that George Washington served in the House of Burgesses (the form of government under the king of England), that Patrick Henry stood up and openly opposed the Stamp Act (as Thomas Jefferson, who was attending the House as a student, looked on). It was from the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg that the call was made to hold the first Continental Congress, and from that came the Declaration of Independence. It was down the streets of Williamsburg that George Washington's army marched on their way to Yorktown where they would defeat General Cornwallis and win the Revolutionary War. You can sit in the same seats of the Bruton-Parish church where these forefathers of our country worshipped over 200 years ago.
I came away from Williamsburg with the deep realization that if they men and women of today understood the conviction and standard of truth and integrity that our forefathers did, we would have already thrown out those who are currently leading our nation. This was just before elections, and after seeing the way America voted and brought the power back into balance again, my faith in my fellow Americans has been restored.
And if that isn't interesting enough, the same jail cells where Blackbeard's pirates were held after being captured before they were hanged are still standing, and there are all kinds of fascinating historical details related to that as well. And on top of all that, colonial architecture is my favorite, and I am a hopeless and very sentimental romantic... and I just LOVED seeing all the beautiful old homes and buildings and getting a taste of how they used to live.
But this wasn't supposed to be a history lesson... I just really like history. And I just really LOVE my country.
The Governor's Palace:
The past was just starting to catch up with Drew....
Bruton-Parish Church. The original building, built in 1674. Dr. Goodwin, who pastored here in the early 1900's, dreamed of restoring Williamsburg, and with the help and money of the Rockefeller family, he began doing just that.
Shaun sitting in George's spot in church.
The stocks outside the court house on Duke of Glouchester Street.
We had lunch in Chowning's Tavern. So quaint and so yummy! Jaden shrieked quite a bit through lunch, and entertained himself by throwing food, spoons, and anything else he could get his hands on... his age is not ideal for eating out right now. But the people around us were so nice and understanding ;)
The Raliegh Tavern. Oh my heavens, I can't describe to you the feeling of walking the same streets where our nation was born.
The capitol building. It has been rebuilt, as it burned down in the late 1800's. We got to go on a guided tour and it was surreal... This is where I learned and fully understood exactly why the colonists felt they had to become independent from England. Long story short, the king of England broke his oath with God when he refused to listen to them and was ruling as a tyrant. And a broken oath with God was reason enough to revolt.
High court was inside the capitol, and was held twice a year. Prisoners were held in the jail until the trial, but jail time wasn't a punishment back then. Once their trial was held if they were found guilty they were either branded with a hot iron with the initial of their crime, or they were hanged. If they were ever found guilty for something again after being branded before they were automatically hanged. The justice system was pretty un-complicated.
The gaol. (jail)
Making scared faces in the same cell where 13 of Blackbeard's pirates were held.
All my boys (including Shaun) loved watching the blacksmith work. I mean, to a boy, what's not to love about watching someone heat metal with fire and then beat it into a weapon?? This guy was pretty legit too... he had "1776" tattooed on his arm.
Look out for Drew!
His imagination was coming to life by the afternoon.. he was hunting squirrels and running down the street and acting like a spy... he thought he was so convincing he even told one woman we passed on the street, "don't worry, this isn't a real gun..."
The Powder Magazine building. This is where all the weapons were kept... When there was talk of a revolt the governor of Virginia had the magazine emptied in the night, and the colonists stormed it when they found out... This is another original building.
Multiple interests coming together... I loved looking at the colonial style vegetable gardens. :)
Williamsburg Christmas Decor
And as much as the boys loved the blacksmith, I liked watching them take wool they had sheared that morning and watching them spin it into yarn and then weave it together into cloth. SO. Fascinating.
Fife & Drum!!
Drew and Saiah were covering their ears while they fired the rifles and the cannons.
We were all so tired from walking all day that we went back to our condo and made scrambled eggs for dinner and went to bed. Shaun and I watched a movie after the boys were asleep.
The next morning (Saturday) we drove to Norfolk and met my sister and Nate for breakfast and a trip to the zoo.
It was overcast, chilly, and misting on us, but it was my favorite zoo trip ever. There was barely anyone else there, and the animals were so interactive. Look how close that tiger came!!
This little guy swung over and high-fived Shaun through the glass.
And then there were the red pandas!! They were my favorite, and they had a baby!!! A family near us said they came to the zoo all the time, and that this was the first time they'd seen the mother take the baby out. She came right down a ladder in the tree over top of where I was standing, no fence or netting between us at all. So stinkin' cute!!
There comes the daddy too :)
God is such an artist.
snacking on some goldfishies :)
Drew has always loved giraffes.
A true action shot below...
Caught this shot of the lions nuzzling each other below.
Family + Rhino!
My three big boys!! Love this so so much.
Drew wanted a picture on the turtle too.
Our whole group at the zoo. :)
After the zoo we went to Chic Fil-a for lunch. It couldn't have been any more perfect... the boys ate and then played in the play area and we got to have some quality visiting time with Nan and Nate. Jaden even fell asleep for a bit. (He also grabbed the flowers in the vase on the table and brought it splashing and crashing to the floor... just to keep it real.) After we visited we drove back to our condo and had a chill evening. It helped that it was so cold and rainy, we didn't want to go anywhere else anyway. We turned on the fireplace, got into cozy clothes, made the rest of our scrambled eggs, watched cartoons, and I painted my nails... It was so wonderfully cozy and relaxing. Daylight savings was that night, so we got a wonderful extra hour before checkout the next day.
The next morning (Sunday) Randi and Nate came to Williamsburg and Ran took our family photos, then we went to lunch at a cafe in Merchant Square. Then of course came difficult goodbyes and lots of lingering outside the parking garage before we drove back.
If it had been just Shaun and I the trip would have included a visit to the Wine and Cheese Shop, I would have loved to go to dinner at The Fat Canary, and we would have gone on every guided tour we could have in the historic part of Williamsburg. But for making it into a family trip every bit of it was just perfect and so memorable. We learned together, played together, relaxed together, and laughed a lot. We tried to know our limits while still making the most of our time there, and it came out at such a good balance.
I know there was an insane amount of photos in this post, but there was so much beauty and goodness to share and remember. :)