I am not a history buff. At least I didn’t think I was. And, I have no plans on becoming an expert, but it is hard not to appreciate history when you are absolutely surrounded by it.
We are in the middle of a historical triangle of epic proportions. From Jamestown (five miles away) where the first English settlement in America was founded in 1607, to Yorktown (10 miles) where a major battle was fought between George Washington’s Colonial Army and General Cornwallis of the British during the Revolutionary War and then another major Civil War battle 73 years later (the site of Lincoln’s “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” speech), to Colonial Williamsburg the Capitol of Virginia for many years, this area is incredible. All either extremely well preserved or re-created.
Then there is William & Mary University, the second university to get a charter in America in 1693. The main hall was built in 1695 and is still in use. Oh, and the world’s largest naval base is nearby as well. Enough to keep us busy for the week (and then some).
The area is very well forested, the architecture is beautiful and the history is inescapable.
The first couple shots are from our resort and then off to Colonial Williamsburg.
Williamsburg. Specifically, Colonial Williamsburg. This is not a reproduction. These are the actual buildings, homes, churches and farms that have been maintained and or restored. Founded in 1638 this is amazing. With actors in period costumes, stores selling antiques and reproductions, this is fun. And beautiful.
The first English settlement in America was Jamestown in 1607. Today it is an archeological dig but about a mile from the site is a lovely recreation of the fort and the ships that came. Not nearly as good as the one at Plymouth, Massachusetts (our opinion) but still quite good. This is also the place where the first slaves landed in America in 1608.
All my life I have read about slavery and how wrong it was (and is). But when you see the places, the slave homes, the conditions ("whitewashed" I am sure) it really hits home how reprehensible it was (and is). Stomach churning to think that one human being could "own" another human being. And, see where this was once considered normal.
The first picture is just a residential street before we got to the "Jamestown Settlement". Then when we left I had an Eastern Bluebird pose for me like it was for the cover of GQ magazine. Lastly we found an old cemetery from 1700.
A cool, rainy day. So rather than try to walk around we simply drove up the coast through Virginia, through Maryland and into Delaware. There we had lunch, stopped to get a little sand and a few shells at Bethany Beach, Delaware then down the road to Ocean City, Maryland for some more sand and shells, then back home.
On the way there were a few highlights. crossing a bridge we could see the Norfolk naval base and three aircraft carriers. We could identify two of them from the numbers. 69 - U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, and 77 - U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. (bad picture here). Also, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. 37 kms (23 miles) across the bay. Four bridges and two tunnels. Fun to drive. It would likely be very pretty on a nice day.
Cool, foggy, rainy, generally miserable day. So, we took a quick trip to Colonial Williamsburg for a couple shots then off to Yorktown for a quick peek. We are planning on coming back to Yorktown tomorrow.
Some of the shots on the fog and the mist are pretty cool. More on the incredible history of Yorktown tomorrow.
Our first stop today was a 45 minute bus tour of the world's largest naval base at Norfolk, VA. Security is understandably tight but a little odd too. They won't tell you what ships are in port until you are on the bus. Then they will. They won't let you take pictures when you are close to them, but OK when you are quite a ways away (and there is lots of stuff in between). Anyway, today there were three nuclear powered aircraft carriers. The U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman and the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. These ships can stay at sea for 25 years without re-fueling! Re-fueling takes 4 years.
Then on to Yorktown. Yorktown is a place with no luck. It was the scene of one of the decisive victories of the colonies (with much help from France) over Britain in the Revolutionary War. George Washington led his 8,000 or so troops along with 5,000 French against about 8,000 British commanded by General Cornwallis. After about three weeks, Cornwallis surrendered. The battlefield has been preserved and an excellent road tour around it is available.
Then Yorktown was also the site of a great Civil War battle as well. At the Yorktown National Cemetery (designated so in 1866 but used long before that) President Lincoln gave the "Four Score and Twenty Years Ago" speech. On the aforementioned road tour we were just coming up to the site of Washington's headquarters (now just a turn around in a small clearing), we saw Bald Eagle soaring overhead. Pretty cool.
Lastly, I had thought of taking some night shots in old Colonial Williamsburg but was pretty tired so we almost didn't go. But I am glad we did. Some of them turned out not bad.
Today was a quiet day. Joy felt like staying in so I decided to do a quick tour of William & Mary University. The second oldest university in America, it received it's charter in 1693. The main hall was built in 1695 and is still in use today. With trees that are also hundreds of years old, the building and the smell of history, this is a beautiful place. Four Presidents are alumni of William & Mary. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler.
Since William & Mary is next door to Colonial Williamsburg, I of course, had to take a couple photos there as well.
Today we moved from Williamsburg to Spotsylvania. From one place steeped in history to another. On the way we stopped at the battleground of the Civil War known as the Seven Days Battle in 1962. The Civil War was anything but civil. Over the next week we are in an area where many battles were fought, sometimes over the same land several times over. And this was not pretty. In this battle roughly 150,000 men participated. One of the pictures shows a depiction of one part of the battle a a house can be seen in the lower left corner. The next picture is of the house that is still there.
Then off to Richmond, the current Capitol of Virginia and the Capitol of the Confederate States of America during the war. The Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson. We stopped there for a tour, a short tour around Richmond. There are statues of heroes of the Confederacy. Unlike Canada where we tear down statues of Sir John A. MacDonald here they still honour the past. Slavery is sickening. But the people of the time didn’t see it that way and the people who died defending what they believed in (right or wrong on both sides), were still heroes and deserve to be honoured, even today.