You know how they say that you shouldn't tell people on Facebook or Twitter that you're going out of town...? Well, I've been in Colonial Williamsburg with Tom and Bill – I'm telling y'all after because I was sure you were planning to knock over our house. Not that we have much to steal, and if we did, you wouldn't be able to find it for the mess.
I love history. I like reading history books, but I prefer historical fiction and period costume dramas because it just seems more fleshed out... I long to see how the world actually was in past eras. Once in a Bible study group, I said, "I hope that in heaven, I will be able to see how things were in other times." The group leader said, "You will." I am not sure how he came to this conclusion, but... I would totally be into that.
My trips to England, Scotland and Wales were the closest I have gotten so far. All over Europe are buildings that are hundreds of years old. I imagine a journey to the Middle East would be doubly rewarding, but I won't be able to go there anytime soon. So until then, I'll satisfy my desire to be close to history with our family vacations to Colonial Williamsburg.
It's really a cute little village of colonial period-looking houses and shops – I love how many of the people who work there are in costume and always in character... and I like how simple everything seems, although I am sure that each time has its own complicated politics.
Some observations from our trip to Colonial Williamsburg:
– It is somewhat disappointing that most of the buildings are "reconstructed," but I'll take what I can get – it's still a pretty good picture.
– I love that they have people actually practicing old craft forms like blacksmithing, weaving, wigmaking, basketry and shoemaking. I saw a couple of gentlemen in the kitchen of the Governor's Palace making food "in the French style" using the ingredients, tools and methods of the 18th century. On display: great haunches of roasted meat, platters of whole flattened chickens swimming in sauce, towers of sugared fruits... Although I'm glad that life in our century is vastly easier, there was just something about it that I admire. It would be sad if no one in the entire world knew how to do these things anymore.
– The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation really has tourism down to a science. Everything runs very smoothly, nary a bump in the road. And all the Colonial Williamsburg employees (with a single grumpy exception) were soooooo helpful and friendly. I don't know how they do it – especially with the heat and humidity. My clothes were soaked with sweat – I can't imagine wearing a long dress with a corset...
– Best deal: the souvenir cup. Buy a nice insulated cup for $10 and get free refills of soda or apple cider for a year. Yes, a whole year. (Bill was not a fan of soft drinks, but, funnily enough, grew to love them on this trip. Oops.)
– Tavern food is delicious. Best thing I had: “Thomas Jefferson’s Brandy-spiked Bread Pudding with a warm Vanilla Bean Sauce” at King's Arms Tavern. Like a delicious cake, but a bit wetter.
– Seven is a great age to take a boy to Williamsburg. (Bill said, "They should call it Awesomeburg!")
– There are a wealth of jokes a seven-year-old boy can make about "the Necessary."
– Seven-year-old boys also never get tired of seeing their parents in the stocks outside the courthouse.
– If you are taking your kids to W'burg, you should end each day with a swim in the hotel pool, so they can step away from history, play with other kids, and get their wiggles out.
– One cannot watch the "Williamsburg: Story of a Patriot" movie shown at the Visitor's Center too many times. My favourite part: (besides when they show the results of the British product boycott – the lady in homespun scratching her bottom and the man in the tavern passed out on Virginia hard cider) that the Burgesses declared a day of fasting and prayer to appeal to God, to make a statement, and to become united in purpose.
Because it WAS a complicated time... and such times (family vacations included) call for prayer!