Saturday, January 2, 2016

Washington or Bust...Washington Slept Here...

We were up early Monday morning as we wanted an early start to go see Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington. After the morning chores we were on the road headed off to Virginia. It was a beautiful drive along the parkway. The trees were starting to show color, flowers in full bloom and a certain sweetness to the air that only spring can bring. 

We arrived at Mount Vernon got parked and made our way to the entrance.  The ticket price was not bad at all, which included the distillery tour and house tour as well.  Senior price of $16.00, Adult admission $17.00.  We got the recorders for the talking tour for $6.00 each and I got a complementary wheelchair as I knew I would not be able to walk the grounds as they were far too extensive. I did push the wheelchair for a good part of the way so I would get exercise but Christie got a full workout getting me up and down the hills of Mount Vernon on the pea gravel paths. She was offered help by several men but declined as she needed her cardio workout for her crossfit exercise plan. 

Mount Vernon is a living history lesson. Every person there speaks the language of the period and is in period dress. You really have to be on your toes and have good listening skills to catch all of it. I really enjoyed my conversation with the young man who was George Washington's Nephew. Capitol just capitol!  There is so much to see and take in, you need to go back several times just too really see it all.

The view of the Potomac from the house is beautiful. The National Park Service has done an outstanding job of keeping the area in its natural state.  When you look across the Potomac you will not see any commercial businesses, it is still as George and Martha would have seen it except for the cell phone towers on top of the hills. 

Washington's choice of design and color for the interior of the house was very interesting. Quite modern for that day, quite bold I would say and it was he that designed everything down to the design on the crown molding.  The house was under renovation while we were there. There is a lot that goes into keeping up a 258 year old house and grounds. The kitchen of the house is separate from the main house. I can't imagine the meals that were cooked in those quarters in comparison to our modern appliances of today, but after getting one of the Washington cookbooks, I marvel at the culinary skills and delights of Gilbert Stuart, Washington's Chef. 

Mount Vernon was once made up of 5 farms and the land holdings were vast. Washington was ahead of his time as a Gentleman farmer and as an innovative conservationist. He introduced ideas that are still being used to this day in conservation farming as they are still viable. 

We took the tour of the house and saw the room and bed that Washington died in. Had they had antibiotics back then he would have lived but Doctors bled him to death due to a throat infection called epiglottises, after he had been out surveying and marking trees to be cut down. Martha Washington moved from their shared second floor bedroom up to a third floor bedroom and remained there until her death in 1802.

We went down to the bottom of the hill below the main house to where George and Martha are entombed. Not far from there is the Slave Memorial which is beautifully done and a wonderful place to sit and reflect. 

We need to thank a lady by the name of Ann Pamela Cunningham of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association for leading the charge of women of this
Ann Pamela Cunningham
nation to save Mount Vernon which was falling into disrepair after Washington's death. Without her tenacity this piece of Americana would have been lost to all generations. 

We were getting hungry as we headed to the lunch hall we spied Martha Washington's Reception House, a delightful structure where teas and small gatherings were permitted, was open so we went in. There was Martha in the flesh talking in first person. 
Martha Washington telling stories
about life at Mount Vernon

She was an absolute delight, answering our questions. I don't know how George could stand to be parted from her. In her youth, she was a true beauty, I can see why he was so smitten by her. 

We had just missed the cut off time to have Chestnut soup in the restaurant so we settled for the cafe instead and had "fast food" and were rewarded with patriotic music of the times played on a fife by a corpsmen of the music brigade.   Afterwards we headed back to the museum and took the tour through and was wowed all over again. Such an amazing place. Keeping an eye on our time as we still had the distillery to get to we headed off to the souvenir shop and loaded up on goodies. 

Christie went to get the car and I waited with our haul. We ended up going the wrong direction and had to find a place to turn around to get going the right direction. We found the distillery which still works. They still make rye whiskey and other fine spirits there from grains grown and grist at the grist mill on the Mount Vernon Plantation. For Christie's birthday I bought her a bottle of Rye Whiskey. I don't think she has opened it yet. The instructions are to take a very tiny sip of it before you actually had a larger sip or it will land you on you keister. 

We had a wonderful day at Mount Vernon but the day was not over yet. We went back into Washington to the Jefferson Memorial.  The sun was starting its slide into the western horizon casting a beautiful brightness across the grounds and structure. Christie had seen the Jefferson Memorial before, but this was my first time. Two words...Awe inspiring! 

We wandered around the structure, Christie outside, me inside. On the inside of the memorial are some of the famous words of Jefferson.  Trying to capture the statue at just the right moment was not going to happen on this day. 

We did spy a wounded warrior and had a wonderful and meaningful conversation with his wife. It was amazing the resolve of this young man. In our hearts we knew there was no way he would ever be able to go back to the battlefield but don't tell him that. That was his goal and you just didn't tell him any different. We left him and his wife with tears in our eyes but smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts for his recovery.

Dinner was simple fare at good ole IHOP.  Breakfast for dinner...always good!

From this point forward until I have access to my photos, photos will be limited. I will try to make a photo blog of my trip in the future.