I’ve decided to devote most of July and August to posting about TRAVEL – my own.
I love to travel and try to get SOMEWHERE at least once a year. New places are a catalyst to inspiration and for rejuvenating that Joie de Vivre.
We’ll start with my trip to VIRGINIA in the fall of 2008. Wow. Was it really that long ago?
A lot was done on this trip so I will break it down into 3 parts.
and THE CLIFTON INN
For this Southern California girl, Virginia was my first foray into the American South. Some argue that it isn’t the actual South, but it was South enough for me. The added bonus was that I was headed there with a true Virginian as my guide.
We left the harsh, dry, California heat
Fall in California, 2008
for grey skies and, cool Virginia moisture brightened by gloriously turning leaves.
Fall in Virginia, 2008
Our first stop was COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG.
Oh, glorious little town. So perfect in every way in it’s recreations, but never crossing the line to become a Disney cartoon. Nor was it anything like a Renaissance fair where all the dungeons and dragons kids you knew in junior high dress up in period costume and call each other Sir and M’lady. Those fairs give me the creeps. Williamsburg somehow just works. It doesn’t feel false or forced for all the bodices and men in tights.
My brain started scheming of ways to get my whole family out there for Thanksgiving. You can rent the most charming Colonial houses and dress like Pilgims if you want to. Thankful fun in founding father’s style!
We toured the places that housed people working their crafts. We went by the shop of the guy who makes barrels. The woman at the door said. “Would you like to come in and watch COOPER?” We politely declined as we were on a schedule and needed to get home for dinner.
As we walked back through town there was a barrel on the sidewalk, used for a trash can. How quaint! I wondered aloud to my companion, “Hey, do you think Cooper made this?”
As a Veteran of many trips to Williamsburg, he replied, “Um, you know that Cooper’s not his name, right? It’s what a person is called who makes barrels. Like a Blacksmith and a Potter, there is also a Cooper.”
Yeah, well, it was a sorry moment for me as a blonde woman. But really how would I know? The woman did not refer to the barrel maker as THE Cooper, just Cooper. Where are barrels made in California that I would have come across this prior to Williamsburg? And what is traveling for if not to learn new things? I still get teased about this from time to time, but that’s okay because it IS pretty funny.
I have a strange fascination with old churches and cemeteries. The Williamsburg church did not disappoint. We passed by as the full moon rose into a chilly sky. Being there one could completely understand how Ichabod Crane’s character was created. It was spooky , but SO romantic.
Full moon over Williamsburg Church
We stood outside a Tavern in the cold night, peering in the paned windows to watch people having dinner by candlelight as someone played a non-colonial guitar. The light spilling onto the sidewalk was golden and warm, the music soft and the laughter of people while enjoying their colonial meal was comforting. I felt like a pauper out in the cold and was tempted to tap on the window and ask for a crust of bread. “Please Sir…?”
Williamsburg and its contents are OLD. We’re talking 16th century old, not lightweight California kids stuff. You can feel it in the air and see it in the trees. The care that is taken to recreate this town exactly is a full time job for the people who live and work there.
An entire complex (modern) is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of all things Williamsburg from the glassware used at the time, to the musical instruments, to the grave stones. They take it seriously and are proud to be a part of this American history. As an art historian, I was in heaven.
I can’t wait to go back for my Pilgrim family Thanksgiving. And next time, I will stop in and say HEY to my buddy Cooper.
Next up: Monticello and Thomas Jefferson’s awesomeness.
PS: This trip was before I got my fabulous new camera so most of these are iPhone photos and one is even dinosaur film that had to be developed.
* Williamsburg Recommendations: the Restoration Bar tucked into the Williamsburg Inn and the cheeseburger at the Terrace restaurant.