Home Away From Home, Virginia

Yorktown

The day started early with the group joining for breakfast at Denny’s. We sat with Jerry and Pam, a couple from Georgia that we have really enjoyed.

Flags representing the 13 states
Our first tour stop was the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Jerry and I had visited there in August, 2015 when it was under construction to enlarge and improve the facility. Boy, did they ever. When we were there earlier we wandered around by ourselves but this time we had a guide which gives a lot of insight into the times. We had a very informative and passionate guide who painted an enthralling picture of the not only some of the more famous people of the time but also those less well known. The museum itself is filled with authentic artifacts, displays, living re-enactions and amazing audio visual effects. One of the most outstanding things we saw was a film depicting Cornwallis’ defeat at Yorktown. It was so realistic that as the “smoke” was rising and the lightning was flashing along with the musket firings I found myself quite often flinching.

Outside was the re-created Revolution-era farm and Continental Army encampment which had changed a great deal since we were there. There were a number of 6 man tents like those used by General Washington and various displays depicting the life of a soldier. We stopped by the outside kitchen where one member of the 6 man team would prepare the meal. Only one meal a day was prepared and then I guess leftovers provided the other meals of the day. Meals were prepared whether the weather was cold or drizzling rain. The only thing that prevented the preparation was a deluge of rain. Otherwise the job continued.

Despite it being a late October “Fall” day the wind was blowing and it was pretty cold outside so we didn’t linger too long at the Encampment Farm but scurried inside. Since it was near lunch time we considered eating in the café there on site but decided to ride on in to Yorktown. After a ride through the battlefield seeing several fortifications and cannons and remembering our drive of August, 2015 we ended up at the Coast Guard Training Center where ALL ID’s where checked. Reassuring but since we had no business there we turned around and headed out. That was when we saw three deer wandering around with no evident fear of activity. We wondered if possibly we were in a protected area with no hunting as we had seen deer before on our visit and they do seemed very accustomed to activity. Next we headed to the museum where we had bought our America the Beautiful pass two years prior. What a deal. At the time we bought it it was only $10 and even though it is now $80 it is still quite a bargain as you are allowed free entrance into all national parks. Oh yes, the one caveat – you have to be 62 or older!

The lady at the admissions counter asked us about our NKK (Newmar Kountry Klub) badges so we talked with her for a few minutes. She is interested in buying an RV and in particular interested in Newmar. Of course we told her all about the virtues of Newmar. We went in the gift shop where I remarked on the Passport books for national parks. As I said “we should have bought one of these four years ago” Jerry said, “well, let’s do it now” so we finally got our passport book and will begin to fill in the national parks we have visited.

HMS Charon
Inside the small museum is a one fourth replica of the HMS Charon, a British ship which houses some of the ship’s cannon that were recovered from the river in the 1930’s. According to the poster outside “On the night of October 10, French artillerists along the York River west of Yorktown turned their attention toward British ships anchored in the river, including the 44 gun Frigate the HJM Charon. Firing “red hot shot” that were super-heated cannon balls, they set fire to the Charon. Attempting to escape, the Charon collided with a transport, spreading the intense fire. The Charon drifted to the Gloucester side of the river where it burned to its waterline and sank.” Inside the displayed ship was a rimmed table with a one place setting with a pewter plate and the same stainless that we use!

Hanging out with General Washington, General Lafayette and Admiral de Grasse in Yorktown
By this time we were really getting hungry so we went back into Yorktown searching for a restaurant. We didn’t think we had a lot of time to spare as we were heading to Hampton for the evening and we were unable to find a restaurant that didn’t have a wait time. I had earlier looked at the menu at the American Revolution Museum café so I suggested that we go back there. The entrée’s sounded good and were reasonably priced. I got a bacon, tomato, lettuce and cheese sandwich which was quite good. Although I had never heard of putting cheese on a BLT I think I’ll be trying it in the future.

We left in plenty of time to get to Hampton since we had been told that it would take some time getting there depending on the traffic. Well we got there before 3:00 and were not supposed to meet our group until 5:45. We rode around the town a bit and then found a parking place and just relaxed for a little bit.

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Home Away From Home

Yorktown

Since the kids weren’t coming in until later tonight we decided to use today for touring Yorktown.  Yorktown per se is one strip down the center of town with the historic on one end and the beach and beachy things on one end. Quite a contrast.

We easily found parking and first visited the Waterman’s Museum, where the mission of Chesapeake Bay Watermen, from pre-colonial to modern times is demonstrated.  Waterman is a term used only in this part of Virginia and one other place and refers to people who make their living on the water, i.e. shrimpers, crabbers, etc. I, of course, immediately though it could apply to the many folks at Pamlico Beach that do the same thing.  It also refers to those who operate tugs, ferries, and barges, in essence anyone who makes their living on the water in any way.  We got an introduction from the docent and then the rest of the tour was self-guided with displays with written explanations- a lot of reading but it was interesting.  We were fortunate to be able to observe a guy making miniature ships.  That surely is a meticulous endeavor, one I don’t think I’d be interested in although the finish product is quite nice.

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The floor and the walls are made of Burled Long-Leaf Pine which grows along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from Virginia to Texas and they were one of the most impressive things there!  Of course Jerry noticed them and was amazed by the intricacies. The wood on the floor of the museum is most likely from trees over 400 years old and was probably harvested by the early 1930s.

We wandered around outside for a bit walking over to the Yorktown Windmill next door.

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The doors on either side were locked so we just walked around. Again, Jerry was amazed at the railings.  It is amazing to notice the different things we point out as we tour.  He really makes me see things in a different light.

When we entered we decided to go on and buy the pass to the National Parks.  It’s only $10 and good for nearly all of the national parks.  Our first stop was a 15-minute orientation film, entitled “The Siege at Yorktown”.  It’s always humbling to watch things like this as we remember the many lives that were either ended or dramatically changed yet we take so much for granted.

We then took a 55 minute “tour” behind the center led by a very well informed and entertaining park ranger.  Again, a humbling experience to realize that we were standing on the very ground where battles occurred.  We looked out over the fields and one could almost imagine the soldiers marching along.  Of course one of the leading forces was Lafayette and the amazing thing to me was that he entered the war at only 19 years old and was only 22 by the time of the Battle at Yorktown.  I realize that 22 year old men were much different then but still…  There is also a car tour of the Battlefield but by the time we got back to the River Walk it was 3:00 and we were hungry.  After looking at a couple of the restaurants we decided to go on back to the RV to eat.  In the meantime though we had to locate a gas station.  I looked up stations on my gas buddy app and there was a Hess only 2 miles away so off we went.  22 miles later we found it!  Gas and a little snack and we were on our way back to the rig where we spent a quiet evening getting rested for a day at Bush Gardens!

Sunday, we returned to Yorktown and decided to visit Yorktown Victory Center.  We bought tickets for both Yorktown and Jamestown thinking we would have time to do both.  The museum itself was very interesting as the American Revolution is chronicled through exhibits, film and a timeline.  Outside is a re-created Continental Army encampment.  While there we got to see a demonstration of the musket firing as they showed how to properly load and fire a Brown Bess musket.  It takes about 15 seconds to reload one and of course that is valuable time so the troops fire at different intervals so someone is always firing while others are reloading.  The gun only weighs about 10 pounds but when I held it it felt much heavier.  We also saw them load a cannon and then fire it.  We were cautioned to cover our ears and that was good advice!  We also heard a “doctor” speak about the various treatments the soldiers received.  Interestingly enough doctors did not have to go to school to become a doctor.  They apprentice a doctor and then when the doctor felt the apprentice was knowledgeable enough and capable he was pronounced a doctor!  Kind of scary.  We wandered through the smoke house where someone was cooking a pot roast in a Dutch oven over an open fire.  He had earlier prepared cornbread in a smaller Dutch oven.IMG_3518

After wandering around for a while we went back to the car and drove back into Yorktown to drive through the Yorktown Battlefield where we could see the siege lines and the encampments.  Along the way we saw a doe and two fawn.  From our reaction, one would think we had never seen deer before.  By their reaction you’d think they saw people quite frequently.  We drove by twice and were able to roll down the window and get a couple of pictures.  Obviously there is little hunting going on there as they are not afraid at all.  We drove by the Moore House, the site of the negotiations that led to the British surrender but we didn’t go in.

Our next stop through the winding roads of Virginia and the Colonial Parkway was the Jamestown Settlement.  When we got to the admission desk the lady told us that the museum closed at 5:00 and it was already after 4:00.  She indicated that the tickets were good for a year and perhaps we’d like to come back later.  Not knowing if we’d ever come back to Williamsburg we debated about going on in but decided not to.  As we were driving back to the campground I suggested getting up early on Monday, breaking camp and then driving the coach to Jamestown.  Jerry is anxious to get home so he can get to the river to finish Emma’s bookcase for her birthday but he agreed that it would be wiser to visit tomorrow.  Who knows when we’ll be back?  We went on back to the campground after making a stop at the grocery store for steaks and potatoes.

When we got back I immediately started watching the Saturday night show of the World’s Championship.  Jerry put the potatoes on and discovered that it doesn’t take as long to cook them in a convection oven!  We nuked a couple of potatoes, had a delicious dinner and then went for a short walk.