Friday, July 09, 2010

Vacation 2010: Mount Vernon.

After driving in from Charlottesville, we bypassed the lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng ticket lines (online ticketing ROCKS!) and made our way inside the cool visitor center.

The Washingtons were there to greet us! After watching the orientation film (starring Pat Sajak!), we walked the path toward the most visited historic estate in the United States.

It was incredible to see this again. Yes, I'd been here before as an infant and preteen, but when you've grown up seeing photos like this one, get a feel for the prominence of this house in our history, not just American history but our own family's, as well. (That's my mom on the right with my grandparents and two of my cousins. They visited Mount Vernon in 1966 while my parents were living in Springfield, Virginia.)

Here's our version of the family portrait in front of Mount Vernon.

In line to see the house, we learned that the house is actually made out of wood that has been treated to look like stone, a process known as rustication.

The line was long, but eventually we made it indoors. Docents were placed in different rooms to give ongoing descriptions of each area. While this may be the most efficient way to herd the masses in and out, I kept wishing we had one tour guide to take us through the entire house like at Monticello. Still, the guides did a good job describing each room and its contents. Again, photos weren't allowed, but the Mount Vernon website provides an excellent virtual tour. The biggest surprise? The bright colors! Some of the rooms are painted in intense, almost garish colors.

Upon exiting the house, we took in Washington's superb view of the Potomac.

Brett and the kids walked all the way down to the retaining wall to get a better view.

From that vantage point, we got that iconic view of Mount Vernon's back porch.

Ryan and Katie weren't sure why I was having them stand in this particular spot, but I was trying to recreate this view:
Yup, that's me, circa 1970.

We also posed for several other photos while we were there:

Ryan flashed a "hook 'em," Brett had to counter with a peace sign!

Our dogs were barking, so we joined the multitudes who have taken a break on this porch. It's amazing to think that the father of our country did the exact same thing.

Of course, HE didn't have to wait in line for half an hour to get in his house! All he did was ensure independence and define the president's role.

Rested up, we walked around the outbuildings to see where the slaves and other servants worked.

We just had to follow our noses to this area, the dung repository. Ew.

The gardens and orchards have been recreated to follow Washington's original scheme. He was quite an innovative and accomplished farmer in his day.


We followed another path to visit Washington's tomb.

It was an appropriately somber place. (Well, except for the one guy in the tacky T-shirt. I had a better shot of the tomb, but the half-naked cartoon lady on that guy's shirt? Um, NO.)

The final resting place for George and Martha Washington.

Not far from the crypt is this marker to remember the slaves who worked and were buried at Mount Vernon.

We weren't the only ones tired by that point in the day!

Since we were following the path anyway, we went on down to the wharf. Potomac cruises depart from there, but we just walked along the dock, thankful for the breeze off the (smelly) water!

After the house tour, we also visited the Reynolds Museum and Education Center. It was incredible! The museum section had tons of artifacts like china patterns and clothes along with artwork Washington had collected and art featuring our first president. The education side had models of Washington at various stages of his life. Using forensic science, artists had constructed what they think to be the most accurate life-sized Washington figures. We also watched several films about Washington's life, including one 4-D movie that recaptured the battles of Boston, Trenton and Yorktown. It was fun to feel the snow falling on us as Washington and his men crossed the Delaware!

We learned so much and gained new respect for this man who not only made our nation possible but who did so much to define it. Some wanted him to be king of this new nation, but he wisely saw the importance of setting a new course. After seeing several films about Washington, we were inspired to write this erudite poem rap:

My name is G Dub,
I ran a good gov.

I was the president,
This is my residence.

They wanted me the king,
But that just ain't my thing.

The country's fathuh,
In love with Martha.

My name is G Dub.

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