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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yorktown Battlefield and Colonial Parkway

It was interesting to drive the Yorktown Battlefield area. Having driven through Gettysburg and its many battlefields, I expected much the same in Yorktown. In Gettysburg there are many monuments and historical markers and other structures noting significant battles and events. Not so in Yorktown.

This battle was fought in what was pretty much an open field.
Therefore, there wasn't much to take pictures of. I did take a picture of a marker that depicts the battle site and explains the positioning of troops. I hope you can see it clearly. If not, click on the picture and it will enlarge, if you are interested. We did see the home of Augustine Moore where officers from both sides met to negotiate the surrender of the British. Can you imagine General Washington walking up to your house and asking to use it for a surrender?!!?!! I mean, Mr. Moore had a very ordinary house. But, he did have an awesome view of the York River! This battle was only 13 days from the time the Allied troops constructed the first siege line to the day Cornwallis' army surrendered its arms. And it was the last major battle of the Revolution which basically assured our independence.

Right at the Visitor's Center in Yorktown there was a Civil War reenactment this weekend. I sure wouldn't have wanted to be those reenactors in this heat! UGH! I took a few pictures, though.

While on our battlefield drive, we found
Yorktown National Cemetery, a Civil War cemetery. There are over 2000 grave sites and each one was decorated with an American flag. It was quite an impressive site. Sadly, though, less than 800 of those graves are identified.

We finished our drive along Colonial Parkway after our battlefield tour. There were a lot of folks enjoying the hot weather by setting up on the beaches of the York River and the several creeks that run along the parkway. We saw historical markers for a couple of plantations that used to sit in what is now the York River. I guess erosion, man and weather has widened the river through the years.

This has been a great week. We've been busy - we went exploring every day! For those of you who know us, you know that's unusual. We've learned more about our country and its hard fight for freedom and independence. Seems we continue that fight today. Let's remember those who have paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy the life we are able to live.

We leave Tuesday morning for a visit with my folks in Ocean City, Maryland. I was able to see them for a couple of days back in early April when I was home, but it's going to be good to hang out with them next week. We also get to celebrate Randy's birthday! :)

Hope you all have had a great weekend. Take care of each other. Until the next time . . .

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Jamestown Settlement & Colonial Parkway

We took the morning and went back to Jamestown to visit the settlement. Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne differ in that the Settlement is a living history museum of life during the early 1600s. There is a Powhatan Indian Village, a recreation of James Fort, and the three ships which brought the first settlers from England. Each of these exhibitions have costumed historical interpreters who chat with you and talk about their way of life.

In the Powhatan Village we had the opportunity to speak with an Indian maiden. She was stripping yucca leaves for making rope. She shared with us that the village is active year round, they plant and harvest crops and attempt to recreate life as it was in the 1600s. I was surprised that the settlement operated year 'round and that they actually harvest the crops of beans, tobacco and corn.

Down at the river were the three ships which brought the first settlers from England.
They are the Susan Constant, the Discovery and the Godspeed. The Susan Constant is the largest of the three ships. Again, there were several interpreters who share their expertise with all who are interested. We spoke with a fellow who was knowledgeable in sea navigation. He showed us the instruments that were used back then and explained how they could gauge their speed and direction. He said much of what was used back then is still in use today, just fancier. :)

Since there were no drawings or pictures, they used the writings that have been found to recreate the buildings and size of James Fort. Just outside of the fort
were interpreters sharing the crops that were grown, canoe making, and boat building. All of the building, including the building of the fort, is done as it would have been in the early 1600s. We watched a canoe being made. They burn out the inside of the wood to make the sitting area of the canoe. It was quite interesting. The major money crop was tobacco, but that wasn't found until 1614, seven years after the colony was settled. Apparently, it took awhile to find a money making commodity.

From the settlement, we drove along part of the Colonial Parkway back to Williamsburg. It also goes from Williamsburg to Yorktown. This is a lovely, scenic drive that goes along the James and York Rivers. All along the way there are
pull-offs on the sides of the parkway that indicate significant events that happened in the area or just historical information. We learned that a group of Spanish Jesuits came in 1570 in an attempt to settle along what is now College Creek. Unfortunately within a year they were victims of a massacre.

We plan to drive the other half of the parkway tomorrow. We'll also drive the Yorktown Battlefield tour tomorrow. More to come . . .

Friday, May 25, 2007


Williamsburg never gets old - no pun intended! It seems no matter how often we come here, we always find things to do and see that we've never done before. And this time is no exception.

We started out at the Governor's Palace, which was home to five royal lieutenant governors, two royal governors, and the first two governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia - Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. The current building is a reconstruction of the original building that was built in 1722 and destroyed in 1781 by a fire. It was rebuilt on the original foundation. It is furnished as it would have been during the time of the last royal governor, Lord Dunmoore. When you enter the palace, you come into an impressive foyer that is decorated with 540 weapons along the walls. The rest of the rooms are equally impressive as are the the gardens.

Upon leaving the Governor's Palace, we walked along Duke of Gloucester Street, the main drag of Colonial Williamsburg, just enjoying the gorgeous weather and the ambiance of being there. We stopped in Bruton Parish Church, which has been in "continuous service to the Lord" since 1715 (isn't that amazing!!), the magazine and guardhouse and the blacksmith shop. We found an excavation site of a coffeehouse that was active in 1755. I didn't realize that there was excavation still being done in
Williamsburg, but apparently there is.

Our next tour was of the Capitol Building. Another impressive building. This was the seat of government for 75 years. It was here that Patrick Henry made his famous "give me liberty or give me death" speech denouncing the Stamp Act. Of course most of the men in control of the legislature were handpicked by the reigning monarch, but the House of Burgesses was comprised of 12 men elected by the people. Some of those men were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and of course, Patrick Henry.

After the tour of the Capitol, it was time for lunch! We ate at the King's Arms Tavern. It was a little sentimental because Randy & I had visited Williamsburg over 22 years ago (one of our first trips together!) and had a very romantic dinner at this restaurant. So, it was nice to go back. Of course, it was a little different at lunchtime AND we're not
so romantic anymore!! :)

Our last stop for the day was part of the performance "Revolutionary City." This is a series of vignettes in which different events of the American Revolution are portrayed. The one we watched was the reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 25, 1776, to the citizens of Williamsburg. It was rather moving to hear our Declaration read with such conviction and emotion. Glad we got to see that.

We had a great day. You can see more pictures at our Webshots site at There's never enough time to do and see all there is here. Tomorrow we're going to drive part of the Colonial Parkway, to Jamestown. There are several pull-offs at the sites of historical events. We may stop in at the Jamestown settlement, too. Just depends on how many other people have the same idea!

Hope all of you have a safe and fun holiday weekend. Please remember to honor our fallen service personnel with a moment of silence or prayer as well as remembering our active military. This has become very personal to us. Until the next time . . .

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Historic Jamestowne

We went to Historic Jamestowne today. And no, I didn't misspell Jamestown - that's the way it is spelled at this site. There are two areas in Jamestown to tour; one is the original site of the Jamestown colony that was settled in 1607 and the other is Jamestown Settlement, which is a living history museum that is a reproduction of the original colony, a Powhatan village, and the three ships that brought the British settlers here.

We had visited Jamestown Settlement a few years back on vacation with Kevin and a friend, so we opted to skip that today. If we get bored, we may go back and do that before we leave.

Historic Jamestowne is being excavated continuously,
having begun in the mid 1990s. Its 400th anniversary was celebrated just last week. It was interesting to overhear a conversation between a gift shop employee and a customer in which they were discussing how people brag about being descendants of the Mayflower settlers. The gist was that those people have nothing to really brag about - they were not the first Americans, those in Jamestown were. Funny how everything becomes a competition!

We walked throughout the site, seeing the James River from the vantage point of the fort and walking where those first 104 men and boys walked. At one time, Jamestown was the center of government in the area, but that was moved to Williamsburg in 1699, which ultimately started the town's decline.

There are many foundations throughout the site, but they are reproductions of the originals. Once the original foundations were excavated and documented, they were reburied in order to preserve them.
Because of their age, if they were left in the open, they would erode. There are a couple of foundations that were "rowhomes." And we thought townhouses were recent architectural designs! In the fort itself, there is active excavation and artifacts are being found daily.

Of course, there are statues commemorating Captain John Smith
and the Powhatan princess, Pocahontas. Did anyone else think that Pocahontas had married Captain John Smith? Well, I did. She married a colonist named John Rolfe. I don't know why I thought she'd married Captain Smith; he never married. Pocahontas had been married to a Powhatan Indian when she was 15, but was kidnapped at 18 and held hostage. While a hostage, she converted to Christianity, took the name Rebecca and married Mr. Rolfe. This marriage was seen by both the colonists and the Powhatans as a sign of peace. The Rolfe family, which included son Thomas now, left Jamestown for England in 1618; Pocahontas died there a year later.

After walking the Jamestowne site, we went to the Glasshouse. Because raw materials used in making glass (sand, timber & oyster shells) were in abundance in this area, Captain John Smith established the industry of glassblowing in 1608. Glass was in high demand
in England at this time so Captain Smith thought this would be a good way to provide profits to those who had financed the settling of Jamestown. Unfortunately, due to lack of skill, an Indian uprising, and a furnace explosion among other things, this new industry never became the money maker hoped for. By 1624 all attempts at glassblowing as an industry had ceased. What did come of it was the influx of English, German, Polish, and Italians who joined America's melting pot. The actual ruins of the original glasshouse are preserved on the site. A new glasshouse is in use today for demonstration purposes and sales.

Tomorrow we're off to Colonial Williamsburg. Even though we've been a few times before, it's always fun to walk through this town. More pictures to come! :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Historic Yorktown

What a gorgeous day we had today!! Mid 70s, sunny and breezy - couldn't have asked for better. We headed to Yorktown to tour it. Neither one of us had ever been there before. The Siege of Yorktown basically ended the American Revolution.

We started our tour at the actual battlefield of Yorktown. You know, you think of a battlefield being scarred and strewn with remnants of the battle, but we found ourselves in the middle of a beautiful, grassy field. It is amazes that a battle of such significance took place in the such a small area of a couple of acres. Unfortunately, the best way to take in all of the surrounding areas is through an auto tour. We didn't know that and had taken the shuttle from the Williamsburg Visitor's Center to the Yorktown Visitor's Center. So, we plan to go back and drive the area. We'll have more on that for you later.

After seeing the battlefield, we walked to historic Yorktown. Along the way, we
crossed a bridge that was above a tobacco road along which the tobacco farmers took their crops to town to sell. Then we came upon the Victory Monument, erected in memory and honor of all those who fought in the Battle of Yorktown, both American and French allies. There is a lovely view of the York River from the monument.

Historic Yorktown is just like a mini-Williamsburg; there is a
Main Street you can walk down and view many original buildings. It is far less crowded than Williamsburg, almost as if people don't know about it. There are several side streets on which people live in historical homes. A riverwalk has been built along the York River with shops and a beach area. The breeze coming off the river was just wonderful!

We traveled to our next stop,Yorktown Victory Center, on the Yorktown Trolley (we're becoming regular Trolley riders!).
The Victory Center is a living history museum, chronicling the American Revolution and life afterwards. The entrance was kind of impressive as there were 12 flags in a circle with one in the middle, one for each of the original 13 colonies. Of course, the flag in the middle was Virginia's.

A reenactment of the Yorktown encampment, a 1780s farm whose major crops were tobacco and corn, a timeline leading up to the Revolution and several galleries are found at the Victory Center. The encampment and the farm have costumed historical interpreters available to answer your questions and to give it a real feel. All I can say is that I sure am glad I live now - those folks had to work too hard for me!! :)

We truly live in a marvelous country. The colonists fought hard for our freedom, just as those service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing now. I so appreciate all of them. We are having a ball paying honor to them as we travel around learning more and more of exactly how fortunate we are to live in America.

Tomorrow we're off to Historic Jamestowne and the Jamestown Settlement. The difference is that Historic Jamestowne is the actual site of the first American settlement. Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum of 17th century Virginia. I'm sure we'll have lots to share with you.

Take care of each other. Until the next time . . .

Friday, May 18, 2007

One Last Drive

We took one last drive around the area today. It was an absolutely perfect day. The sun was shining and the temperature peaked around 75 degrees. Couldn't ask for a nicer day.

We drove northeast up US 17, heading to Sullivan's Island. Fort Moultrie is on the south end of this island. This is the fort protected Charleston Harbor from the American Revolutionary War through World War II. The current fort is the third one on the site, with each subsequent structure growing in size and strength. It is also the fort from which much of the bombardment of Fort Sumter came.

This is a view of Fort Sumter from the observation tower at Fort Moultrie.

There are several very colorful houses on the island. This is a picture of one of them.

Further north on the island is the Isle of Palms. This is a resort area and boasts many large homes on the water. It amazes Randy & I the kind of money people will put into houses that could easily be wiped out with one bad storm.
Crossing the causeway from the Isle of Palms to the mainland, there is a beautiful view of the Intracoastal Waterway.

This was a nice way to end our visit to Charleston. This is such a nice area. We definitely need to come back some time to explore more of it. As usual, we find that there's always more to see than we have time (or money!) to see.

We'll enjoy a very relaxing weekend and then continue our journey north. We'll spend Monday night in Fayetteville, NC and then Tuesday we'll get to Williamsburg.

Take care of one another. Keep in touch, we love hearing from you. Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Charleston Walking Tour

We took a nice walk around the historic district of Charleston today. We learned something of the beginning of the city as well as its time during the Civil War. Our first stop was the South Carolina Society for French Huguenots. Apparently, all of the early settlers of the city formed their own private clubs, many of which are still active today. The significance of this society's building is that it is home to two very ornate, wrought iron lanterns. Prior to the Civil War iron was found everywhere, but most of the folks gave up their iron to aid in the making of weapons during the war. Therefore, there is not a lot of original ironwork found today.

We were then shown an example of a "single house." This type of house is called a "single" because it is one room wide. Most homes were built with patios that ran down the side of the house that would get the best breeze. On the same street, all of the patios on the houses would be on the same side as the others because they found the breeze best in that direction.

In 1886 there was a horrible earthquake in Charleston. Today it would be rated 7.5 or higher on the Richter scale. The wooden houses withstood the earthquake best because they gave as the ground shook. The brick or stone homes suffered more damage and many leaned. In order to straighten these homes, iron bars were inserted through the houses and then tightened until the house was upright again. Most people have decorated the bolts of these bars, using such facades as lions'
heads, flowers, unicorns and other fanciful decorations.

The first house built near the Charleston Harbor was by a sea captain, in the early 1700s. The area between Meeting Street and E. Bay Street was marshy canals. This house was built on stilts and faced the harbor so the captain could watch his ship and others.

We toured two houses. The first, The Edmonston-Alston House was built in 1825. The second, The Nathaniel Russell House was built in 1808. Although 2000 structures were lost in the bombing of Charleston during the Civil War (it was bombed for almost 600 consecutive days), many of the homes on the waterfront suffered little damage. This was due to the cannon shooting farther into the city, past these homes. The Russell House was hit 3 times by bombs but only the 3rd floor suffered any damage.

Another interesting house on the tour is the George Eveleigh House. This house was built in 1743, prior to the American Revolutionary War. It is one of the few left that are that old.

We also saw the largest house in the city. It is Calhoun House and is 24,000 square feet of house!!!

After our tour was finished, we walked back to The Battery to take some additional pictures.
The park is beautifully maintained and houses several monuments to its founders and defenders. The houses along E. Bay Street are just gorgeous. I can't imagine trying to keep up the maintenance of these homes!!

Hope you enjoy the pictures. There are more on our Webshots site. We want to take one more scenic drive out to Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. I was told that's were there are some huge homes. Other than that, we plan to just relax and enjoy the rest of our stay here. We leave Monday for Williamsburg.

Until the next time. . .

Monday, May 14, 2007

Magnolia Plantation

Today was a GORGEOUS day!! Beautiful, sunny skies and 78 degrees. Gosh, it doesn't get much better than that! We discovered a scenic byway and invited our neighbors, Randy & Jan, to go with us on the drive. We hoped to be able to stop at the various plantations along the way and walk the grounds. We found out quickly, though, that even to walk the grounds cost money! Oh, well.

We got to Magnolia Plantation and decided to tour it. Boy, are we glad we did. Magnolia Plantation is the ancestral home of the Drayton family and dates from 1676. It is believed to be the only plantation of its age in the state to still be owned by the original family.
The plantation is 500 acres of gardens and grounds. It sits on the Ashley River. The current house is the third one to be built on the land. The prior houses were lost to fire.

The plantation gardens have been open to the public since the 1800s. The decision was made to get the family back on its feet financially since it was decimated by the Civil War. Charles Kuralt named it his greatest Charleston pleasure. Along with the beautiful gardens, there is a petting zoo, nature trails, a "street" of pre-Civil War slave cabins, a topiary garden and more.

We walked through the main gardens.
There are a couple of lakes, also. We found cypress trees, live oaks, all types of flowers, turtles and alligators sunning themselves, and history throughout the trails. There is an real swamp on the property.

I can't share with you all the pictures I took, so please . . . go to our Webshots site,, to really get a feel for all that we experienced.

It was fun to share it with Randy & Jan. Jan is very knowledgeable about flowers, so that was a great thing for us. Hope you enjoy it, too!

Tomorrow we go on our walking tour of historic Charleston! More pictures to come!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Strolling around Charleston

Yesterday we ventured into Charleston for the first time since we arrived. I was feeling much better and was getting a little cabin feverish. We decided we'd go down to the City Market area and just meander through. The City Market is several blocks long and, thankfully, under cover. There is the usual tourist junk - T-shirts, hats, caps, jewelry, etc. But, you can also find things that are native to this area. At each entrance there were basket makers, weaving their creations. Such gorgeous baskets, hangings, even pins. Watching them work is a treat.

After we walked through the market, we hit some side streets. Got to see Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., named for the company in the movie, Forrest Gump.
There was the oldest Powder Magazine still standing and a couple of beautiful old churches. I didn't want to see too much because we're taking a walking tour on Tuesday and I believe it will be in the same vicinity. But, one of the neatest things we did see (I thought) was the area where the Decision of Secession was made. I know it sounds corny and Randy looked at me like I was nuts, but I took a picture of the placque. There's a new building standing there, but I found it a little daunting to think I was standing in the place where a decision that had such impact on our country was made.

After a couple of hours in the heat, we were ready to come home. It's supposed to be pretty hot and humid the next couple of days, but by the first of the week the weather will be nicer. That will make our walk on Tuesday much more enjoyable!!

Take care. Be sure to spoil the moms in your lives. Until the next time . . .

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Downtime in Charleston

We arrived in Charleston early Monday afternoon. It was such a tough trip - all of an hour and a half from Savannah!! Since we had so much time, we figured we needed to check off another Cracker Barrel, so the Walterboro, SC Cracker Barrel has made Randy's list. I think we're now up to 32 Cracker Barrels. Wow! Only 500+ to go!! :)

Since our arrival, I've been a sick puppy; nasty cold and HORRIBLE sore throat.
Needless to say we haven't done a thing. I told Randy it's a good thing we're here for two weeks or we wouldn't have seen a thing!! Thankfully, I woke up today feeling much better, so we'll be exploring soon.

I do want to share with you pictures of the funniest looking ducks I've ever seen! I thought they were chickens at first! We also have a nice view of the river that runs through the campground.

We've got a tour planned next week for historic Charleston. Really looking forward to that! Until then, take care of one another. Keep in touch!!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tybee Island

We took a couple of hours today to explore Tybee Island which sits about 20 miles east of Savannah. While the island has historical significance, I must admit I was also hoping for a quaint beach town. The historical areas were interesting, but unfortunately there was no "quaintness" to be found. The island is just another beach town, with lots of hotels, motels and tourist traps. A little disappointing, but that's okay, we can still say we've been there (and done that).

Tybee Island Light Station continues to function today, its light reaching almost 18 miles out to sea. It is Georgia's oldest and tallest lighthouse, dating from 1773. The most significant fact about this light station is that it sits on its original site with all of the original support buildings.

Just across the road from the Light Station sits the remainder of Fort Screven which was built in 1885 as part of the coastal defense system. It was the site of troop training during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. Part of it now houses the Tybee Museum.

Cockspur Lighthouse sits just off of Cockspur Island which is just west of Tybee Island and can be seen from US 80 or Fort Pulaski. It marks the South Channel of Savannah River. The lighthouse was built in 1854 and survived the bombardment of Fort Pulaski. Damaged in an 1881 storm which destroyed the keeper's residence, it continued to shine until 1909. It was relit this year.

Fort Pulaski sits on Cockspur Island and faces Savannah River. It was built between 1829 & 1844; one of the engineers was Robert E. Lee. It is the last of the forts built that are known as the Third System of coastal fortifications developed during the first half of the 19th century. These forts were of greater structural durability than earlier ones. Most of the 30 Third System forts built after 1816 still exist. Our Fort McHenry is a First System fort. Sorry, I got carried away. Anyway, Fort Pulaski gets its name from Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish hero of the American Revolution who died in the unsuccessful siege of Savannah.

ust to show you how deep I am, two of the neatest things to me about the fort are the moat and the drawbridge! I guess it makes me think of all those fairy tales and how the princess is always safe inside the castle when there's a moat and a drawbridge. Goofy, huh? Still, it's pretty daunting to stand in the same place that those who fought for our freedoms stood almost 200 years ago. Not much has changed in all this time, has it? We're still fighting.

Well, that's it for our time here in Savannah. We leave Monday for Charleston. We'll spend the weekend recuperating from the hard work of sightseeing. :) I also need to get rid of a nasty cold. Pray for us as we travel on Monday. It's going to be SUCH an easy trip!! Only a couple of hours up the road. Nice.

Enjoy the pictures. As always, there are more on the web. Take care of each. Keep in touch. We love to hear from you. Until the next time . . .