Like many of you, Saturday started to get away from us. We planned to head to Monticello, but before we realized it, the clock had slipped to early afternoon. After a quick mental scrambling for Dave and me, a trip to the Chesapeake Bay was planned. We piled into the car and headed to Maryland. Bellies were empty when we arrived, so we stopped at Courtney's Restaurant. This basic mom and pop establishment fit the bill and filled our stomachs. We feasted on soft-shell crab as well as seafood soup. It also provided a chance to get near the water. The kiddos ran along the dock finding fish bones, shells and even jellyfish. The jellyfish were an amazing find as we did not know they would inhabit the waters.
With a taste of adventure and water, we headed to the state park. Dave was eager to visit the lighthouse as were the kiddos. As we drove, the kiddos assessed the shoreline. There were many people fishing from the rocky beaches. We discovered that the lighthouse is only open once a month. Disappointed, we headed to a more sandy beach area. The kiddos build sand sculptures and skipped stones. Eamon scurried out of the water when he noticed a large saucer sized jelly swimming near his toes. It was a bit comical to see him move so fast! While the kiddos played, Dave checked out the nearby fort. When he came back to us, we decided to pack it in and grab a bit of ice cream on the way home.
With the realization that we needed to move faster in the morning, we approached Sunday a bit differently. We packed up earlier and made it to Monticello after a drive through beautiful country. While Dave bought our tour tickets, we munched on lunch courtesy of Trader Joe's (I find it quite easy to stop there and pick up "snackies" that will easily fill my crew with somewhat nutritious food). We didn't have a lot of time to spend in this area before heading up the mountain to the main house and grounds. The house was much smaller than I thought it would be. Our tour guide mentioned that many people make the same comment. The interior of the house was impressive in its simplicity and adherence to Jefferson's life. The focus was definitely scholarly with many books, maps and artifacts gracing the walls and shelves. The kiddos were full of questions for our guide who answered as best she could (we were unable to take the family tour as it had sold out).
After touring the house, we walked a bit on the grounds. The kiddos worked on quill writing, reading and code breaking while Dave and I read the signage on the sides of the house. Two other tours were part of our admission, so we eagerly attended those as well. The Slavery at Monticello tour was led by an engaging guide. She told us quite a bit about how the plantation was managed as well as background on Sally Hemings and her family. It really brought the visit and the enormity of slave life into more clarity. When Jefferson died, he owned hundreds of slaves. It is so hard to comprehend this fact. Our family split for the next tour. Eamon wanted to go on the Garden Tour while Dave wanted to see the gravesite. I accompanied Eamon with Benton and Aine went with Dave. The tour was quite interesting. Our guide was a bit quieter yet very passionate about the plant life. I especially loved the 1,000 foot experimental garden. How I would love that!
After the tours, we walked around a bit more. Finally the grounds were closing, so we walked back to the main admission buildings. A quick driving trip through Charlottesville put us back on the road home. No ice cream this time, but plenty more "snackies" in the car as we drove back home.
(All photos by Dave or Aine. I passed off the camera this time out).