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Williamsburg and Other Historic Towns

bulletSunday 12th November
bulletMonday 13th November
bulletTuesday 14th November
bulletWednesday 15th November
bulletThursday 16th November - Williamsburg
bulletFriday 17 November

Click on the links to find out more about these historic sites!

Sunday 12th November – Jordy’s birthday

We woke to a dull day.  Left for brunch at the Chamberlin Hotel on Fort Monroe, but whoops! - breakfast finished at 10.00 and we arrived at 10.20.   Never mind.    The Chamberlin was obviously quite grand in its heyday but has now deteriorated.   I couldn't help thinking that the Canadian Pacific chain of hotels could work wonders with it as the setting is wonderful.   
Tracy then drove us through Newport News and Tracy showed us the dreadful area where she had to go to pay a bill when she first came here.  It was a dreadful area and must have been very scary.   Enough to send me running home to mum!    We drove to Jamestown along the Colonial Parkway with its lovely autumn trees.   It had turned out to be a glorious day, weather wise.   When we arrived at the Visitor Centre we were starving so we started off with a snack.  Our snack was very ordinary and the people serving us were most unfriendly - once again not the Southern hospitality we've heard about.    We started our visit to the centre by watching a film, which was very amateurish, then wandered through the museum, which was excellent.  There were very interesting artefacts from Native Americans and the early British settlers.  The story of Pocahontas was portrayed here and I couldn't help but think of Yas as she loves Pocahontas, mainly from Disney though.     We then wandered through the recreation of a Powhatan Indian village, able to go inside the huts and see the utensils, etc. they would have used.    Then down we went to the James River and the replicas of the three ships, the 'Susan Constant', the Godspeed and the Discovery.  The Godspeed was so small that we couldn't imagine sailing it up the river, let alone from England.  Yuck.    From here we could see the ferry where we crossed the James River in our travels in 1977.    Costumed interpreters showed us different aspects of life in the colony.   Then it was on to the fort in the lovely warm sunshine.   A chap showed us how he loaded a musket and then shot it.  Boy was it loud!   

We then headed out on the Parkway once again, for the Yorktown Victory Centre.   It was getting a bit late but we wanted to see this as well so we gave it a go.   We stopped on the way to get photos of the lovely autumn leaves on the Parkway and, after Tracy had got in the car again, I saw a deer.   But as I was the only one who saw it, I had been drinking yet again!    At the Yorktown Victory Centre the reception was once again lukewarm (perhaps it was the time of day) and the film awful.   I even slept through a bit of it, even though I was very interested in what went on there.    However, the museum was fantastic - in fact, it deserved more time that we were able to give it.   We ventured out to the "Soldiers' Lot" where the hospitality more than made up for the lack of it up front.   We were shown into the tents which were the same as those used by soldiers of the Revolution, the medicines they took (which interested Tracy no end), what they ate and all about their general life.   The young people talking to us were fantastic.   We wandered on to the recreated farm where we were once again greeted warmly and shown tobacco and flax hanging in the shed, how they turned the flax into yarn for cloth for their clothes and home remedies for illnesses.  
Then it was closing time so we headed back to Hampton for a delicious meal at the Indian Restaurant there.    This is quite a new restaurant in Hampton, run by a young Indian couple.   Delicious food and lovely people.  I am sure it will do well.  A great day once again.

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Monday 13th November

What a great day, after a good start, followed by a hiccup or two.    Tracy took us in to Hampton on her way to work.   Our plans were to have breakfast, catch the ferry at 9.00 a.m. over to Norfolk, visit the Nauticus Naval Centre and other places there, then catch the ferry back or phone Tracy to taxi us.   Well, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.   Someone else said that, I think.   We had a wonderful breakfast in the dining room of the Radisson Hotel, overlooking the yachts in the marina.   As we were eating, we saw the ferry coming back from Norfolk and thought we were just in time to catch it back again.   However, when we approached the ferry, a lad told us that they had gone to their winter schedule with only two trips each way per day.   The first was at 6.30 a.m. Hampton to Norfolk and return and the second at 3.30 p.m. Hampton to Norfolk, returning at 5.30 p.m.   I let forth an expletive and then had to apologise, because all of our plans for the day had suddenly gone haywire.   This was very annoying as the people in the Visitor Centre had given us the time-table and there was no mention of winter schedule on that.   I phoned our 'little girl' and she came to the rescue.   

Old folks at home.jpg (69010 bytes) Tracy picked us up and we went back home for her to change.    The people she works with were wonderful while we were there as their main aim seemed to be for Tracy to give us a good time and they didn't worry about her taking extra time off, which was great.    We then set off to visit some of the James River Plantations.   I was thrilled as this was something I really wanted to do.  Firstly we visited Sherwood Forest Plantation, the retirement home of President John Tyler and a lovely place.    We had a delicious lunch in the very lovely Tippecanoe Room at the plantation.   It was such a lovely setting.   We were then given a guided tour, taken around by a young lad who really knew his business.    It was an unusual house.   Only one room deep but 301 feet long - the longest framed house in America, we were told.  The property was home to two former presidents, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler.  In fact, that is where the name of the Tippecanoe Room came from.   Tippecanoe was William Harrison's nick-name and when he ran for President, with John Tyler as his running mate, Sherwood Forest 2.jpg (125143 bytes) their slogan was "Tippecanoe and Tyler too".  Sherwood Forest was John Tyler's home from 1842 to 1862 and is still lived in by his descendants.   It was built in 1730, has been restored and is furnished with family pieces.   The family who own it live in part of the house and the other part is opened to tourists.  We were shown through the house and then wandered the grounds past the outhouses.  Tracy bought Jamie's and Jayne's Christmas present here - a recipe book accompanied by a cd of music we'd been listening  to while we had lunch.   

We then went on to Berkeley Plantation which is at Harrison Landing.   William Henry Harrison was born in this house.   It was used by General George McClellan as a Civil War Headquarters during the War of Northern Aggression.  It was very interesting to hear the same names popping up in tours in different places.   "Taps" used by the armed forces to this day, was Berkley dusk 3.jpg (54449 bytes) composed there while General McClellan was there.  The plantation had beautiful terraced gardens and after our guided tour through the house, we wandered through these down to the banks of the James River, where they have a 'replica' of a sailing ship.   Actually it looked like a cardboard cut-out and caused us a lot of Berkley boat.jpg (94962 bytes) laughter.    We called at the Shirley Plantation in the dark, but they were about to shut the gates so we couldn't see much.    Another thing for Tracy to do at a later date.   On our way home, driving in the dark, as we seemed to make a habit of, we nearly hit a big stag standing in the middle of the road.   Tracy's good eyesight and good driving saved us from any mishap, thank goodness.    It was dinner at home that night (not the deer mind you!).

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Tuesday 14th November

I was up early, even though it was meant to be a rest day - something to do with a noisy night once again.  Caught up with this diary while David watched TV and had breakfast.  I cleaned out a cupboard for Tracy as the repairman was coming to fix her heating and cooling system.   Tracy had discovered it was leaking and needed fixing.  As I did this I dripped water on the kitchen floor and as I came out of the laundry, down I went with one hell of a bang.    I hurt my wrist a bit and shook myself up, but was so glad it wasn't serious.    This was our first really wet morning so I had to use, for the first time, the umbrella I bought in Canada.  It was time to find something to do indoors, so we caught the bus in to Hampton to go to the Air and Space Museum to see "Journey of Man" on the Imax.     This was quite spectacular, performed by Cirque de Soleil.    Rather unusual, but so clever.    I usually prefer to see scenery on the Imax but this was enjoyable.   We were getting a bit peckish so we found a Food Court across the road and had lunch.    By this time the rain had stopped.    We had decided to go on the ferry to Norfolk and return, because this would give us a look at the naval base and the dockyards on our way over there.  It was a very pleasant trip and we were the only ones on board so the lad explained everything to David, in between painting and setting up the boat for a trip to Norfolk for the Christmas lights, the next weekend.  We felt as though we had chartered the boat just for ourselves.   It had fined up completely and wasn't even cold on the way over so we could stand on deck to get a better view.   There were quite a few aircraft carriers at the naval base and a lot of other activity taking place as we sailed along.   We pulled in to Norfolk and three more passengers boarded for the return journey.  It was getting a bit crowded!    We arrived back at Hampton at 5.30 and waited for Tracy.   I realised I had left her mobile phone at home so she couldn't contact us if she wanted to.   I was getting a wee bit worried, when up she walked and said we were meeting her sailing pal, Ben Owens and his wife Joanne.   I nearly freaked out as I'd dressed for comfort that day after my fall, and knowing that we'd only be sitting around in the theatre and on the ferry.   There I was going into a sports bar with my trackpants and an older striped top on.    Everyone else was dressed up from work or in there before dinner.   Oh well, I'm only an old dragon from Kangarilla, after all.    We had drinks and chatted to Ben and Joanne who are really good value.   Ben is very opinionated, especially about politics and history, but he is good fun and prepared to listen to your point of view even though he would never agree with it.  Of course, we were having a lot of fun about the complete shemozzle of the presidential election.   That muck up gave us good mileage.   After quite a while, Ben suggested we go for dinner together (with me dressed as I was!) so we drove out to a bistro and had a lovely meal and a lot of laughs.   Joanne is a scream.    She used to work for Red Cross, but is now 'retired' and still working for Red Cross.   She's very high up in the organisation in Virginia.  It was a great night.  They are both really good fun.

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Wednesday 15th November

A day of false starts and muck ups, but finally a good one.    Tracy suggested that I go with her on her way to work to the chemist where I'd left one roll of film to see what sort of a job they did.    The plan was that we were to pick up the film and if I was happy, leave the rest to be done and she would drive me back home.  When we got there the chemist was shut so Tracy drove me back home again then off she went to work.     She suggested that she come back at 10 a.m., pick us up, go get the film, pick up Lisa's print and drop us off at the University to visit the museum there.    Great plan - but the film wasn't in and Lisa's print wasn't ready.   However, we did go to the museum.   Tracy dropped us off and returned to work.  The musem was good, but very small so we were through it in no time.   Then what?   Tracy had told us to go to a funny little community store in the University grounds and buy two Jamaican patties.   These were delicious little curry pies (like party pies) with pastry like Vili's.    Yum!   We then waited quite a while for a bus until a nice young girl told us it didn't run there, despite a sign to say it did, and gave us directions to walk across a bridge to reach the main bridge back into downtown Hampton.    This was such a pretty walk with a lovely view of the marina area.   We'd looked up the bus schedule and seen that a bus left in about an hour, so we decided to go and pick up Lisa's print then, instead of in the morning as we'd planned.   The print was beautiful.  I was so pleased with it.    It was one of David Dridan's I'd brought from home and we'd had it framed for Lisa as a thank you for her hospitality.    We went back to the food court for hot chocolate as it was getting cold, although fine.   Here was where the trouble started.    I suggested that we catch the bus where we'd got off the day before, which was about 50 metres from where we were, but David had spotted on a timetable that there was a bus terminal somewhere and thought it better to board there.    We trudged all around the streets, me with the print under my arm, and to cut a long, grumpy story short, we caught the bus back at the bus stop where we'd started!   Oh well, as I'd said before, you can't win them all.   It was an interesting trip back to Tracy's anyway, as the bus went a different route out of downtown Hampton back to Buckroe Beach and Atlantic Avenue.    We walked back, did some cleaning (well, I did), had a relaxing bath (well I did) and got ready to go out with Ben and Joanne once again (we both did).    We went to the Hampton Yacht Club, which is where Tracy learnt to sail, and sat drinking and chatting looking out over the marina and the lights of Norfolk, across the bay.   Then it was time for dinner upstairs.   We all started a delicious meal with 'she crab' soup.   Yummy!  Tracy and I followed this with crab cakes and David had grilled salmon.  It was all delicious - except for the collared greens.  I just can't come at these.  They are a Southern specialty and they can keep them so far as I'm concerned - obviously an acquired taste.  Ben insisted on paying for all of us, which was a bit embarrassing.  They insisted on us trying peanut pie, so they shared one piece while Tracy, David and I shared another.   It was delicious.    We finished off the day with drinks back downstairs, looking at the lights.   They are a lovely couple - very warm and generous.   Tracy has a lot of fun with Ben on his boat.   It was freezing cold when we came out of the yacht club - a real change in temperature.   We thought it could be a permanent change as winter was approaching, after all.    When we got home, Tracy showed us the photos of her adventures over the past 10-11 months and then it was time to sleep.   Tracy had to pick up Lisa from the airport at Norfolk at 12.30 a.m. and originally I offered to go with her but I blew out and she was on her own.

(The lady at the chemist shop where we'd left the film seemed a bit grumpy when we left it there on the Saturday, but I think she was getting a bit embarrassed at the delay and she started to chat and of course asked where we came from.   I told her and she said she would love a kangaroo, so I went out and got her a Kangarilla Primary School fridge magnet.  She was thrilled and this proved to be a good bit of PR work.)

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Thursday 16th November

When we all surfaced, we gave Lisa her print, which she loved.    It looked beautiful.  The framers had done a great job of it.   It was so good to see Lisa again. We then set out for Colonial Williamsburg and on the way picked up Macca's for breakfast.   As I said before, we couldn't seem to make anyone understand us from the pick-up areas of any of these places and always ended up going inside to place our orders face to face!    This was no exception.  Then it was off to pick up my photos and guess what - they weren't there again!   Talk about a marathon.  This was all because I had asked to have them done with a matt finish, which I was starting to regret.   The lady there kindly offered to do my other films in their store, so long as I was happy to have glossy ones and then she could keep her eye on them.  She even offered to do them cheaper - there was quite a heap of them - so I left them there and hoped for the best.    That good old fridge magnet did the trick!    Off we headed for Williamsburg.   It was a dull day and starting to get really cold - was there snow about?    Williamsburg is wonderful.   It is by far the best tourist attraction I've been to.   It has been done so tastefully - in America?   Everything is so - well - colonial.   We started off the tour by watching a film about what happened in Williamsburg at the time of the Revolution, and guess what.   It was a good film at last.   (David was still looking for Mel - at least this was the right war!) Then we boarded a bus and rode to the village.   Apparently people live in some of the houses in the village but traffic is banned from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. so the colonial feeling is there despite this.    We visited Williamsburg in 1977 but couldn't really remember much about it, except that Tracy remembered, and rightly so of course, that we had our photos taken alongside a well.    We first visited the Governor's palace and were told, very quickly and very profusely, the history of this building.  The guns and swords hanging on the walls in here were amazing.   Then we wandered down the street and someone mentioned food, so of course off we went to the taverns to find out what there was to eat as someone had told us that the food at these was outstanding.    Joanne had also told us to watch out for peanut soup (?!)    On our wanderings we went into an apothecary store which had wonderful things in it.    We chose lunch at the King's Arms Tavern and what a delicious lunch it was.   We had decided to have a big meal for lunch and then skip food for the rest of the day.  The tavern was a typical colonial tavern and we sure did have delicious food - no collared greens thank goodness.    Tracy, Lisa and I had peanut soup, as recommended, and it was delicious.   I really must get the recipe.   Tracy and I also had 'rummers' for drinks.   Boy, were they strong.   I am sure mine kept me warm for the rest of the afternoon, not to mention a bit giggly.    It really was a wonderful meal in a wonderful setting.     Out we went to walk this off and our first stop was the jail, which was pretty scary.    The people working in the village, all dressed in colonial garb, were fantastic.   By far the best we'd experienced anywhere - so informative, but also so warm and friendly.   Everyone said hello.   We then went over to the court house which is where important decisions were made about seceding from the British.   We then wandered the streets, into shops and out again until we came to a bakery where the others bought hot chocolate and I had the most delicious hot apple cider - nothing to eat though.   We'd had enough!   We found a well outside the bakers.  We couldn't remember if it was the 1977 one, but Lisa took our photos by it, just in case.  (We'd have to look at our photos when we got home)   Along the street we watched the calling for volunteers to join the army to fight the British, with pipe band and all, but decided against it as we were foreigners.    What would Her Majesty say anyway?!   By this time it was getting a bit dark and fires were being lit in the street.   It was so beautiful.   Then guess what - we found the most wonderful shops which are actually out of the village, but still set up in colonial style shops. Fantastic!    By this time David was really dragging his feet so we caught a bus back to the Visitor Centre and set off for home.    When we got back to Hampton, we picked up the photos and I was very disappointed in them at first, but it was hard to tell in the car's lights, so I kept my fingers crossed.   Tracy had an appointment to have her hair cut and after much difficulty we found the hairdresser over at Ghent, which is across the Bay, near Norfolk.  While Tracy had her hair cut, we sat and looked at the photos and we were thrilled to bits with them in 'real' light.  
By this time Lisa was exhausted, but agreed to 'let' us go see the Christmas lights in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, because we could drive through and not walk another step.  David fully agreed with that.    Tracy had looked this up on the Internet after one of her work mates had told her about them.  As we came up to the entrance to the gardens, we noticed that the entrance was blocked off, but the exit was open so through we went, followed by a utility.  When we stopped to take a photo, a security man came up and told me the gardens were closed and the lights were not on display until the next night.    I explained that Tracy had looked it up on the Internet and it said they were open on that night.   He said it was only for members and we had better come back the next night.    After saying we couldn't because we were leaving, he asked, "Where do y'all come from?"   I told him and he said, "Well go right on through.  Just drive wherever you want to and have a good time." How 'bout that!  The Aussie accent will get you almost anywhere in this country.  The lights were unbelievable.   We've never in our lives seen anything like them.    Flowers, raindrops, rainbows, etc. etc. etc.      Eat your heart out Lobethal.   We went home after all this excitement and had dinner in front of Xena on the TV.  Then it was E.R. time, during which David conked out - then I did.    A busy day, but a very enjoyable one.

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Friday 17 November

Up to a dull morning.    We said goodbye to Lisa, rather sad to see her go.   She is such fun and we'd thoroughly enjoyed her company once again.    Did the washing, got a few things ready for our travels once again until Tracy came back for us to go to a special Thanksgiving lunch at the base.   We were invited especially as guests, which was very nice.    The lunch was delicious, with baked Virginia ham, turkey, salads, all sorts of vegetable dishes, including greens.  This time I really enjoyed them so it must depend how they are cooked.  The lady who cooked these said it depends who cooks them.    It was really nice meeting the folk that Tracy works with and has talked about.    Kurt, who had invited us to Thanksgiving at his house, was there.   We chatted to different ones while we ate and generally had a good time.   One of Tracy's work-mates had his little boy, Alex, there and I've never seen such a ham.   He was only eight months old but boy did he play up to the cam!
 era.   Every time I put the camera up he just beamed.  His eyes never left it.   We sat for a while, chatting to some of the civilian ladies who work with Tracy, but then we had to get going as Tracy had to run us home before going back to do some work.  One of the fighter command's planes had come down and they had to set up investigations.  We had a quick look at Tracy's office and met the talking Xena there.   Yes, talking!     On the way home we called and picked up that elusive film at last and then Tracy dropped us off before returning to work.   David and I watched the first video of "Gettysburg".   It was fascinating, watching things happen right where we'd been a couple of weeks before.   Tracy was a bit late home.  She'd stopped and done some shopping for things to take with us on our trip.   We had dinner at home, watched TV and packed for our next lot of travels.

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