Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On to Chesapeake Thousand Trails

We left Williamsburg RV Resort around 11 am on Sunday morning and within an hour we were pulling into Chesapeake Bay RV Resort -- another Thousand Trails resort, in Gloucester, Virginia.  (Pronounced "Glou-ster").  As is the custom for most Thousand Trails, we checked in, found a place to disconnect the car, and I drove around looking for sites.  There were several 50 amp full hookup sites available but we wanted to get out with satellite so we chose one with no trees nearby.  The site was fairly level and we were up and running within about an hour.

We had heard this was one of the nicer Thousand Trails campgrounds and it is pretty nice.  There is quite a bit of room between the sites.  There is a beach and a boat dock and ramp for people wanting to go boating on the Piankatank River.  Although the campground is called Chesapeake Bay, it actually backs up to the Piankatank River that empties into Chesapeake Bay.  We walked around the campground and saw they have two nice pools (family and adult only), shuffleboard, miniature golf, and volleyball.  The big lodge has a big dining hall, covered pavilion, adult lounge and spa.  There is a nice store they call the Trading Post that seems to be well-stocked.  They also have four very nice pickleball courts.  Ken and Bonnie had told us about the pickleball courts and we were looking forward to playing while we are here.

After dinner, we walked along the beach area right about sunset.


We found some lounge chairs...


...and watched the sun set over the Piankatank River.


On Monday morning, we walked over to the pickleball courts around 8:30.  Since no one was there yet, Chuck and I hit a few balls back and forth and started to play a game.  A gentleman came up and was watching us and we asked if he wanted to join us.  He said "sure" and that his wife would be there in just a few minutes.  That is how we met Pete and Joyce who were originally from the Richmond area but now live in Port Orange.  (And yes, they know all about Aunt Catfish's.)  

Pete and Joyce have been playing pickleball for several years and play every chance they can get both here and back home in Port Orange.  Several other campers began showing up and we played until about 11:30.  And that's how it was every morning.  Everyone that wanted to play pickleball started showing up around 8:30 to 9 and we would play until around 11:30.  With the heat, we would all like to be able to play in the evening when it should be a little cooler but the lights on the courts don't work which is very disappointing for all the pickleball players.  


We played with some very good pickleball players and even a couple of newbies.  One of the best parts about pickleball is the new friends you meet:  Jerry and Judy, Bobby and Carol, Wade and Tiffany, Buck, Bob, Pete, Ed, Mark and Charles.  Ed and Mark picked up the game very quickly.  Charles was a young teenager that everyone was trying to show how to play.  He didn't seem to mind at all playing with us "old folks."  Everyone was so good about teaching and showing the newbies how to play pickleball.  I'm still learning and several of them gave me some good tips that I'm going to try to remember.  And more importantly, put into practice!

It seems like our time here at Chesapeake Bay has flown by.  We may have to come back to Chesapeake again and stay a little longer!  

Tomorrow morning we head north again to Hershey, PA.  Ken and Bonnie -- here we come!!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Colonial Williamsburg -- A Step Back in Time

On Saturday, our last day in Williamsburg, we toured Colonial Williamsburg.  The weather was overcast and cooler which was a nice reprieve from the two previous days of hot, sunny, 95+ degree weather -- particularly considering we would be outside walking most of the day today.

Colonial Williamsburg is like a history Disneyland.  I like their catchy slogan:

Best Vacation in History

Colonial Williamsburg is kind of pricey ($40.99 for adult one day ticket) but after going, we can say it was definitely worth it.

After getting our tickets and watching the 1957 movie "The Story of a Patriot" at the Williamsburg Visitor Center, we began our walk back into the 18th century.  Before entering Williamsburg, we stopped off at the Great Hopes Plantation.


We stopped to see what was cooking in the kitchen which in the 18th century was always outside in a separate building.


The kitchen was probably a nice place to work in the winter time when it was cold but in temperatures like what we have been having lately, it would have been miserable.  Can you imagine cooking over an open fire in heat like this with all those clothes?

How you heat up an iron skillet in the 18th century.
We saw several carpenters working outside making shingles and posts.




According to these carpenters, all the buildings on the property are constructed this way with only tools used from the 18th century.  No power saws or drills or air guns.  Just good ol' 18th century hand tools, sweat and muscle.

A lathe used to fashion decorative spindles and furniture legs.
This lady was working in the tobacco field.


Last, we went inside the slaves cabin which usually consisted of merely a dirt floor where this woman described what conditions for slaves would have been like and how they worsened from the 17th to the 19th century when slavery was finally abolished.


We went from one extreme to another on our first two stops -- from a planter's farm to the Governor's Palace.


The Governor's Palace housed the British Governor appointed by the King of England.  While we waited for our tour to begin, we investigated the cellar...

"Duck, Chuck!"
...and the kitchen outbuilding.  All the food we saw prepared both at the Palace and the farm was actual food like what might have been prepared in the 18th century and cooked in an open fireplace.


Much bigger kitchen than the one back on the farm.
We were led on a tour of the Palace but the Governor himself, Lord Dunmoore.


Lord Dunmoore pointed out that all 540 guns and swords displayed in the palace were there to remind visitors of the power of the British Army -- the biggest in the world at that time.



Lord Dunmoore showed us the upstairs where he, his wife, the Countess, and their five daughters had their living quarters.



In the front of the palace, Lord Dunmoore and his wife, the Countess, would receive guests in the parlor...


...and would entertain by hosting balls in the ballroom...


...followed by wine and appetizers in the large room behind the ball room.


The Governor's Palace was lavishly decorated in the latest styles of the time and the grounds were landscaped beautifully.


The original Governor's Palace was destroyed by fire in 1781 during the American Revolution.  I imagine that many of the patriots were not at all sorry to see that reminder of British force and occupation be destroyed.  

Next, we walked by Bruton Parrish (built 1711-1715) which initially housed the Church of England but now serves as an active Episcopal Church.  It also served as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War.


Some of the engravings on the tombstones were rather lengthy -- almost like a condensed eulogy.


As we walked through town, we stopped to see how candles were made.  With today's electricity, it's easy to forget the importance of candles.  Candlemakers used beeswax or bayberry to make the candles but only the wealthy people like who were living here in the center of Williamsburg could afford to buy candles.  Most farmers and laborers just worked with the sun and slept with the night.  What candles they did make were made out of animal fat.  


We also stopped by a shoemaker's shop to see how shoes were made.


We came upon this gentleman carrying his prized rooster.  


Even in Colonial Williamsburg, it seems like road improvement is always going on.  


A little after 1 pm, we were treated to a fife and drums parade.


By this time we were starving.  We stopped at the Raleigh Tavern & Bakery and had some pretty good ham sandwiches with an old fashioned root beer and ginger ale.


After lunch, we continued walking down Duke of Glouscester Street and stopped at a coffeehouse...


where the ladies treated us to samples of their coffee (which I of course thoroughly enjoyed) and hot chocolate which was just a little thick.  It's made by melting down chocolate and adding water.  



Part of the real charm of Williamsburg is that the people working there make you feel like you are actually back in 18th century Williamsburg.  Here, at the coffeehouse, the servers told us that Mr. Carlton (the owner of the coffeehouse) was "allowing" us to try some samples so we might consider bringing business to him in the future.  

Our next stop was at the Capitol...



where we toured the legislative hall where laws were debated among members of the House of Burgesses,


where meetings with and between legislators would have taken place,


and where court for capital offenses like murder and pig-stealing would have taken place.


After leaving the Capitol, we went to the Gaol (pronounced "jail") where convicted prisoners were either banished, punished, or hung for their crimes.  



The jail cells were fortified with iron bars...


and iron manacles.


They did have indoor toilets.  Pheweee!


We watched a very young fire brigade being trained...


...and then took a tour of the Magazine where the guns and ammunition were stored.




We watched a mock trial in the courthouse...


...and then I got locked up in the stocks.  :)


The last building we toured was the Wetherburne Tavern...


...where a person could rent a place to sleep which could mean you would be sharing a bed with a stranger or sleeping on the floor.


You could also get a bite to eat...


...or something to drink from the bar.


The last events of the day were a "call to arms" to the colonists...


... and the recruitment and training of a young militia.


The Militia's Captain
Lastly, there was the parade of the American Army and young Virginia militia...


...followed by inspection by the generals and firing of the muskets and cannon.


Our trip to Williamsburg has been filled with history from the beginning of the first British settlement to America's fight for independence.  It's been a very busy three days!


Next, we leave history behind and move on to the Chesapeake Bay area.