Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Monticello Visit

 So last Thursday night we slept in a nice Sleep Inn there in Charlottesville, where we met up with the McC's, who had spent the day at UVa.  Christine had all sorts of helpful information to pass on!  After a nice breakfast, it was on to Monticello, where we met up with the Cr family.  Michele, who teaches our 5th/6th grade lit class, had put together this field trip for us, and she did an outstanding job!
We filled a shuttle bus with Rivendell family and friends, and we made it over to the actual house right before our tour started at 10:10.  We had such a great tour guide--knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  We wished we could have had someone like her for our tour of the ship in San Francisco harbor 2 months ago!

I really enjoyed seeing the house, especially Thomas Jefferson's chamber.  I just loved all the windows and the lack of corners, with all the interestingly shaped rooms!  And his desk was so fascinating, with the "polygraph" machine he designed to make a second copy of what he was writing, and the turning fold-up book rack.  I want one of those!  I was really impressed by Jefferson's willingness to learn whatever he needed to do whatever he had set his mind to.  Very inspirational!
We were there right before Jefferson's birthday (which was April 13), and there was quite a little celebration going on!  Bob had to take Drew out of the tour because he was so fussy, so Bob was listening to a speech being given.  He said it was absolutely awful--very anti-capitalistic--and he had to come back inside, rather than stay out and torture himself by listening anymore!  But by the time we got out there, a fife and drum corps was giving a little concert AND there was birthday cake!
The kids happily ate birthday cake and listened to the music.
Then it was on to a tour of his gardens with another knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guide!  This lady carried around with her a copy of a book about the gardens, which used extensive research into the very detailed diaries that Jefferson kept to be able to recreate the gardens today as they were when he was alive.
After that tour was over, we managed to get a group shot looking out towards the beautiful mountains.  You can't see Drew's head because he is pitching a terrible temper tantrum and being terribly uncooperative!  And it was time for lunch, so we walked back down to the visitors' center, where we ate.  We had brought a picnic lunch, but the other families bought from the little cafe they have there.

After lunch, we watched a 15 minute film called "Thomas Jefferson's World", and then we toured an exhibit there in the visitor's center.  It had a lot of details about the building of the house, which I found very interesting.  Really, there are so many interesting details about Jefferson's life because he kept such meticulous diaries!  It is such a gift that a man who ended up being so famous and leaving such a lasting legacy kept such detailed notes.  You would think that someone keeping those diaries would have to be really boring, not someone famous, lol.
Then we headed downstairs to the "Discovery" area, where they had all sorts of hands-on things for the kids to do--even try out a reproduction of the polygraph machine!  The kids were all kept busy in here for awhile.
This is Anna's lovely house.  Just a few minutes after this picture was taken, Micah melted down, and we had to make a speedy exit!  It had been 2 long days for him and Drew, poor babies.  They fell right asleep in the van!

We took the opportunity to drive through the campus of UVa, just so the boys could see it.  They really weren't that impressed.  There were so many students swarming all over, and there were busy roads with lots of traffic all around.  Plus, Charlottesville is just a bigger city than Blacksburg, and that's not actually an advantage in their minds.  On our way out, we took a wrong turn, so we had to drive down a road with a bunch of fraternity houses.  People were just milling around, climbing on roofs, etc., and the houses just looked pretty ratty.  That was the final nail in the coffin, lol, and neither boy now has any desire to go there.  Although when Luke is really looking at schools, we will probably go back down and actually take a tour and meet with people.  That will be better than just a drive-through!  Nathan for sure doesn't want to go someplace with just a small ROTC detachment, so it's a non-issue for him.

We had such a fun day, and we were so thankful the weather was so beautiful for this whole little trip!  We made it home that night and were so glad to be there.  I was so tired.  The next day Nathan and Luke had to get up early to take the ACT.  Nathan was able to drive himself and Luke over there, which was absolutely lovely!  That gave me some time to recover!  

No comments: