Well, it’s upon us. The ultimate homeschooling trip….

04 May

Earlier in the year I mentioned that we were fundraising for a trip to Washington, D.C. and now we’re here!!! We caught a late flight and arrived in Virginia this past Wednesday morning! Two weeks. Virginia. DC. Sites and monuments. One heck of a trip!!

I admit I was a BIT nervous. I have never taken a trip of this length before, but the days are going by quickly and it’s going quite well! I came well armed with a stack of Google directions for places to go and so far they haven’t led me too far astray.

Day 1, Wednesday May 1, 2013

We arrived tired after a red-eye flight but were excited to be here. We got breakfast and then were on our way to finding stuff since check-in wasn’t until late afternoon. We went to see Shirley Plantation. A glorious house that still has private residents living there, with tons of history. The thing that stood out for me was this was where Robert E. Lee’s mother grew up and got married. Interesting stuff. We went on the tour and it was just four of us and the tour guide and my son was able to ask questions to his heart content. Loved it!

Day 2, Thursday, May 2, 2013

After a good night’s sleep we were ready to take on the world and headed off to Jamestown and Williamsburg. We got a late start and the Jamestown thing didn’t work out as planned for that day, so we decided to try and do it another day, We did go to Williamsburg. It was beautiful and interesting and there is so much to do! My son was quite interested in seeing all the different trades and ask questions of the people working in the different shops. He also learned the difficulty of lugging water from a well. At the end of the day we realized we had only managed to do half of it! We decided we could fit in another day somewhere along the way.

Day 3, Friday, May 3, 2013

We had to fit in something just plain, old fun along the way. We went to Busch Gardens. My son tried his first “big” roller coaster, complete with an almost 90 degree drop and upsidedown loops. That…didn’t work out too well for him (actually it was pretty scary even for me!), but seeing as how it was early in the season, and a typical school day, we didn’t waste time finding out he didn’t like it, because there was no line, and it saved us from him wanting to try the other coasters (which I think make up about half the park!)

He did enjoy the tamer rides and we saw a great musical performance near the Italian place we ate lunch at (it was somewhat like a field show combined with a dance routine), a May pole dance over in the Germany/Oktoberfest area, and a few animals. It’s a bit like Epcot at DisneyWorld where it allows you to learn a bit of the different cultures because of the different “country areas” so between that and the artistic performances it could qualify as somewhat interesting.

We also played a couple of games and walked away with prizes. My son had to use an average to win his and he joked about having to use math and how that was educational, so see ladies and gents, sometimes they DO get it!

Overall we had a blast!

Day 4, Saturday May 4, 2013

I had debated whether today we should do what I planned initially for Sunday or just squeeze in our second day of Williamsburg, but decided in the end to do our Sunday activity today and do Williamsburg/Jamestown tomorrow to give us a break from it for another day before heading on back – not to mention minimizing the walking. Today we went to a Civil War battle re-enactment. It was the 150th anniversary for the Battle of Chancellorsville, one that eventually led to the death of Stonewall Jackson.

On the way there, when we got off the expressway, I saw a sign that said “Stonewall Jackson Shrine” on one of those brown “historical” signs, and though it went opposite the way we were supposed to go, I followed the sign and ended up at the location where his house and land had been. An office was still standing and it just happened to be the 150th anniversary of the date when he was brought home after having his arm amputated (due to his own soldiers accidentally firing on him as he went to scout out the location of Union troops), having later succumbed to pneumonia, on May 10. There were also people there visiting it in full Civil War soldier garb. I figure they were part of the reenactment later on in Spotsylvania. (Check it out.

It seemed to be a huge event beacuse the number of people there to see it was astounding (we had to wait in line in the lane in the road before being able to pull in to park) and I saw license plates there from a number of states. Many people of all ages were there decked out in full Civil War period costumes and even older elementary-aged children were part of the main event, being part of things like the drumming.

The battle was a blast (pun somewhat intended!) This had to have been quite well rehearsed and planned because of the number of people involved and the moving around/actions involved. This wasn’t some five-minute thing and people are dead and the soldiers cheer and all is over. It lasted quite awhile and various movements and strategies of the different armies (mainly the Confederate army though, being here in Virginia, of course) were explained as they happened. It was a really great experience and the extent of the sights and sounds of the gunfire really gave you a feel for what it must have been like to be in battle. My son loved the gunfire and the amount of smoke created. It was pretty awesome, and the kind of event I’d highly recommend for anyone to go to.

I should also mention there was also a “camp” set up that showed how camp life was among soldiers, along with various tents displaying the names of various historical figures from the war. Supposedly there were activities for the kids to participate in too, but I’m not sure if we missed them or if we just didn’t get around to see them. Along with different vendors, it made it a full, fun experience.

The day there ended as we headed back to our car and saw a group of men with different brass instruments in dark blue uniforms standing around, looking to be waiting to play. I asked someone sitting there if they would be performing, and she said yes, that it’d be half-an-hour or so till they warmed up. We weren’t sure we wanted to wait, but 5 minutes later they started actually warming up by playing full songs, so we got to hear several songs by them with a minimal wait! It was a nice way to end the day.

Tomorrow, on to Jamestown Settlement and back to Williamsburg! I’ll try to keep this updated for anyone interested in reading more about this trip.

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