Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Colonial Williamsburg in the Spring

On Monday we visited Colonial Williamsburg.  As the kids are still young we didn't stop at every place we could have, but we tried to relate things to them and show them some of the fun to be experienced around the city.

It has been a while since we'd actually visited the city as guests.  The past couple times we've been by (including last Friday) we just walked around the historic district, but didn't have tickets so we couldn't go inside any buildings save for the stores.

It was also nice to visit during a time that wasn't too busy.  Yes we're in spring break season, but the crowds were never crazy as we were walking around and some places were even almost empty for a time so it was easier to ask questions of the interpreters.

We started out driving down the Colonial Parkway from the timeshare unit where we're staying for the week.  We're in the area due to a wedding in Virginia Beach that we went to on Saturday.
The Colonial Parkway is a twenty-three mile scenic roadway stretching from the York River at Yorktown to the James River at Jamestown. It connects Virginia's historic triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Several million travelers a year use this route to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of Virginia.--From Colonial National Historical Park website
It didn't take us too long to arrive at the visitor center, but once we did we discovered that we had left our work badges back at the unit.

I drove back to get our badges as Colonial Williamsburg extends a discount to fellow "museum professionals" who visit.

 The visitor center.

 A relief map/model of the historic area is out front of the visitor center.  Amy and the girls had stayed behind while I ran back to get the badges and I found them here when I got back.

 Inside the visitor center are several stores, a cafe, and a large ticketing area.

You can rent costumes for the day.  Perhaps when the kids are older we'll do this--or maybe we'd make our own for them to wear.


While waiting in line we got to listen to some music.

I thought the hat displays at the market were quite colorful and made a great shot.

An auction was going on when we arrived.  I've participated in one before and it was quite a bit of fun.

Of course we needed to go to the stocks to get a few pictures.  Unfortunately they were crowded (after this shot) and so we didn't get as many pictures as I would like.

Right before noon we headed over to watch the firing of the noon gun.  It was an interesting presentation and I captured two videos.


Watch this video if you just to see the gun go off.


Watch this video if you want to see the entire presentation surrounding the firing of the noon gun.  Pardon some wobbling as I was holding my camera, my iPhone, and had a toddler in my lap--it wasn't easy to keep everything steady.


As we were about to leave the area some sheep got close and then ran off.

The kids were starting to get hungry and restless after the noon gun firing so we looked for a place to eat.  I found Retro's Good Eats nearby (just at the edge of Merchant's Square).  It is a small diner that looks like it came out of the 50s, except for their square cash registers.  Amy and I had hamburgers and the girls had hot dogs and we all had fries.  It was a good place to relax and enjoy lunch.

When we headed back to our explorations we first stopped by the pasture on Nassau Street to see the lambs.
I think this picture is begging for a caption.  I imagine the older sheep imparting some wisdom to the baby lamb.
The gardens had some beautiful flowers already.
We enjoyed stopping by the carpenter's shop.  I've done quite a bit of woodworking with my dad and brother over the years (though with power tools) and I always enjoy the sights and smells of a woodshop.
The blacksmith was working on making nails when we stopped by.


Here you can see some of his process.

It was fascinating to talk to these carpenters.  The work they were doing to split logs for their new building was not something that they would have worked on historically.  Carpenters would have bought the finished wood they needed from timber merchants.  However, today there aren't any historic timber merchants so they do all of this work themselves.  Buildings take longer to complete, but they have more work going on for people to watch.

I also stopped by the brickyard.  It isn't open for the season yet as they have to wait until they're sure there will be no more frosts.

For a little while I was the only person in the area and so I got to chat with the brick maker.  It was fun asking him questions and being able to go into a bit more detail than is possible when large numbers of people are present.


The brick maker on duty explained the whole process of using the clay in molds, drying bricks, and then burning them at the end of the season.

These are the three types of bricks you'll get from a burning.  On the right is one that is slightly overdone, but very waterproof.  You might use this for a cellar.  The left-hand brick is underdone and not waterproof (closer to a sun-dried adobe brick), so it would be used on the inside of a wall where it wouldn't get wet.  The middle brick represents a "perfect" brick that is finished and waterproof.  It is also the classic red color we associate with bricks.

This was an HDR shot of one of the houses by the governor's palace.

 We didn't have time to go inside the governor's palace this trip, but we did walk by.

 As I walked back to the visitor center I saw some cows.

 This windmill isn't open at the present time but a sign says they're figuring out how to use it for interpretation.

Finally I ended up walking through in to the visitor center.  It was a good day with only a tiny bit of rain and not too much heat.  I thoroughly enjoyed walking around and revisiting the historical areas of the city.

~Matt

PS Here is a link to all of the photos that I uploaded.

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