Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Weekend in Williamsburg, VA

Gaylord Hotel
Our children gave us a gift certificate last Christmas, toward a bus trip with  Benedicts.  Lou and decided we would like to visit  Williamsburg, VA at Christmas time .We embarked on that adventure the first week of December.  Our hostess, Maria Frank and bus driver, Dave Howey were absolutely the BEST!

We left Wellsboro at 6:00 AM on Friday and drove to Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, one of my favorite places to eat.  I purchased Karen Kingsbury's newest book  to read on the bus and Lou is taking a break from William Johnstone's westerns to read Clive Cussler's The Race and we were ready for the long ride ahead.

Maria had prepared our lunches for us, which were delicious.  She had packed various cheeses, summer sausages, apples slices, home made Christmas cookies and some Christmas Candies with our choice of drinks.  We ate at a road side rest, the weather was great, so we all had time to stretch our legs and and enjoy our surroundings.

We arrived at our lovely hotel around 3:00 pm and our luggage was delivered to our room in just a few minutes.  We had time to unpack before boarding our bus again and traveling to Yorktown to the Carrot Tree Restaurant  in the Historic Cole Diggs House. Our dinner consisted of a fruit salad, green beans with almonds and glazed carrots, Ole Dominion Biscuits and America's Brunswick Stew and Carrot Cake and coffee.

After finishing dinner we walked to the tree lighting at the  Victory Monument through historic Yorktown.  On this walk, Lou lost his camera case which  housed two SD cards.  This procession was led by the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown.  Which I was not able to capture with a picture.
As we approached the tree lighting ceremony, an announcement was made that a camera case had been found.  Lou and I were speechless, sure enough it was Lou's and the SD cards were still inside.  He gave it to me to put in my back pack.  I all arrived home safely, it was  little joke, as he makes fun of me for carrying such a large purse or in this case a back pack, it has always worked well for me and I guess it works well for Lou also!

On the waterfront in Yorktown, there were many shops and we found this statue of George Washington that had been welded together.  Many small maritime museums that we went into were interesting also, but we just had a few minutes before we were to catch the bus back to the hotel and it was getting cold by this time.

Saturday, December 1st
After enjoying a buffet breakfast at our hotel we were off to  Colonial Williamsburg. If you have not been there before, you park outside and must walk or go my horse, there are no vehicles allowed which add to the ambivalence of the area.  We were scheduled for a three hour guided tour, and were split up into two groups, I think our tour guide was just perfect.  It was easy to tell she loved what she her position.

Our first stop was the Capitol and that is where Virginia patriots developed principles of self-government, individual liberty and responsible leadership.
You can see that everyone is dressed in "period" clothing and they also talk the talk which make it so real to the visitors.  Lou is asking how they heated the Capitol.   The answer they did not heat it, due to the fear of fire. This is a picture of the actual courtroom 

After leaving the Capitol we walked up the street past the neat little shops, taking note the way the shops were decorated.  I was amazed at the way they had incorporated fresh and dried fruit, seashells, dried flowers, seed pods, fabrics, dried cotton balls into the usual greens to make marvelous wreaths and garlands.
Our next stop was the Silver Smith, she explained how they melted down the silver and made a piece of silver jewelry.  She had a journeyman working with her and she was making a silver tea pot.  As you can see it was a working shop with many "works in progress" and items for sale.  I was very interested in this shop, as I much prefer silver to gold and my all time favorite pewter.
This lady is the head Silver Smith
The rifles, swords and pistols

We the Silver Shop  and journeyed to the Governor's Palace and found that this reflected the period of Lord Dunmore's reign as he was the last English governor of the Virginia colony. The working rifles at in the entry way of the palace along with the swords and pistols.

Our tour guide throughout the Palace was another joy and I have to admit, I was enjoying the tour so much, I actually didn't take pictures, this picture shows one of the daughter's bedrooms and that is her ball dress
on the chair, as they are having a ball that evening and we are all guests getting a bird's eye view of what happens prior to the ball.

After leaving the Palace we walk back our toward the main area of of Williamsburg, and it has taken us a total of three hours thus far.  We walk past the house where the movie of the Americian Girl Doll movie Felicity was filmed.  My granddaughter, Michelle has the doll and she and I have made many clothes for Felicity so I had to take a picture of the house for her.
Felicity (Americian Girl Movie)
After leaving our tour, we had free time to each lunch and shop.  Janet and Brion has suggested a place to eat and the name of the the tavern was  Chownings Tavern, and even though Lou and I were hurting from the walking, we walked back to the Tavern we found there was a 25 minute wait, we decided we would put our name on the list and wait and were ever glad we waited.

Chownings Tavern
I enjoyed a glass of Governors White wine that was made in Williamsburg and Lou had Legend Brown ale. Lou enjoyed a salad with a delightful short rib sandwich. I tried something that I had never had before and that was creamy peanut soup which was wonderful.  It was served with hard bread and freshly ground peanuts sprinkled on top and I also had a salad.  The Tavern was wonderful.  Anyone that knows me, knows I love antiques and anything primitive and that was the Tavern complete with pewter, candles and such.  I was very much at home.  While we dined we listened to Christmas music being played on a guitar in our dining room.  All was very restful and entertaining and we were ready for the rest of the afternoon.

After leaving Chownings, we went to the Spinning Shop, I had to have a picture of the wreath, you will notice that it was made with hand spun textiles, cotton blooms and the regular greens.  At the shop they were spinning cotton, which I found interesting, as I have only spun wool.  They has Leicester sheep on their farm, which made perfect sense as they come from England and are known for their wool.  I had one, but did not keep her long, as she was very vocal.  Betsy went to the lamb pool.

After leaving the Spinning Shop we took in the sights as we made our way back to the bus pick up spot, out time at Colonial Williamsburg coming to a conclusion for today.
Mode of Travel

Ladies in Period Clothing

This was one of my favorite houses that we walked past.  I could just see myself living there!!

 On our way home we stopped at the largest Yankee Candle shop I have ever been inn.  I did a bit of Christmas shopping there.  From there we went back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner at the Boxwood Inn in Newport News.

These are the Dickens Christmas Entertainers at The Boxwood Inn.  Here we enjoyed a glass of wine with our dinner that was a gift from our hostess, Maria and our menu for the evening was a winter salad, potato and leek soup, shepherd's pie and for dessert was Christmas pudding with English custard and coffee.  We had a marvelous time there thanks to the four ladies that were also guests at the Inn.  They sat at the table adjoining our table and they were a hoot.   They called themselves SLUTS meaning Stressful Ladies Under Tremendous Stress.  They get together for a weekend away together just to unwind and that they did and we unwound with them.  What a delight!!
I must include a picture of our bus driver, Dave Howey with our lovely hostess, Maria Frank.  They made all of this possible, as you can see by the picture above, Dave helped make the ladies happy for the picture!

After we left the Inn we drove to the Celebration of Lights.  Dave was able to drive the bus through this.  It was two-miles of spectacular light display in Newport News.  Pictures would not do it justice.  Just too much to see. Bringing to an end our second day of our trip.

Sunday, December 2nd.
We were up early and enjoyed another delicious breakfast at our hotel and on the bus and headed fro a guided tour of Jamestown Settlement. As many of you know Jamestown Settlement commemorates the first permanent English settlement in the New World.  We were able to see replicas of the three ships that arrived in 1607.  I think I was the most impressed by the ships as anything we saw.  To actually board the ships and see the crude ways the settlers endured the many months.  History certainly came to life for me.
This is the ship that we boarded
You can see the cannons ready to fire if needed

The Captain, welcoming us to his ship, he had a mountain of information to share with us.
In the settlement we were able to see how the Indians lived and Lou found this very interesting, as they spoke of the Lost Colony, and it is believed that his deceased wife's family came from the Lost Colony.
A deer hide drying
Scraping the deer hide with a sea shell

Indian Home that is made from reeds that grow in the marsh
One of the houses, note the roof, it is also made from the reeds from the  marsh

One of the guards and his musket

After the Indian village we toured the Jamestown Settlement and I was amazed by the soldiers and the muskets that they fired and we watched as they fired their muskets, very accurately, I must admit.

On the way home from the Jamestown Settlement we stopped at Cookes Christmas Gifts and Collectibles.  It was an interesting place to tour, very similar to our Fifth Season in Wellsboro.  Lou and I did purchase some primitive bells for our Christmas tree.  We traveled back to our hotel to rest a bit before going back to Colonial Williamsburg for the GRAND ILLUMINATION.

We left our hotel at 4:00 so Dave could get a good place to park the bus, hoping those of us who didn't want to walk a long ways could stay on the bus until it was time for the entertainment to start.  Great Plan!!
This is the Capitol and the fireworks were all around it

No picture could capture what we saw!!
Lou and I took our books and our blanket, stayed on the bus and read until about 5:30, walked to the Capitol, put our blanket down, read our book and listened to the music and watched people, talked until it was time for the fire works.  WOW!! we had seen fireworks at Disney and thought they were wonderful, but nothing we have ever seen compared to this GRAND ILLUMINATION as done in the 1700's, with the Capitol in the background.  A memory we shall never forget.

At 7:30 we were back on the bus and on our way to Captain George's Buffet for a seafood dinner.  Lou was in 7th heaven.  Oh my, what a dinner we enjoyed, if it was seafood, they  had it and I think Lou ate it.  He was the last one to finish and probably the one that enjoyed it the most.  Every kind of dessert one could think of also.  I enjoyed Lady Baltimore cake for dessert.

Monday - December 3rd
We set our luggage outside our door and left for our last breakfast at our hotel, boarded our bus and set out for Charles City, VA where we stopped at the Edgewood Plantation.  It was once the ancestral home of U.S. Presidents William Henry and Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Throughout its dramatic history, it has served as a church, post office and a telephone exchange.

As we stood in the breathtaking hallway and listened to the homeowner talk about how she became the owner, I was enthralled with her story, Lou had pulled me up to him and had his arms wrapped around me, he whispered in my ear "do you want me to have Dave take our bags off the bus?"  I sure could have stayed, what a place, inside and out.  You can see from the pictures.  We enjoyed spiced cider and homemade cookies before leaving.

The owner on the staircase that goes up three floors

The living room

One of the many Christmas trees. She does all of her own decorating

One of the bedrooms up stairs - second floor

Another bedroom on second floor

Sleigh on the front porch

I should tell you that she had 18 Christmas trees all with twinkling lights.  The  Bed and Breakfast has 10 gleaming fireplaces and when she purchased it that is how she heated it.  Her husband cut wood year round.  She bought it with out her husband's permission, and he didn't  divorce her!!  He had to change jobs, however.

After leaving here we journeyed on to Washington, DC and the temperature was 76 degrees.  We arrived at the Gaylord to see Gaylord National's ICE.  It was truly a  winter wonderland created of 4,000 blocks of ice weighing over two million pounds.  Hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees.  If you didn't have warm coats, you were supplied with  very heavy, warm coats for your tour of this extremely breathtaking tour.  I wore my winter coat, mittens and ear muffs and spent 30 minutes.  Lou and I had been through this before in Florida.  This was geared for kids this year.  The theme was Shrek the Halls!!  Once again Gaylord Hotel   out did themselves
We arrive at the terminal  around 9:30 pm and thanked our hostess and bus driver, told our new friends good bye and were on our way home, feeling very pleased with our time spent away from home.  A weekend of great memories.