Middletown, VA - 09/30/2012

Published at 9:31 PM in ,

Welcome to Middletown!

This morning we went out to breakfast with Betsy and her husband, Mark.  There is a little diner right down the street from their house and we had an excellent breakfast on scrambled eggs, French toast sticks, and hash browns.  Of course, Miss Picky (Rachael) wouldn't eat her toast because it wasn't plain, so she had donuts from the convenience store (we are champion parents).  The rest of us were loving the meal!

Belle Grove Plantation

After starting laundry at Betsy's, we went to Belle Grove Plantation.  This plantation belonged to the sister of President James Madison and her family.  It sits on acres and acres of beautiful land that once included 8,000 acres and over 100 slaves.  It was used as headquarters for the Union Army during the Civil War, as well, during the battle of Cedar Creek.

Jim and the Park Ranger, Kyle

The home is currently undergoing renovations to restore it to the most accurate form as it was in its prime.  We took a tour of the home, and then listened to a Ranger program detailing the battle and the history of them home and the area.  The Park Ranger, Kyle, was very enthusiastic about his talk and had a wealth of knowledge to share.

The Wayside Inn

After the plantation,  we visited some of the other historical sites in the area.  The Wayside Inn is the oldest continually operated motel in the country, established in 1797.

The wooden surgical house

Two doors down from where Betsy lives is part of the battlefield.  There's a little wooden house that sits there that was used as a field hospital and surgeries were performed there.  Behind it is part of the battlefield.  Betsy took us metal-detecting back there to see if we could find any Civil War relics.  We didn't, but we all had a great time anyway.  It really was fun!

Digging up a treasure (scrap metal)

Rain moved in so we went to the RV for dinner and Betsy joined us.  It was a fun, educational day.

Tomorrow we are heading out, and going towards Gettysburg, PA.

More pictures in the Photo Gallery.


Middletown, VA - 09/29/2012

Published at 9:24 PM in , ,

Today was a homework, shopping, and maintenance day.  We didn't have anything very exciting to take pictures of, so this is a brief post!

We did make it to Jim's sister's, Betsy, house.  We had dinner with her at a cute little local restaurant called Italian Touch.  The kids had pizza and chicken tenders and we had salads.  Great food!

Tomorrow we are headed out with Betsy to tour some of the local Civil War history!


Monticello: Charlottesville, VA - 09/28/2012

Published at 9:23 PM in , ,


Today was a busy and fun day.  We started out at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello.  This sprawling plantation sits atop a mountain area that originally included 5,000 acres that Jefferson inherited from his father, Peter Jefferson.  This is the home you see on the back of a nickel. 

Thomas Jefferson was an interesting man.  He wrote his on epitaph, which calls him the author of the Declaration of Independence, the third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia.  But these were only a few of his accomplishments.  I won't go into more detail here, but he is worth reading more about at The White House website.

Monticello is a beautiful home designed by Jefferson himself.  During his presidency, he reworked and redesigned parts of the home.  It took over forty years to build to its completed state as it stands today.

Visitors aren't allowed to photograph anything in the home itself, so we don't have any pictures from that.  The entry way is decorated with maps of not only Virginia, but the United States as it was in those days and South America.  There also hangs a set of elk antlers that the famous explorers Lewis and Clark brought back to Jefferson.  There are also other animals mounted in there, as well as Native American artifacts and reproductions of dinosaur bones that Jefferson collected.

Next was his library and study.  Jefferson loved books, and originally donated over 20,000 books to start the Library of Congress.  He missed them so much he began collecting them again.  The home has accurate copies of the books he owned, but also has a dozen or so books that were actually his.  Adjacent to the study was his bedroom, where he also died.

The remainder of the bottom floor houses the dining room and a guest room, frequented by James and Dolley Madison.  The upper floors can only be viewed by special tour, so we didn't get to see those.

Laundry room

Below the home is the cellar, which included all the areas the slave labor worked in.  This included the kitchen, ice house, stables, carriage house, wine and beer storage, the dumbwaiters that served the main floor, plus much more.  Monticello's design had a series of underground walkways so that you could walk from one end to the other without getting wet.

A view of the gardens

The slaves homes line an area known as Mullberry Row.  The gardens at Monticello are extensive and beautiful, even today.  We enjoyed just roaming around the grounds.

Jefferson's grave

We headed down the hill to the Jefferson family cemetery, where Jefferson, his wife, and children are buried.  After that we caught the shuttle back to the Visitors' Center at the bottom of the mountain.

Entry way to Ash Lawn

When we finished there, we headed two miles down the road to Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of the fifth president, James Monroe.  The entry road was lined with huge trees in beautiful colors...fitting for a president for sure.  It was raining, so we kept our visit here short.

A short thirty miles or so up the road is Montpilier, James and Dolley Madison's home.  What a fact that three presidents lived so close to each other.  Although it was getting late in the day, we decided to drive over to Montpilier to have a quick look.

Montpilier in the background

Here was another grand entrance, leading up to a fabulous view of the home and front lawn.  They were getting ready to close so we didn't stay too long.

Tomorrow we are headed to Betsy's house - should be fun!

More pictures in the Photo Gallery.


Here and there and Virginia - 09/27/2012

Published at 11:20 PM in ,

Breakfast in the RV

Today was basically another travel day for us.  We passed quickly through South Carolina and North Carolina, although we did stop at the South Carolina Visitor's Center, and made it into Virginia.

Michael & Chrissy and their breakfast

The Virginia Welcome Center had the nicest lady working there, and we are so glad we stopped.  She told us about the Skyline Drive - the 2nd most scenic drive in the country - and Monticello.

We knew Thomas Jefferson's Monticello was in Virginia, but I guess in my head I thought it was closer to Washington, D.C.  Turns out it is right on our way to Jim's sister's house!  But we wouldn't have figured that out had we not stopped.
Broken Flip-flop - Mom's fault

Unfortunately, I stepped on Michael's flip flop and it broke.  He had to walk with it that way until we got back to the RV.  That's why he has a not-pleasant look on his face in some of the pictures. 

So we planned our day tomorrow to center around Monticello and the Skyline Drive.  We are planning on getting together with Aunt Betsy on Saturday.

There are a few more pictures - including Michael picking noses again - in the Photo Gallery, so check them out.


On the road again! - 09/26/12

Published at 10:49 AM in

We made it out the door (or driveway) last night, missed traffic, and got some mileage under our belts.  Nothing exciting to report except that we did make it to South Carolina before stopping for the night.  Today our goal is to get to Jim's sister's house in northwest Virginia.  The kids are looking forward to being at Aunt Betsy's house!

I'll probably post again for today, so look for the update!


So just where are we?

Published at 11:01 AM in ,

As you may remember, we were supposed to start this trip to New England last Friday, September 21st.  Well, things didn't turn out that way.

We were ready to go Saturday when a mechanical problem decided to rear its ugly head.  A sensor telling the engine that the parking brake was off decided to not work.  No big deal since we knew the parking brake was really off, except for the super annoying alarm that continued to go off.

The part the sensor is attached to

The next setback was from good 'ole kidney stones.  Poor Jim had to go to the ER, but eventually felt better and passed the stones.  Thank goodness that happened at home!

Tuesday we finished getting the part fixed and tied up loose ends, and today's schedule includes flu shots for everyone before we get on the road.  So it will be this afternoon before we leave.  Pray for us as we get started!