Vacation: the rendezvous and Yorktown

When we told our pastor that we were going to colonial Williamsburg for vacation, she said that we ought to look up her niece, a student at William & Mary, who could babysit Lydia. We all thought that was a swell idea. The day before we left, the pastor dropped off care packages for both her niece and for us; ours, at least, had homemade cookies.

But while we were en route, the niece e-mailed that she could NOT babysit after all because of mucho school work, but that she had recruited a friend who could. I could not access that message, though, and when we got to my in-laws’ timeshare in Williamsburg, called the niece who gave us the news. Well, after figuring out how. I brought my cell phone, but failed to bring the charger, left at work, so it was dead. The timeshare only allowed calls to the local (757) area code, and the niece had a cell phone from her home in Illinois. I didn’t have a calling card. Ultimately, I had to make a credit card call; that’ll be expensive, I’m sure.

We planned a rendezvous at the W&M campus; after all, we still had a package to deliver, AND we wanted Lydia to meet the niece’s friend. And so we set out, meeting at an old statue at the corner of the campus, having a lovely time, with Carol talking to the niece, and me conversing with the potential babysitter until it started to rain, and we retreated to their dorms and our car, respectively.

Somewhere along the way, we discovered that Busch Gardens Europe was closed except on the weekends. Actually, that’s not technically true. It WAS open for a week of school vacation. But that week off did not correspond to Carol’s week off.

So Monday, we went to the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center. This should be THE first place to go if you want to go to the historic sites, for it offers free buses to the “Historic Triangle” of Yorktown, Jamestown and colonial Williamsburg, as well as selling tickets to a variety of events. Apparently, this has been tremendously upgraded in the past five years, perhaps tied to the Jamestown quadricentennial last year.

There are two different Yorktown sites; the Yorktown Victory Center and the Yorktown Battlefield. Pretty much much randomly, we opted for the former, in part because there was a package deal for that and one of the Jamestown sites.

Always the great fear of these things is boring the four-year-old, and there were enough “museumy” things so that might occur. However, there was an African board game we came across, involving the moving of stones, and while I really didn’t understand the rules, we had a good enough time.

Then we came to the re-enactors who were “fighting” the British. We also got a demonstration of what gunpower sounded like. One of the actors came over to me, noted Lydia’s good view of things on my shoulders, but suggested that the startle capacity of the firing cannon suggested that Lydia have both feet on the ground. He was most pleasant about it, and probably correct.

We ate lunch out front, and Lydia seemed to enjoy playing on the placards that were in a circle in the front representing the 13 colonies, with Virginia conveniently planted in the middle.

We came to this outdoor stretch, where Lydia kept busy picking dandelions while we read the placards about the colonists’ growing dissatisfaction with the British crown. Poll the Americans in 1750, and it was likely that they were perfectly content to be British subjects. But over the next quarter century, with taxation without representation, the colonists got royally annoyed.

Then we walked into this building. Somehow, in white lettering against the dark carpet on the floor, one could read: “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth…” – just that part of the Declaration of Independence. Lydia thought the visual effect was rather neat, as did we all; Carol and I found it quite powerful. We started reflecting on the fact that allegiance to the status quo wasn’t what was considered patriotic, but quite the opposite. And I wondered how we got to the state of passivity many Americans are in now regarding the state of the Union. I’m still pondering this even as I write this.

Then we came to a few characters of the Revolution who “spoke” when the spotlight was on them. Two were black men, fighting on each side of the war, but for the same reason: personal freedom. The Tory ended up in Canada after the war, while the man fighting on the side of the colonists remained a slave in a “free” America.

After that, we took the bus back to the Visitor Center, then walked around colonial Williamsburg before going back to the timeshare.

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