History Lesson in Virginia – 5/11/14 – 5/15/14

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

We had a short drive from Charlottesville to our next stop at Rockahock Campground in Lanexa, VA which is about halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg. Love short drives! The weather had really heated up and we were expecting temps in the 90’s for the next few days. We decided to just hit the grocery story and BBQ at the MoHo and enjoy the evening sitting outside.

The next day, we headed out to drive the Colonial Parkway, which is a historic road that connects Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown (and the James & York Rivers). First stop was at the Jamestown Settlement, which was a museum with exhibits surrounding the start of Colonial America (the first permanent English colony of 1607). We opted not to pay the entrance fee and instead drove into Colonial National Park where we could use our NP pass. Nothing too exciting, but then we discovered the Glass House, which is a working glass blowing studio. We learned that glass blowing was the first industry in America – back then it would take 2 weeks to heat a fire hot enough to melt the sand to create the glass. They were creating very cool wine decanters, so of course we had to buy one! This turned out to be a great, unexpected stop. We headed out on the Parkway which was actually a bit unexciting, but scenic with the river views and greenery. The big allure is just the significance of the area and picturing what went on so many years ago, but not really a lot to see. We drove the 20 miles or so to Yorktown, which had another pay museum (dedicated to the Revolutionary War, the end of Colonial America, and where independence was won in 1781), which we opted out of as well. Another part of Colonial National Park was here, so we drove in and could see some of the actual battlefields of the war. Yorktown had a very quaint town right on the York River with a beach. It was a hot day, so there were a lot of people hanging out. We drove back to Colonial Williamsburg (which we had already passed, but knew we would come back to after we drove the parkway). We got a bite to eat, then decided to walk down the historic street, which is a restored 18th century town complete with people in period costumes. We didn’t pay the entrance fee to get into any buildings but just walked instead. It was in the 90’s and we were both overheating so didn’t stay too long. It was neat to see this area, but for some reason it just really wasn’t that interesting for us. It felt more like something we just needed to cross off the list.

The Glass House in Jamestown

The Glass House in Jamestown

Adding  the handle to our wine decantur

Adding the handle to our wine decanter

Meticulous gardens in Williamsburg

Meticulous gardens in Williamsburg

The next day we decided to have a fun day more up our alley. After a stop at Costco, we hit Williamsburg Winery for a tour and wine tasting. It is the largest winery in VA and they produce 46,000 cases/yr. The wine was just ok, but interesting to hear about the grapes they use (Viognier is the grape of VA) compared to what we are used to in Washington. We felt the whites were definitely better than the reds. We headed to the adjacent tavern for lunch and a bottle of white, perfect for a hot day on their nicely shaded patio. We then headed over to Aleworks Brewery for some craft beer tasting and met two nice couples who were very interested in our journey, so we chatted with them for awhile and they gave us some tips for our upcoming travels to the NE. Back to the MoHo for Costco flank steak, salad & asparagus. A great day!

Wine Tasting at the Williamsburg Winery

Wine Tasting at the Williamsburg Winery

The winery has one of the largest collection of these historic wine bottles

One of the largest collections of ancient wine bottles

We had another short travel day down to Virginia Beach and arrived at First Landing State Park by noon. This was a “pick your own site” campground, so we got a good one and had an easy set-up. The park is located right on the Atlantic Ocean/Chesapeake Bay, so we packed up a picnic then walked the 75 yards or so on the boardwalk out the beach. The temp was perfect and I even took a little nap while Mike explored. Later, we drove to the main resort area of VA Beach where all the action is and popped into a place for happy hour (.50 wings and $1 tacos – perfect!).

Site of the First Landing of English Settlers

Site of the First Landing of English Settlers

We rarely go out to breakfast, but I had been waiting for this one! The next morning we hit another Diners, Drive-Ins & Dive’s place, Citrus. Their two specialties are Banana & Pineapple filled pancakes with an orange glaze and Crab Omelets (exactly what we ordered complemented by mimosa’s). Can you guess who ordered what?! Then we drove to Cape Henry, a military base where the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse and First Landing sites are located. This was where the first English settlers touched shore in 1607 and where they later built the lighthouse in 1791 (oldest government-built lighthouse). We were able to climb to the top of the lighthouse and have a great view out to the ocean and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. It was a bit hazy out, so we couldn’t see the 3rd lighthouse on the north side of the Bay. We headed back into town and walked down the boardwalk and just took in the scene. This area is on the verge of its busy season, so it wasn’t in full swing yet, but for a Thursday afternoon pretty crowded. I can only imagine how crazy it would be for Spring Break and in the heat of summer – 40 blocks of bars, souvenir shops, hotels/motels and restaurants. Reminded me a lot of Myrtle Beach. The wind had started to pick up, so we headed home for the night. The rain and wind are due to roll in, so I foresee a day of itinerary planning and catching up on shows, then we head to Delaware on Saturday.

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

Old Cape Henry Lighthouse

A steep climb at times

A steep climb at times

Not a bad view from the top.  The new lighthouse behind me and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay

Not a bad view from the top. The new lighthouse behind me and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay

3 thoughts on “History Lesson in Virginia – 5/11/14 – 5/15/14

  1. Alisa

    My boys and I stumbled upon the glass blowers on our trip a few years ago to Jamestown, too. It was definitely a highlight of the trip. Your souvenir sounds perfect!
    Williamsburg was a little bit of a let down, probably because we went on a weekday in December. It wasn’t crowded enough, if that makes sense… not much seemed to be happening.
    I suspect we won’t have time to visit the area again when we’re in the area this summer.

    Reply

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