I’ve been remiss in keeping up with the blog, but I think I can be forgiven; not only have I had little time to do much posting (because, after all, one must live a life in order to have something to blog about, right?), but also because I had sketchy internet service before I got to Gerry’s. Here’s what’s happened since I last updated.
After Washington, we made our way to a hotel just outside the Auto Train station, checked in, then had an experience at a Red Robin (the food was good, the service was awful – so bad, in fact, that they comped the whole meal because we had to wait so long). We had decided to try to visit Mount Vernon before we had to board the train, so we got up (reasonably) early the next day and made our way to the site. It was lovely. We toured the mansion first which, to be honest, was the most disappointing part of the whole experience – we were herded through the house like cattle, walking quickly past rooms staffed by red-vested volunteers reciting the same facts over and over as the crowds shuffled through. I remember remarking to Mr. Chili what a mind-numbing job that must be; “George Washington was six-foot-two, which means he had to duck down this staircase every day. Martha Washington was four-eleven, and could walk through the whole house with no problem.” I heard that three times in about 4 minutes.
The rest of the place was great, though. One is free to walk about the entire grounds (which are, admittedly, significantly smaller than when General Washington owned the property, but is still plenty vast enough to allow for a lovely morning’s exploration). There are a number of outbuildings – barns and smokehouses (and slave quarters) – to see, several orchards and gardens – both working and ornamental – to stroll, and an easy walk past both Washington’s tomb and a memorial dedicated to the slaves who lived and worked on the Mount that culminates in a walk past the Potomac that offers a spectacular view. Walking back toward the car park, one can take an opportunity to go through two museums (well, one museum and one “education center”). One is intended, we decided, for those visitors more interested in history; it’s stocked with original items from the Washington household, including china, furniture, jewelry, and letters. It’s a quiet environment, very tastefully appointed and cool, and I remember feeling a sense of reverence while I was looking at the exhibits.
The other museum is clearly intended for school tours – it’s filled with life-sized models, there are videos playing around nearly every corner, and there are a number of interactive exhibits that invite the kids to touch and manipulate things (though one teenager (not mine) learned, much to her embarrassment, that there are motion sensors near Martha Washington’s wedding dress; they don’t want anyone touching that…).
After enjoying the morning at Mount Vernon, we piled back into the car and made our way back to Lorton to have lunch and pick up a movie before we got on the train. Mr. Chili found a fun little restaurant in a plaza that had a RedBox, so we ate lunch, grabbed a copy of Hereafter to watch on the train (which, I have to say, disappointed me; I was expecting something much more suspenseful). Mr. Chili took pictures of his car being driven onto the train, then we boarded. We were able to reserve to “roomettes” across from each other, which was PERFECT. The little cabins afforded us both comfort and privacy, and though the adults didn’t get much sleep that night, we were all delighted with the experience. We have coach seats on the way back; I’ve put us on the wait list to be put in cabins if any are free when we go home.
We arrived in Sanford, Florida right on time on Tuesday morning. It took about half an hour to get our car off the train, then we headed straight to Chez TwoBlueDay, where we have been happily ensconced ever since. I’ll write more later to catch you up on our adventures at Universal yesterday; for now, though, I’m going to go love my family.