Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Historical Adventures

Today's post was supposed to be about how wonderful it is to live in a place that is saturated with history and how I have been able to expose my children to the wonders of America's past - blah blah blah
You know what's more fun? Let me tell you how our day fell just a little short.

I was super excited - for some reason - to go and visit the Woodlawn Planation. It's just down the street past Mt. Vernon a bit and the pictures on the web had shown a huge beautiful house with lots of gardens. It looked like a great place to run around and in my mind would be similar to Mt. Vernon. My first tip off should have been that we were the only ones there when it opened at 10 - we were trying the beat the heat. I got the stroller, sunscreen, hats, Emmy's taggie and baby doll (we can't go anywhere without BOTH of them), snacks, drinks, diaper bag - oh yeah - and kids all set and ready to go walk around. Note - still no one else has arrived. We walk over to the house - there is very little signage (another clue??). We find the door to go in and pay but we find out that it is FREE to just walk around if we don't want to take a tour of the house. Great - wonderful - I love anything that is free. So we start out around the house - rather mansion. I encounter the first set of stairs - don't you think the ladies inside would have said - you should probably carry the baby - there is no way around the stairs because of the HUGE OVERGROWN bushes everywhere?? I carry Emmy and the stroller down the stairs swearing to myself because I KNOW that there is a corresponding set of stairs that go UP somewhere in our near future. Anyway - I think you get the picture. This mansion is beautiful and I'm sure it's beautiful inside but the outside leaves much to be desired and is NOT stroller friendly. We made it around the house and I discovered that there was really nothing for us or anyone else who likes things other than overgrown plants - so back in the car we went and we drove to Gunston Hall (home of George Mason) which is right down the road - OK - 20 minutes - still not bad.
We arrive and it is getting hot - pretty normal for VA but I usually don't take the kids out if it's this hot. The older woman at the check in takes my $8 and tells me that I shouldn't be giving my kids cookies - they are eating an organic granola bar and water I tell her - probably should have just told her to keep her opinions to herself. Why do I feel like I have to justify my choice of diet to a stranger? We'll never know...
So we have to walk around for 30 minutes before the next "tour" (more on this later) of the house. That seems fine to me - all I really wanted to do was walk around anyway. We see the school house which impresses Aidan with it's tiny size. "Where do they play with playdoh?" he asks. Good question Aidan. We walk through the garden which is more of a path lined with boxwoods and go and see the outbuildings - kitchens, wash house etc. Aidan is intrigued with the push button self guided tour thing they have going on. We go into the house for our "tour". We are the only ones on this "tour" and the woman takes one look at me and say "So - do you want the abbreviated tour?" in the most condescending way imaginable. "Sure" I say - I could tell this was a no go from the beginning. She tells us interesting things about the house - and lets us go up the tightest spiral staircase I have ever seen to the upstairs where the bedrooms are set up but you can't go in them. Aidan LOVED the staircase - probably the highlight of the trip! Unfortunately the tourguide had either never seen a child before or perhaps had only been around children who were physically restrained because she kept shrieking at Aidan not to touch anything - mind you he was touching the 3/4 inch thick plexiglass barricade between us and the items in the room. Maybe they had already run out of Windex...
So here are some pictures:

Woodlawn Plantation - it was a gift from George Washington to his nephew Major Lawrence Lewis and his wife Nelly Custis (Martha Washington's granddaughter from her first marriage)ALWAYS pack a snackGunston Hall - home of George Mason - author of the Virginia Declaration of RightsAidan in the school house - 9 children went to school here.
Aidan and Emmy in the garden at Gunston Hall - Aidan hates the heat and Emmy was just happy to be out of the stroller
OK - so maybe it was fun to get out of the house and do something a little different. It's always fun to do stuff with the kids - even if things don't run smoothly!

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