Tag Archives: christmas

For a Living Museum, it sure had a lot of dead things…..

 

Making our way inside, I was surprised by the number of dead things at the Virginia Living Museum.

And to be honest?

They didn’t look too happy about the fact either.

 

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Look at the stink eye on this owl.

Clearly he’s not pleased with that skeleton placement.

 

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The woodchuck has a piece of wood.

A bit too on point…. no?

 

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And Bambi?

Well, he looks like he’s ready to bite off a curator’s finger…. or two.

 

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Even the turtle you climb into wasn’t immune from the specter of death.

 

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But what really took the cake?

The Christmas tree….

 

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Complete with a fish skull angel topper.

 

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If that doesn’t give junior screaming holiday nightmares… nothing will.

 

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Thankfully there were live creatures as well.

 

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Though little people had to be talked into petting them.

 

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Horseshoe crabs used to wash up on the Jersey shore by the dozens when I was a kid and they always fascinated me.

 

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A more prehistoric sea creature you’re not apt to find.

 

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There were interestingly set up exhibits on multiple levels.

 

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Where the husband practiced his fish whispering again.

 

 

 

Various tanks contained the beautiful…

 

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And the bizarre.

 

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I couldn’t quite figure out this crab.

 

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Was he picking his nose… or giving me the finger?

Tough call.

 

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I was pleased to see my favorite Lionfish again….

 

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Spiky venomous fins and all.

 

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Gracie fell totally in love with a puffer and sang songs to it…..

 

 

 

Though she got yelled at by a volunteer for being a little too physical with the tank.

 

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I’m not sure why disco colored lights ruled in the jellyfish area.

 

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But we enjoyed the aquarium and it’s funky residents.

 

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There was an odd cave like area….

 

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That was very dark and next to impossible to take pictures in… so I can’t share the bats and snakes and reptiles we saw.

But I did manage a shot of the sign for my husband’s spirit animal.

 

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Yup… change the shiny objects part to rusty crap? And they’re his people.

Gracie enjoyed the interactive children’s section where all the other kids were making plates of plastic food for their parents.

My contribution to the meal she was making for her mother?

 

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What can I say?

You just can’t beat a nicely roasted rat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead things, live things and lots of things in between.

 

After we settled into resort #2, we tried to pick a day’s activity that we could all enjoy… because yours truly was not visiting another theme park, no matter how much I loved that child.

 

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Hence the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. Part zoo, part aquarium and lots of interactive children’s exhibits.

 

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Because who doesn’t love a velociraptor Santa Claus?

 

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An extensive boardwalk wraps around the wildlife enclosure where little people can run to their heart’s content.

 

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And the old folks can enjoy the beauty of a red fox…..

 

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And a bobcat.

 

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Who even though a wild cat, still enjoyed a cardboard box.

 

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                                          Insert required cute group photo here.

 

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There was a plastic dinosaur section…..

 

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Where little hands could get filthy excavating some plastic bones.

 

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Injured vultures…..

 

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And bald eagles were next… this one with a clearly broken wing. And if you’ve ever wondered how large an eagle’s nest is?

 

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Yeah. They’re pretty damned large.

 

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More boardwalks, more running.

 

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And some shore birds…

 

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Whose antics I could easily have stood and watched all day.

 

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Did she see anything?

No, but she had fun trying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busch Gardens Virginia….or as I like to call it, Hell.

 

I think we’ve established we are not theme park people.

So spending 6 hours at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg while on Christmas vacation?

 

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It’s billed as the prettiest theme park in the country.

 

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And while I doubt that’s a very high bar…..

 

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It’s plastic fantastic fake European villages failed to impress….. seeing they were less village and more overpriced stores filled with gimmicky tourist merchandise.

It was enough to make me drink.

 

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Warm Apple Pie Cocktail in hand… we continued.

(You knew it was coming, don’t look so surprised.  If ever I was in dire need of alcohol? It was then.)

 

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So we paid a fortune, had drinks in hand and a 7 year old who wanted to go on some rides. Problem was… most of them weren’t operational for Christmas.

This did not go over well with the little person in our midst.

 

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She couldn’t drink, and she didn’t care about fake Europe… she just wanted some rides!

 

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We found a few animals to distract her.

 

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But it was cold and she was growing more bored with each step. Every ride we passed? Locked up tight.

And then viola!

 

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I spotted a gondola.

 

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3 adults and a midget. We’re in!

So we get on line.

A long line.

A very long line that took us almost 40 minutes to reach the end.

We boarded, anticipating a leisurely ride over the park.

 

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And I kid you not, after taking this picture….

And this video….

 

 

Which lasted 40 seconds, we were done.

One second of ride for each minute we waited on line. Totally worth it!

Not.

 

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We landed in “France”.

And you know what? I’ve been to France…. this wasn’t even close.

Still not finding a working ride, I spotted Hogwarts and the child’s eyes lit up.

Yay me!

 

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Boo Busch Gardens…. it was blocked off and locked up tight.

I was beginning to hate this place.

 

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Psychedelic camera toting bear aside.

Did I mention it was cold?

 

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I mean down right freezing for southerners and even quite brisk for us Yankees after a few hours of walking.

 

 

At least this made her laugh.

If we had known all the fun kid stuff would be closed? We wouldn’t have gone in the afternoon but just waited until after dark for the lights.

 

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Even the scooter brigade looked disappointed.

 

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We did mange to find an old time carousel.

 

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Where we waited on line for another 30 minutes to ride for 30 seconds. You could seriously get whiplash from how quickly these things end.

 

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Magic dragons were climbed on….

 

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Towers were explored….

 

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More alcohol was needed….

Okay, maybe that was just me.

 

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Rope bridges were crossed….

 

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Even by the husband if you can believe it.

 

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Another warm up station later, it was starting to get dark enough to see some lights.

And yes, as cold and miserable as I was….. I was going to wait until dark for the lights we paid almost $300 to see.

A preview…

 

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Day 8…. A goose traffic jam, southern food, an overpriced theme park, and the family you choose for yourself.

 

Before I regale you with yet another day of our vacation adventures….. a little personal history.

In case you hadn’t guessed? The husband and I don’t have any children. It was a lifestyle choice we made years ago and haven’t had cause to regret it. But back in the early 90’s we took a neighbor’s child under our wing when her single mother was having trouble. She lived with us for a time, and we came to love her like our own.

 

Des & Fred, ironing

 

She was the child we never had….

 

Des & a few lobsters

 

We helped raise her…..

 

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And since she had no contact with her real father, my husband took over the role.

 

Attitude adjustment!!

 

Attitude adjustments et al.

 

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She wasn’t ours biologically…..

 

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But she will always be the child of our hearts.

 

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We’ve watched her grow into a beautiful young woman…

 

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And now she’s happily married…..

 

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With a child of her own….

 

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And we feel like we have a grandchild as well. They still live in North Carolina so whenever we’re near…. we get together. She loves that we have a timeshare and enjoys staying with us at the various resorts. On Day 8 of this trip? She and her daughter joined us for the weekend before Christmas.

When they arrived?

A goose traffic jam…

 

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I love me some goosers… so pardon the ridiculous tone of voice I use in the video.

As well as me cursing out the idiot who was honking their horn at those sweet little waddlers.

 

 

After their 4 1/2 hour trip, Destiny and Gracie were hungry so we took them to that great seafood place we’d found… Fat Tuna.

 

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We stuffed ourselves silly with hushpuppies, cornbread and shrimp and grits….

 

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While the husband opted for a seafood pasta.

 

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This was in anticipation of where we would be spending the afternoon and evening… because when you have a 7 year old? Sitting around chatting with a cocktail isn’t going to cut it.

So the husband and I did what we never… ever!… do.

We went to a theme park.

And it was just as awful as we knew it would be.

 

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We stood in a long line to board the shuttle.

 

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We crammed onto the shuttle like sardines.

 

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We waited on long lines to buy overpriced tickets…. and not even a funny spare tire cover could make up for what we were about to experience.

 

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(I hope he was talking about the jeep and not his wife.

I really do.)

But yes…. the husband and I shelled out $240 frickin’ dollars to visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens.

 

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No senior discount, no military discount, no under 12 discount.

Suck it Santa!

Did I mention it was also $20 to leave our car in the north 40  somewhere south of bumblef*ck Egypt   parking lot?

 

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$260 just to walk in.

Kill me now.

 

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But we were there with people we loved…

 

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And my husband… who never wants to pose for photographs?

 

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Was posing all over the place…. and smiling.

Now that’s a true Christmas miracle!

Colonial Williamsburg…. the blacksmiths, a test drive, an oak, some cows and yes, food.

 

Although I hated to end our day, the time was drawing near and my phone battery was gasping it’s last breath.

 

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Naturally the husband had to see the blacksmith’s shop with all it’s rusty tools.

 

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And we were both surprised to learn that women worked there as well back in the day.

 

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So after test driving a wheel barrow…

 

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A few more natural wreaths…

 

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Some private homes…

 

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More wreaths…

 

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And a massive Live Oak that is supposed to have been here when George Washington walked these streets….

 

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We said goodbye to the cows we saw on the way in….

 

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And went back to the car where we had to charge my cell phone long enough for Trip Advisor to point us to our first dinner in Williamsburg.

 

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I love that app.

 

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And I loved this restaurant.

 

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Come on…. they had blue jellyfish lights over the bar.

How could you not?

 

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Cocktails? Check.

 

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Their Orange Crush was made with fresh squeezed OJ and was fabulous.

 

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Hushpuppies and cornbread let us know we were in the south.

And may I just say? I had no idea how much I missed hushpuppies until I started eating them again.

Yeeha!

 

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Dinner was tough to choose.

 

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Husband started with mussels.

 

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And moved on to perfectly pan seared sea scallops with garlic smashed red potatoes and green beans.

Me?

 

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Me?

I was in the south, baby! Bring me those low country shrimp and cheesy grits.

Lord have mercy….. they were the best thing I’ve eaten in months.

 

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Husband had room for a New York Style berry cheesecake….

And then we called it a day.

Day 1.

You realize that, right?

It took me 8 posts to get through Day 1 of our two week vacation.

 

 

Oh, don’t be so dramatic.

It’ll be fun!

 

Strolling Colonial Williamsburg…. The Liberty Lounge and peacocks.

 

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I’m not sure you could find a more charming place to spend the day than Colonial Williamsburg.

 

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History aside….

 

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It’s just a perfectly lovely town.

 

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Did you know the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality?

Learn why here.

 

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Live Oak trees dominate the landscape, spreading their limbs for decades on end….

 

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And I was seriously enjoying the all natural Christmas decorations.

 

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How clever is that?

And while I was wreath gazing….

 

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The husband spotted the entrance to a lounge reserved for veterans and their families.

 

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To be honest I dreaded going inside.  My husband has the gift of gab every day of the year, but when surrounded by other servicemen and women? I’ve spent half my married life waiting for him to conclude conversations.

 

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But there was free tea, coffee and hot cider…..

 

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And thankfully,  a veteran free room.

 

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Of course he spotted the challenge coin cases which started a 45 minute long convo with the staff of volunteers….. but he added a coin of his own, which admittedly was rather nice.

 

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An hour later? More decorations…

 

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More wreaths…

 

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Some cleverly trimmed shrubbery ….

 

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And the silversmith’s shop…

 

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We oohed and aahed and chatted with the man who ran it.

 

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Did you know the phrase “put your money to work” dates from colonial times before the advent of paper currency? You were normally paid in silver, and instead of having bags of the stuff laying around your home…. you took it to the local silversmith who melted it down and made you a fabulous coffee urn or tea set. Your money was “put to work” and you got to flaunt your wealth to visitors. A win, win situation.

 

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Many of his beautiful pieces were for sale in the shop next door…. but the husband wasn’t thrilled with the idea of me spending his hard earned silver to bring some home.

 

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So we strolled.

 

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And were amazed to learn some of these nice little homes were still privately owned.

Who in the world would want to live in the middle of a tourist attraction?

 

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But more importantly…

Where do I find a peacock for next year’s Christmas wreath?

 

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Colonial Williamsburg… Duke of Gloucester Street

 

Done with the Governor’s Palace, we headed to the main thoroughfare.

 

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Colonial Williamsburg is a town, like any other.

 

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If all the other towns were full of beautifully restored 18th century historic buildings that is.

 

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George Wythe was Thomas Jefferson’s mentor.

So, you know…. that kind of town.

 

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At the corner? The Bruton Parish Church, established in 1674…..

 

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Still an active Presbyterian presence…

 

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You can almost see George Washington walking amongst the stately old live oaks.

(Yes, he worshiped here.)

 

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Taking a left put us on Duke of Gloucester Street, the busiest section of town.

 

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Every house and business was decked out for Christmas….

 

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With the traditional natural fruit and greenery it’s become famous for.

Another carriage made it’s way by….

 

 

 

And as much as I wanted to take one…. the husband had no interest whatsoever.

 

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I mean, look at them…

They were just waiting for me to climb aboard.

 

 

But no. The husband had caught sight of this:

 

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And that was where we went next.

 

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Yay. More weapons…

 

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Okay, the collection was impressive as hell.

 

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And filled with various painful ways to kill people.

 

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And yes…

 

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The armory fellow was well versed and full of interesting facts.

 

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But… but…

 

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Horsies….

 

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Are cuter than cannons any ole day.

And you can’t ride a cannon.

(Or maybe you can… but you probably shouldn’t.)

 

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Next up was lunch at Chowning’s Tavern, where it’s wreath spoke volumes.

 

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A reconstructed public house Josiah Chowning operated in 1766…

 

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The menu of Brunswick Stew, Shepherd’s Pye and Welsh Rarebit reflected the fare of the day.

 

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I opted for the hot smoked turkey trencher which was marvelous…. while the husband continued his French Onion soup trend.

Rum cake?

 

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Don’t mind if I do.

Light, rummy and utterly fabulous.

 

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Hot tea and mixed berry crumble for the other half.

 

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Which to be honest, was so God awful sweet he could hardly eat it.

( Lunch photos just for you Martin.)