Tag Archives: colonial williamsburg

A study in portraiture, some funky hairdos and a watermelon on wheels.

 

The portrait gallery was large…. and filled with strange and marvelous things.

 

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Can’t say I’d enjoy having her as a Mother in Law.

 

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They are smiling?

 

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Perhaps the weight of that elaborate hair is pulling their lips down.

 

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Oh my.

They say all babies are cute, but I beg to differ.

 

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This is a girl.

 

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And this is a boy.

No, I haven’t had too many margaritas.

It was explained to me that folk art paintings of little girls have cats… and folk art paintings of little boys have dogs. The hoop is also a boy’s toy, never played with by girls.

 

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Yes, another boy.

Could have fooled me.

There were a few sad paintings, like this one….

 

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Since all the family members in black are dead.

But there’s a chicken, so it’s not all bad.

 

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And while these two portraits aren’t the most skillful, they had the saddest story of all.

 

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Jonathan Bartlett was a black man who chose to portray himself as white…. in a heartbreaking statement of life in his time.

 

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Lightening the mood, there was George again….

 

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And whatever this was –

 

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I can’t even do a Name That Crap because I have no idea…

 

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Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

 

This was what I’d come to see.

 

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And with a nod to Abe, we entered.

 

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By definition:

The DeWitt continued…. George Washington, creepy dolls, weavings, and more Name That (not) Crap.

 

Aside from all the decorative items, the Dewitt had some pieces of historic interest as well.

 

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Here’s the father of our country casually leaning on a cannon. And if you look closely, you’ll see this…

 

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Yes, they even have George Washington’s jewelry…. which had been lost for nearly two centuries. It was rediscovered in 1990, when the daughter-in-law of a Virginia Beach woman descended from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall found it in her dead mother-in-law’s jewelry box.

Just think… it could have been put in a yard sale. Or donated to Goodwill.

Damn. Another missed opportunity.

 

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Continuing past the silver, there were vast collections of porcelain and pottery.

 

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Complete with creepy ass vintage dolls.

 

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If you invite this little chicka to a tea party?

She’s going to nibble your fingers like biscuits.

 

 

By the amount of tankers on display, there was some serious beer drinking going on in the 18th century.

 

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Have I mentioned this place went on forever?

 

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It was fabulous.

 

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There was a section dedicated to indigenous art as well.

 

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And these were quite special.

 

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Even the husband was intrigued.

 

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Each piece had a story.

 

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But I’ll just give you one example.

 

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Two years?

 

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Damn. That’s dedication.

 

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George showed up again, though in iron this time.

 

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“Dumb” stoves?

I’ve cursed a few in my lifetime, but never knew they were actually a thing.

After George,  I knew I’d lost the husband.

 

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Because this is his idea of heaven.

They weren’t rusted, but these are just the sort thing he likes to fill our barn with.

( And if his were in good shape and displayed artfully like this? I wouldn’t half mind.)

 

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And because you know I can’t pass up an opportunity, let’s play Name That (not) Crap again.

 

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What is it …. #1?

 

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What is it… #2?

 

 

 

 

 

DeWitt Decorative Arts Museum…. a whole lotta silver and Name That (not) Crap.

 

I’ve visited a large number of museums in my day and tend to be jaded…. but I have to say, the collection of sterling silver in Williamsburg impressed even me.

 

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Some were simple.

 

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Others elaborate.

(Goose feet! I loved it.)

 

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Some embellished your shoes.

 

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Cases as far as the eye could see of master craftsmanship.

 

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The thought of polishing all these beauties left me quaking….

 

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But honestly…

 

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Wow.

 

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There was a cover for your honeycomb…

 

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A ceremonial scepter.

 

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And countless teapots.

 

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Morbid jewelry?

Check.

 

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Giant turtle?

 

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With a slightly bored husband mimicking the facial expression of the fellow over his shoulder?

Check.

 

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There was even a piece perfect for my Name That Crap game…. although it’s far from crap.

Let’s play!

What is it?

Colonial Williamsburg museums…. Folk Art tree, vintage weapons, furniture and an 18th Century catwalk.

 

There are two distinct collections in what used to be the lunatic asylum building… The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

It’s a bit fluid when you enter…

 

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And since it was the Christmas season I wasn’t surprised to see one of these.

Please note there’s a chicken instead of an angel on the top. I’m not sure what that means, other than there might be a secret cult of barnyard fowl practicing nearby. Which lead me to Google image search ‘religious chicken’ and then I was off….

 

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Yes….

 

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I’m easily distracted… but you have to admit,

 

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This architect had a sense of humor.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program:

 

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The story behind it was interesting.

 

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Me like.

 

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Though I doubt I’ll be making my own or buying the book.

 

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And opposite the festive tree?

 

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Implements of death….

 

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Because nothing says holiday cheer like various ways to kill each another.

 

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But even I have to admit they were beautiful specimens.

 

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And if you look closely, you can see the scowling face on the bottom of the grip.

I read the DeWitt has the largest collection of southern furniture in the world…

 

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And I believe it.

 

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There were rows and rows of unique examples.

 

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There were also some fabulous fashions of the day.

 

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And yes…

 

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Shoes!

 

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And if that wasn’t wonderful enough… there was 300 year old fabric.

 

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And a vintage runway.

 

 

 

Those little harlots.

Did you see how much ankle she was showing?

Shameless!

Colonial Williamsburg…. where River visits the insane asylum and is lucky to get out alive.

 

On my list of must see places was the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. She was an early collector of the form and I’d heard tell the place was filled to the brim with treasures.

 

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What I didn’t know was the building’s original use.

 

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Half museum, half insane asylum.

Color me intrigued.

 

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Well, that doesn’t look at all comfortable.

 

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But at least there’s a cushion.

*gulp*

 

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This certainly gives new meaning to the term “time out”.

 

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While revolting….

 

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I have to say the peek into early treatment of mental illness was fascinating.

 

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Yikes.

 

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Seems like there was a whole lot of restraint … and not much actual treatment.

 

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It was about this time the husband told me he read about men committing their misbehaving wives for little more than disagreeing with their authority.

 

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Uh oh.

 

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Early shock therapy looked rather primitive.

 

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Am I the only one who’s reading “restored” as irreparably brain damaged?

 

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One can only imagine the horrors those poor people suffered at the hands of their supposed healers.

 

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Though they did have some pretty snazzy syringes.

On a lighter note, the husband was tickled to see one of these on display.

 

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He bought a whole box of these slides at a yard sale years ago. They’re pretty valuable as a few of them show pre Civil War life with slaves… but he’s never found the actual lantern for sale.

 

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If you ever see one? Let me know….

It would make a great birthday gift and rise above his usual level of rusty crap.

Day 13….. Colonial Williamsburg, the Rockefellers and Bassett Hall

 

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The day started with biscuits and gravy for me and two plates of chipped beef on toast for the husband. The waitress thought he was kidding when he asked for a second helping… but no, he was serious.

 

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Technically no, that’s made with hamburger.

But I digress…

Since the weather was beautiful that day we headed back over to Colonial Williamsburg to finish exploring.

 

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First up, Bassett Hall. Home to John D. Rockefeller Jr and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. I was completely unaware that the Rockefellers were the ones responsible for the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg and the idea of opening it to the public.

For a wonderful history of how and why, watch this:

 

 

 

Seeing the interior of the house meant taking the tour…

 

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And this distinguished gentleman was our guide. He was a font of knowledge as well as legally blind.

 

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It was a lovely home.

 

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Comfortable….

 

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And not nearly as grand as their other residences.

 

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They relaxed here.

 

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Didn’t entertain socially.

 

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And enjoyed time with family.

 

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In their eyes it was a country home.

 

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And hey….. there was a chicken over the mantle, so maybe it was.

 

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I’m sure Abby didn’t spend much time in here….

 

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But I liked the funky sinks….

 

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And the high tech for the time fridge.

 

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Next to the kitchen was the servants quarters…

 

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Which didn’t look too bad either.

 

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Done with the tour….

 

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We began to roam the grounds….

 

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But not before my husband managed to start a political discussion with our guide. I imagine they’re instructed not to engage…. and he remained as neutral as Switzerland. Very diplomatic.

 

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The gardens were a bit bare since it was December.

 

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But the shrubbery was impressive.

 

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And who wouldn’t love a private tea house in their backyard?

 

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How sweet is that!

 

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We happily strolled around….

 

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Enjoying the beautiful day…

 

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And felt like Rockefellers.

Minus the large sums of cash and thinking hey…

 

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That garage would make a pretty nice house in itself.

 

 

 

Day 11….love notes, breakfast, a liquor store and last minute Christmas shopping in Colonial Williamsburg.

 

The eleventh day of our vacation started at our timeshare resort condo…

 

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Where I found this:

 

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A note from the grandchild of our hearts.

Sorry… but there’s no way better way to start the day than that.

 

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Although biscuits and gravy with home fries comes close.

We had a full day of Christmas gift shopping ahead of us and needed hearty sustenance. And in the south?

 

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That includes the options of scrapple, fried catfish, grits or bologna and eggs.

The husband’s utterly favorite breakfast is chipped beef on toast and he rarely finds it in Maine… so when we stumbled on the Southern Pancake and Waffle House in Williamsburg?

 

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He wanted to go every morning…. which we pretty much did from then on.

 

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But hey, there were chickens in every window so how could we lose?

Our first stop that day was a liquor store in anticipation of our upcoming Christmas Day in North Carolina.

For future reference…. the first way to tell you’re in a liquor store in the south?

 

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There’s a still.

 

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Still searching for that silly wine filter, I thought we could try Merchant’s Square…. which is the shopping section of Colonial Williamsburg I couldn’t get the husband to check out the previous week.

 

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As with all areas there, it was lovely.

 

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Filled with interesting high end shops… like this interior design place.

 

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Giant double diamond ring light fixture anyone…?

 

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We happily strolled aroiund, ducking in and out of the stores with all the other desperate  Holy crap it’s Christmas Eve and I don’t have a gift!   shoppers.

Naturally I had to buy a souvenir tee shirt –

 

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Truer words were ne’er spoke.

 

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And towards late afternoon when my stomach started grumbling?

This happened.

 

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Someone saw the husband’s Marine Corps hat, said Semper Fi, and they were off….

 

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On a 38 minute long conversation about who was stationed where, when and with whom.

Yes. I timed it….

 

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While he talked?

 

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I walked.

 

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Agreed wholeheartedly with a sign.

 

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And explored a little more…

 

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Of the colonial town.

 

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And hey, if you’re going to dress up in period costume and stand on the sidewalk?

 

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Don’t give me the stink eye when I take your picture.

Turning back around hoping the other half had finished talking…

 

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I saw snow.

 

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Granted it wasn’t very much, but it surprised me to see any at all.

 

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The ice skating rink surprised me as well.

 

 

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In Maine we wait for ponds to freeze over.

 

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In Virginia they just build one… and how they keep it frozen in 60 degree temperatures is a mystery to me.

 

 

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!

 

Colonial Williamsburg… Shield’s and Wetherburn’s Taverns

 

 

Now don’t get excited food people, these taverns were for touring not eating.

 

 

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Shield’s Tavern was closed, but had something the husband wanted to photograph.

 

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Men. I can’t explain them….

 

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But the gardens out back were lovely.

 

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And I enjoyed a stroll among the well tended shrubbery.

 

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I think Edward Scissorhands would approve.

 

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There were vegetable gardens…

 

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And wreaths…

 

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I even saw an old ball and chain gate closure.

 

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And then down the road, we found Wetherburn’s Tavern.

 

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Where we had a guide give us the history and a tour.

 

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Taverns back in the day were far different from what you might think. Rooms were rented for private parties, balls were held in the great rooms, owners lived behind the kitchen and the upstairs served as a hotel.

 

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Which rooms you rented depended on your social standing.

 

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Up to 12 men bunked in here.

I like cozy, but not that cozy.

 

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Middle class families might sleep 8 in this room.

 

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A private room? You had serious money.

 

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Business deals were struck and government policies were made in rooms like these.

 

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While the tavern keepers cranked out the meals in here….

 

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That’s one high tech rotisserie right there.

 

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Many taverns had their own smokehouses and livestock.

 

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Which prompted a 30 minute conversation from my husband about being raised on a dairy farm.

 

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An appropriate wreath was decorating their door as well.

 

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We may not have seen any beer…. but it was still a tavern.