There’s good news and there’s bad news… Always an ominous beginning, yes? Well, read on, and see just what can go wrong and right as one “goes RVing” around the southeastern United States.
First, the bad news
Yes, I’m one of those kind of people who likes to get the bad stuff out of the way so that I can fully and completely enjoy the good stuff without worrying about what is to follow. So, the bad news: our RV has 3 slide outs, which we designate as 1) the Kitchen slide out, 2) the Dining slide out and 3) the Bedroom slide out. The numbers are the ones that the control panel provides, but whatever… Well, when we arrived at Chickahominy Riverfront Park, we discovered that the Kitchen wasn’t willing to slide out. It got partway out, and then stopped. I thought maybe it needed a “do over” to get itself on the right track, so I brought it back in, and it has been in ever since.
In the “sitting room” end of the trailer, notice to whom the one available recliner belongs – yeah, not me. It is almost like he planned it that way, but no, it is just the luck of the draw. The small sofa on the right belongs to Sophie, the dog; unless Geppetto the cat is in possession of it.
On the kitchen end of the slide out, you can see the cluttered counters that result when one tries to eat, but one cannot access the stove, the refrigerator, or the pots and pans, to say nothing of the pantry foods. There is a coffee maker on the front right end of the stove, which my husband fished out of one of the blocked cabinets. One has priorities, after all. We were just lucky that the coffee maker is stored in a small cabinet that does not protrude as closely to the slide out as those in this picture. That, and Larry, being a tall guy, has very long arms.
There is some good news about this RV adventure: It didn’t happen during our first week on the road, when we were staying in Manassas, VA visiting friends. It snowed that first week – gotta get an earlier start next fall! Also, we are fortunate that the heat and water are working fine. We’ll get the slide fixed as soon as we can. It is a little dicey right now. Every RV service supplier in the area seems to be booked up until Christmas!
And now the Good News!
Our little RV issue is not getting in the way of some good, hard touristing. One our first day we spent some time in the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, VA. The museum is home to lots of seagoing artifacts, including some awesomely detailed models of historical craft. It is freaking amazing the kinds and sizes of crafts that humans used to sail! They were so small, so frail, so open; and we have been sailing for thousands of years!
What with one thing and another, we didn’t have a lot of time there, but since admission is only $1, we can go back at our own convenience.
The big tourist draw for this time of year is learning about old fashioned Thanksgivings at Colonial Williamsburg. We purchased multi-day tickets so that we could take our time wandering through the village, stopping at the shops of the various tradespeople and craftsman. It was great! The craftspeople are not just dressed in period costume “playing at” the different trades. These people really are craftspeople. They know what they are doing, usually providing goods to the ongoing maintenance of Colonial Williamsburg; and they know the history of these trades in the colonies in the late 18th century. Of course a lot of the details are slipping away from my mind already, but the overall impression of the nature of life in this time period is pretty solidly set. It definitely helped to set the tone of my Thanksgiving to be truly grateful, even though we found that we couldn’t actually get a hot meal on Thursday. Oh well: we made up for it on Friday!
As usual, I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but I have a few to share, just to give you the feeling of the place.
This is the front view of the Randolph House, home of a family of prominent (aka wealthy) citizens. The tour focused on the life of Peyton Randolph, one of three sons that were all lawyers, educated in England to practice law here in the colonies. Their father hailed from England, also a wealthy lawyer who increased his wealth by selling land in Virginia that he had been granted by the king.
This lovely lady posed as the housekeeper for the Randolph House, and provided a wealth of information about Peyton Randolph, the owner at the time of the Revolution, and his family back and forwards a generation. We also learned a little of the slaves held by the Randolphs.
Of course my real reason for taking this tour was to observe the architecture and decoration of the house. I appreciated the human history, really I did, but I was most fascinated by the design of their “central heating” system. The original house had 3 main rooms on 2 floors. Each room had its own fireplace, but all of the fireplaces backed up to one another and shared a single chimney. The result was somewhat oddly shaped rooms, but I still think it was clever, if the chimney actually had a decent draw.
The current house, which is the original one well restored, includes an addition to the main house constructed by Peyton Randolph’s father. Peyton added a larger stairwell and rooms to the right end of the house as seen in the front view. While this wallpaper isn’t to my personal taste, I really had to admire the level of detail and artistry of the design.
This picture of the rear yard of the Randolph house looks tranquil now, but I doubt it was back when the house was lived in. The right side of
the image captures the enclosed walkway that runs from Mrs. Peyton’s Closet (or office) to the kitchen and laundry rooms. Peyton Randolph had it built for the convenience of his wife. Note that neither the kitchen nor the laundry room were part of the house proper. This was typical of houses of the era. Given the large fireplace in which the cooking had to be done, and the number of people and activities that would be needed to feed this small plantation of people, the space between the house and kitchen seems quite practical.
The Governor’s Palace is by far the grandest of the buildings in Colonial Williamsburg. It is also one of the most popular tours. I didn’t get any interior photos just because there were too many people in the space to get any clear shots. There are not many rooms, and only a few of them are “fancy”.
The garden was pretty much dorment this time of year, but still very neat and tidy – very formal, European in nature. The building on the right side of this photo is the mirror image of the one on the right of the photo above. Neither are considered a part of the Palace proper.
Really, there is nothing like seeing how the “well to do” people lived in the late 18th century to make one grateful that times have changed. I mean, rope sprung beds and chamber pots?! Even my RV has a queen size bed, hot water and a flush toilet! I do have to take my laundry to the laundromat right now, but think about life without washing machines: I mean, really! Actually, the very concept of a “recreational vehicle” has almost no parallel in the 18th century, with the possible exception of gypsys, and I can’t imagine how they coped. Overall, my “study” of history only serves to make me grateful to be alive in the here and now. I truly have a lot for which I am thankful.
I’m hoping the same can be said for you, the reader of this blog.