Sunday, April 27, 2014

DC Day Five :: Viewing Virginia

After a celebratory brunch on Sunday, we left the wedding festivities and headed towards Mt. Vernon. On the way we stopped and visited the NRA Museum. I think this was one of Bayley's favorite spots on the trip. He's always been interested in artillery, and this spot highlighted the evolution of arms in America. Of course, he liked the Teddy Roosevelt parts the best. Hayden was much more interested in the big game trophies.

At Mt. Vernon we were able to explore the property before and after our mansion tour. We'd purchased our tickets online, but I didn't realize the time on the ticket wasn't the time for you tour - it is the time you may get in line for your tour. Crazy.

The kids were given a scavenger hunt when we entered, which helped keep us on track and sent us toward things we might have skipped. We got to see the different ways the slaves and landowners were buried, as well as different parts of the estate. We enjoyed a wagon ride around the farm, where they use period tools to do the work, just like it was during Washington's time there. I loved seeing the way the tools were manufactured, as well as the threshing room.

We made our way up towards the main house, walking past many of the outbuildings - bunkhouses, washing rooms, cottages, and slave quarters. There were a couple of surprises -- Mt Vernon isn't white, it's a sandy color, because they put sand on top of the wet paint to give it a stone look like in Europe. And the kitchen was in a separate building. We couldn't take and photos inside. Which was too bad because they had some of the rooms made up beautifully.

Afterwards, we found the blacksmith shop. They were making nails and keys. I think Grace could have stayed there for an hour, trying to figure out how it all worked. We also went through the museum, and Bayley and I watched a short film about Washington's life and Mt. Vernon. I'd love to go back when Grace is Hayden's age and has studied it a bit.

The time came to drive back and find our new hotel and drop off the rental car. We'd decided to stay in Crystal City because it was on the Metro, and right by the airport. The one thing we hadn't counted on? Crystal City shuts down hard in the evenings. It's really just a giant complex of office building and hotels. The businesses cater to that crowd, so finding a restaurant served to be harder than you'd think in an area packed with them. But we did find a Mexican place, where Bayley ordered...a bacon cheeseburger.

Another thing that proved how spoiled we are in the PNW? The beer selection could be counted on one hand. One hand. Every place out here has a dozen taps, plus bottles.

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