KARE Project Update – Visiting Virginia. Continuing on our journey northward up the East coast our next stop was Williamsburg, VA. Happy Camper has a cousin that lives in Newport News, VA just a short distance to the southeast of Williamsburg so we stopped to see them and check out America’s Historic Triangle.
This stay we picked a very small quaint campground called Anvil Campground the site of a former Blacksmith shop. The symbol, the Anvil, comes from their family’s history in blacksmithing. Their Great Grandfather and Grandfather contributed to the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg from 1929 to 1935 making the original wrought iron work; tools, locks, hinges, shutter dogs, gates, and anything else that was needed.
We only stayed a week here so we had to make the most of our time we had for exploring. Happy Camper’s cousin Debbie, was gracious enough to take some time off and show us around.
Our first stop was Colonial Yorktown. Yorktown was founded in 1691 as a port on the York River. The town is most famous as the site of the siege and subsequent surrender of General Cornwallis to General George Washington and the French Fleet during the American Revolutionary War on October 19, 1781. Although the war would last for another year, this British defeat at Yorktown effectively ended the war. Yorktown also figured prominently in the American Civil War serving as a major port to supply both northern and southern towns, depending upon who held Yorktown at the time.
Some of the remains of fortifications from the American Revolution are still visible around Yorktown.
We passed by many restored houses from the original Yorktown as we walked down to the waterfront on Cornwallis Cove.
This next house was the home of one of George Washington’s earliest relatives.
The old Yorktown Town Hall also has been restored.
It just so happened that the day we visited Yorktown was the day the Hermione sailed into port. It had left France in April and was making a tour of the eastern seaboard. The Hermione is a replica of the 18th century French frigate that carried the Marquis de Lafayette from France to America in 1780, bringing additional French support during the Revolutionary War. They were giving free tickets for an onboard tour but we would have had to wait until 4:30 that afternoon for our turn . . . so we just opted for some pics from shore.
On the walk down to the waterfront we came upon some young folks parading the streets in period costumes.
In the Square there was a statue of General George Washington and Admiral De Grasse. De Grasse came to Virginia at the request of generals Washington and Rochambeau. There he used his fleet to blockade the York and James rivers, thus bottling up General Cornwallis at Yorktown. He outmaneuvered and defeated a British force under Admiral Graves, and men from his ships also took part in the land fight. His efforts led to the great victory of the Yorktown campaign. After the Revolution was won, Admiral de Grasse was severely defeated in 1782 by the British under Admiral Rodney in the West Indies.
One of our next stops was to Fort Monroe. Fort Monroe was a military installation in Hampton, Virginia – at Old Point Comfort, the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula. Fort Monroe guarded the navigational channel between the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads. Surrounded by a moat, the seven-sided stone fort is the largest stone fort ever built in the United States. The fort was named in honor of President James Monroe. Throughout the American Civil War, although most of Virginia became part of the Confederate States of America, Fort Monroe remained in Union hands. It became notable as a historic and symbolic site of early freedom for former slaves under the provisions of contraband policies.
Robert E. Lee was stationed at Fort Monroe. He was one of the Engineers who constructed the fort.
The Casemate Museum housed within the fort walls had many interesting and informative exhibits.
Edgar Allen Poe was briefly stationed at Ft. Monroe from 1828-1829 under the pseudonym “Edgar A. Perry.” (He was eighteen at the time but claimed to be twenty-two).
The upper ranking officers were housed in houses like the Lee house. The lower ranking officers and their families were housed within the casemate.
Another very interesting fact about Ft. Monroe is that the former Confederate president Jefferson Davis was imprisoned here after his arrest in 1865. Davis spent two years as a military prisoner at Ft. Monroe. Confined to a small room in the casemate, he was monitored by soldiers who ensured that he ate, made no escape attempt, and did not commit suicide. Later, Davis was moved to spacious quarters in the officers’ hall and was allowed visitors and exercise. In May 1866, his wife, Varina Howell Davis, took up permanent residence at Ft. Monroe. Although an unauthorized biography suggested that Davis was treated poorly, Davis himself did not believe that to be the case. He was transferred to civilian custody on May 13, 1867, and then released on $100,000 bail.
And then there was this notorious “Escapee” who ended up in the same cell 🙂
From atop the casemate looking across the Chesapeake Bay you can see the Norfolk Naval Base in the distance.
Well, so much for all the history lessons and on to some other fun we had while in Williamsburg . . . even though seeing all these historic places is fun for me being an old history buff . . . “Old” not being the key word there :-). Debbie and her #1 guy Keith took us out to a few of the local restaurants.
One dinner they took us to The Brickhouse Tavern across from the William and Mary campus. We all had a good time . . . especially Debbie . . . she loves to sing Karaoke and she is the only one that can get Happy Camper up to sing too. Here they are choosing their selection (as always . . . Girls Just Want To Have Fun).
And Ladies and Gentlemen . . . .The Girls Just Having Fun!!
Another night we went to the La Terraza Mexican Grill. Here’s a pic of our guides Debbie and Keith.
Another night Debbie made us a wonderful dinner at her home . . . a magnificent pot roast and all the fixings . . . it was so good it may have even been better then mine 🙂 Thanks Debbie!!!
Not forgetting about my daily walks I was afraid being in such a small campground I may have a hard time to get my 6-8 miles in. The road out front did not have any sidewalks or much room to walk and walking around the campground I would have had to make 20-25 laps . . . that would have just made me dizzy (or more dizzy). But fortunately about a 1/4 mile down the road I found a bike trail that ran for about 3-3 1/2 miles. The trail was through the woods and eventually went along side Waller Mill Park. Very pretty walk.
Waller Mill Park has very nice picnic shelters along the Waller Mill Reservoir and row boats and canoes you could rent to fish the reservoir.
To sum up our visit to Virginia for the short time we had there we had a great time seeing the sights and visiting with Debbie and Keith and family. . . Thank you guys!!!
So off again we go, next stop Washington, DC. Stay tuned for the next KARE Update coming soon . . . “Following in the Footsteps of our Forefathers – Part I“.