Some of my favorite photos from our recent trip to Virginia are below. See the complete photo album on my website.
View of Duke of Gloucester Street from the Capitol Building.
For Spring Break, my son Peter and I traveled to Virginia to visit my mother and play tourist at Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, and Go-Karts Plus. It was three-day trip but it felt like we saw and learned a lot. Now, I once lived in Williamsburg. I attended the College of William & Mary, worked on an archaeological site as part of a field school, studied 18th-century furniture at the art museums, and then was an employee of Colonial Williamsburg for four years during my senior year of college and the years immediately afterwards. So, these places are familiar to me. But this was the first time I’d visited as just a plain old tourist in close to 25 years, and the first time I visited as a parent, sharing my enthusiasm for history with my son.
We actually visited few of the sites I actually worked at in my time as a historical interpreter as Peter was drawn more to the historic trades (which, ironically, I rarely had time to visit when I actually worked there). For a place rooted in history, a lot has changed at Colonial Williamsburg. The Charlton Coffehouse was reconstructed in recent years and we enjoyed the unexpected treat of a free serving of hot chocolate of an 18th-century recipe. There’s also a daily event called Revolution in the Streets where the last block of Duke of Gloucester street is open only to paying guests and character interpreters perform a drama right in the middle of the crowd. The story we witnessed was about a slave couple deciding to “jump the broom” to marry before the man was taken away to Richmond (for some reason I never learned). We were among the witnesses to the jumping the broom ceremony which involved everyone participating in song and dance. It is kind of cheesy and probably not 100% authentic, but I think it gets across the point of what daily life and choices were faced by ordinary people of the past. I liked it better than the military reviews and speeches by great men that are more typical of living history performance.
A frisbee-catching dog on Palace Green.
Tulips blossom in the garden behind the Governor’s Palace.
A team of oxen prepare to plow another row in the field.
Jumping the Broom (broom not in the picture).
Related Post: Jamestown 2007 – America’s 400th Anniversary
The Visited States Maps Generator at the Defocus Blog allows you to create a map of US states (and Canadian provinces if you chose) that you’ve visited, color-coded by the amount of time and commitment you’ve given to each place.
Here’s the key:
Red means I’ve just passed through, maybe seen a thing or two.
Amber means I’ve at least slept there and seen a few things. I have a first-hand idea of what the state is like.
Blue means I’ve spent a good amount of time in that state.
Green means I’ve spent a lot of time in that state, weeks at a time on multiple visits – or lived there.
Here’s my map:
I made the decision not to include states where I only changed planes at the airport (for me that would be Minnesota and Texas). I also think that there should be a distinctive color for states one has lived in compared to states that one has just visited a lot. The states I’ve resided in are New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, and Massachusetts. I’ve also included New York, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire in the green category because I’ve traveled to those states frequently (the first two primarily due to family living there).
What does your map look like? Go to http://www.defocus.net/visitedstates/ and find out.
A tugboat chugs under Brooklyn Bridge
I spent the first week of September with my 5 y.o. son Peter and my mother (later joined by my wife and daughter for the last weekend). Three generations of family explored the City which has rich family history. My mother grew up in the Bronx and I grew up in the Connecticut suburbs and now we got to share a lot of our favorite places with Peter. But there were also new discoveries. Through Airbnb, we stayed in an apartment in Inwood, the neighborhood at the very northern tip of Manhattan. Inwood is vibrant and friendly with a great park and easy connections to the rest of the city on the 1 and A trains.
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge
- Day 1 – We visited the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, ate lunch at a deli in Brooklyn Heights, played on the spectacular playground on Brooklyn Bridge Parks’s Pier 6, and then sailed up the East River on a ferry to Midtown.
- Day 2 – Went to the the Bronx Zoo. We stayed all day.
- Day 3 – Walked along the Hudson River to visit the Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge. Read the book and attracted a crowd of toddlers. Spent the rest of the day at Central Park where we: ate ice cream, ate hot dogs, played on the swings, took a nap, played catch, rode the carousel, and sailed a model boat on the Conservatory Water (Peter got very good at controlling the wind powered boat).
- Day 4 – Visited the USS Intrepid Sea/Air/Space Museum, the highlight of which was getting up close and personal with the space shuttle Enterprise.
- Day 5 – Ate brunch at Kitchenette Uptown in Morningside Heights, took Peter to Yankee Stadium to see the Red Sox play the Yankees (Red Sox won), and ate supper at the wonderful dog-themed pub Fred’s.
Sailing a model boat on the Conservatory Water.
I’ve made a web album of my favorite photos from the trip, in addition to the ones featured in this post.
The view out the back of the A train.
My son & I spent the Columbus Day Weekend in Washington, D.C. Some of my favorite photos from the weekend are below, the rest are here.
The original Wright Brothers’ Flyer at the National Air & Space Museum
Pigeons on a lampost.
Sea Lion demonstration.
Susan, Peter & I took a daytrip by commuter rail to Salem a week ago Sunday. It was a fun adventure, especially for our three-year old train fanatic who looked out the window and narrated our journey all the from North Station to Salem.
Our first stop was lunch at Reds Sandwich Shop where the friendly waitresses (and customers) doted on Peter and the plates were full of tasty food. Next stop was the Peabody Essex Museum. After getting admonished by a guard for standing too close to the maritime art we went to the family-friendly, hands-on Art & Nature gallery. Here there was the art of optical illusions, toys, puzzles, books, and a build your own bird station among other treats. I was able to explore some of the other galleries and was impressed by the mix of American and Asian fine arts and decorative pieces, deliberately overlapping to show the cross-pollination of cultures in Salem’s history. Particularly impressive was the FreePort [No. 001] exhibit in the East India Marine Hall where a staid gallery of ship’s models and figureheads is transformed by animations projected on all surfaces. The video below should give the essence of the experience but one really needs to walk into the room for the full effect.
The PEM is an impressive museum and there was a lot more to see – including a special exhibit of Dutch art – but we were all pretty tired by then. As a special treat for good behavior in the museum I took Peter to Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company, reputedly America’s oldest candy story. Peter picked out a package of gummy fish and we ate them on the wharf overlooking historic houses and ships. Salem is a charming town and has a quite to bit to offer especially if you can avoid the cheezy witchcraft exploitation industry.
We had a light supper and then caught a double-decker commuter train back to Boston which made it double exciting.
Earlier journeys in-and-around Boston:
Sunday morning we woke up pretty early. Peter slept all the way through the night. I think we finally adjusted to the European time zone. Must be time to go home again.
After packing up our stuff and straightening the apartment as best we could, there was still an hour until the bike rental shop opened. I wanted to get out and see Amsterdam one last time and I knew Peter would enjoy another bike ride, so we went out while Susan took a nap. It was quite a joy to be out in the city when everything was still and quiet. We also were actually able to ride the bike fast.
So fast we were at Centraal Station within minutes. Only the sanitation workers were out with street sweepers and hoses and even garbage trucks (the strike must be over). I decided to pedal off to a more residential area and promptly got lost. I knew where I was since all the signs said Westerpark but couldn’t figure out how to get back to the Centrum. Finally I followed a bus heading back to Centraal Station. Safely back on Prinsengracht, a group of tourists from Italy stopped me for directions to the Begijnhof which was actually quite a distance from where we were.
Peter & I rejoined Susan and we returned our bikes to Mac Bikes and then had breakfast at a neighboring bagel shop. Then we went back to the apartment and brought all our stuff out on the stoop and flagged down the Stop/Go Bus to Centraal Station. While I paid the fare, Peter rather hilariously climbed on the bus and found himself a seat in the back row. He enjoyed the ride too, pointing out sites we passed and singing “Stop and go, stop and go; on to school — take it slow!”
We took the train to Schiphol Airport, flew to Keflavik Airport in Iceland, and after a delay onwards to home.
A sunny Saturday in Amsterdam – our last full day in the city – and Amsterdam teems with humanity. There are tourist by the bus, train, and bike load but there are also a great number of rowdy stag parties roaming the streets. There are hen parties too although they seem more likely to hire a boat and sail along the canals playing dance music. I did see a boat full of women and a boat full of men pass in front of our apartment. When they met they all hooted and hollered at one another. Then the men’s boat turned around and chased the women’s boat. A few minutes later I saw the men’s boat sail by again on their orginal course.
Since we enjoyed bicycling so much on Thursday (especially Peter) we hired bikes again. It was much busier at Mac Bikes today but since we knew how to manage the bike locks already we were out of there pretty quickly. Today we rode to the east side of the city. Along the Amstel River, Susan spotted a canalside cafe and so we stopped for a mid-morning snack at Cafe de Jaren. We enjoyed the views and coffee and Peter covered himself in honey.
We pedaled on past the Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Garden) and Susan suggested we go in which was another brilliant idea. Much of our botanical sightseeing was lead by a peripatetic toddler. Peter insisted on wearing his bike helmet and enjoyed playing in the stream in the greenhouse and picking up gravel from the paths in the gardens. We saw many cool things including the world’s oldest potted plant and colorful butterflies.
A visit to Amsterdam must include seeing an old windmill, so we rode on to De Gooyer Windmill. It dates to 1725 and is the closest windmill to the Amsterdam city center. It’s also adjacent to a brewpub I wanted to have lunch at, but sadly the brewpub was closed. There was a nice cafe beneath the windmill where we ate lunch instead. We rode back to the apartment for nap time passing old wharves of the Dutch East India Company that have been converted to residences. Peter also requested another playground stop.
While Peter and Susan napped, I paid a visit to Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic). This is a 17th-century canal house with the top three floors converted into a Catholic church used from the 1660’s to 1880’s when Catholicism was officially illegal in Amsterdam. The lower floors are an interesting look into the life of an Amsterdam merchant family. The church itself is undergoing restoration but the history geek in me enjoys seeing floorboards lifted up and layers of paint peeled away. While in the area I walked around the Oude Kerk dating to 1306 and Sint Nicolaaskerk which replaced Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder in the 1880’s when Catholic worship was legal again. I also saw “Little Venice” which is the only place in Amsterdam where the water goes right up to the houses like in Venice.
Rejoining Susan & Peter we went for a lazy bike ride and stopped at two different playgrounds for Peter to play on. Then we ate dinner at a charming little pizzeria called Il Boccalino. Back home, Susan cleaned up while Peter and I sat on the bench watching boats and passersby. A pleasant way to end our last day.