Sunday, November 20, 2011

Aside from visiting family and relaxing at my dad's, the one outing we did take was to visit Monticello--the home of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.

Although there are many things I did and places I went in all of my summers spent in Virginia with my dad, Monticello was not one of them. My mom tells me that I went as a young child (in fact, she says I was about Nora's age), but of course, I don't remember that.

It was a nice fall day to take a ride up there and walk around.

Monticello is set up on top of a big hill overlooking Charlottesville, Virginia. As we drove all the way up to the top, my dad kept saying, "Can you imagine going all the way up here by horse?" Crazy when you think of it that way.

Thomas Jefferson was apparently really into gardening. Well, really into having his slaves garden for him, anyway. The plantation was self-sustainable because of all of the food they grew right there on the side of the mountain. He believed that the majority of your diet should be made up of vegetables, which was pretty unusual in the late 1700s. The garden still exists, with vegetables still growing. I'd love to have a garden that huge!

This structure, overlooking the gorgeous view down below, was rebuilt. The original deteriorated.

This chimney (and some foundation) are all that's left of a joinery that used to exist on Mulberry Row (where the slaves lived and many worked).

On the property is a family cemetery, where Jefferson was buried when he died at age 83.

After we walked the grounds for a little bit, it was time for our guided house tour. We headed up to the house to go inside with our group and guide.
We didn't take any photos inside (we were too busy trying to listen to the tour guide while also keeping Nora busy/entertained/quiet), but it was really interesting. While there is much to admire about Jefferson (he could read in seven languages, for instance), there is also much to shake your head at (the fact that he owned approximately 200 slaves at any given time, and it is believed that he fathered several children with one of his female slaves after his wife, Martha Jefferson, passed away). Obviously, the 1700s were a drastically different time in history, and regardless of what you think of the man, there is little denying his impact on the country at that time.

Nora didn't make it through the entire tour. She started losing her patience with us when we got into the last room, so I ducked out on this terrace area with her while Michael and my dad listened to the remainder of the tour. Once she was through with everyone else, the tour guide took me back into the last room and told me what she had told the group--I thought that was really nice of her!

After the tour, we walked around a bit more. There were areas of the cellar that were open to walk through, some areas with artifacts that were interesting to see and read about.

Although our little Nora is 14 months old and still not walking (late bloomer, I guess!), she certainly was in the mood for practicing at Monticello. Once she got going, she didn't want to be picked up! Miss Independent...

It was getting late in the afternoon and Nora was clearly spent, so we called it quits to go get dinner somewhere. We took the shuttle back down the hill to the visitor's center, where we encountered a life-size statue of ol' Thomas Jefferson himself:
He was quite tall--6'3"!

It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, but we generally like doing stuff like this. If you like history and you're ever in the area of Charlottesville, Virginia, I'd certainly recommend a trip up to Monticello.

Probably a slim chance, but... have any of you ever been to Monticello? What did you find most fascinating about Jefferson's plantation and/or his life?


Erin November 21, 2011 at 5:52 AM  

That Nora can totally walk from the looks of her assisted trek! Probably a cautious girl not ready
(or needing) to chance and spills quite yet.

Need to get to Virginia!

Jessica,  November 21, 2011 at 9:51 AM  

Glad you enjoyed Monticello! I was there for the first time in February - my friend from Charlottesville was training to be a guide, and now she gives tours there often. Do you remember your guide's name?

I especially loved the wine dumbwaiter, the pocket doors in the dining room and the huge clock!

Amanda November 25, 2011 at 11:22 PM  

I love studying and reading all things Jeffersonian. He was quite an interesting guy. Having grown up in Texas, but now stationed in Maryland (for the time being), my first trip to Monticello was about a year ago. It was fascinating seeing how many books and inventions he had created or used at his home.

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