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Published: September 22nd 2014
For those of you who have been following along on our explorations of the D.C area, you’ve learned that we frequented many of the political bars, explored museums and monuments….but you might be asking yourself what else there is to do in the area. The answer is….plenty. Mount Vernon and Monticello
The northern Virginia area was once home to two of America’s earliest and most famous presidents, and their estates are worthy of a look if you’re a historian or just merely want a glimpse of what colonial life was like for wealthy land owners who were also politicians.
Short day trips from Washington D.C. will have you enjoying the estates of President Washington and President Jefferson. More often than not, they are referred to as plantations. Washington as most people know, was our first President from 1789 to 1797 and his estate is named Mount Vernon. Washington is well known for being the Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and also signed the Jay Treaty to normalize trade relations with Britain. Jefferson was our third president from 1801 to 1809 and was responsible for the purchase of the
Thomas Jefferson's Plantation
Louisiana Territory, which essentially doubled the size of the United States. A true renaissance man, he was very proud of his home Monticello, having participated in the design. The home sits on a hill and gives from pretty cool views of the surrounding region.
These two homes were similar in that they were on several hundred acres of ground. That is where their likeness ended. Mount Vernon is a quaint farm setting on a hill on the Potomac River. There were awesome views from the home and stunning views of the home from the water. Monticello is a rather stately affair. Jefferson may have fought for the slaves but he owned more than one hundred. The whole history of slavery in these times is addressed fairly well, and there is no attempt to diminish the effects of this sad part of American history.
Jefferson may have written the words that “all men are created equal,” but this certainly was not the case when you consider the number of slaves on his plantation. Even thought the labor costs were quite low, he was not a good businessman and squandered most of his money. Although you
could say he was a bit of a hypocrite, he pushed forward some progressive legislation. Another example of “do as I say, not as I do.” We can’t say we liked one estate more than the other. If you’ve visited many famous homes in Europe you will find these two homes rather small and simple. This is primarily because of limited construction materials and also the fact that almost every furnishing had to be imported from Europe at that time. Alexandria
If you find yourself in the D.C. it is worth the time to visit the Alexandria area if time permits. It was a vital seaport during colonial times but now it is a neighborhood, newly gentrified, with a great deal to offer. It is a rather upscale neighborhood these days full of red brick homes, pubs, restaurants, candy shops, quirky clothing stores, quaint shops, historical homes and museums. Some of the locals are probably not terribly pleased how upscale part of the town has become, but it still holds some charm with the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Major and Minor League Baseball
Anyone who has followed
our blogs knows we can never resist an opportunity to take in what used to be called the national past time. American football is more popular know, but baseball has that wonderful summertime pastoral feeling that we both like. Whether you go to a modern major league ballpark in Washington or venture up in northern Maryland to see a minor league game, it’s always worth the effort. Get yourself a hot dog and cold beer, then sit back and take it all in.
We saw the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles play in their stately environs, while also venturing to small towns like Hagerstown and Woodbridge, where a few thousand gather to see fuzzy-faced ballplayers living out their fantasy of playing a boy’s game for money. Most will never get anywhere close to being a big league player, but these are the boys of summer……we enjoyed the games and hope you will enjoy our photos. Virginia Winery
Having lived in Sonoma Valley and near Napa Valley we thought it was important to check out the local vineyards. We stopped by Zephaniah Farm Vineyards and had a fine time tasting local wines
and visiting with the owner. Pretty darn good wines at that! We do wish we had more time to explore more wineries, but hey, we’ve only got a few months here. All fifty of our states have wineries now (this seems a bit scary), but some Virginia wineries are doing fairly well in the big scheme of things. It’s a very competitive industry and there are numerous small operations that manage to put out a fairly good product. Friends and Family
Just a few miles away from bustling Washington D.C. is Annapolis Maryland. This town has a very New England feel and is high on the cute factor. It is a small town, much smaller than you would expect. The waterfront is attractive and Annapolis is of course, home of the U.S. Naval Academy. We even got to visit with a high school classmate of Dave’s while there and he was kind enough to give us very nice tour of this historic town.
One weekend we went back to Pittsburgh, PA to visit our old next-door neighbors Ralph and Marie when we lived there a few years back. Now don’t get
the impression that Ralph and Marie are old…it’s just an expression that they are our old next-door neighbors. We were happy to see our old house in good shape and the new owners had made some nice improvements. Later in the summer Ralph and Marie came to the D.C. area because Marie is on a competitive dragon boat team. These folks are amazing and are quite competitive. They were competing in the area so we needed to go and cheer them on. It was a rather gloomy day but it was good to see Marie and her team in action on the Potomac River.
MJ’s cousin Rene and her husband Gary rode their bikes on the trail from Pittsburg to D.C. this summer so it was great visiting with them while they were in the area. It’s quite a long trek, but they had a great plan and the weather seemed to cooperate. 335 miles of biking takes a fair amount of commitment.
The best man at our wedding Chuck and his lovely wife Birdie came to visit. Always good times with them...Non- stop conversations and laughs. We especially enjoyed a pitcher of Bloody
Great American Ballpark
Mary's at the P.O.V Roof Terrace at the Washington Hotel while we solved world problems and talked about travel.
Our niece Lauren and her husband Pete came to visit and we explored the D.C. waterfront and Alexandria. Such a beautiful section of the city. Always great when family wants to come visit us. Lauren was a few weeks away from delivering their first child and I think she had more energy than any of us.
D.C. was a good spot to meet a couple of travel bloggers while they were in the area. We had a nice dinner at Cafe Nora with Readingfcboi
If you are in the area and looking for a nice restaurant we can recommend this one. We also had the pleasure of dining at the Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria with Roosta
. The great thing about meeting fellow travel bloggers is you always know where the direction of the conversation will head. We never run out of things to talk about.
One of our favorite things while in D.C. was visiting with our good friend Andy. We don’t get to see enough of him and probably never will.
Full of American History
He is a wonderful man in every sense of the word. A great sense of humor and a heart of gold. We need more Andys in this world. We really enjoyed meeting his sister Sarah. We will miss seeing him.
So there you have the rest of the D.C. story. Yes, we’ve been extremely busy, but there is so much to see and do and somehow we knew there wasn’t enough time, so you’ve got to make the most of it. We feel we did pretty darn well…….
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