We have now collected our car, a standard saloon, and the road trip has begun! We collected the car from Ronald Reagan airport which is out near Arlington cemetery. The journey out of Washington was a little exciting but Bill had researched it well and we managed to leave the city without any problems. On our exit we drove past The Pentagon which is ENORMOUS - boring to look at, but definitely impressive in size!!
Driving overseas has never bothered me but I have to admit the need for an automatic gear box. Although I am right handed my one experience in a car with a manual gear box left me totally unable to coordinate the gear stick. Thankfully in the States this is not an issue!
The Virginia countryside is lush and heavily wooded. We drive pat Quantico, or at least the signs said that we did but you would never know it, nothing could be seen beyond the trees. I couldn't help but think of Kay Scarpetta and her annoying neice Lucy and glanced skyward in anticipation of setting their helicopter but the skies were clear..
Our accommodation is in a timeshare style complex and we have a self
catering apartment so after checking in we headed off to Wal-Mart for a few essentials. Not having been in such a store for nearly 10 years I'd forgotten the scale of them. HUGE!!! Aisle upon aisle of saturated fats and sugar as far as the eye can see. My personal favourite was the bucket of cheese puffs, the size of a large tin of masonry paint. I wanted to take a photo but the store was quite busy and I lost my nerve!
Self catering after 4 nights in hotels is a treat. Those of you who know me well will know how much I enjoy dressing down in the evenings!!!
After a day of rest we were back on the tourist trail and headed to Jamestown Colonial Visitor Centre. What an amazing place! The centre focuses on the events surrounding the English settlers and the local native Americans, eventually moving on to the introduction of the first African slaves from Angola. We really do have a lot to be ashamed of when we look at our past in any detail.
The visitor centre itself was impressively laid out and organised, with a film show, lots of artefacts and a reconstruction of an Indian village and the boat that the first settlers arrived in. Guides in full costume were friendly and informative and the visit was a real success in spite of the rain which tried to put us of.
From Jamestown we took the colonial parkway, a non-commercial road towards the Chesapeake Bay where you can stop regularly to look at birds and the scenery in general. We THINK we saw a Bald Eagle but can't be sure!
At the end of the Colonial Parkway is Yorktown. This is where we Brits basically lost America. Quite careless really. On arrival it was very chilly and wet and, as a largely outdoor experience, we were doubtful we would be able to gain much from it. We took a free trolley bus down to the harbour and warned up in the Jamestown Pub(!) Before returning for another film show with the intention of having to settle for that as our afternoon education.
This visitor centre is dedicated to how clever Washington was and what an idiot Cornwallis (the Brit) was. I learned a lot about the events of 1801 and the Battle of Yorktown, but I can't vouch for the bias of the information we received! The film was informative but jingoistic, but as we emerged amongst the snuggly smiling American public we came across a tour of the Battle site. There was a break in the rain and a potted version of the 90 minute talk was on offer before the next downpour. Once again, fortune favoured the brave. The tour guide was animated and highly informative. Much fun was had at our expense as the only Brits present but with Bill being a West Ham fan it was nothing we aren't used to and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. By the end we were standing on the ground where George Washington and Cornwallis had stood over 200 years before us, and, as I said before, at the exact spot at which we truly lost America. How can you not love history up close??
Today we have a day of coasters and fun at Busch Gardens - a culture free day, but hey- we are on holiday after all!! The sun is shining and I feel a water ride coming on😁
Today's big news is that the American media has suddenly gone global and is covering the birth of the Royal Baby. Number of people who loved our accents yesterday - 3.
Today's thought from our sponsor follows......
A day of history indeed. How the West was won or the USA. It turns out that their final victory was down to the weather and the French! Typical.
On a lighter note to all you twitchers who like me struggle with the many small brownish birds who all look the same. Help is at hand. The Northern Cardinal is under the illusion the it is well camouflaged as it flirts through a green background. I have news for you birdy, you are bright pink. Identity solved!!
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