Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scherenschnitte in Williamsburg

Back in Williamsburg with Mom we set off to the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts and Abby Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. We enjoyed exhibits of period costume and accessories, grandfather clocks, furniture and even participated in a craft project. The educators were hosting a Scherenschnitte (German art of paper cutting) activity. Dan, Mom and I had great fun making our own works of art to take home. Dan even made a card of a dog howling in the setting sun for Annie - she loved her card and has it perched a top her crate.

Dan giving Annie her card
Annie loves her card!
 After touring the museum and getting crafty we explored a bit of Colonial Williamsburg by taking a tour of a Tavern that Dan and I had never seen before. Mom's last night in town we treated her out to seafood at Berret's Seafood Restaurant. Sadly they were out of soft shell crab so Mom enjoyed the fresh catch of the day instead. The next day we said our goodbyes and I dropped Mom at the train station. Annie, Dan and I were very sad to see her go - what a great visit we had!

Mary, Mom and Dan at dinner

Friday, June 22, 2012

Richmond's Maymont Estate and Hollywood Cemetary

On our way to visit Barbara and Alan, Mom and I stopped in Richmond and visited the beautiful Hollywood cemetery overlooking the James River. Highlights of the cemetery included the Confederate officers section, a dog sighting and the Presidential graves.
Monument to 18,000 Confederate soldiers buried nearby

Iron dog overlooking a girl's grave
Hydrangeas and tombstones

James Monroe, Fifth President
John Tyler, Tenth President

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy
On Sunday on our way to pick up Dan at the Richmond airport we got to Richmond early and toured Maymont, a 100 acre estate donated to the city by James and Sallie Dooley. The grounds are perched on a hilltop above the James River and feature an Italian Garden, Japanese Garden, kid's petting zoo, historical buildings and a carriage collection.  
Maymont Mansion (see Mom peeking in the windows)

Hundred-year-old Japanese Gardens

Japanese Maple overlooking a small footbridge

Reflecting pond and Japanese Maple

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shenandoah Valley

While Mom was visiting we headed up to Shipman, Virginia to visit some friends, Barbara and Alan. We stopped in Charlottesville on the way there. We had great fun shopping the pedestrian mall on Main Street, eating lunch and finding great books, notecards, chocolates and onesies! After touring downtown we went to the University of Virginia's campus. We joined a tour of the rotunda and then gave ourselves a self-guided tour before heading off to Barbara and Alan's house.
UVA's Rotunda, completed in 1826, designed by Thomas Jefferson modeled after the Pantheon

Mom outside living quarters in the Academical Village 

We visited Edgar Allan Poe's former room

UVA's non-denominational chapel
 When we arrived at Barbara and Alan's house we happened upon Alan who was preparing to leave for the Nelson County Natural History Museum grand opening and we got to go along with him. At the reception we sampled local pulled bear, venison chili and hard cider - Nelson County supporting the locally grown movement.
Mountain views from Barbara and Alan's house
 The following day Barbara took us on a wonderful two mile hike up the Saunders-Monticello trail to the Monticello Visitor's Center and History Center. After lunch, a movie, gift shop browsing and playing in the discovery center we made the trek back down to the car.

Barbara and Mom enjoying a break along the trail

Mom testing out a replica of Thomas Jefferson's bed

Mom tries her hand at Jefferson's duplicator

Mary and Mom cozy up with a founding father
 Later that evening Barbara and Alan treated us to a wonderful meal at Duner's restaurant outside Charlottesville where Barbara's daughter, Emily, works a few nights a week. Mom and I enjoyed (and shared) tuna with risotto and trout with a potato pepper hash respectively. Capped by a beautiful peach cobbler.

On Saturday, per tradition, we found ourselves at the Farmer's Market. The Nelson County Farmer's Market was stunning; ituated in a field overlooking the Shenandoah mountains. We were happy to find apricots, peaches, beets, cheese and Armenian pastries to take home as we strolled along through the stalls to the music of the Buzzard Hollow Boys.
Buzzard Hollow Boys

Mom with Alan and Barbara, our fantastic hosts
 After the Farmer's Market Alan told Mom and I the scenic route to take home so we followed the James River Valley country roads from Shipman to Richmond then hopped on the freeway for the rest of our trip home.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blueberries for Sal

 Mom is visiting Dan, Annie and me from Michigan. I picked her up in Richmond yesterday and we went out to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch then to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It was rainy but when we left the museum the clouds cleared so we were able to explore the outdoor garden.
Mom in front of the VMFA's garden fountain
When we arrived in Williamsburg Annie was SO excited to see Mom - she was running around with her tail wagging at a hundred miles a minute. We had reservations today to go kayaking in Virginia Beach with the dolphins but unfortunately the three of us were the only ones signed up so they canceled the trip. Instead of hanging with the porpoises we decided to go blueberry picking at College Run Farms in Surry, Virginia. To get to the Farm we had to cross the James River on a ferry.

Dan and Mom on the Pocahontas crossing the James

 We had great fun picking blueberries. Mom told Dan the story of Blueberries for Sal while we were picking berries - luckily we didn't run into any bears just lots of berries!

Master berry picker
Momma bear choosing berries

Sal's blueberry pickin' Mom running into a bear
We had great fun gathering berries and walked away with two quarts of delicious fruit to enjoy! After that we decided to reward ourselves with lunch at the Carrot Tree in Yorktown. More adventures to follow :-).

Mom and Dan showing off our bounty

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Michigan Reunion

This past weekend Cara, Alyssa, and Adam came down from DC to visit Dan, Annie, and me. Cara, Alyssa, and I lived together on the same hall in Betsy Barbour, an all girls dormitory, our freshman year at the University of Michigan so this was some what of a reunion for us. After having a lunch of pesto salad featuring our homegrown basil we took them on a tour of William and Mary's campus and an excursion to Colonial Williamsburg.

Alyssa, Mary and Cara on the Crim Dell Bridge

Adam, Alyssa, Cara and Dan outside Bruton Parish

Alyssa and Cara locked up for scandalous behavior
It was a very hot day in Virginia with temperatures in the mid 90s so we tried on Colonial head wear to shade ourselves from the hot sun.

Mary modeling a Colonial bonnet

Cara styling in her straw sun hat

Dan really wants to buy a three cornered hat before we leave . . .
After our outing we went back to the house and Dan prepared some fresh mojitos starring mint from our prolific herb garden. After snacks of cheese and nuts we dove into dinner and belatedly celebrated the anniversary of Cara's 29th birthday with a peach cobbler highlighting Virginia peaches from our morning trip with Annie to the farmers' market. Following dinner we were all itching for entertainment in the form of Dominoes! A raucous game of Mexican train went well into the night. We all had fun making trains :-)

Cara, Alyssa and Adam with their domino trains
Annie loved Cara, Alyssa and Adam - she even tried to convince them to let her sleep with them on their respective futon and air mattress beds (to no avail).

Annie getting an ear scratch from Adam
On Sunday morning we took the crew to Jamestown where Dan gave a very informative tour of the town and the fort. We also went in the Archaearium, where we observed the many artifacts found in the archeological digs of Jamestown. It was such a great visit - we are going to miss having them so nearby when we move West to Missouri at the end of July.

Alyssa and Adam made fast friends with Pocahontas

Sunday, June 10, 2012

History of Curacao

Due to reader demand (as promised) here is more info on our fun visit to Curacao. Not only did we enjoy the pools, markets, food and dancing in Curacao but we also did quite a bit of cultural exploring. On Dan's afternoon off we took a tour with our good friend Christer and twenty other conference attendees around the island learning the history of the 1795 slave rebellion led by Tula. First we went to the statue that was built for the tricentennial of the slave rebellion. This statue was larger than life size and very powerful - right on the beautiful waterfront. This location was important because it was where Tula was publicly tortured to death on October 3, 1795.
Breaking the Chains

 After visiting the monuments we were taken through the island to the Tula Museo which is housed in the Knip Plantation, a sugar plantation where Tula was enslaved. We were treated to Creole-Caribbean food made by local women upon arrival. We learned about African / Curacaoan heritage and our guide taught us Bandabou songs about washing clothes and preparing food - we even got to participate on the chorus!
Tula statue and painting in Tula Museo

Cuffs for enslaved people

Mary and Christer overlooking grounds of old sugar plantation
On the ride back to the hotel from the Tula Museo we had a musician with us who showed us Curacaoan instruments and demonstrated some different funeral and wedding ritual songs that would be played with the various instruments. We learned some harmonies on some songs and got to participate. It was a very lively van ride back to the hotel!

After this great day of history and learning I was inspired to do some more learning so on the following day I met up with a couple new conference friends who were skipping out and we went to Curacao's Slavery museum.


Sample of inside of ship where enslaved people would sleep on voyage across the Atlantic

Instructions on how to utilize the space on the ship for the human cargo
After the museum we toured around a bit more in colorful Willemstad and enjoyed all the vivid architecture on the island.

Beautiful church in downtown Willemstad
On our day of departure Dan and I hailed a cab and went to a beach that was nearby. The water was so crystal clear that we could see schools of multicolored fish swimming around our feet - we didn't even need snorkeling gear! We caught a glimpse of Curacao's Mermaid of the Year who Dan thought bared a resemblance to me - I guess I see it a little bit! What a wonderful trip - we're hoping to go to the conference again next year which will be in Belize :-)

Beach where Dan and I went "snorkeling"

Curacao's Mermaid of the Year bearing a shocking resemblance to Mary