Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monticello: Reflections

(My apologies for the tardiness of this post...I'm really trying to blog everything that I've promised, even if I'm the only one who follows along or cares!)

My earlier post featured some of the best pix -- now here's some that didn't make the cut, but definitely tell a story all their own!
You try to pose your kids and this is the best they give you.  Whatevs.

You try to pose your kids for a shot with Mommy and this, again, is their best effort.  (My kids look deeply offended, don't they?)

Finally, after much coaxing, you get your daughter to smile, but you don't really get a sense of the PORCH she's sitting on.  After all that.  Sigh.

And it's a good thing this wasn't some precious historic handed-down-through-the-generations plant because my kid would have decimated it.

Then you tell your husband to adopt his most presidential, think on the rights of liberty for all mankind, kind-of pose, and he dorks it up completely with his faux JFK pose.  (We doubled over and hooted with laughter after taking this shot.)

And finally, proof that even one of the greatest minds that ever lived *NEEDED AN EDITOR*.
Here, in no particular order, are some of my reflections, both historical and practical, from our Monticello visit:
  • You really expect the house to be bigger than it is.  But of course, it was probably a monster-sized house for the day and age in which it was built and dwelt in.  (And too, this place has probably skewed all my perspective on such things...)
  • I had read ahead of time that umbrella strollers were available for rent from the house, and as the only ones approved for use in the house, we planned on this and didn't take ours on the shuttle up to the house.  What the website *doesn't* tell you is that they don't allow the strollers to be used outside of the house, which would have been extremely helpful to know, because I would certainly have lugged our double stroller on that shuttle.  What happened was -- of course -- we ended up physically lugging children throughout all our time outdoors and in the other exhibits, and that's a good 75% of the visit. 
  • The other part of the story is that our kids sat quietly in their strollers for approximately 1.5 rooms, whereupon both began classic meltdowns.  Whereupon all other tourists in our group leveled me (I'm the mom, I should be able to prevent/stop these things, right?) with frustrated, even kinda ugly stares.  Whereupon our tour guide took me aside and "invited" us to take turns with my parents (so they could step outside with the children while we toured, and then we'd reciprocate).  I don't think you're supposed to say "no" to that kind of invitation, so we did as told, er, suggested.
  • And thus began an accidental jaunt through Monticello all alone with my beloved.  My parents continued to let us have alone time throughout our visit and I can't tell you how much fun that was.  The duties of parenthood (especially to two toddlers) are so pervasive, vigorous, insistent, persistent, and constant that you really do forget what it's like to just be alone, to enjoy walking hand-in-hand, to whisper questions and answers and reflections to each other during the tour guide's lecture.  We can't thank Mom and Dad enough for that opportunity.
  • My favorite room in Monticello is the breakfast room.  The gorgeous sunlight, the cozy table, the antique china -- lovely.
  • You know your husband is a bigger nerd than you when he can correctly identify a bust of John Adams from across a large room.
  • When in Thomas Jefferson's bedchamber, they don't tell you that he actually died in that bed.  For some reason, I think they were remiss not to share that factoid...I think I would have been more hushed or respectful or something.
  • The regular tour doesn't take you up to the famous octagon room on top of the house.  A much more expensive behind-the-scenes tour will, though.  Maybe next time!
  • We loved our tour guide for being so enthusiastic and yes, helpful in her practical suggestion, but we felt a tiny bit rushed through.  I found out later that October is their busiest month!  Probably because the mountain vistas are extraordinarily beautiful and the weather just right for strolling about the grounds.
  • I shared this in my original post, but I found the "support system" of Monticello to be just as fascinating as the house.  Tunnels and cellars and creaky old doors, oh my!
Well, that's all I can remember for now.  If I think of anything else, I'll just add it to my list here!  And if anyone who reads this is planning a trip to Charlottesville/Monticello, please let me know because after tooling about the city for a couple days, I learned a few helpful tidbits that can really save you some time/effort.  Happy Traveling!


Anonymous said...

I love the pix, Wormie! The ones that don't turn out as planned are often the best ones. I have a Halloween picture of Sar and the kids the year that Elijah was born. They're all dressed up, but half of them are crying, half of them are sucking fingers and looking off into space, and then there's Sar in the center just smiling from ear to ear. Hilarious. I have to say that the pictures of Lucy remind me a lot of you. You can just see that she has so much of her Mama in her - same attitude, same force of personality. I can't wait to see the babies again. Counting down the days until Tuesday!

Great post about Monticello. I would love to go back and explore it as an adult. That rocks my socks that there is a bust of John Adams there. They had such a fascinating relationship. You mentioned in your previous post about Jefferson dying on the 50th anniversary of the signing. What's even more wacka-a-doo is that Adams died on the same day. Cool but eerie. -Katie

Kate said...

I'm giggling at the out-take photos...there are always more of those than good ones in our family!