After enjoying Williamsburg, we took the short drive to Jamestown to see the replica ships and the environs of America's first English colony (est. 1607), home of John Smith, Pocahontas, and all that. The kids loved it. The replicas are exact, the historical actors are spot on and very informative, and the Fort and Indian village provide a great education. Add a lovely setting, and you have the makings of a hit. Here are a few more pictures.
We all had fun exploring the interior of the largest ship, the Susan Constant.
I have no idea how they kept track of all the ropes. They are innumerable and seem to go every which ways. Who knows which one does what?
Aldy manning the cannon. Needs to lower it a bit or he could sink us.
The tiller, which is not attached to a wheel at all -- just a stick that moves back and forth above deck. Who knew that America was colonized before ships had steering wheels?
Alden loves ships, particularly battleships and aircraft carriers, but even an old sailing ship makes him feel right at home. Is that a contented smile or what? I think he may be a navy man before it is over.
Wicciups of the Algonquin tribes that inhabited the area.
Alden got lessons in canoe making, the OLD fashioned way -- with rocks, shells, fire and a downed tree. The kids loved these hollowed out logs.
The Fort at Jamestown, faithfully reconstructed. Just a postage stamp of a foothold in a whole new world.
You can't believe the steps they had to go through just to fire a gun. Too bad that is not the state of technology these days -- would lead to less shooting victims, I am sure.
From Jamestown, we headed up to Gettysburg, PA. Kate has been pestering us to visit for nearly two years, ever since she saw the Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War, and given that she was almost half way through The Battle Cry of Freedom, it was pretty hard to deny the request.
Not that we wouldn't have come anyway. Gettysburg is one of those special places where our country and freedom hung in the balance, and prevailed by a hair's breadth and substantial . . . Providence, fate, luck, or whatever you want to call it. Irrespective the label, it teaches the same thing . . . Freedom and this amazing land are fragile and precious, and like all things rare, unique or valuable, are purchased at great cost. So much more I would like to say, but if Lincoln decided that three paragraphs (one only a sentence long) were enough, who am I to write more. Instead, just a few photos to give you a sense of the place.
We hired a guide through the visitor center, who provided a nice overview tour (even driving our car for us). He explained that these cannon had a range of two miles, as far away as the far tree line. This is near Cemetery Hill, one of the early turning points, where the Union forces first stopped Confederate advances and thus laid the scene for the two days of battle to follow.
Here is a view of the Peach Orchard and Big and Little Round Tops, the site of the next big turning point, where the unbelievable heroics of the Massachusetts and New York infantries kept determined Confederate charges from taking over these vantage points, which would have rendered the entire Union front vulnerable to capture or if lucky, a pell mell retreat.
Alden and Keegan scrambling about on the Devils Den. I'm sure every one of the soldiers on both sides were just this innocent and beautiful at one time. What happens, I wonder, to change us so, and leave kids like this, just a decade on, lying in pools of blood, heaped among rocks, in a place far from home?
The scene of Pickett's Charge, on the third and final day of battle. Imagine 12,000 men, screaming and running towards you, across this mile long field. Lee thought the Union lines would be weak at the center (the low spot in the lines) and so sent his entire force at once across this great divide between the armies. Before the day was out, 7,000 o f those 12,000 would be dead or wounded in this place. So many, on both sides, that their graves, later placed on Cemetery ridge, were only marked by numbers, or headstones like this:
Such was the site that greeted Lincoln, as he delivered these words:
Next up, Washington D.C.