Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Day 3

Today was a much lighter day with only one tour stop. We started out the morning with a hearty Waffle House breakfast. Nothing like some hashbrowns, scattered, smothered, and chunked, to get you going! (Plus I felt MUCH better today!) After a not-so-quick shopping stop, we were off to Montpelier, the home of our 4th President, James Madison, and his lovely First Lady, Dolley.

The 18 mile drive from Charlottesville to Montpelier is absolutely beautiful. Trees on either side of the rode and bending over it to form a canopy... just like out of a coffee table book. I have really fallen in love with Virginia on this trip.

We arrived at Montpelier around 11 am and was in plenty of time for the 11:30 tour. The tour guide was excellent, and I learned quite a bit about the Madisons. This country has much for which to be grateful to James Madison, most famously our Constitution. It was a totally new way to govern a country... never heard of before. He wrote it; he presented it; he spoke in support of it 160+ times; and he changed the course of this country... and the world.

Dolley was a force to be reckoned with herself. She was the complete opposite of James - a complete extrovert whereas he was very introverted. She loved to entertain and did so with gusto... and helped James in his political positions by doing so. After his death, Dolley was lonely at Montpelier, so she moved back to Washington. She was given an honorary seat in Congress, and is the only person who never served in a public office to receive one.

Montpelier also has archeologists who are piecing together the complete story of the plantation and how its residents lived in the 18th century. They have already begun construction on the kitchen and domestic slave quarters right next to the main house.

We also visited the formal gardens, the family cemetery where James and Dolley Madison are buried, and watched a film about the home and its former occupants.

After leaving Montpelier, we made our way to Manassas, Virginia. Manassas is a suburb of Washington, D.C. (We are only 25 miles from there!), so it is very busy. We did some more shopping, ate dinner, and came back to the motel to rest and prepare for our day at the Manassas National Battlefield Park we will be visiting tomorrow. Keep your fingers cross for us - it's supposed to rain!

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