The weekend after we went to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown we went to the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area. My husband’s friend from college is (was) expecting a baby with his wife and they had a baby shower. They live in Maryland just outside DC. It was the first time that I had ever seen an invitation to a baby shower that included men, so I agreed to go to see what it would be like. We ended up missing the first 2 hours of it, but more on that later.
We decided to stay at my brother’s newly acquired bachelor pad. His first “real” apartment. He had only been living there a little over a month and it definitely needed a “woman’s touch”. Probably still does. We had to bring our own blow up mattress because he only has 1 bedroom and a non-pull out sofa. But it was free, so I’m not complaining.
We drove up there Friday night. Saturday morning we went into DC to see one of my most dearest friends, her husband, and her 2 children. We had brunch at this diner on Florida Ave. It has cinnamon and sugar pancakes and french toast. You really don’t have to put syrup on them because they are already so sweet, and oh so tasty. After that we went back to her house and played with her kids. We were trying to kill time before going to an exhibition at the Smithsonian that my husband wanted to go to. It was called “The Art of the Video Game”. It was rather disappointing. I was expecting more on how video games are made but it was more about the evolution of the gaming systems. There was not a lot to the exhibit. It had one room with some old school games you could play like Super Mario Bros; one room had a little about graphics, and the last room had every gaming system every made and representative games for each. However, the exhibit totally left out hand held gaming systems like the Gameboy. Tragic. The best part about the whole exhibit was the $40 book that you could get at the gift shop. It had so much information about a ton of games. It was more interesting than the exhibit.
Now we get to why we were late for the baby shower. We had parked in a parking deck to go to the gaming exhibit. This parking deck had supporting columns for the deck behind the parking spaces. Not every space had a column behind it, but my husband chose to park in a space next to one of these columns. I didn’t think anything about it when we parked. Well, when we were pulling out he turned the car a little too soon and slammed the front driver’s side of the car into the column. I heard glass break and saw plastic flying and my heart sank into my stomach.
I immediately began to think about how were we going to get back to Richmond? Scenarios started running through my head, and all of them very elaborate so I had to force myself to stop thinking about it. I got out of the car to help pick up pieces. I, finally, looked at the car and the front driver’s headlight was smashed to pieces; the front bumper on the left side was hanging, and the panel over the left front tire was crumpled. It seemed to all be damage to the body of the car and not the engine so that was somewhat of a relief. My husband insisted that he could drive it. I questioned whether or not it could go on the highway. It did OK on the city streets. We re-programed the GPS to take us back to my brother’s apartment without using highways. What should have taken less than a half an hour took almost an hour. I still do not understand why it takes so long to go just a few miles in the DC area. Yes, there is a ton of traffic and traffic lights, but it should not have taken us an hour to go less than 15 miles.
We got back to my brother’s apartment relatively unscathed. Now, if you ask my brother he would probably tell you he is the best car expert in the world and could race Ferraris but chooses not to 🙂 Well, he and my husband, amazingly, put the car back together with zip ties. Everything held for the rest of the trip, even at I-95 speeds on the way home to Richmond. I was quite impressed.
We did make it to the baby shower, which was lovely. It wasn’t too involved, which is probably a good thing for the men. I noticed that the majority of them were absent when present opening time came around. But I’m glad that my husband got to spend time with some friends he doesn’t see often.
The next morning when we left we went to Mount Vernon. We had already decided to do this since were were “in the area” so to speak. The website says to allow at least 2 hours to see the house and the grounds. The Mount Vernon property once encompassed an area that went 10 miles down the Potomac and 4 miles in land from the Potomac. That’s huge!
The visitor’s center has a very nice movie about the life of George Washington with Hollywood actors. You may not know their names, but you would recognize their faces. You cannot take pictures in the house and museum, but you can take pictures of the grounds and out buildings. For the time period George Washington was extremely wealthy, and the tour guides in the house pointed out evidence of this throughout the tour. First of all the house underwent 3 additions to become the house that is seen today. The fact that the walls were painted in bright colors like greens and blues showed that he could import the very expensive paint. Various other things like that. I had not realized that George Washington did not have children. When he married Martha she had 2 children from a previous marriage, and then they raised some of their grandchildren. Also, I think Robert E. Lee married one of Martha’s descendants.
The house has a gorgeous view of the Potomac river, and the gardens are lovely as well. They have a rare type of hog there called the Ossabaw island hog. We saw one of them. It was very large and very hairy.
There was, also, a mule there that was bigger than the horse that was in the stable with it. I have never seen anything like it! The mule’s head looked almost twice as big as the horse’s head. It was ginormous!
We went to the site of Washington’s old tomb. In his will he specified that a new tomb be built. So he was moved from the old tomb to the new one a few years after his death. Its crazy to think that his skeleton was right there. I wonder what they buried him in?
Part of the museum had a more interactive area with videos and was more of “interesting facts” than museum items. That area had the lower half of his famous dentures. Apparently, Washington only had 1 tooth, a left lower molar, which was used to anchor the dentures to. They were not wooden teeth, but they still looked very uncomfortable to wear. You could not take pictures of the dentures. This part of the museum had life sized mannequins made from work done by National Geographic on what Washington would have really looked like at certain ages. I remembered watching the documentary on TV about it. (the reconstructions are at the end of the video around minute 38) So it was kind of neat to see those reconstructions in real life.
We ate lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. We got the peanut soup there too. The peanut soup at Colonial Williamsburg was better in my opinion. They had several items that looked very good on the menu. I ended up getting a sandwich. It was huge. I could only eat about half of it. What my husband got was large too, so the portion sizes are definitely shareable. They have 2 very large and nice gift shops next to the restaurant. One is geared more towards children. They, also, have a smaller gift shop as you walk into the visitor’s center, and one in one of the out buildings near one of the gardens.
After we ate lunch we drove 3 miles down the road to George Washington’s Mill and Distillery. Admission is $4 extra, but I found this more interesting than the house. One thing I learned from my whole time at Mount Vernon was that George Washington seemed very smart in terms of business. For instance he stopped growing tobacco because he knew that the market was saturated with it and he could only sell it to England; therefore he couldn’t make very much money off of it. So he grew wheat and corn and turned them into cornmeal and flour in his mill. England already had enough of these items as well, so he was allowed to sell them to other European countries and make more money off of them. The distillery was not built until 2 years before he died, but was extremely profitable in the short time it was open, which was only a few years. After Washington’s death it became less profitable because of who was managing it and then it burned down. I did not know that in colonial America whiskey was clear- they did not age in it barrels to give it the brown color we associate it with.
Both the mill and distillery are reconstructions, and both are functional. Archeologists found the site for the distillery during prohibition so they did not tell anyone of its existence. The site was covered up and left until the 1990s when it was re-excavated and re-built. The distillery does make whiskey once or twice a year. It is made the way they would have in colonial America. A pint of the clear whiskey is almost $100 and a pint of the colored whiskey is almost $200. There are very limited batches and they are sold on a first come basis. You can be put on an email list to be notified when a batch is going to be sold, and they said that when the email is sent out they will have people lining up as early as 7AM for the 10AM opening of the distillery to buy it. Bottles 1 and 2 of the first brown whiskey batch sold for thousands of dollars at an auction. So far they have only had 1 brown whiskey batch because they age it approximately 2 years.
You can buy cornmeal made at the mill. I bought some, but now I need to figure out what I am going to make with it.