Thursday, May 31, 2018

Stepping Back in Time . . . Colonial Williamsburg

First Colonial Flag

Our 2nd excursion of Nicolas’ Special Liberty Days involved a drive back almost 300 years to the 18th century when our nation was not yet a nation, but just a group of English colonies.

Colonial Williamsburg

I had read online that, although you can purchase tickets to enter the historic buildings and participate in the demonstrations, tickets aren’t needed to just visit the town. 

We were only spending one afternoon there, so we figured that just walking through the historic streets and having lunch in one of the taverns would be enough history for us.  We didn’t need to get tickets to tour the actual buildings – good decision – we would not have had enough time to see many of the buildings . . . and the three non-history buffs I was with were not really interested in touring the buildings anyway.  I thoroughly enjoyed it though, and took LOTS of pictures!

We started out at the Visitor Center,

Williamsburg Visitor Center

where we watched a movie about the time leading up to the American Revolution and oriented ourselves to colonial Virginia.

Then. it was time to begin our walk back in time . . .

Walking back in time

Entering the American Colonies

There were shuttles to take you from the Visitor Center to various locations around Colonial Williamsburg, but there was also a short walk along the Revolutionary Parkway, so we opted to walk.

The path to Colonial WilliamsburgWe arrived at one end of town, where the Governor’s Palace was located.

Governor's Mansion

In the early 1770s, Williamsburg was the capitol of the Virginia Colony, and the House of Burgesses, made up primarily of Merchants and Plantation owners, were more inclined to remain loyal to the King of England rather than join up with the rebellious colonists up in Massachusetts.

The younger generation, however, were eager to join the rebellion and were gathering to march towards Boston as the Burgesses met in the courthouse to cast their votes on whether or not to join with the other colonies and declare their independence from England.


Although many were opposed to the movement, the vote was unanimous to become a united nation, independent from England.  So much has changed in 200+ years . . . our current government could never come to a unanimous decision on anything, especially something they disagreed about!

OK, enough politics, it was time to explore this colonial town.

Without tickets, we did not have access to any modes of transportation other than our own feet, but some people were taking advantage of the available rides.


Taking a carriage ride

Old-time transportation

The cobblestone streets were lined with historic buildings,

Cobblestone RoadWeaver Shop

and I had no shortage of photos to take!



Bruton Parish Church

Church Courtyard

Many of the buildings included historical demonstrations and were open only to ticket holders, but others were open to everyone – like the church, and several shops.

Greenhow Store

We went into the Greenhow Store,

Colonial Merchandisewhich was stocked with authentic colonial goods . . . at 21st century prices!

Need a hat?

More Colonial Goods

We walked around, browsing the shelves,

They wrapped in newspaper, too!

Nicolas said the prices weren't from the 18th century

and getting into our colonial role!

He would fit right in, wouldn't he!?!

You can actually rent period costumes for the day, if you want to be immersed in the experience, I guess . . . we saw a few family groups walking around in costumes, but not many.

Colonial GardenA pretty garden

Colonial Garden

Dogs were welcome in Colonial Williamsburg, too, and we saw quite a few, including a giant Great Dane that just laid on the sidewalk and let kids come right up to it.  Casey would never have been that calm around all those people!

Market House

Market Square was in the center of town, just across from the Courthouse, and was the location where the newly gathered troops began their march toward independence.  It was also an area for vendors to gather and sell their goods.


We continued our walk along the Duke of Gloucester Street,

Duke of Gloucester Street

admiring the well-maintained colonial buildings, many of which are still private residences today.


Prentis Store

The guys took a break in the shade while I continued taking pictures.

Taking a break while I take pictures

More houses, shops and taverns . . .

Printer and Post Office


Raleigh Tavern

They had to stop and ask what a peruke was . . . it’s a wig!

We didn't know what a peruke was -- it's a wig.

We were all getting a little hungry, and we had decided on Shields Tavern for our lunch stop.

Shields Tavern

We put our name in for a table, and waited just a few minutes to be seated.  Our lunch was very good, and there was even entertainment!

Musical entertainment

At the end of D of G Street, we reached the Capitol,


and turned around.  WE continued down the other side of D of G Street, stopping in at the Bakery to take a look around and pick up some ginger cookies for dessert that were cooked in this big old oven.

Colonial Kitchen

If we had tickets, Nicolas could have taken us into the Liberty Lounge for a cool drink!

Colonial Beer or quilter's beer?

Liberty Lounge

After our stop at the Bakery, we turned down a side road past the recreation area and the “industrial area” – where the cabinet maker, carpenter, and brickyard were located.

More photo ops!



What an interesting tree!

Interesting treeTom could walk right through it!

He could walk right through it

The back road took us right back tot he path to the Visitor Center,

Taking the back road

past the Great Hopes Plantation,


and back through time to the 21st century!

Back to the Future

We did a lot of walking – to the 18th century and back again – but it was fun!  I know I enjoyed the trip!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Virginia Aquarium

Virginia Aquarium sea turtle

Nicolas was able to get a couple days of special liberty to spend time with us and Grandpa, so we planned a couple of outings for all of us.

Our first trip was to the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach.  They were having a special for Active Duty and Veterans during the month of May, so Nick and Grandpa were both half price!

Virginia Aquarium

The Aquarium is divided into 2 buildings, with a Nature Trail connecting them.  We started out on the river marsh building, where we saw inland creatures – turtles,

prehistoric-looking turtle


and snakes!

giving us the evil eye


One of the Aquarium Staff had a rat snake out for people to touch – Tom and Nick and I touched it . . . Grandpa wouldn’t get near it!


touching the snake

There were a few birds on display, as well, – a talking crow – Russell Crow – who said “Hello”, and a small screech owl, and two Osprey in an outside enclosure.


Next up was the river otters – they were so cute and entertaining . . . but quick!  I could not get a picture of them as they swam past the window!

river otter

When they saw somebody outside on the path, they would go up to the window and look out – as if saying, “Take me with you!”

trying to get somebody to let them out, I think

Sure enough, when we walked outside, he came to the window to watch us!

Let me out!

The Nature Trail that joins the two buildings is also home to the Aquarium’s Adventure Park – a climbing park in the tall trees.

Adventure Park


Nicolas has been there with a group from work – he said it was fun (but not as hard as some of these people were making it look!).  We enjoyed watching the climbers as they made their way through the course!

Emerging from the forest, we walked along the trails that followed Owls Creek.

Oak Creek

Tom had to try out the Osprey nest!

Tom was nesting

It was an overcast day, but nice for a little walk through the woods!


Nature Walk along the creek

We entered the Bay & Ocean Pavilion, where the first exhibit we saw was the aviary and coastal river – there were fish and turtles in the river, and birds flying around.

A volunteer was pointed the fish out to Grandpa.


Next up were exhibits about the Chesapeake Bay and the Bridge-Tunnel (which we would be traveling across in a few days), and then it was on the the Aquariums.

There were Komodo Dragons (not sure they’re native to Virginia!),

Kamodo Dragon


Somebody was trying to get a close-up view of the dragon!

Nick getting a kids-eye view of the dragon

Next up was the tunnel of colorful tropical fish . . .

fish tunnel

pretty fish

poison tree frogs,

poison frog

and a 3 generation photo op!

In the fish tunnel

The sea turtle tank was next, and they were really fun to watch.  There were about a half dozen of them in there, and they were really active, swimming all around and looking through the glass at us!  I think they were my favorites!



Is he winking?

This one looks like a younger turtle.

juvenile sea turtle

From the turtle tank, we crossed over the the shark tank.

There were several large sharks in there, just gliding around, without a care in the world!


Shark Tank

Watch out, Nicolas!!

Oh no! He's getting eaten by a shark!


We took a quick look at the jellies,


and spotted a couple of Bald Eagles across the river.

Bald Eagles in a tree

The last tank in the aquarium was the stingray tank,


Tom got to touch one of the rays

and Tom attempted to pet one, although they managed to be pretty elusive – staying just out of reach at the bottom of the pool!

It as a nice day spent at the Aquarium, and afterwards we enjoyed a delicious dinner overlooking the ocean in Virginia Beach!