No, we did not come cruising up the James River on that lovely old boat. On Monday, my friends Claudia & John took us out on their motor boat on Breton Bay (the western shore of Maryland). Then this boat casually came sailing along, as if to say, "Hi, we're in a model of a 17th century ship. What's up with you?"
Anyway, we left Maryland Tuesday and traveled to Williamsburg, where over the next few days I'll give you a sample of what the historical area is like.
The first thing we did was check into our hotel and then go over to the Visitors' Center to see about our passes. You do not have a buy a pass to visit Williamsburg. You can have a grand old time just walking around and looking at the restored and rebuilt houses and other structures. However, if you want to go into any of the buildings (with the exception of the stores) and any of the areas that teach about trades and crafts, it helps to buy a pass. You will meet third-person interpreters who will tell you about the building and the family who lived there or about the work they are doing. They know their stuff and are able to lay some interesting goodies on you. At some of the sites are first-person interpreters. These are actors who portray real people (generally) and if you make 21st century references, they will not understand what you are talking about. This is about as close as you can get to talking to an 18th-century person. It's fun!
While we were in the Visitors' Center we also came upon this:
Yes. Williamsburg has gone dog-friendly since I was here last. However, this dog is part of Colonial Williamsburg, and he and his person had gathered a tidy little crowd around them.
We spent our first evening in Market Square, which is not the restored area, but sits adjacent to it. There are stores here and restaurants. Dan likes to hit the Craft House, which sells recreations of historical items. It's also an ABC store that sells bottles of local wines and beers related to the town. You can also buy a bottle of Shrub, which we were told is an 18th-century apple cider non-boozers would consume, rather than water. The reason? Water could make you sick. All sorts of stuff could seep into the wells.
We had dinner at Berret's Seafood Restaurant (yum!) and then strolled down Duke of Gloucester Street, at which point my cell phone battery decided to run down, However, I did get a few shots of the houses along the way.
A while back, I had written about trade signs, and the historical area is full of them. Here are two.
Based on the signs, what do you think these stores sold or made? A sheep and a saw. Hmmm...
Tomorrow the tour starts in earnest.
I want to emphasize again that history is fascinating because it is the story of people, not just big movements or wars or dates. Williamsburg tries to give you a window into the lives of the people of a particular point in time, what they did for fun, how they made their living, and what was important to them. And, lest we forget, they were living at a crucial point in our history: the political upheaval before the Revolution.
One other reason we need to know our history: what happened in the past often echoes into the future.