Towns and Burgs

From the Outer Banks we headed to Newport News Virginia.  Why?  Well, there is a campground (I think it is city owned) that had pretty good priced camping (electric and water) and it was only a short drive to Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown which were high on our list of places to visit.  So after dropping off the mini fridge at the scrap yard we continued north over/under the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and showed up at an amazingly wooded park just on the edge of Newport News proper.  We had called a week or so in advance to make reservations but they said there was no need….and they were right, we had our pick of many awesome sites.  We chose site 96 as it was well positioned between the playground and the bath house.  A bunch of cub scouts and their families were camping in a nearby group site so our kids had fun playing with the wad of kids over at the playground before dinner.
Newport News park

The next day was forecast to be pretty nice so we decided to go to Williamsburg.  We paid for our tickets and headed back in time.  Now you do not have to buy tickets to go walk around Williamsburg.  I had read this numerous times but it still took us a couple hours to figure out which things we had paid for and which we could come back and see another time without a ticket.  The map they gave us at the front did have this info on it but not in my language…I needed it to say “these are freebies and these you have to pay for”.  It was actually labeled pretty clearly, I guess I was just being a Clark (Griswold).  We took a tour in the art museum that was supposed to be family friendly.  It was good but didn’t really hold the attention of the kids (except Dacen…that kid will do well in college lectures).  But the trade shops, THAT is where it was at for our family.  We were all so impressed by the old school craftsmanship on display.  This is not your typical tourist trap that hires high school and college kids to dress up and blab out some spiel they memorized.  These people have made a career out of keeping their trade alive.  We talked to a few who had been doing the same thing at Colonial Williamsburg for 20 or 30 years!  There were shoe makers, weavers, tin smiths, blacksmiths, silver smiths, candle makers, coopers, cabinet makers, the foundry and more.  It was really great to talk with the craftsmen and craftswomen to hear about their trade but also what they are working on.  The shoe maker makes shoes for all the folks working at Williamsburg.  The blacksmith was making hinges for a nearby historic site.  These folks are commissioned to make period items either for Williamsburg or elsewhere in the country!  Totally blew me away.  There were drum and fife parades, a mock trial where both Caden and I got parts to play, and at the end of the day they fired the cannon as the troops were sent off to battle at Yorktown.  It was a really fun day that we finished by going out to eat at Olive Garden because we had a gift card.

At the scrap yard

Ditching the dead fridge

Taking notes


in the pasture

Funky tree




Militia boy

How cute

Niiice hat

Drum and fife

Tin worker

Cool tree

Sipping chocolate

Quill pen



Bad Papa and Brielle

Bad kids

Huck at court

Witness in court

Caden at court

Stair way to...?

The palace

The gals

Pretty bed

At the foundry


The next day we went to Yorktown which was hosting a Civil War reenactment.  It was drizzling rain but we got to see confederate infantry, confederate artillery, union infantry and union cavalry demonstrations.  They described their uniforms, their weapons, the different maneuvers they would do and other tidbits of info.  The folks putting the event on are not paid, they are Civil War enthusiasts.  They set up a Civil War camp, get all dressed up in their garb, camp out and live like soldiers for the whole weekend…and it sounds like they do it quite often.  Well, Yorktown is better known for the events that occurred there during the Revolutionary War so we took the driving tour to see the different siege lines where Washington and the French pushed back Cornwallis’ men to the point of surrender.  The rain was really coming down at this point so we mostly stayed in the car but took shelter under our umbrellas to go out and see the famous redoubts 9 and 10 that were taken by America and the French pretty much sealing the victory.  Back at the visitor center we checked out the museum and watched the video and the kids earned their Jr Ranger patches!

Yorktown battlefield

Ahh, how cute




Pretty ladies

Union Cavalry

Billy the horse


Provost marshal

Bad boy

Handcuff locks

Ready, aim, fire


Yes sir!


To round out our time in towns and burgs we spent our 3rd day in the area at Jamestown.  We stuck to just the national park and did not go to the settlement that I think cost some extra dough.  We tried the archaeology tour but most of us got bored and wanted to quit. Dacen was perfectly content listening to the guy talk, but we finally peeled off of the group and Steph and I helped the kids with the Jr Ranger books which really are a good way to learn for both kids and adults!  We ate our picnic lunch and listened to the chicken lady.  For me, this lady was the highlight of our visit.  She was dressed in period garb and acted as though we were just off a ship from England to be indentured servant just like she was.  She did a fantastic job of keeping all age groups engaged.  She was funny and yes, she had a chicken.  Chicken was on a leash but she just let it wander around.  It hung out by my feet for a long time and was perfectly ok being pet.  I’ve always thought chickens would be a pet I could get along with and this chicken was the kind I’d like.  We stopped by to check out the glass blower who was making fly traps.  What a crazy art/craft that is!!  Who in the heck figured this out?  “Hey Bob, let’s put molten glass on the end of a metal tube then you can put your lips on it and blow!”  It was really cool to watch how quickly she worked the blob into one of the fly catchers.  During our Jamestown visit, the kids added one more patch to their Jr Ranger collection.  We were planning a rest day the following day but the ranger who worked with the kids suggested we go to a brand new National Park nearby called Fort Monroe.  She said it was definitely worth it and that the Jr Ranger badges were laser cut wood.  Once the kids heard that we knew our rest day was no more!  I ended up not going to Fort Monroe so I hope Steph or one of the kids writes about their visit.

A croc!

See, its a croc



Inside church


John Smith


Early style construction

Old church

Chicken lady

Chicken lady


Chicken lady

Caden and chicken

Chicken feet



Overly excited Caden?

This blows



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