Birthplace of a National Father

Colonial Beach Travel Blog

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gallery in Visitor Center

I got started slowly this morning but once I got on my way, the travel down to the northern neck of Virginia went smoothly.  I had printed directions out but also found the route to be well-marked, yay!

As I neared the end of the journey, it was easy to know that I was in the right spot: a smaller version of the Washington Monument proudly rose from the center of a traffic circle.  I veered right and found a parking space in the sparsely-filled parking lot.

Entering the Visitor's Center, I was greetly warmly by a park ranger who let me know that the video would begin in about ten minutes and also answered my question about where to go to get my passport book stamped.  I think I've had that book for over 15 years now, and I still find the stamps an easy and quick souvenir for each national park property I visit.

Washington's faces
  Making effective use of the 10 minutes, I hopped into the gift shop to stamp the passport (got briefly distracted by a different version of the passport), returned to my car to change into sneakers for walking, munched on a peach, and stopped in the restroom.

Sliding into the theater just as the video started, I happily picked a seat in the middle of the deserted space: no big heads in front of me!  A few other visitors would sneak in later but they sat out of my viewing path so no problems there :)  The video was typical of most historical national park introductions.  It took the approach of showing scenes of the property as a narrator spoke about Washington's early years.  After the video I scanned the historical displays in the gallery next to the theater.

one of a few toy men from the colonial age
  I learned about Washington's lineage, how his family came to settle in the Americas and then more specifically this specific property.

I then followed a path that crept alongside Pope's Creek and eventually led to the rebuilt buildings.  The ranger waited until the hour to begin the brief tour; we were the biggest (or at least one of the biggest) groups of the day.  We started right next to an outline of a home on the ground.  Our guide explained that when the Ladies' Society decided to build a house to represent Washington's first home, they inadvertently committed several errors including the location of the house.  The locals said that the house had faced the creek while the experts of the time placed it farther back on the property and overlooking a different part of the water.

fireplace in the kitchen
  The Society went ahead with the experts' view; an archeological dig later found the true location which is now represented by the shell outline in the grass.  The house itself is built out of brick; our guide pointed out that it was much more likely to have been built out of wood like the detached kitchen just beyond the outline.  Therefore, the national park system looks at the house not as a replica of the original one but as a memorial home for Washington.

We stepped into the kitchen first where a worker in period clothing was cooking a type of cookie.  I was interested to hear that the herbs hanging above her head were real.  She identified several for us and then stopped, stating that the others had been there longer than her and she wasn't sure what they were!

The ranger then unlocked the house for us.

drying herbs
  A hallway divided the house into a right and left side, both with two rooms.  I noticed two family coats of arms depicted in a small picture near the first room on the left.  I liked the cards sitting out on a table in the second room on the left.  The details on the bedding in the first room on the right were quite intricate.

After wandering around the house, the tour was over so I decided to follow a path that led to the water right behind the memorial house.  However, I first spent some time stalking one of the three chickens and photographing dragonflies.  Once I did walk the actual path, it was a quick journey.

I briefly visited the garden next to the house.  A wooden fence surrounded it, the gate easy to open as long as you were patient and watched your fingers.

"stove"
  However, once inside I froze as the side of buzzing quickly reached my ears.  I don't know what the flower was but I swear they were attracting all the bees on the property.  After figuring out that the bees were more interested in pollen than me, I relaxed enough to attempt to get some pictures of the insects but I still kept my distance.  I have made it through this spring without any stings so far, a first in three years of warming weather.  The flowers in the garden were ok, nothing impressive, maybe due to the time of year or the heat of the day.

I walked by the animal pens next.  The pigs were in two pens, the ones in the first space soundly snoozing while next door, two younger ones slowly nosed around.  From this angle I noticed a few sedate sheep in their space behind the pigpens.

in the kitchen
  There was also one red horse in an open pasture.  On the other side of a drive, several bovines with long horns leaned against fences.  I was surprised to realize that they were cows; I'm only used to seeing cows with short horns!  I walked down to the end of the drive which emptied into the traffic circle.

I walked across the quiet road to take a picture of the entrance sign and then several of the mini-Washington-Monument.  Back at the visitor center, I got in my car to drive towards the cemetery.  It was a short distance down the opposite side of the traffic circle.  I parked in the lot across the street from the walled burial ground and read the informational signs that described the locations of two other houses in the area when Washington would have been young.  I briefly wandered into the cemetery where relatives of Washington lie including his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.  My touring down, I got back in my car and started back towards Maryland.

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Posted on: Oct 14, 2012
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gallery in Visitor Center
gallery in Visitor Center
Washingtons faces
Washington's faces
one of a few toy men from the colo…
one of a few toy men from the col…
fireplace in the kitchen
fireplace in the kitchen
drying herbs
drying herbs
stove
"stove"
in the kitchen
in the kitchen
kitchen building from the memorial…
kitchen building from the memoria…
young pig
young pig
horse
horse
cow
cow
Memorial obelisk
Memorial obelisk
Colonial Beach
photo by: diisha392