Saturday, April 10, 2010

George Washington Reality Tour

I recently became a huge fan of our 3rd President, George Washington. I read a biography on G-dub by Thomas Flexner entitled "The Indispensable Man," and immediately developed a man crush on the greatest American who ever lived. Being that we're so close to some of George's old haunts, the Steens decided to take advantage of the wonderful Spring weather and go on some mini road trips.

First stop: Valley Forge. The Continental Army encamped there (just outside Philadelphia) in the winter of 1777. It was bitter cold and there wasn't a lot of food. Good times were had by none.

This is a recreation of the little huts that Washington's troops made that winter. I think they look pretty cozy, but they probably weren't made as well back in 1777.

There really wasn't much to see at Valley Forge, but the place was teeming with deer. We counted at least 20 in one herd, or pack, or school, whatever they run in. I thought I heard the ghosts of starved Continental regulars whisper on the wind, "where the freak were those when we were starving to death?"

Here is baby Maffew hamming it up as Baron Von Steuben, the irascible German drillmaster who helped instill a little discipline and skill into Washington's rag tag troops. Or it could just be some generic cut out of any old soldier. Either way, baby is in perfect character for the hardship experienced at Valley Forge.

After Valley Forge we went to GW's old favorite inn: The Cheesecake Factory (courtesy of a gift card from my favorite sister, MARY). We had George Washington's favorite flavor of cheesecake: blood pudding and mince meat regalia. Awesome.

Last weekend was the real treat: Mt. Vernon. We first drove through Washington D.C. to shake our fists at the White House and see the cherry blossoms, which I found pretty overrated. They were nice, but they are just trees after all. There were so many people all over the place that we decided to just admire the trees from the car and head to Mt. Vernon.

For those of you who don't know much about Mt. Vernon, it was originally built by George Washington's brother and named for his brother's commanding officer, something Vernon. Then his brother died and George Washington got the place. Now some pictures:

The Sacred Cherry Blossom.

The Washington Monument. BOINNGGGGGG!!!!

Robyn and me in front of Mt. Vernon.

The weirdest part of Mt. Vernon was the video we watched in the visitor's center before touring the place. It was narrated by none other than Pat Sajak. The line to get into the house was huge. I waited patiently in line for over an hour while mom and Robyn entertained baby in Washington's front lawn, or "bowling green" as they call it. To the untrained eye Mt. Vernon looks like it's constructed of stone. Not so. It's wood made to look like stone using a technique called distressing (I think). The wood was cut into blocks the size of stones, then painted with sand thrown in. Looks pretty real, at least from far away. Pictures weren't allowed inside the house. The most interesting part was walking through his parlor where Washington liked to entertain and where he and his advisors planned the battle of Yorktown.

Out the back of the house was a wonderful view of the Potomac.

Washington had a huge estate of 8,000 acres. As mom astutely noted, "it's a good thing he had all those slaves to help out."

This was the original Washington family crypt. Washington in his will asked for a new one to be built because this one was in bad repair and probably because he knew he was too awesome to be buried in something that looked like a wine cellar. A few years after his death he and Martha were moved to this one:

The final resting place of the first American, the Father of his country, George Washington (on the right). On a still day, if you listen very closely, you can hear him spinning.


Mike said...

My favorite thing in DC is the Washington Monument. Did you know that, following its erection in 1884, it was the tallest structure in the world for the next five years?

Kristin said...

Looks way fun! Matthew is getting so big! He is SO CUTE!! Can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks BOB!!!

The Larsens said...

Matthew is so cute!!

Jackie said...

i have nothing to say to you.