Wednesday, June 21, 2017
We depart Tallahassee for Wilson, North Carolina. Wilson was chosen because the eight hours or so it would take gets us close enough for a reasonably short drive the next day to – Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson (and a few hundred slaves). Sad, but you cannot rewrite history, just learn from it and we were determined to see and experience one of our Founding Father’s life first-hand.
Shortly into the drive we confirmed what we knew…some people have an amazing gift for sleeping anywhere, anytime. A tip of the cap to Trey, my youngest step-son. Thankfully, engaging conversation from our rising high school junior was not needed at this point though he would chime in later.
The seating configuration was steadfast. I was in the pilot’s chair; my navigator was Grant in chair two; Trey occupied (in all manner of positions) seat four; my lovely wife “nested” in the back row, seats five, six, and seven.
Our hotel in Wilson was a little below expectations. The County Inn & Suites by Carlson. We were greeted by a frigid thermal blast of sixty-three degrees. It was COLD. Look, I love a cool room, but hypothermia was possible. The room had some issues, but we’ll move past those to the charm of a door bell – something Cynthia insisted be rung upon returning to the room because it just made her happy.
Thursday, June 22
My birthday. After opening cards and the wonderful gift of a watch we went to Monticello which is near Charlottesville. Jefferson inherited his father’s land, and debt. His dad’s farm, Shadwell, is now a town by the same name. Jefferson was born there, but migrated a few miles away and acquired an amazing tract of five thousand acres on a hill. The area is called Monticello. Some highlights:
· Jefferson was enamored with French and European culture and the influences can be seen throughout Monticello (henceforth referring to his home).
· He also kept a journal of weather each day. We could not take pictures inside where we were allowed (half of the first floor only). But, you can see the weather vane and its direction on a compass atop the front porch. Jefferson wrote down everything he could daily.
· Jefferson collected paintings, silhouettes, or busts of prestigious visitors and colleagues.
· He was 6’2 ½” tall, yet died in a bed which looked too short for him. Yet, it was there his chamber maid, and mother of six children, Sally Hemmings tended to him until his death on July 4, 1826. Fifty years to the day of when his most noteworthy document, the Declaration of Independence, was announced to the colonies.
· During his time at Monticello he had up to four hundred slaves. Many were freed as he aged, but not all. He died in severe debt and many of his things were sold to pay debtors. The Levy family purchased the grounds and home and is responsible for its existence today. Thank you!
· Jefferson was an exceptional botanist and the grounds show it. From things grown for beauty to those for food it seems nothing escaped his gardening acumen.
· It took more than four decades to build Monticello.
· Trees Jefferson planted are still on the grounds. He and his extended family are buried on the property.
I may add a few more photos to this leg of the trip.
From Charlottesville, VA We made our way to Washington, D.C.