Thursday, April 18, 2013

Williamsburg and Beyond

The four of us (Monte, Aleta, Mona and I) arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia early Sunday afternoon.  We checked in and headed to the nearby Jamestown.  This is where the first permanent English-speaking colony in the Americas was established beginning in 1607 and from where we learn of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas.  It’s amazing how tiny the ships are that brought them here….can’t imagine being crammed into those tiny holds for that long journey across the Atlantic.  Once in the Americas the colony barely hung on, losing many colonists to starvation, disease and battles with the Powahatan Indians.  Visiting here really brings it home as to how incredibly lucky we are to live in this day and age.

Monday, brought a day trip to Washington D.C.  For years, we’ve tried to time our trips to see these elusive blossoms, but never with any success.  (Yes, there was that one trip, where one solitary tree was blooming, and we took thirty pictures of it, but that doesn’t count!)  This time; however, we were in high hopes because our resident DC friend, Margaret, had emailed us just before our departure saying the cherry trees were in full bloom!  Our hopes were high as we drove 2 ½ hours north, finally arriving at the Springfield/Franconia Metro Station.  From there it was a 30 minute ride to the Smithsonian and then a ten minute walk to the Tidal Basin. 

It was overcast and had been raining….dare we even hope that a blossom or two was still there?  Finally, we went over the last hill and the Tidal Basin was in full view….ringed with beautiful pink cherry blossoms!  At last!  It would have been nicer had there been sunshine and it probably would have been better before the rain, but hey, we got blossoms!  We can finally check this one off the list!
We spent the rest of the day traveling throughout the city to visit some of our favorite DC spots…trying to cram in as much as possible in our one day visit.  Finished our day at our favorite Alexandria restaurant, King Street Blues, where we linked up with our resident DC friends, Margaret and Pete.  After a fun visit with them we drove back to Williamsburg, climbed the three flights of stairs to our unit, and collapsed into bed around 11 PM.  Whew!
Next up was Yorktown, where George Washington and his troops defeated Lord Cornwallis and his British troops in the final battle of the Revolutionary War.  There a ranger took us onto the battleground and gave us a vivid portrayal of the steps leading up the battle and then the final battle itself.  Did you know that the Americans fired over 15,000 artillery rounds at the British before the battle even began?  This barrage did its job, softening the British lines and helped keep American casualities to a minimum in the final battle.  If you’re ever in this area, I highly recommend you visit both Jamestown and Yorktown to get a better sense of how our country began. 
I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you about the frogs.  Most of you know about our frogs back home.  I guess our home frogs sent word to the Williamsburg frogs about how we “love” nightly serenades; because, each night we sit outside on our balcony and get to listen to a chorus of bull frogs with their deep bass thrums.  “RaaaUmmmmP.  RaaaUmmmmP. RaaaUmmmmP. Doink!”  Doink?!?  Yep, there’s one frog out here who has the wrong sheet music and he loves to punctuate the other frog’s bass RaaaUmmmmPs with a high-pitched Doink!  Makes us laugh every time he does it, and we’ve been laughing four nights in a row.  (Hmmmm, maybe those stairs are affecting our sense of humor…or maybe it’s the wine, or maybe we should just move to the next topic!)
On Wednesday, we drove to Norfolk, Virginia to visit the U.S.S. Wisconsin, the last battleship to be built in the United States.  This ship saw battle from World War II to Operation Desert Storm.  This amazing ship is the largest battleship ever built and has nine 16 inch guns,  and can (and has) launch Tomahawk cruise missiles.   The Wisconsin is now a museum exhibit, docked in Norfolk, and is a must see if you’re in this area.

U.S.S. Enterprise
U.S.S. Cole
We then took a two hour cruise to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the largest in the world.  We saw cruisers, destroyers, attack submarines, support ships and the historic aircraft carrier The Enterprise.  We also saw the U.S.S. Cole, which was the destroyer attacked by suicide bombers while it was stationed in Yemen back in 2000.  17 American sailors died in that attack and 39 were injured.  This was the first time that Americans really started hearing about Al Qaeda.  (Note:  Although almost sunk by the blast, the Cole was repaired and returned to service.) 

Our day ended with a night visit to the Powhatan Plantation home.   This manor dates back to colonial times and is said to be haunted…and that’s why we were here.  At 8:30 we began with a guided tour of the home with stories of the ghostly occurrences that have occurred in and outside the home.  Along with the stories, we get demonstrations of ghost-hunting tools.  Electro-magnetic meters, voice recorders, etc.  My personal favorite are the dowsing wires.  I’ve used these many time over the past 40 years to find underground metal and water and never knew they were also used for ghost hunting.  At 9:30 we were allowed to roam the house and grounds at will, borrowing the ghost hunting tools to see what we could find. 

I grabbed the dowsing wires and Mona grabbed an electro-meter.  The first room we tried with no results.  Then we went to an upstairs bedroom.  It was darkened, but we could still see the wires.  I asked the wires to be crossed.  They crossed.  I asked for them to be opened.  They opened.  I asked for them to go to the left.  To the left they went.  I repeated this several times and others saw it happen as well.  This definitely raised goosebumps on my arm!  Then the wire almost jumped out of my left hand!  We went to another room and tried it again.  Same results and this time the electro-meter registered some kind of activity.  We repeated this several times in the manor and on the grounds.  At least 50 percent of the time the wires moved as I requested.  Three times the wire in my left hand “jumped” out of my hand.

While at the plantation we took lots of photos without flash.  This morning I took a look.  Note the picture on the right.  No one in our group wore a white gown of any type. 

This was definitely an interesting night!  Time to head back, climb the stairs and listen to the quiet sounds of the night…RaaaUmmmmP.  RaaaUmmmmP. RaaaUmmmmP. Doink! 


  1. Sounds like you all are having a wonderful trip. I've only ever seen the cherry tree blossoms in the tidal basin! What a strange picture of your ghostly encounter. You guys need to do the Alton Ghost Tour.

  2. Love that picture! I would say you caught a ghost on camera. Very cool. Glad you finally got your cherry blossoms. would be very cool to see those ships

  3. Just now saw these comments.
    We'd love to do the Alton ghost tour. I've read most of Troy Taylor's books and he also has a Decatur Tour. I've never done either, but have them on my list of to-dos.

    Definitely think we have something strange on that photo!

    We've also tried the dowsing wires here in Decatur with some VERY interesting results!