"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Sunday, June 21, 2015

a visit to Jamestown Settlement

We have Big Plans this summer: We are going to (finally!) check things off the To Do lists we've been adding to for the past few years. We are so lucky to live within driving distance of so many places that hold environmental, cultural, and historical significance...many of which we've never been to. This is the time to start exploring them: the kids are still young enough to go along with our summer plans instead of making their own, but they're old enough to have the stamina and the attention span to make these trips worth it...and relatively easy.

So we were off on our way to Get Out and Do The Things...what better place to start than right where our country began?

On Saturday, we visited Jamestown Settlement, America's first permanent colony, near Williamsburg, Virginia.

We entered the building, purchased our tickets, watched a quick introductory video, and were eager to get started. Before we could get to the heart of the tour, though, we passed this super cool temporary exhibit with British military uniforms from throughout history....from the time of the British colonists in America all the way up to present day warfare in Afghanistan. It was worth a stop.

He read every word on each sign.
Cutie with armor from James Fort 

The museum itself was amazing. We learned all about life in the early 1600's in America, Africa, and England and how the lives of these three groups of people converged in Virginia, in a way that would ultimately shape the foundations of our country. We learned about the men and boys who boarded the fleet of three ships (the Discovery, the Godspeed, and the Susan Constant) in England in late 1606. We learned of their harrowing 4+ month journey from England, to Africa, through the Caribbean, and finally to the coast of Virginia in April 1607.

And then, it was time to jump into history and explore life in the settlement for ourselves.

There were three areas to explore around the Settlement.  
We started at James Fort, home of the colonists:

Throughout the Settlement, people in period costume provided stories and information about life in Jamestown. The first man we met was a leather-worker. We watched as he prepared the leather and twine and he answered the (many) questions my kids had for him. (He also listened patiently as Evan and Max regaled him with facts and trivia that was, at best, tangentially related to what he was actually talking about. "You know, gunpowder was actually invented in Ancient China." "A baby fox is called a kit!")

We explored a church, shop, forge, and several residences... 

We played ring toss in the yard...

...and we played with cannons, too. As you do when in a Fort.

And if you're going to be playing with weapons, you'd better protect yourself.

We left the Fort and walked through the gardens, heading toward the pier where two of the ships were docked.

We climbed aboard (a replica of) the Susan Constant. Okay, disclaimer: I am NOT a boat person. But I am a Brave Mommy. I took a deep breath and walked the plank (fine, it was a ramp) up to the boat. It was tiny...especially considering that 71 people spent more than four months on board. 

The kids had fun exploring the cabins (and calling to the people below deck...)

...but I was feeling extremely claustrophobic. So I hurried on through the self-guided tour and made it back to the pier. Sam and the kids took a quick peek on board the Godspeed, but it was even smaller than the Susan Constant, so I took a pass. (Kinda Brave Mommy?)

From the dock we continued on our way through the third section of the Settlement: 
the Powhatan Village.

Evan studied Native Americans in school this year and Max is practically a Pocahontas expert, so I knew this area would be a hit. The best part of these recreations throughout the Settlement is how hands-on it all is.

The kids practiced scraping the deer hide...

...digging out a canoe...

...grinding corn meal...

...and getting up close and personal with the wall decor...

There were several yehakins to explore...

...each filled with pelts and shells and bones to feel...

...and nets, traps, pottery,  clothing, and jewelry to talk about...to inspire little minds to really imagine what life would have been like for Pocahontas or Chief Powhatan.

Like in the Fort, there were costumed employees giving demonstrations, asking and answering questions, and really bringing the scene to life. 

Resident Chef

Arrowhead Expert
It was a great day.
We had seen it all...had a picnic lunch...visited the Gift Shop...and all with three happy kids in tow.

But the day wasn't over yet.

Oh, no. We had timed our return trip home to coincide perfectly with Beach Traffic. We needed to find an alternate route to avoid the highway and...as luck would have it...there was one!

All we had to do was to get onto a ferry.

Yup. Another boat for Brave Mommy to "happily" climb aboard and "not-at-all-nervously" ride across the river.

It actually wasn't that bad. This was my view for most of the 20 minute ride...

...and this was it for about two of them...

We happened to pass the third boat from the Jamestown Settlement, the Discovery, as it was cruising the river.


Lesson Learned:

It was hot and sweaty and almost three hours of walking, but the kids had a blast. That's some pretty high praise for a day trip. Plus, I love the idea that we're taking advantage of this historically rich place we live...staying, playing, and learning local. What could be better?

Jamestown Settlement? CHECK! Next stop...I'll let you know!

1 comment :

  1. Sounds wonderful. Great photos too. Well done for braving the boats.