|Hotel window view in Charlottsville|
About 8:30, I headed back up to the room to get the girls out of bed. To me, more sleep than about 6 hours is a waste of time, but I obviously am of the minority opinion in my family. While waiting for them to finish getting ready, I took a picture looking out of our hotel room window to add to my collection. One of these days I’ll publish a book – My Hotel Windows – A Compilation of the Most Boring, Tedious Views Imaginable.
|Going thru Charlottsville to Monticello|
The first thing I learned other than the home is located in a breathtakingly beautiful location is that it is on the United Nations World Heritage List of 936 internationally significant sites, along with places like the Great Wall of China, Mesa Verde and the Tower of London. The 2nd thing I learned from the tour guide was that the man was a genius. In addition to authoring the Declaration of Independence and his time in public office as president, vice-president, member of the Continental Congress, governor of Virginia, and Minister of Trade with France, he was also a noted philosopher and historian, successful planter, inventor, and the founder of the University of Virginia. He owned 2 estates, including the 5,000 acre Monticello, and had about 200 slaves to help him. At any given time, about 100 of his 200 slaves were under the age of 16; and it is accepted that some of those young slaves were fathered by him after his wife died.
|Entrance to Monticello|
Some of his other inventions include a dumbwaiter; a writing machine that enabled him to make exact copies of letters as he was writing them; Venetian blinds he used to regulate sunlight in his greenhouses; a moldboard for a plow; and his achromatic telescope.
One of his great pleasures was his vegetable garden. Among the vegetables in the large garden was the English pea, his favorite vegetable. He grew fifteen types of the English pea, and he happily noted in his Garden Book when “peas come to table.” By staggering the planting of peas, Jefferson was able to eat them fresh from the garden from the middle of May to the middle of July. Aside from personal preference, Jefferson might have taken special note of his English peas because of an annual neighborhood contest to see which farmer could bring to table the first peas of spring. The winner would host the other contestants in a dinner that included the peas. Though Jefferson’s mountaintop garden, with its southern exposure to warmth and light, should have provided an advantage, the contest was almost always won by a neighbor named George Divers. As Jefferson’s grandson recalled: “A wealthy neighbor [Divers], without children, and fond of horticulture, generally triumphed. My grandfather on one occasion had them first, but when his family reminded him that it was his right to invite the company, he replied, ‘No, say nothing about it, it will be more agreeable to our friend Mr. Divers to think that he never fails.’”
|Rear of Monticello|
While serving as Minister to France, he filled almost a hundred crates with furniture and various works of art for the many rooms at Monticello. While in France he would collect fruit trees and bring them with him on the long boat trip home.
I love finding out about people who think outside-the-box when it comes to thinking up a simple solution to a problem and when you see the solution, you think, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” For example, he had cattle on his plantation, but did not want fences to break up the vista of his mountaintop home. His solution? Rather than putting something up, he went down. He dug long, slender ditches in the earth, just wide and deep enough that the cattle would not cross over them, but they posed no obstacle to a man. In addition to serving as an invisible fence, the ditches also served as irrigation ditches which funneled rain-water into holding ponds!
The tour was interesting and informative. Thomas Jefferson was indeed a most interesting man and his home is still beautiful and very functional. It seems he hated wasted space and what he considered a waste was unique. Unfortunately, taking pictures is not allowed inside Monticello so I guess you’ll just have to go see for yourself the bed in the wall, the octagon room and the hidden doors, panels and holes in the floors that he created to reduce that hated wasted space.
|Michie Tavern where we had a good, |
but expensive lunch.
|Eating the last of the ice cream.|
After a harrowing 45 minutes of driving in that traffic at night, we were very happy to finally get to the hotel. Once again, the front desk folks were nice and efficient; the lobby was clean and functional. We got checked in, retrieved a luggage cart and started unpacking the car. We stacked luggage on that cart until it looked like a pyramid. We let momma-woman drive the car to the underground parking while Youngest-daughter and I took the pyramid cart up to the room.
I started pulling that over-loaded cart across the lobby and it felt like it weighed about 500 pounds! After I pulled until I thought I would pass out, I kindly requested Youngest-daughter to make herself useful why don’t you and push! We finally made it to the room and I felt like some sadistic Nazi man-hater had been working me out with weights for the last hour. With sweat dripping down my face, I began taking bags off of the cart and bags, suitcases, and boxes started falling down around me. The room was rather small and tight quarters and when a girl’s heavy bag fell on my foot, I retrieved my 1 suitcase and my laptop bag, put it on the floor by the in-room desk, and piled all of the girl’s stuff on one bed. It seemed to be piled half way to the ceiling. I don’t know where we are going to put all of this stuff.
I asked Youngest-daughter to please take the now empty luggage cart back down to the lobby. She tugged on it, but it didn’t go. That caught my attention. She looked down and said, “Oh, the little brake thingy is on. I forgot I pushed it down when we were loading it at the car. Sorry, Dad.” It’s a very good thing I love that little girl so much.
Tomorrow we get to see D.C. in the daylight. I’m pretty excited about it. First stop, a tour of the Library of Congress. It’s close enough to walk there, which makes me a happy camper since I won’t have to drive in the morning rush hour traffic. And I’m anxious to see the view from our hotel room window in the morning. I'm hoping it won’t be as boring as it appears to be in the dark.