Yorktown, VA

We pulled into the marina in York River last Wednesday and I headed to the pool with the girls.  The Burnetts were due to arrive that afternoon but the girls didn’t know.  We had been very vague about when they were coming and thought it would be fun to surprise the girls.  I was sitting poolside watching for their car to pull up.  Molly had just gotten out of the pool.  I saw their car turn into the parking lot and not long after Molly spotted them and took off running at lightning speed.  At the same time Livia came bolting out of their car the second it rolled to a stop.  The girls met in a huge embrace.  It had been 6 months since they had seen each other.  They’ve been inseparable since they were 3 years old so 6 months was a long time.  Madelyn was still in the pool with her mermaid tail on so it took her a few minutes to figure out what was going on and to get untangled so she could join in the hugs.  Claudia and Sabina quickly followed and it was hugs and smiles all around.  Surprise success!  We spent the rest of the day swimming and catching up.

Thursday we set out for some sight seeing in Yorktown.  We headed to the American Revolution Museum.  We had heard wonderful things about this museum and it did not disappoint.  We have studied the Civil War basically since we left Chicago.  So, I backed up a bit and explained that this was an entirely different war that took place before the Civil War.  My history knowledge is terrible so I learned right along with the girls.  We spent awhile inside looking at the exhibits and trying on period clothing and then headed outside to the model war camp and settlement.

The girls got to see the sizes of the tents that 6 soldiers would have shared during the war.  We also learned about some of the tools and items they would have had in their camp and how they cooked their food.

Next we all got to participate in a musket march demonstration.  We all chose a musket and learned how to hold it.  We marched in formation and learned commands for turning in a line and then how to ready the musket, prepare it and fire.  The girls did a great job!  Once we were commanded to fall out of line and return our muskets we went to see the commanding officer fire a real musket.  The girls then each got to go up and hold the real musket.  Quite heavy!

We moved on to the farm settlement where a typical family would have lived in the original Jamestown settlement.  We got to walk through a replica of a house and learned that the kitchens were in separate buildings next door.  The kitchen building had dried meats in addition to foods that were prepared that morning on display.

After a long museum morning we headed to the waterfront to grab a quick lunch.  After lunch Molly, Livia and Sabina headed back to the marina in the dinghy with Jack and Ben.  Kathy and I took Madelyn and Claudia down the beach a bit to find the cave where General Cornwallis was found after surrendering to the American troops.  We had all had enough history for the day so we skipped going to the Yorktown Battlefield where the Revolutionary War ended, but it was neat for the girls to look in the cave.

We must balance the learning with fun so it was back to the pool for the rest of the day!

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The next morning we headed to the Jamestown Settlement.  Another fabulous educational experience!  I thought the museum exhibits indoors were great.  They were at an approachable level for the kids to read and understand.  We learned all about the Jamestown settlement and the hardships and successes the people that first settled there had.  I learned a lot and hope the girls did too.  Then we moved outside.  The settlement included replicas of the huts they lived in as well as replicas of some of the canoes and tools that the Native American tribes used.

We also got to see and walk around models of 3 of the ships that made the trip from England to Jamestown.  We learned how these ships settled in the James River.  It’s incredible and hard to imagine how many people were crammed on these ships with nowhere to sit or sleep other than on their luggage for the long 4 month journey to America.  We also got a lesson on navigation.  Our girls (Molly especially) have a lot of experience looking at charts and maps.  It was good for them to learn how to read a compass rose and hear how sailors way back when had to navigate the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

Our last stop at the settlement was the fort.  Our family is sort of maxed out on forts.  We’ve seen a LOT OF FORTS.  But we were there and said sure why not.  It was neat for the girls to see the similarities and differences of this fort and the others we’ve seen from the Civil War.  The fort was built out of wood which was a big difference from the others we have seen.  We got to see the blacksmith shop and the church and the houses within the fort.  The houses were impressive.  In St. Augustine we walked into the stone cave like areas where people lived.  Here there were full houses with multiple levels and rooms to spread out.  Madelyn and Claudia found armor to try on as well.  It’s heavy and uncomfortable!

On our way to the gift shop Jack spotted a snake!  I’ve never actually seen a snake before this that wasn’t in a zoo of some sort.

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After our day at the settlement Jack and Kathy took all five girls back to swim so Ben and I could go shopping and finish up getting everything ready for Molly’s birthday!

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