Day 4 - Yorktown
Yorktown might have been the high point of the trip. First, it's a beautiful little town situated on the York River. It's quite near a huge amusement park and Colonial Williamsburg, but we didn't feel the hustle and rush of huge crowds. In fact, we were by ourselves during most of our activities. There are two main parts of our Yorktown visit. We spent time at the Battlefield and the Yorktown Victory Center, a living history museum, on opposite sides of the town. We loved both. The Victory Center had two wonderful movies. One involved silhouettes (more shadow puppets) but our favorite was a 4D movie we watched twice! It really was 4D and my favorite part was smelling the coffee from the camp.
The Victory Center also had a musket demonstration AND a canon demonstration. Those were impressive.
But the battlefield had the redoubts conquered by Lafayette and Hamilton. Throw in some muskets and colonial costumes, you've got a road trip winner.
The boys loved the redoubts so much we visited them the morning of Day 5, too. But like I said, we had a hectic pace so we had to get on the road to Mt. Vernon.
Day 5 - Mt. Vernon
Day 5 was tough. Thanks to northern Virginia traffic, I told myself we would not get to Mt. Vernon after all. I had always thought in the back of my mind we would have to lose some part of the trip, but things had gone so well, my optimism outweighed my realism (as usual).
What should've been about a 2 hr drive was almost double.
This day brought me back to reality, but my husband pulled through and Mt. Vernon was open a lot later than we thought!
We got there at 4pm and were able to do a tour of the house, visited both the Slave Memorial and the Tomb, learned about the privy and solved the Mt. Vernon puzzle. We weren't allowed to take photos inside the house so you'll just have to believe me when I say the Bastille Key was huge both historically and physically.
The 4D movie at the visitor's center was also a delight because my husband and I managed to keep a secret from the kids. During the part about Valley Forge, snow falls on the audience. The kids whispered-screeched and loved it.
I really was relieved we made it to Mt. Vernon, but I don't think I realized how tired we all were until dinner. After picking another place based on Yelp reviews and crossing my fingers, we parked and headed down a small strip mall sidewalk.
The youngest asked, "why are there George Washington heads everywhere?"
From somewhere horrible inside me, I snapped, "Figure it out. We're right by Mt. Vernon."
Ugh. Everyone gave me a look. The youngest almost cried. I felt defensive at first, then ashamed. After all, I had been encouraging questions all week. And he's only 7 for crying out loud. What does he know about commercial marketing and planning and design? I apologized. Later I played with his soldiers at dinner and hugged him. A lot.
Day 6 - Valley Forge
I think my penance for snapping at my curious first grader was forgetting my wonderful contour pillow in Springfield, VA.
Thankfully, my penance wasn't more bad traffic and we zipped through Washington, DC and Baltimore on our way to Valley Forge outside Philadelphia. Waiting for us were my parents and good friends from college. We met up for lunch and headed to the park.
I promised the kids more running around in costumes time, and they got their fill. They loved climbing on the canons and running around the cabins. They jumped a creek and some small stone walls. I got to touch the bannister of the house that was George Washington's headquarters and our friend set the spring break 2017 cup and ball record with 10 in a row.
The boys and our friends finally did the work to become Junior Rangers, just like their proud Mom!
That night we didn't even hunt for a restaurant. We ate at the hotel, swam in the pool, and collapsed into bed. Our drive home to Pittsburgh was wonderfully fast and we got home safe and sound.
I feel like I should do some kind of summary. I have no idea how many miles we covered, but we fueled the van up twice. We passed through five states. We watched two 4D movies. We came home with LOTS of souvenirs. We saw plenty of tombs, memorials, canons, statues, paintings, reenactors, and a surprising number of sheep.
We enjoyed ice cream, cherry candies, Doubletree cookies, cobbler, tiramisu, and I had plenty of coffee. One day I even had grits for lunch and my oldest discovered he loved dipping grilled cheese in cinnamon yogurt.
LogisticsDay 4 lunch was at the Yorktown Pub right on the water and dinner was at the Hounds Tale in Williamsburg. We stayed at the our second night at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Williamsburg. Breakfast on Day 5 was our first non-hotel breakfast and we enjoyed a busy meal with college families at Aromas in Williamsburg. Our long Day 5 drive took us through Fredericksburg and we ate at Castiglia's, an Italian place across from the slave auction block. I learned that afterward, and felt a guilty sense of ignorance for eating some caprese salad so unaware of being at the spot where humans had been sold.
Day 5 dinner was at the Rivers Bend Bistro. You'll see George Washington heads around that strip mall. We crashed at the Embassy Suites Springfield and this might have been my favorite night's sleep. We had a door between the sleeping room and living room. Sadly, I did leave my pillow here.
Day 6 we had lunch in King of Prussia. Some of us ate Mission BBQ, while one vegetarian had a salad and yogurt from Honeygrow. We spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn Valley Forge where staff went above and beyond to get us two connecting rooms (and 2 bathrooms!). We had dinner and breakfast there.
I took lots and lots of notes about the big and little things that happened on this trip. And we made lots and lots of memories. It was a most excellent Revolutionary Road Trip.