Inna and I didn’t know much about Virginia, we included it only because we had a friend who lived there. That being said, we are so glad we visited. Richmond is a beautiful city and has tons of history, so much so that I don’t even know how we could have considered not visiting. And then there’s Virginia’s historic Triangle (Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown), the US was pretty much founded here! Exploring these areas was amazing.
Also, Virginia marks our only visit to the south on this trip. The south is an area we would very much like to visit, but we didn’t visit on this trip because we wanted to go to Seattle and the drive between the two was just too far (this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we would have hit floods had we gone through the south on this trip). That means we’ll have to do another roadtrip, the next one through the south!
First stop on our historic tour: Richmond, where we promptly had southern BBQ. I can only imagine how good BBQ is deeper in the south, because it was delicious here.
Monument Avenue, considered one of the ten greatest streets in the US, is a premiere example of Grand American Avenue city planning. The houses here are gorgeous and the street is lined with statues paying tribute to the Confederacy’s greatest heroes (Robert E Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, JEB Stuart, Matthew Fontaine Maury) and also tennis star and Richmond native Arthur Ashe, so that the the avenue could pay tribute to a black person.
Cool Runnings: a classic? Richmond, you are my kind of town!
Here is Leia, hiding in the shade. We reached Richmond during a heatwave, and it was so hot…
It was so hot, businesses were advertising this.
It was so hot, caterpillars were dying in the streets.
Anyways, back to Richmond, here is the Virginia State Capital Building, the second of many capitals we will visit on our trip.
Another gorgeous government building, although I’m not sure which one this is.
And here is the White House of the Confederacy, the first of many presidential houses we will visit on our trip.
Next to the White House of the Confederacy is this historic block, which contains among other buildings: the home of Aaron Burr’s defense lawyer and Richmond’s first museum.
Saint John’s Episcopal Church, the location of Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.
Inna and I were surprised to discover that Richmond was a rather artsy city. Here is a museum dedicated to (in our opinion) Richmond’s greatest artist: Edgar Allan Poe.
Richmond’s historic ironworks. Here we finally found a tribute to the north: a statue of Abraham Lincoln. According to signage near the statue, this tribute was very controversial with residents of the city, even though it was placed here only recently.
This bridge over the James recounts the final days of the civil war through quotes from northerners and southerners alike. For me, it was the most powerful site in the city.
One of many quotes on the bridge.
For our last stop in Richmond, we visited Hollywood Cemetery, one of the most visited cemeteries in the US. Two presidents (James Monroe and John Tyler) are buried here, along with Jefferson Davis and numerous confederate generals and soldiers. James Monroe’s headstone in particular is supposed to be incredible, unfortunately it was undergoing restoration and not on display when we visited.
Our friend who lives in Richmond. Hello Sara! It was great spending time with you!
From Richmond we continued east, to the Atlantic coast. Here we went even further back in time, to the first British colony in the Americas (or anywhere for that matter): Jamestown.
Jamestown was first settled in 1607 and permanently settled in 1610 (during these three years, 80% of the settlers died, either of disease or starvation). The colony of Jamestown lasted until 1699, when the settlers moved inland, to Williamsburg.
Today, thanks to Disney, Jamestown is probably best known for being the location where John Smith and Pocahontas’s story takes place.
From Jamestown we went to Williamsburg (just like the settlers did), a 1632 settlement that is still going strong, the current population being ~14,000. The city served as Virginia’s capital from 1699 to 1776, with some of its most famous residents being future presidents Jefferson, Monroe, and Tyler. Visiting Williamsburg was a great experience; it was presented as a living history museum, with activities and shops and people dressed like the original settlers did.
It turns out that Inna had been to Williamsburg before, on a field trip in 5th grade. She remembered taking a picture in this pillory, and here she is taking another one twenty years later.
From Williamsburg we went to Yorktown, location of the last major battle in the US war for independence. It was here that US and French troops, under the command of General George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau, laid siege to British forces, whose eventual surrender led to the Treaty of Paris and the end of the American Revolutionary War.
To celebrate our freedom, at the end of our Yorktown tour we let Leia out so we could run around and play. It was so much fun. Go freedom! Go America! Go USA!
After finishing at Yorktown, it was time to head north, where our country’s capital awaits. DC here we come!