Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Atlantic Ocean, Monticello and headed south - Day 17

Wednesday we arrived in Delaware at the home of our friends Carla and Bill. How sweet to spend a couple days with them. Carla has been my friend since college and we have stayed in touch, crossing paths over the years and unlike some friends from years ago we somehow seem to always have things to talk about and laugh about and find mutually entertaining—easy and comfortable friends. And as Carla said, we wonder what happened to the years inbetween.

Delaware is the point at which we have come to the edge of the continent and we make a right turn. A trip to the beach was needed to complete the cross-continent piece, though it was cold, windy and rainy.

Yesterday we started on the southern leg of the trip and spent the night in Charlottesville, VA at the home of Kristin and Art LaFlamme. They are preparing for their move to Portland and as we were traveling east these past couple of weeks, Art was driving west, and as he was asleep last night in Portland, we were asleep in his home in Charlottesville.

The other home we visited in Charlottesville was Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. I have long wanted to go there. I knew I would love it and I did, but it was not what I expected. I knew it was an architectural marvel. I knew it was filled with Jefferson's innovative ideas. I knew it had a farm and a garden. I didn't know it was breathtakingly beautiful.

No photography is allowed inside the house, except in the dome room at the top, but our tour of the house was fascinating from top to bottom and we left knowing so much more about Jefferson and the family. Our guide in the house was quite wonderful. She had great stories and shared bits from letters written by members of the family that added so much to imagining a very human family occupying this splendid house.

Monticello means "little mountain" and the views all the way around are what you see below—trees and misty blue hills in the distance. No words to describe it... No wonder Jefferson preferred his home to anyplace on earth.

We took a tour of the gardens as well. Unlike the exceptional house tour guide, the garden guide was so obnoxious that we finally ditched the guided tour and enjoyed the gardens on our own. Perhaps if we had stuck it out we would have learned why there were terra cotta domes in the rows of kale. Perhaps the saddest thing I learned was that after Jefferson died, the house and land were sold to pay off his debts and his surviving family, who had lived all their lives in this house, had to leave. A portion of a letter written by one of the granddaughters about the loss of both the man and then the home was heartbreaking. Monticello now belongs to a foundation that has restored it and has recovered a good many of the original contents of the house. A piece of our history that was nearly lost forever.

We spent most of today at Monticello, then drove down the beautiful Blueridge Parkway.

Tonight we are in Lexington, VA. Tomorrow Ray's brother, Roy, joins us in Charlotte, NC for the second half of our trip. We can't wait to see him!



  1. Here is your answer to the bell shaped clay thingies: Particular to gardening, a cloche is a type of cover used to provide protection to plants in adverse weather conditions such as frost and may also be used to hasten plants to maturity. Imagine a miniature, mobile, greenhouse if you will. The cloche may be put to use over a single flower or rows of crops.

    I am enjoying traveling along via your blog.

  2. If you haven't already passed Charleston SC, the Spoleto Festival is going on there right now. I don't know any details--just that my son is working there! It's a festival that's been around for quite a while.

  3. Your visit to Central Virginia explains what chased our gray days away!

  4. Added to Gerrie's comment, it is sometimes used to develop a 'white' stalk - one that is robbed of chlorophyll. In some plants it gives a different texture and taste. Sometimes it is used to retard the growth of some plants like lettuce, perhaps in this case to keep some of the kale plants from 'bolting' - growing the flower shoot which happens as the weather becomes warm. When an edible plant bolts, then the other parts can become woody or bitter tasting.
    Glad you are enjoying the journey and learning a lot!
    Sandy in the UK