2 Moms. 5 kids. 1 van. 3 weeks. 3000 miles. Are we amazing or are we crazy? You decide.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Day 4: Jamestowne: A Tale of Two Cities, and Yorktown

Odometer Reading: 385.5 miles

No blog-worthy journaling from the kids—yet. We’re planning on getting some updating and connecting with outside world done tomorrow morning, when we’re eating breakfast at a Pancake House Not Affiliated With Any Other Chain whose advertising boasts that they have free wireless. Perhaps they’ll be so jealous that I’m a published writer :cough: that they’ll be inspired. Perhaps they’ll just want to put their own spin on events.

Our plan for remaining sane is as follows: we have established a per diem of about $5 per child, and every time they irritate us, we dock their pay, usually to the tune of a quarter. When they do something that saves us time or trouble, or is out of the ordinarily well-behaved, they get a ticket. There is no set value for the tickets, but they don’t spend as well as money. Parents get veto power over the tickets. (If you want to buy the brass key to the city, as 5 year-old C did, your mom will tell you that it costs 30 tickets. If you want to buy a compass, that will cost only 4 or 5, although it cost more.) The kids get 3 hots and a cot, healthy snacks and water to bring along with them in belt packs and water bottles. Anything else they need to handle on their own.

Before setting out this morning, we made sure that each of the younger 3 had a note in their belt packs with their names, any allergies and a few phone numbers just in case they wandered away. Even though a bit more space in the van would be just fine, we’d probably be in trouble when we got home. A, the 7 year-old, wandered away from her belt pack, so the note came in handy already.

We left this morning all bright and shiny, and took the ferry across the James. Yes! You know, I have a thing for ferryboats. The archaeological site was really interesting to see; the dig looked just like it does in the movies. For lunch, we went to Old Chickahominy Restaurant, where we tried for ourselves the Virginia ham and chicken and dumplings. C, 5, got a cheeseburger. He usually does much better, because his mommy makes him. Today she decided that was not a hill she wanted to die for, and just let it go. After lunch, we were off to the recreation of Jamestown, which was much more fun and interactive. We almost were able to apprentice M, 12, aboard the Discovery (one of the ships that arrived in Jamestown in 1607), but the captain wasn’t available. Maybe tomorrow. In any case, there’s no more groaning about space allowed aboard the Odyssey, because we at least are able to stop every night to sleep stretched out. We’re not—quite—traveling on top of our luggage, with only 3’ headspace. Our trip is only lasting 3 weeks, not 4 months. We have air conditioning. And we don’t have to use a chamber pot. All very important points. (We also bathe regularly; at least most of us do.)

We were also able to help the Native Americans (Powhatans) and the colonists work on a few projects. We watched as they made blueberry corncakes, and ground the corn for tomorrow’s batch. We scraped some fur off of a skin. We scraped charred wood out of a nascent canoe. That last was a bit of a fiasco. J, the 3 year-old, got an ash in his eye, and wanted to rub it. With his sooty hand, so it didn’t help. Then A and C realized their hands were dirty and rubbed them on JaxMom’s pants. We were all glad to escape back into the 21st century after that.

En route to Yorktown, we reviewed the vital information: who surrendered to whom, when, where, with which country’s help, when and where the treaty formalizing said surrender was signed. Years from now, one of these kids will be in college and realize that “Of course I am French; zat is why I speak with zis ridiculous accent!” did not originate with the retelling of The Battle of Yorktown. We were so successful, I was ready to apply for a position of Living History Interpreter as soon as we arrived. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there until the visitor’s center had closed. We made do quite well; it’s a field. There was a battle. We played on cannons. (The 3yo took a nap, then had to have an emergency equipment change, but we were prepared. Points for the mommies.)

And then we took a ferryboat home (remember, I have a thing for ferryboats.) It was 8pm when we got here, so we grouched at each other until we all gave up and went to sleep. And not a moment too soon. I’m still fighting the temptation to drive to the church down yonder to find out about what happened in the ongoing saga of my city, but either the meeting isn’t over—it’s only 11:25 pm, after all, lots of time to pull something—or my husband is asleep. Either way, it’s a no-win situation; someone’s going to be irritated.

Tomorrow? Williamsburg. And we’re leaving by 5pm, or I’m leaving the lot of them there. And at breakfast I’m going to try to shame some of these other laggards to post their points of view.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Your blogs are as entertaining as your stories! You really made me chuckle over the seven year old leaving the belt pack. Good idea on the tickets! I may have to steal that concept for my own bunch!

Danielle aka Natalia