|09 April Last
night Erika and I both had upset stomachs. This morning I was noticing
improvement, especially after eating breakfast, but Erika was still
under the weather. I checked the details of our hotel reservation
and noticed that I would have needed to cancel yesterday if we wanted
our money back. Oh, well.
We settled in for a relaxing day, and after an hour and a half and some
light food, Erika perked up and said "I think we can go on our trip."
She looked MUCH better, so we took her at her word and hopped in
the car and headed South. It was still morning, so Doug got behind the
Not too far down the road, I started feeling sick to my stomach again.
I was also pretty tired from having gotten up early, so I closed
my eyes, and the next thing I knew, Doug was asking me if I wanted to
stop for lunch. I looked at my watch and agreed, although the
last thing my stomach seemed to want was food.
I got out of the car feeling green around the gills, but soldiered on
and ordered. Erika did ok on her sandwich and Kat was eating slowly,
and after I finished eating I decided I needed some fresh air. Doug stayed with Kat, and Erika
and I walked the length of the strip mall a few times. By the
time we went back to Doug and Kat, I was feeling much better. Erika
also looked happier. But since neither Erika nor I felt great,
Doug and I decided to head for Monticello, which was closer, and maybe
try to do Poplar Forest the next day, if we were feeling better.
We arrived at Monticello around 2 pm and got in line for tour tickets.
The next available were for 5 pm!! That didn't sound ideal, but
since we didn't have much choice, we said OK.
After watching a short movie about Thomas Jefferson there at the
Visitor's Center, we took a shuttle up the hill to the house. We were
told there were 2 different outside tours that we could enjoy while
waiting. Erika sat down and started moping and groaning a bit. She
didn't look pale, as she had earlier in the day, but she also hadn't
eaten or drunk much all day. Despite our frequent offers of
water, she barely took a sip. She said she didn't want to do the
We sighed and sat with her for awhile, and then encouraged her to get
out of the sun. It was a cool Spring day, but she was complaining about
being COLD, even in the sun - but I could tell all of us needed some
sunscreen and I didn't have any with me. (Well, I had a small bit for
our faces, but nothing that would cover all exposed parts of all 4 of
us.) After sitting in the shade awhile Erika really started
complaining, and Doug and I reluctantly got us all back on the shuttle
bus and headed for our car. We were disappointed to have come all
this way and to have bought the tickets only to have to leave. At
the Visitor's Center I gave it one last ditch effort. We went
into the Cafe and got Erika a drink and a bagel - the rest of us shared
an ice cream. Amazingly (not), Erika felt better after getting
some food and drink into her! (argh.) By this time it was
nearly 4:30, so once again we took the shuttle back to the house atop
The tour of the house was very interesting. I saw this house,
took the tour, when I was in 3rd grade, and the tour seemed very
different. But 30+ years is a long time, and it's possible I'm
remembering things from other tours we took on the same trip (Mount
Vernon, Williamsburg, etc.) Erika made it through fine and after
the house tour of Monticello, we walked down to the Visitor's Center so
that we could stop and see Jefferson's grave on the way. Very pretty
walk, but steep in places. Since it was at the end of the day and there
were only a few tours after ours, there were very few people around and
at times it seemed like we had the whole place to ourselves.
On the way to the hotel we passed a car that had caught fire.
Thick black smoke billowed from the large SUV and as we
approached it the back window blew out. A police car was parked
about 100 yrds behind the vehicle, and 2 people were standing near it -
I assume the owners of the burning vehicle. All traffic moved to
the left lane (I'm surprised traffic wasn't stopped) and crept by
slowly. I was very nervous about driving by it, and made Erika
duck below her window just in case something else, like the back
window, exploded from the car. I slowed to let the truck in front
of me give me some space as we got close, and then drove as fast as I
could past the burning SUV. I was stunned by the fierce heat that
I felt as we drove by, with Doug, our car, a full travel lane and part
of the breakdown lane between me and the fire. A minute or so later we
reached our exit, and as we got off the highway a fire truck got on.
By the time we parked in the hotel parking lot, the black smoke
had thinned out and then disappeared.
We checked into our hotel, got a recommendation for a local restaurant,
and had an enjoyable meal. Erika still didn't feel like eating much,
but we convinced her that eating was going to help her feel better
(remember the bagel?) and she finally had enough to satisfy her
Back at the hotel we all settled down fairly quickly. I tried to
use the computer for a bit, but Kat could see my face from the light of
the screen and kept sitting up and trying to talk to me. I
finally wound up reading in the bathroom until she fell asleep - and
then I read in the room, by flashlight, until I was sleepy.
With Erika and I feeling under the weather, this day wasn't as good as it might have been, but in the end it all worked out.
10 April Got
up, Erika still wasn't feeling well, we had a long talk about needing
to eat (she was cold again - no fuel for her body!) and 'mind over
matter' - if you sit around moaning and groaning you're going to feel
lousy, and if you have a good attitude and act 'normal', you'll feel
better. Looking at her, talking to her, noticing her behavior
yesterday (she felt better each time after actually eating and
drinking) we turned around (had started heading home) and pushed on
toward Poplar Forest, Jefferson's other home.
We arrived shortly before noon and bought tickets for the 12:30 tour.
Like Monticello we were free to roam the grounds, and we were
provided with a pamphlet with maps and details. Poplar Forest had
several outbuildings dedicated to the archaeological digs that have gone
on at Poplar Forest. There was also a hands-on exhibit that
wasn't open when we were there.
Our tour started promptly, and our tour guide was very knowlegable.
The house is sometimes referred to as Jefferson's Summer Home, and
is much smaller than Monticello. Both were designed by him, and
both had only a few owners after his death. Poplar Forest was
actually converted to a 'modern' home and was lived in by a family up
until the 1940's or so, and is currently still being returned to the
way it was when Jefferson lived there.
At the end of our tour the sky darkened and the wind increased.
Erika and I hurried to the car and got rain coats and umbrellas
for all of us. We met Doug and Kat in the cellar and servant's area
(self toured) and also walked some of the grounds. As we walked
toward our car, the rain started.
We asked our Nav System to find us a seafood restaurant (it being Good
Friday and all) and the first place we tried had closed their lunch
hours about 15 minutes before we got there. Try #2 led us to a
restaurant that no longer existed (new medical building on the land, I
think). By now we were pretty hungry and it was getting very late
to be eating lunch and we didn't want to have to wait until 9 pm to
have our dinner.... so we settled for a McDonalds. The weather
obliged by slowing to a drizzle when we got out of the car, and
refraining altogether when we got back in. This particular McD's
had a nice gas fireplace, ala Panera Bread, but unfortunately it wasn't
on while we were there. Strangely, there was also not a Diaper
Deck in the bathrooms. I'm always tempted to use a table as a
changing table at a restaurant that doesn't provide this basic need,
but out of deference to you, the other costumers, I restrain this
We got to Charlottesville in time for Rush Hour.... or so we thought.
After sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for quite some time, we came
across a bank, flanked by police cars, surrounded by crime scene tape,
and camera crews had staked out a place on the corner. When we Googled
it when we got home we found out a bank robbery had occured about 30
minutes before we got there!
The rest of the trip was uneventful. We got home, unpacked the car, unpacked our bags, and resumed our non-vacation Life.