Sunday, October 21, 2012

Historical Date Weekend

Even after 3 years (well, 3 years on November 12) I still get just as excited about Date Night as I did when Ian and I met in October of 2009. I love to dress to impress (him, of course) and I still get butterflies when he knocks on my door. This weekend was no exception.

Friday afternoon, we decided to head to an early dinner at a local steak house. Ian's dad had bought us a just-because gift certificate, so we decided to splurge a little bit. I tried steak au jus for the first time. What a treat!

After a mini grocery shopping trip, we picked out a pumpkin at Kroger. Ian did most of the carving, because last year, I carved our pumpkin into a disaster.
We didn't have a clue what we wanted to carve. I suggested a kitty, but that didn't really appeal to either of us. Normally, we're big planners, but we decided to wing it with our jack-o-lantern. We knew that we wanted something that represented both of us, and somehow we ended up with this little number:
We may not be master carvers, but we were pretty pleased with the end result.

Saturday morning, we intended to sleep in, but I woke up bright and early, too excited. It was the day we were finally going to drive Route 24 in Appomattox, tour the Museum of the Confederacy, stop at the historical monuments, and possibly venture into the Lee Grant Rebel Store on Route 460.

Even though it would be a lot of driving, we decided to head to the far end of 24 and double back, stopping at the plaques and monuments along the way. Before we were halfway, Ian suggested we stop at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. At just $5 per vehicle, it's a great deal for all that visitors can see and do. Armed with our map, we set out across the village. We could not have had more perfect weather.

I admired the (original) Isbell House from afar, but we decided to stay closer to the courthouse and the center of the village.
Next, we toured the Appomattox County Jail. I was impressed by how much of the original Civil War era preservation remained, like these shacklebolts.
Then, we wandered over to the Clover Hill Tavern, where reenactors were leading tours and giving speeches. We weren't allowed in most of the rooms, but I took as many photos as I possibly could.
We spent a great deal of time marveling over the Meeks Store merchandise. I felt like we were taking ourselves back through time, looking at the crude medicines, bolts of fabric, and bins of raw ingredients.
We toured the tiny Woodson Law Office, the Tavern Guesthouse, the Tavern Kitchen (now used as the bookstore and gift shop), the Storehouse, the outhouses (of course), and the Slave Quarters before arriving at McLean House -- the surrender site.

We began touring in the basement: the kitchen and dining room of the McLean family.
We toured the bedrooms, the nursery, personal office/study space, women's work spaces, and sitting rooms.
I was struck by how much the restored McLean House resembled the Civil War era architecture present all over Hampden-Sydney's campus. Of course, the two locations are less than an hour apart, and the Civil War waged right through campus while classes were in session.
This view is of the McLean House from the front.
After we finished touring the McLean House summer kitchen and slave quarters, we were pretty hungry. We decided to leave the village to have a picnic lunch along Route 24. We smartly packed more than enough food: raw broccoli and organic baby carrots, sub sandwiches, Halloween cookies, blue corn tortilla chips, Vitamin Water, dark chocolate almond milk for me, and bananas.
We found a shady spot along the river to eat. Of course, there was the obligatory tourist shot...
After lunch, we headed a bit further down 24 to stop at some of the historical battle sites. The Confederate Cemetery was less than half a mile from the Courthouse Park.
I'm really not a history buff, but the day was so beautiful and breezy that it made everything we saw seem less bleak and more enjoyable as an "educational" experience.
We also stopped at the site where Lee's men camped for three nights prior to the surrender, but by the time we hiked a mile into the woods, I was too pooped for pictures.

We decided to forgo the Museum of the Confederacy because it was 5:00 by the time we hit Route 460, but that's definitely still on my Bucket List. If you haven't ever visited the Civil War museums or sites, I highly recommend it. Between my apartment and my permanent home, all of it is right in my backyard and it took me 23 years to finally visit. Most of the sites are free or very inexpensive.

After dinner, we headed back out for supplies to make my Halloween costume. We drove all over creation and searched no fewer than five fabric and craft supplies stores before finally settling on what we needed. I'm bursting with excitement about my costume -- which took us 2 hours to create, I might add -- but I'm forcing myself to wait until after I wear it to post pics. I will say that it's by far my most creative costume ;)

Needless to say, it was early to bed again. We finally slept in this morning before Ian needed to head back to Richmond. He made this weekend nothing short of perfect!

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