We left Richmond Wednesday morning and drove to Petersburg, VA where we
did another driving tour of the battlefields. Most notable was the Battle of the Crater. On July 30, 1864 Union troops, after digging a 511 foot tunnel under the confederate lines and packing it with 320 kegs of gunpowder, exploded the mine in an attempt to break through to Petersburg. We were able to see the remnants of the depression in the ground where the mine exploded along with the tunnel entrance the Union army dug to reach the Confederates. This battle was depicted in the opening scenes of the movie Cold Mountain (Jude Law, 2003). You will have to read on to hear about (and see) the remains of our own explosion.
Wednesday and Thursday nights we stayed in Norfolk VA along the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River.
Thursday we traveled the Colonial Parkway to visit Jamestown and Yorktown, sites marking the beginning and end of British colonial rule in America. At Jamestown we saw where Pocahontas and John Rolfe married in April, 1614 (just missed the wedding by 400 years). We went on an archeologist guided tour of what was once the Jamestown Settlement, established in 1607. We visited the excavated site of the James Fort, including the remains of the 1639 Church Tower. Our guide provided detailed information on the currently active archeological sites. In the Archaearium we saw artifacts found throughout the years on the historic town site.
We stopped in Williamsburg for lunch and took a quick look at the William and Mary campus, the second oldest college in the nation which also has the oldest academic building still in use in the U.S., Sir Christopher Wren Building. The campus is located on one end of Colonial Williamsburg which is a living history museum (restored in historic Williamsburg courtesy of John D. Rockefeller Jr.). It made for an interesting walk after lunch.
Our visit to Yorktown included a tour of the battlefields where General Washington (with help from Major General Nathaniel Greene and Lieutenant General Marquis de LaFayette, who all have squares in Savannah named after them), defeated British General Charles, Lord Cornwallis. We saw many of the original earthworks and key redoubts along with the Moore House (where both sides met to negotiate the surrender terms for Cornwallis’ army) and the surrender field. It was fun to picture the British troops marching over 1 mile down a road and into the field lined by American troops on one side and French troops on the other, to lay down their arms. The visitor center museum has on display Washington’s actual field tent used during the war.
We began our day early on Friday. While driving from Norfolk to Durham NC, Bob’s latte, shall we say “went down the wrong pipe” and ended up everywhere. It was hysterical. This mess is on the inside of the windshield. Needless to say, I’m glad it was him and not me!
After a thorough inside cleaning of the “Old Home”, we arrived at the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Museum in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina near Kitty Hawk. It was very cool to walk the very flight path taken by the first powered airplane. The field has a granite boulder which marks where the plane left the ground on December 17, 1903, along with 4 smaller stone markers that chart each of the four flight paths, distances, and landings made that historic day. The museum has a full-scale reproduction of the flying machine, and an engine block and propeller from the original Flyer.
Next we headed to Durham, North Carolina to visit Bob’s first cousin Amy and her husband Andy. Bob and Amy grew up near each other in the Chicago area. Amy received her undergrad degree and currently teaches at Duke University and Andy received his Masters degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Greensboro, NC so they provided us a thorough introduction to the Durham/Chapel Hill area.
The weekend included:
- An entertaining and interactive performance by renowned jazz pianist Chick Corea at the Baldwin Auditorium on the east campus of Duke University
- Delicious home cooked breakfast
- Tour of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, considered one of the premier public gardens in the U.S. (they were absolutely spectacular and we agree!)
- Visited the fully modernized tobacco district in downtown Durham where we stumbled upon The Big Three (players from UNC, Duke, NC State) Legends basketball benefit and saw Christian Laettner and Vinny Del Negro
- Toured the Durham Bulls Athletic Park
- Dinner at Taberna Tapas, including these roasted brussel sprouts with pine nuts
- Saw the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
- Many great walks around Amy & Andy’s beautiful neighborhood
- Send off breakfast of flapjacks
Thank you Amy & Andy for the wonderful weekend and showing us the beauty of the Durham/Chapel Hill area. It was great visiting with you and we hope you will join us somewhere else along our trip.
We are now in Asheville, North Carolina where we look forward to touring the Biltmore Estate and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains.