This trip was a lot of fun not only because we got to minister, but because we were able to site see as well. We were also able to take our friend who is really more our brother than anything else, Travis Bennett. It was his first time seeing DC and all the sites of Virginia and so forth. I always enjoy taking people places they've never seen before. It's like reliving your first time seeing the sites.
We drove to Florence, SC which is typically our stopping point. It's a good 4.5 to 5 hour drive from Perry and they have a really nice Microtel there right off the interstate that's cheap and great. We had to stop at every state welcome center and take our pictures with the state signs which has become the Herrington travel tradition. Luckily, or unluckily, Trav had to get in on the fun. We made our way into Stafford, VA on Monday where we stayed at the Wingate just off of I-95. It was a great hotel with just some quirky things and happenings, but overall it was great especially for the price and location. Tuesday was DC day and we did all the monuments and toured Arlington National Cemetery. Wednesday we spent 3 hours trying to get to Theodore Roosevelt Island, but our GPS kept us going in circles. Yes it took me 3 hours to finally give up. About the time we gave up, we were actually a quarter mile from it and didn't know it. Billie and I have been before, but because I admire Teddy Roosevelt so much, we definitely wanted to go back and take Trav who likes him pretty well too. That'll be another day. We ended up at Union Station and taking the Metro, which was a first for Trav, to the Smithsonians. We toured the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We toured the Museum of Natural History where "Night at the Museum" was filmed and saw all the sights and sounds. Finally, we toured the American History Museum which was a first for us all. The last time we were in DC and had the chance to go to the museums, they were remodeling this one and we were only able to see a few exhibits on display in the Air and Space Museum. It was awesome! By far, it's my favorite museum, but then again, I love American History. My favorite exhibits were the Presidential and American cultural ones.
Thursday morning we slept in and then drove just outside of the little town of Orange, VA to visit James Madison's Montpelier. This was his house and property during the early years of America and afterward. Madison is the writer of the Constitution and we were able to see his personal library where he did most of his work on it. He was said to have well over 4000 books and he read almost all of them completely during his lifetime. He was married to Dolley Madison who is typically recognized as the first "First Lady" of America. She was a socialite in her day and was quite an amazing woman. We saw the bed Madison died on, their original tables and furniture, and the couple's bed in the master bedroom. We were able to see where Madison was buried along with Dolley and the rest of the family. We really enjoyed this visit and would gladly do it again. The tour guide ended up being the best we had the whole trip.
Friday, we spent the day setting up the Kids Krusade and then putting it on. Saturday was much of the same. The Saturday session went from about 10 AM to 2 PM with everything we and the church had planned. It was a great event! We went to the mall in Spotsylvania Saturday evening and I was able to get two great books for $13. I bought Mitt Romney's book he wrote a year or so ago as he prepared to run for President. I'm certainly not a Romney fan, but I'm not an Obama fan either and I read his book. I want to be aware and knowledgeable about people and their thoughts so I'm not just throwing my opinion around based on hearsay and media manipulation, so for $6, Romney's book was a steal. It was originally $27. I also bought Jimmy Carter's "White House Diaries" book which is literally his diary entries during his days as President along with his commentary after the fact. At his presidential library that we visited earlier in the year I believe, the book was $35. I bought it for $6.50.
Sunday, we finished up the Kids Krusade and then had church. We had a great move of God and then we started the tear down. We finally got out of the church about 1:30 PM and got to eat at one of our favorite Japanese steak houses up there called Tokyo. They come and cook in front of you and our cook named Peter, was great. We laughed about some things he said and the conversations around that table all the way home to Georgia.
After pretty much taking it easy from site seeing for 3 days, we checked out of our hotel on Monday morning in Stafford and headed to Charlottesville, VA to visit Ashlawn Highland which is the home of our 5th president James Monroe and visit Monticello which is the home of Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd president and the writer of the Declaration of Independence. Monroe's home was fun and interesting. We got to see several pieces of his original furniture along with his bed where he died. I didn't realize that he was actually close friends with Napoleon and actually had a bust of him in his dining room given by Napoleon himself. Their daughters were close friends. The house is actually owned and ran by Monroe's alma mater, William and Mary University and you could tell a difference in its upkeep and presentation. It wasn't that it was bad at all, but with Madison's and later Jefferson's home, there was a distinct difference in the presentation. Monroe isn't buried on his property. He's actually buried in the "Hollywood Cemetery" in Richmond, VA which we actually saw last year when we came up to do the Kids Krusade. Pretty cool.
After visiting Monroe's house, we ate at the Michie Tavern which is a tavern and building from Thomas Jefferson's time. It was some of the best food I've eaten and they were pretty proud of it too. It was expensive, but well worth it. We went to Jefferson's Monticello next and I'll say upfront, it was amazing. It blew Washington's Mount Vernon out of the water for me. Jefferson, as much as I'm not a huge fan of him, was no doubt a genius and extremely intellectual. Almost everything in the Jefferson home is original which says a lot itself. We were able to see some of his actual books he used along with his desk, polygraph, and the bed he died in. He was said to have well over 5000 books and was said to have read almost every one. We saw his special domed room and his own little "museum" of collectibles he received from his travels and experiences. We saw the chess set he and James Madison would play on their visits. We were also able to see Madison's chess set at Montpelier that he and Jefferson would play. The tour guides said their games could go on for several hours without either one saying hardly a word. No records are kept of who one the games however. We saw the place where Jefferson took his wife on their first night married and saw the underground tunnels and rooms Jefferson had built under his home. We took our pictures behind the house which is the "nickel view." Turn a nickel over and the view is that of Monticello. We left the home and walked down to the cemetery where Jefferson and his family were buried. Of the first five presidents of the US, we've now seen where four have been buried. This was one of the best experiences of the whole trip. When were done, we drove to Statesville, NC to spend the night.
Tuesday, we started heading home and it was also Billie's birthday. She got her present early before the trip being it was a new zoom lens for her camera I got her on Valentine's Day. But I had her a card and bought her a multi-volume, decorative, Jane Austen book. She fell in love with Austen's movies and books on this trip. We also ate at Cheesecake Factory in Atlanta that evening for her birthday and they came out to sing to her and let her blow out a candle which is what she wanted to do about more than anything. Before getting to Atlanta though, we stopped in Charlotte and took Trav to the Billy Graham Library. We enjoyed it earlier when we visited it and I enjoyed it just as much this time. It's a wonderful place and I leave challenged and inspired each time I go. We went to a mall afterwards as Billie kept looking for places that sold Brighton so she could get some more state charms. She didn't find what she was looking for, but Trav and I bought several more books in the Barnes and Noble. I think total, between the three of us, we came home with about 20 books or more.
We had a wonderful time and none of us were ready to come home. There's so much more to see up there and I'm already looking forward to going again another time! Thanks Centerpoint Church and our dear friends Jerry & Martha Coleman for having us again. We always enjoy being with you and treasure your friendship, prayers, and support.
Now we'll rest for a few days before heading to Orlando, FL for General Assembly along with getting ready to do another Kids Krusade when we get back! God's good!