9.30.2017

George Washington's Mount Vernon


The first half of our first day in Virginia we visited Mount Vernon. This was on September 8th. The roads that led us there from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport were unlike the ones in Florida. There were so many trees, or rather forests, that lined each side of the long winding roads. There were beautiful stone bridges we drove under, little hills, and streams. Upon our arrival to George Washington's estate, Lea and I noticed how blue the skies were. The colors seemed much more vivid, it was like stepping into another world. We seemed so far removed. It was such a contrast from what Florida was experiencing in that moment; everything was grey back home. The weather was stunning in Virginia: cool and brisk. Autumn was on its way. It's not a thing any person living there would mention, I'm almost sure of it, but Lea and I are Florida girls. We don't experience that. We don't witness the green leaves turn nor mornings with soft winds. It rains almost every day in Florida during the summer, and the heat stays intact well into autumn. We were delighted to feel and experience the coming of autumn. 


When we first walked up the steps into admissions, our bags were checked and our tickets were taken. It was a little museum with little-known facts about our first President, a gift shop, and some art. Soon after we stepped into a theatre where a short film was presented to us about Washington and his beloved home. Once the film finished, we left with the others and walked outside where we got our first glimpse of the mansion. We met with our tour guide under a large canopy tent. No photographs were to be taken inside the mansion, but photographs were allowed on the grounds. I took full advantage of this. Once we were inside the home, we were met with colorful walls which were filled with art and portraits of men from the Enlightenment Era. The colorful walls were meant to display a person's wealth. A piece of the French Revolution was found in Mount Vernon in the form of a key which belonged to the Bastille prison. It hung behind a little glass display in the central passage of the mansion. Marquis de Lafayette gifted it to George Washington. Of everything I learned during the tour, this one sparked my curiosity the most.

During our tour, there was also discussion about how Mount Vernon was used as a "bed and breakfast". Truth is there were no real hotels during his time, but travelers would often stop at the mansion where they would spend nights and receive meals. George Washington was described as a hospitable Virginian, he once described his home as a "well-resorted tavern". His bedroom, the one he shared with his wife Martha, had an entry from the back which he used when he wanted some privacy away from the guests. We saw his bedchambers, the place where he gave his last breath on December 14, 1799. Martha Washington moved out of that bedroom and moved to another room on the third floor after his death. She would die two and a half years after her husband. After the tour, we explored the grounds. We saw his gardens, stepped into his kitchen, and even got to see his tomb. His wife was laid to rest to the left of him.


CHARLENE ZALE

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