The kids and I have been studying the American Revolution these past few weeks. Multiple historical figures were part of that study, including Thomas Jefferson, author of much of the Declaration of Independence. My husband and I have often talked about the benefits of his job, -the privilege that we, as a family, have in being able to board a flight any time we want (as long as seats are available). We've said that we would use that privilege to our advantage to show the kids some of the history they're studying "in real time." In reality, life usually gets in the way and we have only done it once, when they were studying Jamestown and Williamsburg and we flew there.
So last week on Thursday, I was sitting there telling my husband all the historical facts we had studied, that particularly interested me. I reminded him that he and I had visited Monticello, Jefferson's plantation home, back in 1992, and how vivid that made the history we were studying. His response?
"Why don't we take the kids to see it then?"
He meant that we should take a "flash trip", a brief, one-night trip to a place of our choosing, in this case Monticello, to enjoy a single focus and come home.
The excuses immediately rushed in to my mind. The hassle. The reservations. The kennel boarding. The fatigue of a quick trip. The......
"Okay. Before I talk us both out of this, okay. Let's just do it."
And so we did. We quickly booked a hotel and rental car, checked hours of operation and cost for touring Monticello, and packed a very light overnight bag for all. My husband got off work last Saturday at 1:30pm, came home and picked us up, and we headed right back to the airport for our afternoon flight. By 11pm that night, we were all tucked in to our beds at the Richmond, VA Wyndham for a night's rest and an elegant complimentary continental breakfast the next morning. Linen tablecloths and napkins, china, beverage service by the staff. Not your average continental breakfast. It was lovely.
We drove the near 1½ drive to Charlottesville, arriving at Monticello around 11am. We were able to join an immediate tour and spent the next four hours exploring the house and grounds of Thomas Jefferson. I was so thankful for the privilege of giving our children that "real time" experience.
We even had enough time left to visit the grounds of James Monroe's home as well, but we did not tour the inside. Still, it was nice to at least show the kids where another president had lived as well. After a full day of touring and exploring, we stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel before heading to the airport for an evening flight back home. Stand-by travel being what it is, one of us almost had to stay behind in Chicago on the final leg home, as there weren't enough seats to accomodate our family of six. Thankfully, someone no-showed and we were able to take the last 6 seats just before departure. Good thing, because the blizzard of 2011 moved into Chicago the very next day.
One incident did make us laugh (and "cry") while at Monticello. We were touring the vast produce garden area on Mulberry row, and decided to make our way through to the other side of the garden to visit a small glass enclosed structure similar to a gazebo (not sure of its function, but perhaps it is used for civic events). Anyway, as we went to step inside of it, me following the children and husband following me, I cracked my head against an overhead structure. It was the thick wooden frame of an enormous window sash that can be lifted up to make an entrance into the structure. Because of the glass, it was not very noticeable and thus the major thump of my head. It hurt! Everyone fussed over me while I rubbed my head in disbelief, pain, and okay, embarrassment.
So what happended next? As we were stepping back out, I heard another THUD. This time, it was husband's biscuit that got whacked. Of course, kids being kids, the silence was interrupted with laughter mixed with, "Daddy are you okay? Hahahahaha. Are you hurt? Hee hee hee. Is it bleeding? Bahahahaha!" What else could we do? Within seconds, we joined them in laughter.
And to top it all off, we were standing on an upper deck sometime later, looking out over Mulberry row and the garden, when hubby suddenly urged, "Uh oh! Come here, quick!" I got there just in time to see the glass structure in the garden, and the well dressed man with coiffed hair, polished shoes (turned red from the wet Virginia mud) and a formal overcoat. It happened in less than a second, but ran like a slow-motion picture in my mind as I thought, "Ooooh nooooo, he's going to whack his biscuit toooooo."
(silence, and then.....)
"BAHAHAHAHA! Our family ducked away from the deck, faces a bit smurked, feeling both bad for the guy and redeemed for ourselves, as we now knew we weren't the only ones who couldn't see the glass obstacle looming overhead. We didn't laugh loudly, but we couldn't contain it either. It just stuck us all as funny after both myself and my husband had done the very same thing.
I realize that everyone does not have the time or resources to do what we did, so please know that I realize this. Without the flying benefits that are SUCH a blessing through my husband's job, we might not be able to do this ourselves. But I encourage you to consider ways that you might create your own "flash trips", especially if you homeschool. Perhaps a visit to a local living history farm that covers your time period. A tour of a period home or the grave of a historical figure from that time. Even a trip to the library to read a historically significant picture book to your children in a quiet corner (and then icecream afterwards) can be a wonderful "fieldtrip" experience for all.
Live wise in Him!