Friday, July 20, 2018

A Bit of Jamestown History

We've been to Jamestown at least three times.
Today's visit made an impression on me for a number of reasons.  One was that our National Parks continue to change and get better each year.  Improvements, additions to the displays, new features, etc are all things that we saw today.
As we waited for the 15-minute film explaining the story of the English settlement at Jamestown, we tried to absorb some of the information displays near the theater.  We learned that the area had almost 15,000 Indians in the area in 1607 led by the Powhatan chieftain, whose daughter was Pocahontas.

It seems to me that today was the first time I started to put the 'story' together.  Maybe it was because we took advantage of a Ranger talk.
Our ranger was unique and had his own memorable style.  I liked it.  It was little dramatic, a little quirky, but he knew the facts and history and was in the 'teaching' mode.  He mentioned three facts he wanted us to remember about this place:
  1. Jamestown, established in 1607 was the first permanent settlement in America.  Roanoke Island was settled 20 years before in 1587, but it became known as the Lost Colony when all residents mysteriously perished.
  2. In 1619, Jamestown created the first representative assembly in American with the election of 20 representatives who met in the Jamestown church to decide on "...just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people..."
  3. Also in 1619, the first Africans arrived, having been intercepted from a ship near Mexico.  Originally all were free then, but by 1660, some were enslaved and working the cash crop, "golden Weed" -- tobacco.
It is always good to get an informative and energetic Ranger.  It was well worth the hour he spent with us.

In the left half of the map we saw where village was laid out with Swann's Tavern and the row house.
National Park Service Map 
After an archaeological dig in the 1930's, evidence was found that laid out some of the buildings foundations of the village.  Historians decided to recreate a brick wall just above ground level of some buildings to show where they once stood.  

After the Ranger talk we wandered over past the Memorial church and the old Triangle fort for some shade.
Statue of John Smith looking out to the James River
The Memorial Church building is the site of a current archaeological dig, so people could only look into the church from the front door.
We made some more memories with another picnic,
this time on a bench where they hold some Ranger Talks just outside of the Triangle Fort.
Statue of Pocahontas near the Triangle Fort
The long poles in the ground show the outline of where the walls of the fort once stood.

 After lunch, we checked out the Vorhees Archaetorium and Archaetorium Museum.  It is a little mind boggling to learn that close to 1.5 million artifacts have been dug out of the ground in the area.  The Archaetorium/Museum sits on top of the a portion of the Statehouse, which was built when the church became too small to hold the representatives and settlers interested in viewing the proceedings.

Inside the museum there were over 4,000 artifacts discovered over the last 20 years at Jamestown.  The museum was built in 2006 and opened in time for the visit of Queen Elisabeth in 2007 commemorating the 400 years anniversary.  
As with most of these great museums and historical sites, it is a challenge to absorb it all.  We had more of an appreciation for the significance and the story behind the history of the area from our history.  

Truth be told, this was our third visit to Jamestown.  We first visited in the 1990's when we lived in Fairfax VA.  Then we came again in 2015.  Each time we learn and remember more.  Each time there are more discoveries to see and the property looks a little different.  

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Visit to the Fire Station

Who doesn't like a visit to the fire department?  Especially if you know a fireman?

We are fortunate to know Reggie, who is the Fire Chief in Yorktown.  After our visit to colonial Yorktown, I got a text from Reggie who asked if we were still in Williamsburg and would like to come over and see where he worked.  Yes, we would!

We've known Reggie for 3-4 years.  He and his wife Melanie are friends of Kelly and Jon.  They have an 8 year old daughter and a 3 year old that is buddies with Brooks.  We see them when we are in Virginia Beach visiting.

I always enjoy it when I get to see the actual place where people work.  It is one of those interesting things about life.  Everyone makes a living somehow, in some place and its fun to put them together now and then.
We were about 20 minutes away and drove over to the Fire Station and met Reggie in his office.
He has done this before and reminded me of when I give people the "tour of the RV".  Reggie used to ride the firetrucks and be on the line, but as a Fire Chief now, he has his own EMS truck and rides to the scene in it.
The first part of the tour was the pointing out the Men's and Women's separate facilities and the common area where they spend a lot of their free time while on shift.  We caught Reggie and the team in the middle of one of their 24/7 shifts.

The next part of the tour was about the trucks and the equipment.  Each firetruck has a specific purpose and role.

This looks a bit cluttered but in fact, it is pre-arranged so the fireman manning this position on the truck can jump into his boots and suit in seconds.  The big unit is manned by four fireman.

This beast is the most impressive of them all.  I forget all the facts and figures of this but it can carry a lot of water.  It also has lines of hoses and then can pump water to the fire using a variety of sources.  Sometimes they get water from wherever they can including a swimming pool if necessary.
Whoever is manning the pump has a lot of responsibility.  This can get tricky making sure the right hose has the right amount of water to get the job done.

On the passenger side rear area is a compartment with a familiar set of tools which is commonly known as 'Jaws of Life'.  That is a brand name that became the generic label of a particular kind of equipment.
I believe he said this brand was made by Genesis.  It has hydraulics to aid the cutting and even has a portable motor to carry a pretty good distance from the road to free a victim.

Next, we looked at one of two ambulances they have ready to go.  He opened the back door and had me pull out the gurney and set it up outside the back of the truck.
It is all automatic.  Just press a couple of buttons, give it a tug, lock it in place and set it up, wheel it away.  Reducing the time it takes to get this in and out of the back end of the ambulance saves precious minutes in an emergency.

They have two different large 5th wheel trailers that haul all kinds of rescue and safety equipment to the scene.  It is pulled by this large truck.
 The side of the trailer opens with all kinds of equipment they can bring to bear on different situations.
It's a little sobering to think about how much the firemen need to know about some many different kinds of equipment.  Then, too, they have to keep in great physical shape and have to learn to deal with awful kinds of situations.  Those of us that don't, probably take them and their work a little too much for granted.
This is a good reminder of what real heroes look like.  Day-to-day they are regular looking folks.  But in an emergency, they are highly trained professionals that put it on the line every day.

It was a real privilege to see the fire station and get a private tour from Reggie.  And to get an inkling of what it is these folks do for us day after day in our communities.  And not only our communities, but sometimes they deploy to other places to join other teams.  Such was the case when Reggie deployed to Puerto Rico last year during their terrible hurricane.

That's it for today's Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Bit of Yorktown History


Years ago, we visited Yorktown, but never visited the Colonial National Historical Park.  We picked a beautiful day and arrived about 30 minutes after it opened.
While we waited for the start of the 16-minute overview film of the Yorktown Historical site "The Siege at Yorktown".
Yorktown was established as a 50 acre plot of land designated in 1691 by an Act for Ports passed by the Virginia House of Burgess.  It had a customs house for the purposes of collecting taxes on shipments along the York River.

It had a population of about 1800 people by the early 1700's and with the primary cash crop of tobacco being grown and shipped out of the region.

Even before the colonial declaration of Independence in 1776, relations with Britain were locked in skirmishes of the Revolutionary War.  In 1780, French forces landed near Rhode Island to aid their American friends.  At sea, the French fleet blockaded the Chesapeake, depriving British forces an avenue of escape.

British General Cornwallis moved his army toward Yorktown to establish a naval base there. With a force of 8,300 men, he fortified the town and prepared for battle against the larger French and colonial forces near Williamsburg that was close to 17,000.

The allied forces began a nine-day round-the-clock bombardment of Yorktown pinning Corwallis and his army down with no escape.  Cornwallis requested a cease-fire to discuss surrender terms  and on October 19, 1781 he formally surrendered his army
We walked through the museum and then down to path to the area of old Yorktown.
The pathway made for an easy walk.  I like the detailed maps along the way.
About 500 yards down the path toward town, the Victory Monument.  With the defeat of Cornwallis, citizens immediately knew the significance of the event.  News reached the Continental Congress a few days later and on October 29, 1781 directed that a monument be erected.
In what may be the slowest construction plan in history, the cornerstone was not laid until October 1881.
As we continued on the walking tour, we passed the Nelson House.  Thomas Nelson Jr. was one of Yorktown's influential citizens.  He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and owned this home that was built by his grandfather in about 1730.
We walked up the steps and onto the property and found a few shaded benches in the back of the house overlooking an active garden that was being tended by a volunteer.
It was time for lunch and had a picnic.  It's been fun to remember all the places we've packed a lunch and enjoyed the surroundings all over the country.  This simple pleasure has brought us great joy as we've been to different places and soaked in the history and surroundings. 
This home was built in the Georgian architecture style, named after the British kings by that name.
We wandered down the lane of old homes and taverns and walked over to the Yorktown Beach.  This was a surprise.
The Riverwalk Landing is nice little city park with public facilities and a shaded tree line with park benches.  It overlooks the wharf and the York River.

After some time at the Riverwalk Landing, we looked at the city map and found the nearest trolley stop to get back to the Visitor Center.  It was heating up and getting a little humid, but it was a great day in Yorktown.

We felt like we added a little more understanding of the early days in our country.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

4th of July etc

After our short trip south to see friends near Charlotte NC, and to get some yearly maintenance done on the Roadrunner, we found a campground in the

spent the 4th of July camped in Newports News city RV Campground.  It was the closest campground to Virginia Beach under $40.  $36.04 in fact.  So, that was a plus.  We drove over to Kelly and Jon's place in plenty of time for the Thoroughgood neighborhood parade.

Kelly did a put some planning and decoration into the chariot the boys were going to be riding in.
The boys were ready to go and we were all decked out.
Brooks tried out his hat before he changed into his parade clothes.  The hat didn't last long so papa, the wagon-puller wore it.
The boys got loaded into the wagon at the drop off area.
Brooks stayed in the wagon for a few hundred yards, then was excited to see a pal of his riding his tricycle.  From that point on around the parade route Brooks ran ahead of his buddy on the trike.  Those little guys sure have a lot of energy.  Harrison had a more reasonable approach and enjoyed the proceedings from his seat in the wagon.

It was fun chatting with the parents of Brook's friend and taking the long walk around the big block.  It seemed as if families were gathered at every couple or three houses and they waved and talked as we walked by.  On group were sitting across the front lawn in their fold-up chairs and having a good time and had a giant jar of water set up.  They invited paraders to stop by and get a drink of water which was a nice thing to do.

About 100 folks stayed at the Thoroughgood House for the hot dogs and noon day meal/picnic.  We returned to Jon and Kelly's house.

The boys had a bug earlier in the weak but got over it fairly quickly.  Jon got up early that morning, put pork butts on the Big Green Egg and promptly went back to bed where he stayed all day long.  The time or two he emerged from the bedroom he didn't look too good.  Kelly started feeling poorly shortly after the boys went down for naps and then the bug hit her.  Pam and I were on our own when the boys woke up.  Gladly, it was no big deal, we just played with them and fixed dinner, read some books and put them to bed.

Kelly and Jon felt better on the 5th though not 100%.  They got better as the day progressed and Brad and Sue arrived a little after 4:00 PM.  Kelly lived with my brother Brad and wife Sue for a few months when she was looking for work as an Interior Designer about 10 years ago.   They were here in Virginia Beach five years ago for Jon and Kelly's wedding, and it was great to spend the evening with them.

We started with a tour of Goldmanor (Kelly's name for their house and property) and tried to convey the transformation that has happened since they got the property in October.  Brad is an architect (retired) so it was fun to talk about the house and the renovations.

We went inside and continued the conversations while dinner was being made.
We had broccoli salad, pulled pork (from Jon's two pork butts on the BGE the day before), cole slaw and finished it up with Key Lime pie.  After dinner Pam and I cleaned up the dishes while everyone went out front and enjoyed some more time together.  It was a long day for everyone so we left shortly after and drove back to our campground in Newport News.

Since Brad and Sue are also early risers, we decided to meet for breakfast in East Beach, just off North Shore drive at Sand Piper Cafe.  We had eaten there a few times before.  In fact the morning after the rehearsal dinner for Jon and Kelly, a large group of us had breakfast here.

Those selfies in the direct sunlight are tough
It was good to hear a little more of their vacation and road trip, specifically their time at the Biltmore and the Outer Banks.  Sue is due to retire any time, but she hasn't given an indication of when that might be.  She is a high school counselor and it gets real busy for her at different times of the year, especially near graduation.  She is the best at what she does, so her co-workers are dreading the day.  

They headed on down the road to the Duke/UNC area to visit those campuses.  She wanted to see Coach K, but reported back that he was not available...

Pam and I went back to the Roadrunner and things started to deteriorate.  We both started feeling puny with the bug that Kelly and Jon were plagued with.  Pam got the worst of it and was up often during the night.  On Saturday we pretty much just rested/slept and got over it.  Pam's lingered a bit but I was much better on Sunday.

I was able to keep a lunch appointment with Kris and Bill Osborne.  The are former full-time RVers that ended up in Williamsburg, VA.  They were on the road for four years and I they follow the Roadrunner Chronicles.
On Sunday,  I (Pam didn't want to take a chance and pass along the bug), sat down with them and got to know each other face-to-face.  That is one of those unique and fun things we get to do as bloggers and RVers - meet people who we've been friends with for some time.  If that makes sense.

It was a great time to get to know them better and hear about this chapter in their life in Williamsburg.  I think they love it here!  Bill is working in aviation again which is his passion.

The next morning, we got up bright and early, hoisted the jacks and were on the road a little before 6:00 AM heading toward Richmond for our 7:30 AM appointment with Cummins.  We arrived 15 minutes early and were met by the Service Manager and lead mechanic promptly at the appointed time.

We discussed the general maintenance they were going to be doing on the generator and explained the fuel issue on the generator.  We then left, got some breakfast and coffee and returned to the customer lounge.

The fuel issue was a fuel line filter (an extra added item by Tiffin).  The normal schedule of maintenance items was completed and everything was running great.  We left before noon and got back to our campground by 1:30 PM.
That gave us enough time to head over to Virginia Beach, have dinner with Jon and Kelly and the grandkids.  Jon and I went to a men's cohort meeting and Pam and I spent the night at their place.  Tuesday morning we returned to our campground and took it easy for the rest of the day.

Thats about all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us!