Our American History-Civics trip, part 1

As many of you know, Vitaliy’s in the process of becoming a citizen. And our girls actually don’t know all that much about America, though they are citizens. And I have two friends currently around DC, so all this came together to create a desire in me to go on a trip.

I think it was God’s idea somehow, because He providentially arranged it all so beautifully and logically in ways I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to plan. I want to share what we did, and the thoughts I’ve had as an adult American, mostly expat person.

We drove up to Va Beach all day Wed. We took only our two older daughters, who are 12 and 13. This was nice, because it was age-appropriate for them and the activities all involved lots of history, walking, standing, sitting, listening, learning.

We weren’t sure where we’d be sleeping around Va Beach, and I wanted to visit Jamestown, at least. As we drove to the drop-off house for all the Togo mission supplies we were delivering to Va Beach, I noted that we passed First Landing State Park, and in talking to the man who lived there, he mentioned we could camp there. That’s what ended up working out.

It was the historical (true or not?) marker site of the first landing, and it had a great beach. So every morning and night, the girls and usually Vitaliy would go catch crabs on the beach (Skyla read that they are called Ghost Crabs), and they’d boil and eat them. They were delicious, so they told me 🙂

Thursday: Drive up, find campground.
Cost of camping: $40/night for three nights = $120.

Friday: We went to the Jamestown Settlement Museum. ($60 total entrance fee for 3 adults, 1 child) This is not the actual site of Jamestown (that’s a mile up the road from them), but it’s the site of a neat living-history museum where “actors” dress up, and we can ask them all sorts of questions and they’ll explain their way of life, current events, etc. There’s an Powhatan Indian camp, the fort, and the ships to see. All have actors working in them. We spent about 6 hours here, and had our picnic lunch. We listened to/watched documentaries of Jamestown, and the girls have read a lot of books about this time period, too. So this was neat.

I learned from the kitchen actor what is means to “bank a fire.” I’d always wondered what that meant, and he explained that it’s putting ashes over the live embers so the embers will keep for the night, hopefully, and you can start them up in the morning.

After that, while we were in the area, we were tired, but we drove to Colonial Williamsburg. We didn’t pay the entrance fee (that is like $40/person)– that will get you into all the buildings– but canyone can just walk the streets, see the people dressed up, see the architecture and way of life. After all the Jamestown information exploding our heads, we were too tired to absorb much more info, so it was nice to just walk around.

Then, while we were close, we drove to and walked around the Yorktown section, too. We got Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Then we went back to the campground and the girls hunted crabs …

So this is what I learned, for trip planning: these four places are the logical-to-visit sites in this chronological order: First Landing State Park (but if you’re not camping, you could probably just skip this), Jamestown (early settlement of Va Company), Colonial Williamsburg (colonial time), Yorktown (site of Cornwallis’s surrender to Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War).

Saturday, we visited friends and spent time on the beach again.

Part 2 is Washington, DC

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