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A "Revolutionary" Journey (Williamsburg & Washington D.C.)

Author: Host Ciao (More Trip Reviews by Host Ciao)
Date of Trip: December 2008

Another scene between three slaves was held inside Raleigh Tavern. They had heard about the Royal Governor, who was sailing a bit out to sea on a British ship. He was offering freedom for slaves who would volunteer to fight for the British Army against the Revolutionary Army. However, none of these fit requirements.

It is really too bad that it got so cold. While the scenes were well done, the whole experience was not as fun or as interesting as on Monday. I wandered some on Duke of Gloucester Street and visited the Apothecary Shop which offered medicines, surgery, dentistry, and midwifery. The proprietress showed several instruments including a nasty looking one for pulling teeth.

I took one of the circulating shuttle buses to the museum area. Two museums are situated near the modern shopping area, The Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. These are down stairs from the rebuilt Public Hospital. The hospital features displays relating to care for the mentally ill. This was the first public institution in the British colonies devoted to the care of the mentally ill. The displays covered the years from the hospital's opening in 1773 to when it burned down in 1885 and showed the decline in care and treatment.

Instead of going through the museums and because the afternoon was winding down, I took the bus to Merchants Square, a shopping area with 18th Century architecture, but more than 40 mostly modern shops. I am not a shopper so I looked in some windows and only went into one store—a Christmas Shop.

Did a bit of packing at the hotel and then took the bus back to the Capital stop for my night program, Crime and Punishment. This program is also listed as one not for children, and I think it would be very scary for them. It was scary enough for those of us who took it. We met in front of one of the buildings near the capital. There was a fire burning in an iron basket to light our way there. The guide explained that no questions could be asked during any of the scenes, but she would answer later.

The first scene is usually outside but had been moved into the House side of the Capital. This was a soliloquy by Jack, an undersheriff. He spent the whole time sharpening his knife and waving it around while he described the whippings he did and also nailing the ears of certain criminals to the hand/head stocks. He made it clear he enjoyed his work.

Next we went to the warden's room of the jail. The speaker wasn't the warden, but worked for him. And we had another sadist here. He described how he kept the old rope for hangings just right and how he tied the knot. Then he told us about branding and showed us the iron. It had been in the fire and he jammed it down on a piece of leather, and we all jumped at the sizzle and smoke. He then passed around so we could see the brand. I seem to remember it was a "T" for thief.

Then we went to the jail courtyard. The interpreter here played the part of a woman who had left England as an indentured servant. She worked for a couple, and the man took her as a mistress, promising much. She kept getting more and more upset because nothing happened so she took an axe and hacked the wife to death. She was tried and convicted of murder. All through the scene she kept acting out what she had done, including sea sickness on the way over, the hacking, then riding in the cart to be hanged. Finally she acted out the hanging and not being able to breathe and collapsed. Believe me we all left that scene very quietly.

I had signed up for another night program, In Defense of Our Liberty. I knew this was to include marching and other military actions like rifle drills though I had been assured there would be no crawling around on the ground. I thought it would be fun. But because it was so cold and I knew this meant another hour plus out in the cold, I skipped it—coward that I am! However, I did not regret this decision since it meant I had a very good dinner, not like the last two nights. Back at the Visitors Center I walked up to Huzzah and really enjoyed the meal. I had delicious corn soup and delicious macaroni and cheese. And I enjoyed two glasses of wine.

From Williamsburg I planned to travel to Washington DC by way of Quantico, VA, where I wanted to stop to visit the Marine Corps Museum, which my brother highly recommended. The stop was possible by train, but this caused a slight problem. There was no way to send my luggage from Williamsburg straight through to Washington, and there were no checking facilities in Quantico. I decided to ship my luggage to my Washington hotel and survive for three nights with my tote bag. Hey! Nylon dries over night and so do my "Super T's."

This actually was a pretty good idea. I travel with two small carry on size bags (the 15 by 15 or so size), and I check both. Shipping cost me only about $10 more than checking my two small bags would have cost at the time because my airline was then charging for the first bag too.

This train trip taught me two more good qualities of Amtrak. Luckily I had found out from my travel agent before I left home that because of track work I had to leave Williamsburg at 6:30 am instead of 9:15 or so. The taxi took a while to get to the hotel because of a shift change, but I arrived with extra time. When I checked in with the agent, he told me he was glad to see me because since I had arrived, there was only one other passenger they were worried about. So they do keep track.

This train was a local so there were quite a few stops, and I managed to forget what stop came before Quantico. The train crew had changed so when the new conductor came through the car, I asked him. He proceeded to tell me he was glad to see me because he knew he had one person getting off at Quantico, but he didn't know who. It turned out the first conductor had put the ticket check above my seat so that it looked like my destination was Washington.

When I arrived in Quantico, the station had a few tables and chairs, restrooms, and a coffee/snack bar, not even a pay phone. So the clerk at the coffee shop very willingly called a taxi. The ride to the museum took about 15 minutes (took the taxi that long to get to the station too). I had not realized the station was on the Marine base, but heading to the museum we went through the gates to the base.

quantico national museum of the marine corps exteriorThe museum building is striking. When you look at it imagine the flag raising at Iwo Jima. The triangular part of the building is the group of marines and the part of the building that shoots off into the air is the flag. The only quibble I have with the whole experience is that there is no coat room and not only did I have my winter coat, but also the tote bag, which was a tad heavy.

national museum of the marine corps landing tarawa wwii displayRetired Marines serve as docents in the museum. The one who met me explained the main gallery to me where there is a scene of a helicopter on the ground with Marines disembarking in Korea and also a scene featuring a landing at Tarawa in WW II. He told me the very realistic Marine figures were made by the same company that makes human figures for Walt Disney parks. Four airplanes are suspended overhead.

national museum of the marine corps korean warSeparate galleries feature scenes from every war the Marines fought in and are fighting in from the Revolution to the Global War on Terror. The latter will grow bigger and these two are the smallest right now. World War II, Korea and Vietnam are the biggest galleries featuring different scenes including wounding and death. Some scenes offer virtual reality experiences. You can "ride" in a landing craft and see the water and other craft moving in front of you and the land approaching. In a scene taking place in winter, the room it is in is quite cold.

The "Making Marines" gallery is also interesting, showing the process followed by recruits from the hometown recruiting station to graduation. It explains why Marines always remember their Drill Instructor. A final gallery is called "Combat Art." By going upstairs to one of the two restaurants you find other information as well as different angle views of the main gallery. One restaurant is a cafeteria, and the other smaller one is a sit-down restaurant. The food in the cafeteria was fine, and I was glad to sit there and set my bag down.

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