Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Bucket List: James Madison's Montpelier

Remember this post, where I talked about how Facebook could be used for good rather than evil? Well I'm back with the next installment. Except it's really more of the same: more free stuff! Wahoo!

The day of the Great Earthquake of 2011 (is that title dramatic enough? I can't decide...), James Madison's Montpelier's Facebook page used their routine Tuesday Trivia game to pose an earthquake-related question:

To be honest, I didn't know who said it but my gut told me that since the page was owned by curators at James Madison's family home and it was said during his lifetime, he probably said it. Then I Googled it to be sure. Yep, James Madison said it...and I won 2 free admission tickets to tour Montpelier - score!

So on a beautiful fall weekend when I had no major school deliverables, Dave and I schlepped up to Orange County to tour JMad's home. On the way we made a pit stop at a unusually busy gas station off 64 - based on the VT stickers/facepaint/attire, I assumed this is a main intersection on the route between Richmond and Blacksburg? It was Tech's Homecoming weekend, so I'm going with that. The parking lot beamed with Hokie pride...except in our car, since Dave and I thought it would be festive to wear JMU shirts since we were visiting the home of the namesake of our alma mater. We stood out during that pit stop, for sure! At one point I asked Dave "We're in enemy territory...are we safe?" Haha

Thankfully we made it out alive, with drinks in hand, and continued our journey. When we arrived at the gatehouse, the security guard asked if we needed tickets, so I told her we already had them. She needed to make sure I was telling the truth, so she asked to see them and then gleefully exclaimed "OH - Duke (the guy in the back)! We have contest winners! They're famous!" Haha - she was goofy!

She rolled out the red carpet for us handed us some maps and gave us directions to the visitors' center and sent us on our way :) The loooooong drive up to the house provides ample opportunity for photo keepsakes like this one:

Once in the gift shop, we killed some time until the next tour started by perusing the gift shop. I saw a few books I wanted to buy (surprised?) and we found a pewter ornament of the house that we wanted to pick up for our JMU Christmas tree. We waited until after the tour to buy stuff so we wouldn't have to carry anything around...

After a brief movie explaining the phases of construction on the home and the political rise of James Madison, we were off on a short walk to the house:

Only a few rooms are furnished and decorated as they would have been while the Madisons lived there because it had owners who renovated it through the years. Most rooms were empty, some were in progress with open walls and all so we could see how the house was constructed, but the rooms that were set up how the Madisons would/may have had them were awesome! The wallpaper was very ornate and they had white noise playing in the background while the guide was talking, so we could hear the clanking of dishes in the dining room during one of Dolley's dinner parties, and card games going on in the parlor room. It's the little details that make something like this worth it. And I know I'm a dork for having thought about that...I'm ok with that.

No photography was allowed inside, but I snuck this my class that week we talked about Aristotle and his views on government and education, so this quote on the wall in Madison's study, where he once spent a winter reading over 400 books to research the best kind of government should be established in America, really struck me:

Helped me make the connection between ancient government systems and ours, and that although they are very different, at their core they have the same goal. The tour ended on a rooftop terrace overlooking the property. The Madisons frequently held parties on the terrace...if I lived there, this would be how I started each and every day. Check out this view of the Blue Ridge Mountains:

We took a walk around the backyard and gardens on the scenic route back to the visitors' center, and found this bronze statue of James and Dolley hanging out in the backyard... we posed with them:

The garden wasn't looking too festive since it's fall, but this sleepy kitty caught my eye... did this sundial:
2:30, in case you were wondering :)

We exited through the gift shop, after picking up our ornament. I didn't buy any books! Can you believe it? But I did order 2 from my phone in the car on the way home. Dork.

No comments:

Post a Comment