Last Friday I went with Stella on her school trip to Monticello. I think I was more excited about the trip than Stella and counted down the days. The alarm went off at 4:30 and we were out of the house by 5:15am, to the school to board the school bus and depart at 6am! The bus ride was quiet in the beginning – still dark and some people falling back to sleep and others daydreaming and enjoying the quiet and the beginning of a new day.
The trip is normally about 3 hours, but there was an accident and we were detoured off the highway – so our journey there took a little longer. We arrived and departed the bus, walked across the parking lot and up the stairs to board the shuttle that would take us to the house. The kids surrounded the statue of Thomas Jefferson, wrapping their arms around him. The house – beautiful and majestic – looking out over the hills and land – we had arrived!
I knew that Thomas Jefferson was out 3rd President and an amazing man, but I learned so much more about him during this field trip. He was the first Secretary of State, Vice President under John Adams, an architect, anthropologist and an archeologist! Before I go further – I have to say if you get the chance to go and visit Monticello – GO!! There were so many things that were just so amazing and just if you really think about it – using common sense. I could spend days exploring and reading and absorbing and seeing.
As you walk up to the front of the house you notice the weather vane and the outside clock – Jefferson designed and he could tell which way the wind was blowing without going out to check. Upon walking into the front entrance you notice all the maps, Indian artifacts, animals – many of these were sent to him by Lewis and Clark during their exploration. We were not allowed to take photos inside the house – oh how I wish I could have!
Entering his study and bedroom, the books, his desk. Thomas Jefferson could read 6 different languages and he designed a piece of furniture that could hold 5 different books – so he could be reading many at a time. He made a copy of every letter he wrote and did this by inventing a device that had a pen attached to an arm that would do the same thing the pen he was holding did. During his time there was no right or left foot shoe – they were both the same. His bedroom also had a sky light – the first house to have.
In the dining room – so cool – there was a dumb waiter that used a pulley and would carry a bottle of wine up – this waiter was on the side of the fire place. The kitchen, smoke house, ice house, wine and beer cellar were all below the house, but they had hallways that allowed the slaves to walk between rooms,, which were not visible from the public spaces of the house, and never go outside – so they could walk up some stairs to a set of shelves and place the food – the shelves would turn ( on the other side it looked like a door) and the food could be served.
The gardens and vineyards – amazing. They were excavating a rock wall when we there. The slave and servant areas were gone, but through excavating they were able to figure out what was were.
We walked from the house back down to where the museum, theater and gift shop were – stopping at his grave site. Thomas Jefferson died on July 4 – 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed and several hours before John Adams died.
The kids had a great time and were so good. Our drive home, because of weather and another accident took 4 1/2 hours and I think the parents were more anxious to get of the bus and home than the kids!