Last week my lovely bride of nearly 19 years (Sept. 1! Marital Bliss Anniversary Day!) and I left all the kids in Gloucester and drove to the home of George Washington, aka Mount Vernon. What a fun day. Not once did I hear from any passengers the dread phrases, "Are we there yet?" or "How much longer?" I'll have you know that Julie is in fact a very pleasant driving companion and I would recommend her as a shotgun rider to anyone traveling substantial distances. In this case, with summer traffic and stops at a roadside garden stand for peaches, a 7-Eleven for ice cold liquid refreshment and a potty break and at Target in Fredericksburg, it was a little more than three hours to GW's home. It was worth the drive. As you can see, it's fairly significant estate on the Potomac River just outside Alexandria.
The home has nine bedrooms and what was interesting was that back in the day it was common for travelers just to drop in and ask if they could shack for the night. Apparently they didn't have a Motel 6 or Holiday Inn around, nor a McDonald's or even Subway. So George & Martha would provide some grub and a bedroom for the weary travelers. Sometimes they would extend their stay. At the time of his death, George Washington was the most well-known man in the world and all sorts of folks would just drop in. Sounds crazy, but I guess things aren't so different these days in a sense, with paparazzi informing the voyeurs of the world on the lives and times of the rich and famous.
In the third photo from the top, you can see a portico that connects the house to the kitchen. They had a detached kitchen in event of fire with hopes it wouldn't spread to the house. At his death George Washington had hundreds of slaves who he freed in an unusual move for the times. The grounds of the estate are excellent and though it was hot -- mid 80s with reasonable humidity -- it wasn't unbearable like it can be in mid-August and the paths through the gardens and grounds were a pleasure to walk. I even held Julie's hand. I do believe I snuck in a smooch here and there. Usually when I do that one of the kids says, "Daaaaaad." I think I even asked if she wanted to go back to the car and neck. She just gave me the look. Husbands know what I'm talking about. Anyway, the museum at Mount Vernon was pretty cool. It had tons of historical artifacts, guns, swords, military and Revolutionary War memorabilia and plenty of information on the life and times of our first president. Did you know he didn't sign the Declaration of Independence? It seems he was off fighting the Brits and couldn't jet down to Philly to lend his signature to our country's announcement of independence.
After touring Mount Vernon for about four hours we headed up to Old Town Alexandria, about eight miles away. It's a cool place with colonial-style buildings full of restaurants, boutiques and other shops. We dined at Bertucci's Italian Restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed it. We talked without being interrupted -- except occasionally by the waitress -- and covered a lot of conversational ground. In closing, I highly recommend a trip to Mount Vernon as a getaway for couples. Inspiring, entertaining, enlightening, educational...they all apply. Oh, and fun.