Home Leave | Charlottesville


charlottesville, virginia, monticello, thomas jeffersonMonticello.After returning from Michigan we spent another night in Fredericksburg before departing for a couple days in Charlottesville, where I went to college and where Kail and I spent our minimoon. Needless to say, I love Charlottesville.charlottesville, virginia, uva, university of virginia, thomas jeffersonRestoration of U.Va.’s Rotunda.We were fortunate to be able to squeeze in a short visit to Charlottesville during our one-year anniversary trip last year, and this time around, we allotted more time so we could eat at all our favorite restaurants take some day trips to visit nearby historical sites. Our Charlottesville trip ended up being a mini tribute to Thomas Jefferson.poplar forest, lynchburg, virginia, thomas jeffersonPoplar Forest.We toured Monticello, Poplar Forest and of course, the U.Va. Grounds. Kail and I have previously visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, but it was still nice to take a tour, see the beautifully landscaped grounds and appreciate TJ’s architectural genius.charlottesville, virginia, monticello, thomas jeffersonMonticello.More than half a million people visit Monticello every year — and a Monday morning in June was no exception to its usual busyness. Monticello is busy today, and it was busy in Thomas Jefferson’s day as well. After he authored the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, after he served as Minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice President and two terms as President, and while he was establishing plans for the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson needed some peace and quiet. “Me time,” if you will.charlottesville, virginia, uva, university of virginia, thomas jeffersonThe Lawn.Enter Poplar Forest, TJ’s retreat house. The Jeffersons inherited more than 4,000 acres of land outside of Lynchburg, Va. when Martha’s father died. Thomas Jefferson began construction of Poplar Forest in 1806, and it was a work in progress until his death in 1826. (Similarly, Monticello was a 40-year work in progress.)poplar forest, lynchburg, virginia, thomas jeffersonPoplar Forest.Poplar Forest was a three-day journey on horseback from Monticello. Thomas Jefferson would visit three or four times per year and spend about a month there, resting, writing and enjoying some quality solo time. It was also a farm that provided much of the meat that fed Monticello’s many inhabitants and guests.poplar forest, lynchburg, virginia, thomas jeffersonThe world’s fanciest outhouse (octagonal, like the house itself.)It was really cool to visit because, unlike Monticello, Poplar Forest does not receive half a million visitors per year and was much less crowded and much more relaxed. We took a docent-led tour (in a group of five, compared to our group of 20+ at Monticello), and afterwards were free to explore the grounds on our own. We even had a chance to talk to the Senior Restoration Craftsman, Dave Clauss, the guy in charge of all the restoration efforts.jamestown, jamestowne, virginia, colonial virginiaMemorial Church at Jamestown.After visiting Monticello, U.Va. and Poplar Forest over three days we were on a historical-site roll, so we decided to stop at Historic Jamestowne, a National Historical Park commemorating the first permanent English settlement in North America, on our way to visit my sister in Virginia Beach. I had only been to Jamestowne once previously (to cover Queen Elizabeth II’s visit back in my reporting days) and it was neat to see how the park and exhibits have changed since then.jamestown, jamestowne, virginia, colonial virginiaSwamp.We were all set to do a ranger-led tour (Kail secretly wants to be a volunteer park ranger when he grows up retires) and spend a couple hours exploring the settlement grounds. But a heat wave randomly arrived to Southern Virginia around the same time we did and it. Was. Hot. And you know where you don’t want to be in 100-degree humidity? A swamp in Southern Virginia. Which is what Jamestowne is.So we spent more time in the air-conditioned museum and less time outside, promising ourselves we’d return in more comfortable weather. All in all, it was an educational and enriching few days … followed by the complete opposite — outlet shopping and an amusement park — which I’ll write about later!Have you ever been among Monticello’s 500,000 annual visitors?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

4 thoughts on “Home Leave | Charlottesville

    1. You should totes go! Virginia definitely felt hotter and muggier than El Salvador … but I think that’s because we were almost never outside for extended periods of time in El Sal (and if we were, we were at the beach or in the mountains/somewhere more temperate).


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