Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Across the U.S.: Day 41

by Kathy 30. August 2009 20:22

<< Days 39 and 40: Williamsburg, Virginia  | Day 42: New River Gorge, West Virginia >>

Williamsburg to New River Gorge, West Virginia


This morning we were on the road by 9:15, with a long drive ahead to the New River Gorge in West Virginia.

There was a steady stream of traffic on our 4-lane highway heading toward Richmond. Each side of the road was lined with thick trees.

After Richmond, we encountered a bumpity-bump section of road that presented a challenge to California’s highway 680 as Ben’s “worst road.”

Every two-tenths of a mile there was a small mile-marker sign, counting down the miles for us: 159.8, 159.6, 159.4, etc. We had never seen anything like it. Here is mile marker 159.2:

Perhaps the Virginia transportation department had some extra funds that they had needed to spend (which they could have used for the road itself, in our opinion), or perhaps the sign maker was very well connected to the holder of the state purse-strings. In any event, we felt that the constant mileage reminders were a bit unusual.

Wildflowers were growing along the roadside.

As we approached Charlottesville, I was looking at my map and noticed that Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, was located just a few miles from the freeway. Monticello is designated as a World Heritage Site.  Since we were so close, we just couldn't pass up the opportunity for a visit.

The road to Monticello:

At the Visitor’s Center, we purchased tickets for a 30-minute tour of the house. There was a special “children’s tour” offered, but we would have had to wait three hours, so we opted for the regular tour.

We took a shuttle up to the house. We had 20 minutes to wander around before our tour started.

There were some gardens along the front road in an area called “Mulberry Row.”

When Jefferson lived in Monticello, this row had been lined with mulberry trees and a variety of structures, including five small log cabins for some of the slaves.

Yes, one of history’s greatest ironies was that Thomas Jefferson—one of the men who wrote the “all men are created equal” language found in our country’s Declaration of Independence—owned slaves. Approximately 110 of them. How can this be? I don’t know . . . but it was. Jefferson wrote that he thought slavery was an “abominable crime,” and yet he only freed two slaves during his lifetime, and five were emancipated through his will.

Here is the foundation of one of the slave homes.

As we were wandering down Mulberry Row, we overheard one of the guides leading the “Plantation Community” tour, which covered the slave quarters and other aspects of plantation life. I listened to the guide’s story about a valuable and highly skilled slave named Jamie Hubbard. Hubbard ran away twice. The first time that Hubbard was caught and returned to Monticello, Jefferson did not write about any punishment. However, the second time that Hubbard ran away, Jefferson was quite angry and wrote about the event and aftermath. After several months, Hubbard was caught and returned to Monticello. The tour guide then explained that Jefferson wrote about how he had ordered Hubbard to be “severely flogged” (Jefferson’s words) in front of the other slaves as a warning to what would happen if any others ran away. Jefferson also sold Hubbard immediately and recommended that the new owner sell Hubbard to someone in the southern states or Florida (which was in essence a death sentence). The new owner did not sell Hubbard; however, Hubbard ran away several years later, and there is nothing more written about him to indicate if he was successful in escaping to his freedom.

We walked to the main entrance of Monticello for the start of our house tour.

David Ronka was our guide for the Monticello tour.

David started by explaining that Jefferson had spent 40 years in public service. Jefferson had retired to Monticello in 1809 and lived there until his death 17 years later.

Outside the home, we could hear the Chinese gong on the roof. This gong was connected to the interior clock, and could be heard from 6 miles away when Jefferson lived here.

No photographs were allowed inside the home. Jefferson liked expensive things—good wine, European paintings and furniture, and new inventions and gadgets. He was deeply in debt when he died, and his home, belongings, and slaves were all sold to help pay for his debts. Monticello had been purchased by members of the Levy family, who had held Jefferson in high esteem and kept his home maintained. A private foundation had subsequently purchased the home in 1923. Every effort had been made to repurchase the furnishings and belongings that had been in the home; 60% of the interior items had been found.

We entered the main door into a square “hall” that some of Jefferson’s guests had described as a “museum.” On the walls were various displays of animal antlers, maps, Native American items that had been sent to Jefferson by Lewis and Clark, and other things.

The “family sitting room” was next, where Jefferson’s daughter Martha homeschooled her 11 children. Jefferson’s wife had died after 10 years of marriage, and Martha had come to live with Jefferson when he moved to Monticello.

We visited the library, where Jefferson kept approximately 1500 books. He read in seven languages.

Our guide stated that Jefferson fathered at least one child with Sally Hemings, one of his house slaves. (Sally was ¼ African-American, and was the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife--both with the same father.) Jefferson also allowed one of his grandsons to give school lessons to slaves who wanted to learn.

As Jefferson neared his death, he wrote that his generation had “failed to eradicate” the “hideous evil” that was slavery. Jefferson chose to continue his lavish lifestyle rather than live up to his own high ideals. The reality is that if he had freed his slaves, he would have had to change the way he lived, as he did not have the money to pay servants to care for his plantation.

Jefferson may have been a “great man” in many respects. However, the fact that he owned many slaves severely diminishes the integrity of his words about equality and the “inalienable right” of all men to “liberty” and the “pursuit of happiness.”

After the house tour, we were free to wander around the grounds and take photos. Under the house were a series of rooms along a long tunnel. Here is a “privy”.

Jefferson's documents indicate that he made special payments--$1 per month--to the slaves who volunteered to undertake the task of cleaning out the privies. 

Many areas on the Monticello grounds have been excavated by archaeologists, and there were some cases displaying found items.

The kitchen area was separate from the main part of the house:

Here we are on the steps of Monticello:


Jefferson and many family members are buried on the Monticello property. Jefferson wrote his own epitaph: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.”

He did not mention being the 3rd President of the United States; he viewed that as a position bestowed upon him by the American men who voted for him, and not a position that he earned through his own efforts.

We decided to walk back to the Visitor’s Center, rather than take the shuttle bus. The path wound through a small forested area.

This tree had a smaller tree clinging to it, like a creepy parasite.

We said goodbye to Jefferson at the Visitor’s Center.

After visiting Monticello, we continued our journey east through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Farms dotted the countryside.

Three crosses were sticking out of a field.

We could see the Appalachian Mountains stretched out in the distance.

These are the mountains in which I was born (in southeastern Kentucky). They are covered from top to bottom in green trees—quite a contrast to those “bald” and “golden” hills in central California.

“Welcome to West Virginia!”

I soon found a squiggly two-lane road that cut up and over the mountains.

Here are some homes and buildings that we passed along the way.

The vines appeared to be lifting the roof right off of this home.

We passed the Meadwestvaco Gauley lumber mill:

In the small town of Rainelle, the business community appeared to have fallen on some hard times.

The houses were in neat rows.

The most well-maintained building in town appeared to be the beautiful white church.

Essentially all of the historical markers that we passed celebrated actions by Confederate soldiers. I caught a portion of this one, which marked where General Lee had his headquarters in 1861.

We crossed the New River Gorge Bridge and caught our first glimpse of the river that we would be rafting tomorrow.

We arrived at our campground near the New River Gorge. The children immediately got busy fabricating a “twig house.” Wow!

They also accumulated a stash of “treasures” consisting of items found in the woods.

One of the river guides was having a reunion nearby, complete with a DJ who very LOUDLY played what surely must have been every 1980’s song that I have ever heard. The music vibrated all around us through our evening meal and into the night. Sigh . . . who can sleep when your toes just wanna’ keep tapping to “Rock the Casbah” by the Clash, the catchy “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi, or, better yet, “I've Been Waitin’ For a Girl Like You” by Foreigner.

<< Days 39 and 40: Williamsburg, Virginia  | Day 42: New River Gorge, West Virginia >>

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin