I couldn’t decide between the two above images, so you get both! Hooray! Monday was one of my all-time favorite holidays – Presidents Day!! Or as my friend, Steve, dubbed it, “Panda Thanksgiving.” I actually had a day off from work and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to head down to my favorite historical (and presidential) house, Monticello. I convinced a few friends that going to museums actually can be fun and we made the trip down on what was looking like a beautiful day. We got down to Charlottesville just in time for the beer tasting in the gift shop. Starr Hill introduced a “Monticello Reserve Ale” and debuted it at Monticello for President’s Day – how fitting! It is actually from Jefferson’s recipe (he was quite the beer and wine maker). It has been modernized a bit so that it is more familiar to us as a beer. I’d be interested to taste the original recipe though. I have to say, I was a big fan of this beer, and not just because it was associated with Monticello! It was a lighter (but not too light) beer with a really smooth finish. We tried some samples and each snagged a few bottles to bring home.
Our friend, Rob, met us there. He used to work there and showed us around the exhibitions and explained how a lot of the interactives work. If you haven’t been to Monticello since they opened the new Visitor’s Center (or ever), you should really check it out. All of their exhibitions are incredible and really let you get a feel for the kind of person Jefferson was. I’ve been to the new center at least 4 times now and I feel like I learn something new each time. We went up to the house for a tour in the afternoon. We couldn’t have asked for better weather – it was almost jacketless weather. We walked around the gardens for a bit while we waited for our tour time and there were workers planting crops for Spring. Monticello is gorgeous in Spring. Our tour guide was one of the better ones I’ve seen. It’s always interesting to see what stories each one tells and of course, to see what they say about Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemmings. After the tour, we checked out the rooms beneath that held the stables, kitchen, smoke house, ice house, wine/beer cellars, and a new exhibition on slave activities at Monticello. I preferred the old exhibition, but maybe I was just annoyed by the school kids ringing a servant bell non-stop.
I really didn’t take many pictures while we were there and I kind of regret that now. I guess at the time I was thinking that I have so many Monticello pictures already back home, but it would’ve been nice to document our day, I didn’t even snag a pic of Rob! There was a storm rolling in and I did get some pretty pictures of the garden. Check it:
And of course the house:
Ben and Andrea checking out the privy:
Hanging out in the gardens:
Overall, a very awesome day down in Charlottesville, despite the 2 and a half hour drive back to Nova in the freezing rain…blech. I could go on and on about how much I love Monticello and Thomas Jefferson, but I’ll spare you. I at least made a believer out of Russell…I think he has a man-crush on ol’ TJ.
It’s been soooo nice having time to actually go to museums now that I am not going to school for museums. Heh. Hope everyone had as awesome of a President’s Day as we did. I’ve worked on a few “presidential” recipes for this week (in fact one is on the stove right now) and I will be reporting back on those very shortly!