Saturday, January 24, 2009

Inauguration: Wednesday

On Wednesday we wrapped up our trip to Washington with a visit to Mount Vernon, home of the city's namesake. The estate is about fifteen miles down the road from where we stayed, and the drive is along a federal parkway that meanders alongside the Potomac River. The day was sunny, a bit windy and cold, but beautiful all the same.

Here's our tribe in front of the mansion:

IMGP9649

Anna works the map:

S6301160

George Washington inherited the Mount Vernon property from an uncle, I think. When he first took possession of the land, the house on it was fairly small and undistinguished. Washington, an energetic remodeler, took care of that. He added onto the house several times, turning a small one-story house into a three-story behemoth with ten bedrooms and faux stonework finish. He also had a unique weather vane commissioned for his house - a peace dove:

S6301173

The Ladies of Mount Vernon, who own and maintain the property, forbid photography inside the mansion itself, but you can take pictures everywhere else. This is the kitchen house, which stands separate from the mansion. We learned on a prior trip to Colonial Williamsburg that this was common practice among well-off families because, well, the kitchen used to burn down pretty often:

S6301165

Mount Vernon is still a working farm, and our kids took the opportunity to harass a rooster:

IMGP9666

As I say, it was cold and windy outside, and the gardens don't amount to much in the winter. On the plus side, we nearly had the place to ourselves, and we were able to enjoy its sere wintertime beauty:

S6301167

We left Mount Vernon a bit later than we had planned, getting on the road around 3:00 in the afternoon. Traffic driving home was rough - there had been an accident on I-95 north of Baltimore, and we sat for a long time in the Key tunnel. All in all it took us about six hours to drive home on what is normally a three-hour trip.