I’ve been getting out a bit in the past couple of weekends to see the sights around DC. Of course, after a few years here as a grad student and off and on for various jobs (especially this one) I’d already seen quite a few of the big museums and monuments. Still, it’s a beautiful area with a lot of history. And, aided by friends with cars I recently been able to cover a lot more territory!
First stop on the magical mystery tour - Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson (and family, and hundreds of enslaved workers). One especially gratifying result of the visit was that I finally learned how to pronounce Monticello. For those who have studied Italian it should be familiar, and even if you haven’t just think of how you pronounce cello, or limoncello. (the c=ch)
The house was actually a bit smaller than I would have expected but full of interesting antiques and Jefferson’s own inventions. While the tour was frankly expensive ($26 per person to tour the first floor and $62 to tour the entire house) they gave a great historical background and the garden and slave quarters tours, which are included in the ticket price, were very thoughtful as well. It’s good to see that the foundation running the site makes no attempt to cover up or excuse the use or treatment of slaves at the time. The real downside was the distance from DC. It was about a 2.5 hour drive each way, and while the drive was beautiful, it does really limit the amount of time you can spend exploring the site.
A week later I made a separate trip with a friend to Mount Vernon, but since we’d both already seen the estate itself we decided instead to take a tour of Washington’s grist mill and distillery. I must be getting old but I honestly found the tour really fascinating and anyway it was a beautiful day for a drive and some time spent outdoors. Tours were $5 per person here.
Just a few pictures below in case you’d like to inspire you to visit either site yourself!
Distillery and Grist Mill