Monday, July 3, 2017


On the Monday off before the Fourth of July holiday, a couple of CITC friends and I rented a car and drove down to the countryside in Virginia to see Monticello. After a bit of a struggle in the car rental dealership (note: make sure the office you look up has availability, be of age, have a debit/credit that can take large charges, and know your car insurance info), we were off on a 3.5 hour drive. I fell asleep about an hour in, while we were driving through endless trees, the radio playing pop music. I woke up about two hours later, still driving through endless trees, but now the radio playing country music.

Arguably, we didn't pick the best day to go to Monticello. As a holiday weekend, many people had the same idea as us, so the lines were extra long. Their computer system also happened to be down, so all of the ticket transactions had to be recorded by hand. We also learned that on July 4, the ~$30 admission would be free, but no matter, we were there already.

The house itself was much smaller than I thought it would be. You hear about Jefferson's enormous mansion, and you expect it to be large even by today's standards, but by today's standards, it's a large, but not ridiculously large building. By the standards of Jefferson's contemporaries, it surely would have been huge. This was a realization that holds true for a lot of the things in DC; the Lincoln Memorial was not as large as I had expected it to be either. The house tour itself was lovely. Photography was not allowed, but I wish I could have captured the brilliant chrome yellow walls of the dining room. We also took a tour of the gardens, and if it weren't for the history of slavery, I would have truly enjoyed imagining being there in Jefferson's time, enjoying a spectacular view of the Virginia nature in every direction.

Side note, the photo you see of me crouching and reaching through the metal gate is from when I accidentally dropped my phone on Jefferson's grave. I hope he doesn't mind.

On the way back, we stopped by UVA. The main building, designed by Jefferson, features a lofty dome, a design he seemed quite fond of. We ate at The Virginian, supposedly the oldest restaurant in Charlottesville. I had my first taste of Southern hospitality — low cost, large portions, delicious food, and an absolutely effusive waitress. At the end of the day, we drove through the sunset into the dark, back to DC. I'd say the trip was time and money well spent, though I advise having all of your car rental stuff sorted ahead of time to save time in the morning, in order to spend more time on the trip itself. The first of, hopefully, many road trips this summer and beyond (I need to learn how to drive). ◊

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