Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens
Trip Start Oct 11, 2010
89Trip End May 17, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
The close proximity of the park to Mount Vernon makes it the ideal launch point. We also need a break from the hustle and bustle of civilization and boy did we get it! The campground is D. E. D.- dead! We are but one of a handful of campers. The park offers canoe rentals in which to ply the Potomac. The entire area is covered in deciduous forest which has now just begun to leaf out.
Last night we decided to go to Mt. Vernon at the Crack-O-Dawn. Well, not really the crack as the gates open at 0800 hours but we did get up before sunrise. We feed the dogs and ourselves, change in to city clothes and get foo-fooed up. We are ready to roll
We arrive just as the gates open, buy our tickets and enter the welcome center. Our four legged friends are in the back seat of the truck for now. The weather is very cool and overcast. They can catch up on their beauty sleep while we tour the interior of Washington's mansion.
George Washington is known as the Father of our country. He was born in 1732 and died a rapid death from a throat ailment that closed his airway at the age of 67 in 1899. He was a farmer, a statesman, a warrior. He served as the first President of the United States, serving two terms. He is the only President that ever won the office on a unanimous ballot- TWICE! He was a wealthy man but his dress and actions understated his wealth. He was a man true to his word. During the revolutionary one foreign statesman commented that Washington was to only person of power that had no interest in personal gain from the spoils of war. Richard Henry Lee's famous eulogy at Washington's funeral sums up the man and the fledgling American people's passion for him. "First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen" Lee said of Washington.
The Washington house is spectacular
Home life for the Washington's was hectic. Mr. was involved in farming, politics, war, and Mrs. ran the house. They had a constant stream of guests staying at their home. The only way George could get some quiet was to close the door of his study. Their sleeping quarters was separated from the rest of the second floor by a locked door. A small separate stairway lead to their bedroom.
Next we take in the various outbuildings, the sheep pen, the old fruit orchard, the old burial vault and the current location where the Washington's lie in repose.
We ask an employee where the Reynolds Museum and Education center is located as we did not see hide nor hair of it on our self guided tour. He stated, had you watched the 1/2 hour orientation movie? No. Do you have a map? Yes. He gives us that "Well, if you had watched the orientation movie and looked at your map you would know where the museum is located
We found the museum and darned if it isn't located UNDER the pasture. It contains artifacts of clothing, furniture, letters, dishes and urns, you name it, from the Washington home. It even had handles and other hardware from Washington's first coffin.
The education center lies in an adjoining area to the museum. The theme is the chronology of the life of George Washington. Both the museum and the education center could be a destination in itself. They being located at Mt. Vernon completes the experience.
We went back and retrieved our dogs as Mt. Vernon is very dog friendly. The weather is still cool. Woody's stamina is still short of ideal. There is still much to see on the grounds. The slave memorial, the old wharf, the sixteen sided barn as well and the pioneer farmer site. Unfortunately Woody could probably handle the walk down to those locations but would have a heck of a time walking uphill the entire distance to the exit. We decide to just take them for a leisurely walk by the pastures.
Mount Vernon is very dog friendly but getting them in to and out of the complex is another story. They must enter the visitors center to gain access to the grounds. They must exit through the museum building down a long flight of stairs that leads to a 150' long interior hallway that skirts the exhibits. The hallway leads one into a huge building that contains gift shops, cafes and restaurants. Oh yes, there are bus loads of people standing every which way possible in which to form a human obstacle course. The dogs are successful in negotiating the course and were are outside at last. Whew!
It's still early. As we pass by the entrance of Mt. Vernon we are amazed at how many people there are milling about. Several hundred would be a conservative estimate. It was was quite the opposite when we arrived. It was us two and two bus loads of school kids which had just arrived. As a matter of fact, Jil and I were the only people on the first tour of the mansion! As we drove back towards camp I wondered out loud that obviously all those people came by bus as the parking lot was not 1/10 full. Where were the buses? My question was soon answered as we pass a string of at least 50 buses parked along side the road. All but one were 50 passenger touring buses. The lone ranger was a 40 passenger school bus.
Mason's Neck State Park is located just passed the entrance to Pohick Bay Park. It too is a quiet respite from the mobs of people we just left. There must have been at least 4 vehicles scattered over 4 miles of roadway. The only people we saw were the entrance station attendant, a park ranger, and the lady behind the desk at the small visitor's center. We ate our lunch on a bench overlooking Belmont Bay, take a short walk around to take in the sites and head back to camp. As we approach the entrance station the young lady attendant is seen sitting cross legged in the middle of the road adjacent to the station facing incoming traffic- or the lack of it. Must really be a slow day for her!
On the short way back to camp we visit Gunston Hall, home of American Patriot George Mason. Mason is called the "Father of the Bill of Rights" as he pressed for specific states rights to balance the power of the new federal government at the Constitutional Convention.