The Slave Memorial

In 1983, the Slave Memorial was dedicated at Mount Vernon, at the spot where both free and enslaved people had been buried in unmarked graves. Just as there is at George Washington’s tomb, a daily wreath-laying presentation commemorates those who are buried nearby.

The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association had placed a marker in 1929 to recognize those buried in the unidentified graves nearby, but it lay forgotten for many years. Its rediscovery in 1982 led to the creation of the modern memorial.

I am glad we had the opportunity to stop and pay our respects here.

The Mansions of Rest

Something that was important to us, and especially to Bunny, when we visited Mount Vernon, was paying our respects at George Washington’s final resting place:

It is a much simpler crypt than Lincoln’s Tomb, which we visited in 2015.

We also saw the original burial vault, in which Washington was temporarily interred. Because the original vault was showing wear, he left instructions for a new family burial plot, which wasn’t completed until 1831, 32 years after his death. The original burial location is the one Marquis de Lafayette visited and at which he spent some time of mourning and reflection.

Despite the fact the Washington wished to be buried at Mount Vernon, Congress attempted to have him buried in a crypt underneath the then-new Capitol building. His wife even gave her consent (I will assume she was grief-stricken and not thinking straight), but fortunately, the project in D.C. was never completed, and Washington’s final wishes were honored.

Mount Vernon

One of the most anticipated events of our vacation was a visit to the home of America’s first First Family, Mount Vernon!

It’s a huge place, with lots of things to see. You start out at the Visitors’ Center, where stained glass depicting major events from George Washington’s life immediately caught my eye:

You can also find a lot of quotes from Washington himself:

And there’s a dollhouse-style replica of the house…as it turns out, this was the only chance we had to see the Lafayette Bedroom, because the actual room was under renovation.

After we left the Visitors’ Center, we took a winding path that finally allowed us a glimpse of the house…it’s quite impressive!

We were a little early for our tour, so we admired some of the landscaping and formal gardens. Washington worked on the grounds himself, and was involved in planning the landscaping, as well.

We also took a look at the slave quarters. I appreciate the honest look at the history of the estate.

On the way to the tour, we admired the outside of the house. I especially liked the covered walkways connecting the different parts of the mansion.

We passed through the first building, which was the Servants’ Hall…not much is actually known about what this space looked like at the time of the Washingtons, and its plain decor reflects that fact.

The home was built in parts, so the first room of the main building (the “New Room” as Washington called it) wasn’t original to the home, but it was a gorgeous addition!

I love all the little details in old homes, like the color and pattern of the carpets and the artwork on display:

The closet under the stairs amused me!

They encouraged us to use the railing on the staircase…the actual, original railing that George Washington himself used!

We also saw the actual key to the Bastille, which was sent to George Washington by Marquis de Lafayette:

I am often astounded by the use of color when I visited historic homes. No matter how often I see how bright things really were (this green is the original color of the room), I always imagine historic locations to be dim and washed-out for some reason. Also, the ceiling is original…isn’t it beautiful?!?

There are several beautiful bedrooms in the home. Pictured here are the good guest bedrooms…I assume the previously-mentioned Lafayette bedroom is lovely, as well.

We saw the place where George Washington spent his last moments on earth. Following his death, Martha moved to an upstairs bedroom because she couldn’t bear to stay in the room where he died.

I really enjoyed seeing Washington’s personal office!

Of particular interest were the fan chair, and the desk with his eyeglasses:

The kitchen was in part of the house complex, and not simply an outbuilding, but it was, as was common at the time, in a separate building from the living spaces.

After we toured the inside of the house, we continued to walk the grounds. We looked into a few outbuildings:

And we came across the ice house:

And the beautiful Potomac views:

We even got to see a musical demonstration, which was really cool!

There is also a museum on the grounds. Here’s just a small look at some of the things we saw, including the original weathervane that graced the roof of the house (there is a replica on top today):

It’s amazing how you can see the layers of history!

We could have spent so much more time at Mount Vernon, because there’s just so much to see there, but I think we got a good overview with the time we had!

Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Five

Alexandria, VA to Myrtle Beach, SC; 435 miles. VA, NC, SC

Mount Vernon and a walk on the boardwalk; 12,332 steps

The fifth day of our trip began with a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon!

I’ll share the full details of the tour later, but we got to go through the house (except sadly, the Lafayette room, which was, you guessed it, under renovation), visit the gardens and outbuildings, tour the museum, and pay our respects at Washington’s tomb and the Slave Memorial.

After a few hours at George’s house, we hit the road, stopping at the Wawa for lunch. We were lucky to be there for Hoagiefest. Wawa is the one consistent exception to my “no gas station food” rule…consistent when we travel, anyway, since the Wawa hasn’t made its way to our area.

Later in the day, we stopped for burgers at Cook Out, but the real star there was the Cheerwine float!

We also visited what may be the kitschiest roadside attraction in the country…South of the Border.

We finally made it to Myrtle Beach, where we had a beachfront room with a balcony in a very nice hotel:

The view was amazing!

Even though we were tired, we took a walk on the boardwalk, where we were immediately greeted by the sight of a shooting star over the ocean.

This ended up being a fantastic idea, because we came across a DJ playing some of our favorite Disney tunes. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, he turned up not only the Chicken Dance, but also the Cha Cha Slide, so we got to do that right there on the boardwalk…the second Cha Cha Slide of the trip!

Up next: A slight delay before making our way to Orlando (at last!).