Monticello, Cape Henry Lighthouses and Seafood

Thomas Jefferson

This would be our last half day in the Shenandaoh Valley region but there was still one visit to pay: You cannot leave the area without seeing Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s brainchild,  masterpiece and home, built on top of a hill near his family’s plantation where he had grown up.

Thomas Jefferson was not only the third president of the United States of America, he was also the primary author of the Declaration of Independence which was one of the achievements he himself wanted to have engraved into his gravestone.

Monticello

Both the house and the grounds are delightful and give us insight into Thomas Jefferson’s many interests and pursuits: reading, travelling, good wine, good food. It also hints at the moral inner conflict he wrestled with throughout his life. The person who wrote the famous words “all men are created equal” was also a slave owner and rumoured to have had a long relationship with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves whom he granted freedom in his will. 

Thomas Jefferson

As you can see in the pictures, the weather was absolutely marvellous that day! After the house tour, the group dispersed and wandered around, admiring at the vegetables in the garden, delighting over the view, shedding clothes as temperatures threatened to reach 90°F (37°C)...

Fall Colours

In the photo below you can see the view over the vegetable garden:

Vegetable Garden

We were quite impressed to find broccoli and artichokes at the end of October, but as we were informed by various gardeners throughout our trip, the mild climate in Virginia allows growing vegetables almost year round.

Broccoli

If you decide to walk back to the visitor centre (instead of taking the shuttle bus), you will be able to visit the Monticello graveyard where Thomas Jefferson and quite a number of his family and descendants are buried:

Thomas Jefferson's tombstone

If you look closely, you can read on the tombstone which of his many accomplishments Thomas Jefferson himself rated highest and wanted to have engraved there...

Time had passed quickly and after a little browsing through the excellent museum gift shop, it was time to board the bus again.

Our next destination was quite different from the hills around Monticello: We drove to the other side of the state where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic meet and where the Cape Henry Lighthouses have guided ships around dangerous sea stretches for several decades.

Cape Henry

The new Cape Henry Lighthouse is no doubt one of the most attractive lighthouses I have ever visited! Of course, we had to climb the old Cape Henry Lighthouse to enjoy the view:

Steps to Old Cape Henry

These are not the only steps to be climbed before you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic (and part of the military base the two lighthouses belong to).

After this exercise, everybody was quite happy to continue to our next hotel and take possession of our rooms. Some of us got lucky and had rooms with direct view to the Bay. The rest of us had to content ourselves with walking out to the beach to enjoy the view from there.

We persuaded Paul, our driver, to drive us to a very cool restaurant serving very good, if not always really hot vegetables and seafood...

Crab Restaurant


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