I had mentioned in my last post that the family and I would soon be taking a vacation trip - and that's exactly what we did. We made a drive from Ohio south to Virginia, where we would be spending about a week in the Williamsburg area - in the eastern part of VA, near the Chesapeake Bay. Well, by the time this gets posted, we'll actually be wrapping it up and on the way back home. But since we were driving, it was a simple matter to bring a bike - which as far as I'm concerned, is the best way to explore someplace new (or in this case, someplace very old).
There is a lot of history in this part of the country - which has always been a point of interest for me. I mean - I'm an English teacher, but for me, History was also a possible path. Seriously - how many people do you know who read Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America at 17 - and not as a required reading assignment? I'd seen enough references to it in other books that I figured I should check it out. You know - for a little "light reading."
Anyhow . . . this part of Virginia is full of destinations for anyone interested in history. Colonial period, and Revolutionary War history and lots of Civil War history too. Everywhere you go, there are old battlefields, historic homes, monuments, gravesites, museums, and more. We had plenty of activities planned out as a family, but I also made sure to leave some time for riding during our stay.
On my first day out on my bike, I got out early while everyone else was still asleep to do some exploring without wandering too far from our home base. I planned out a ride to Colonial Williamsburg, which was about a 20 - 25 minute ride away from "home." Most readers are probably at least somewhat familiar with Colonial Williamsburg, but in case anyone needs the info - it's a fully restored "living history" village, where people dress in 18th century clothes, and give demonstrations on all aspects of colonial life. Williamsburg had been the capitol of the Virginia colony until 1780, when the capitol moved to Richmond. After the move, Williamsburg basically became just a sleepy little southern town until the 1930s, when a foundation was created to restore it to its 18th century appearance.
Getting to the restored village at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning meant that I was seeing it before the other tourists started arriving, and before anything was open. There were lots of workmen and maintenance people all over the village - cutting grass, trimming shrubs, making repairs - and then by 9:00 am, they all clear out, and the folks in period costumes take over the scene.
My next excursion would be much longer. I did some checking about bike routes and trails in the area, and found that we were only about 10 miles away from one end of the Capitol Trail - which runs from the historic Jamestown Settlement to the city of Richmond. It's a little over 50 miles from end-to-end. The trail mostly follows a route beside some of the rural highways, though it is fully separated from them - and at least one section of the trail is on a former railroad line. The trail is paved, well marked, and has mile markers (which can be handy). And again - though many readers may already know it - Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in North America - and it includes the story of Pocahontas, Capt. John Smith, and all of that - though most versions of that story are highly romanticized and likely inaccurate. All I'm sayin' is that the Disney version is way off. So was the one I learned as a kid, for that matter.
Aaannyhow. . .
Upon returning from my ride on the Capitol Trail, I wanted to extend my ride a bit by heading down to James Island. I found that by following the road just a short distance from the trailhead, there is a nice quiet road, called the "Island Road" or the "Island Drive" that takes you on a lovely loop around the island.