April in Williamsburg (2007)

After an uneventful drive down, I found the Visitor Center and inquired as to how to find my reserved lodging. Once at that office, I was escorted (for an unstated fee) to my room and installed. I was already quite a bit earlier than I’d first imagined, as my original plan included the knowledge that my rental car wasn’t available until 12 noon, but having forgotten that, I went over much earlier and picked it up. So, rather than the dash off to Hampton that I had envisioned, I had time for a walk and lunch, and so ended up at the Blue Talon Bistro, one of several new upscale eating places in Williamsburg since my last visit two years ago. Couldn’t get into my favorite coffee-and-sandwich shop—at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon!—so went somewhere where the bill would be a bit higher.

Was delighted to see choucroute garnie on the menu, the French form of my Kraut people’s favorite dish. Have had this a hundred times at DC’s Brasserie Les Halles. It was good, and as I was finishing it off with a raspberry currant sorbet, a European couple walked in. Not a language I knew—guessing Portuguese here—and I thought that they had come to a sufficiently classy place. Sat next to me. What did they order? Hamburgers. Well-done, and no garnishes. Oh, and French Fries, too. C’est la vie.


Wow, an adventure, and only my first day. I drove easily into Hampton for the Ute Lemper concert at the American Theater. I had those wonderful MapPoint detailed instructions that we’re so used to these days. But only for getting there. Remember that. I figured that all I’d have to do is to reverse the instructions. Remember that.

The concert was great. Kind of surprising to see her there, because it feels like a small town. Perhaps, it was just the neighborhood. A French usher who knows Ute’s work said that the last time she appeared there, it was a sell-out. Not so, last night, but a good crowd.

It was easy getting back on the freeway and making my way toward Williamsburg. When I saw the exit from which I had entered the freeway, I got off. Way off. An hour and a half of wandering through forests in the pitch-black night, I re-emerged in the Williamsburg area, after apparently having worked my way nearly back to Hampton via back roads. I used to laugh at Ronnie’s Karen, the Australian babe who provides the voice on his console-mounted GPS guidance system, but I would have welcomed her with open arms last night.

And it was cold yesterday and last night. The rental car has an external temperature indicator, and it dipped to about 45 by midnight as I was finally driving into my parking lot. And the room has been freezing! I didn’t understand it at first, because the temperature is what it is in DC where I live, but then I realized that I’m in a “house,” not the well-protected modern apartment building in which I live. This room is as susceptable to the elements as is, say, the house I used to live in when in Seattle, and I’ve gotten used to a greater isolation from the effects of the weather.

This morning, the bright sunshine shows that all that has turned around. I have the windows open, and am hoping it will be enough. It is only April, after all...


My plan here has been to work on a software development project most of the day and, presumably, evening. Had a tough time getting into this rhythm the first full day here. Being a weekday, there were lots of groups (mostly kids), and the noise outside kept reminding me that Something is Going On. I’ve settled on a breakfast then late lunch, as a meal plan, and that’s worked pretty well. I do miss the colonial dinner, and will try to rectify that omission tonight (replacing late lunch with early dinner).

Last night, I saw that a film that had mildly interested me upon its release—The Painted Veil— was playing at the fairly newly restored Williamsburg theater, a film palace often used for other things by Colonial Williamsburg. The upstairs screening room was available for a showing of the film, and I joined 34 other folks (mostly, my age) at this fine film. Don’t know that I’ll add it to my collection, but I was glad to see this film about a British couple beginning their married life in 1920s China, and not a pleasant life was it—for anyone. It is representative of a slew of films that have been made in cooperation with Chinese film studios in Shanghai and Beijing. The films use these studios both for location shooting and also for supplying hordes of Chinese for the inevitable mass riot scenes.

Walked home before 11 under a dark sky like there cannot be in the greater DC area where I live.

Today—Saturday—I’m doing much better in my resolve to stick to working on the software project. Of course, a nice breakfast, cup of serious coffee, and finishing Boomsday helps enormously.

Boomsday is a book that takes place a few years from now when people my age beginning sucking up Social Security payments. In this book, the government goes broke (but doesn’t stop spending money), and the worker support for us old folks drops to two workers for each retiree. That means that most of a young person’s wages go to taxes. Although this is a very funny book, there is a sad aspect of reality to it. Let’s call it a very cynical book. Written by someone who lives where I do.

Back to work…

Notes from home

I decided to drop down to Jamestown on my way home this morning. As you probably know, this year marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, usually considered the first successful English settlement in North America. I had visited nearly ten years ago, but with this year getting a lot of publicity, I was too close not to visit, however briefly.

Driving the 10 or so miles to Jamestown from Williamsburg, I traveled over some painfully familiar roadways. Turns out, I had been going the correct direction on that dark night previously, but had given up after not seeing any directional signs, and then turned around to begin the long Journey In the Wrong Direction.

But today I made it to Jamestown without incident. A gorgeous, gorgeous day. I drove one of the circular routes you see on the map, but it’s silly to do so in a car, because everything looks the same—you’re in a forest and that’s all you ever see. I had hoped that the road ran along the coastline, much like the road coming on to the “island,” where you see the ferry that crosses the very wide James River (in the accompanying picture).

I’ll confess that I simply dipped my toes in Jamestown and then resumed my trip home. I can tell you that there are now two distinct Jamestown attractions. The one I visited about ten years ago is called The Jamestown Settlement, and appears to be run by the state of Virginia. It’s huge, and has re-creations of Indian and colonist dwellings and facilities. The recent film—The New World, which I wrote about last year, owes much to Jamestown Settlement, I think. And the new kid on the block appears to belong to your USofA government, the National Park Service, to be exact, and is called Historic Jamestown. A grand visitor center (as seems required these days), and then you go out on a walk through the woods. Next time.

I had a great time, and even more or less finished the software project I was working on. Despite my earlier shocking reports of how cold it seemed, the weather was just about perfect. The trip home today saw the temperature reach 85, and while our summer temps seldom get much higher than that, what is most thankfully missing is the mighty presence of Great Humidity, which has yet to descend upon us. It just doesn’t get any better than the weather this weekend. Still, I’ll schedule future visits back to my old world of winter. I’m used to being one of far fewer visitors than was the case this weekend, and the numeric majority of said visitors were school kids. I say "numeric majority," because when you discount the school bus loads of those kids, the remainder are mostly Boomers, folks of my generation who have, evidently, retired a bit earlier than I and are already enjoying The Good Life. It was interesting to be amongst so many of them as I was reading Boomsday, and I kept evaluating the premiss of the book that when we Boomers reach retirement we’re just a drain on the resources of our country. I’ll keep my conclusions to myself.