Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Journey to Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon is an absolutely beautiful place. At $13 a ticket for adults, it's a little on the pricey side. Most of the museums in the area are government run and government subsidized, meaning the fare to get in is usually free. Not Mount Vernon. The famous home of George Washington is privately owned and operated, meaning of course that dragging a family through the gates is not an inexpensive endeavor. Pricey, yes, but well worth the money.

I spent several minutes seated on a rocking chair painted green, looking out over the Potomac River, sitting on the south portico facing outward towards the riverbank. I wish I'd had a camera to document the event. Virginia, unlike Alabama, has very few pine trees. The result is a mostly deciduous forest that has now completely changed with the seasons. The yellows, reds, and browns make for a memorable visual image. The last time I visited it was early June and in the beginning of summer, so I didn't get the chance to see the autumn leaves.

When I was around fourteen or fifteen, the family took a trip to Washington, DC, whereby we stayed for close to a week. After an eleven hour drive from Alabama, we settled into a motel in the District, and after getting ready and eating breakfast, took one whole morning to browse the plantation of our country's fabled first President. Much had changed in fifteen years. The increased ticket price is due in large part to the addition of a brand new building on site, featuring a food court, new museum, visitor's center, and extensive gift shop. That was certainly not around when I last visited. Back then, the place had an air of well-worn charm, and although the grounds were well-maintained, the attraction was certainly showing its age. No longer. New walking trails have been established as have newly constructed farming equipment common to the period, a new walking bridge down to the riverside, a distillery, and a simulated slave quarter such as would have existed in Washington's day.

The trip was only slightly marred by a phalanx of three foolish people. Had I not had to wait in line next to them for most of an hour, I probably wouldn't have cared as much. However, I did, and having brought along an mp3 player I attempted to drown them out as best I could, which wasn't well enough. In addition to sporting annoyingly nasal Midwestern accents, talking loudly, and not bothering to do much in the way of minding a four year old boy (their son), they were all wearing sandals. I knew immediately these were the sort of people who would wear sandals even if it was -17 outside and as I peered down, showing through their sockless feet were a multitude of unbelievably ugly tattoos.

For starters, they had named the child Paxsan, which they had shortened to Pax. I really hope he doesn't come to hate them at some later date in his development. This also means that I had to hear PAX! screamed loudly up and down the pebble lined entryway to Washington's house. The boy fell flat on his face twice and it is a wonder he didn't run away altogether. I know little kids are fidgety, but had it been my kid, I'd have kept him close at hand and not in danger of seriously hurting himself. The threesome decided that having an extremely graphic sexual conversation around small children and critiquing the relative merits of Family Guy episodes was the best alternative to actually resort to such an uncouth occupation as say, parenting. I then listened to the father of two talk about all the ways he managed to con his way into places because he had been, at some point, active duty military.


PENolan said...

Thinking back to your earlier trip to the art museum, we must conclude yet again that kids learn to be respectful (or not) at home.

Pax? Yikes!

Utah Savage said...

I'd bet almost anything that they were Mormons visiting from Salt Lake City. Hearty pioneer stock, they wear shorts in the snow and never ever force their unruly children to wear coats, or sensible footwear, thus saving a bundle on winter clothing.

Life As I Know It Now said...

that poor little kid--stuck with those adults as role models and that name!