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July 15, 2014filed in Children, Families, Travel

A Visit to the Present, Past and (oh, my!) the Future

When I heard the news that my nephew was marrying his college sweetheart, I was delighted. After all, it's not every day that someone so close to me falls in love and decides to take the plunge. That in itself is exciting. Then I learned that the ceremony was to take place in Charlottesville, home of their alma mater, the University of Virginia. Lovely! But perhaps most exciting of all? He and his fiancee asked two of my daughters to participate as members of the wedding party. My girls were simply over the moon about it. 
This is the story of my family's happy travels to Charlottesville in the present, past and future. 
In June, the time finally came. The wedding was just days away, and we set off for "C'ville" as the locals call it. The wedding was simply lovely, the setting on UVA's campus was stunning, and Tom, my daughters and I felt honored to be a part of the day.
The central grounds at UVA were the perfect backdrop for some post-ceremony snapshots.

With the excitement of the wedding day behind us, we decided to enjoy more of what this beautiful part of the country has to offer. Of course, no trip to the homeland of Thomas Jefferson would be complete without a visit to, well, the home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello
This trip to the past starts at the pleasantly designed visitor and education center. A video presentation brings the former president to life and provides background on some of the things you will see on a visit to his home and the area surrounding it. A life-size bronze sculpture of the man himself waits with you at the stop for the tram that will take you to his front door.
We enjoyed the sights at Thomas Jeffersons' Monticello visitor center and garden.

We toured the inside of his home (no photographs allowed!), including the dining room where he entertained many famous guests (a dumb waiter built into the side of the fireplace hauled up bottle after bottle of wine from the cellar) and his chambers (he had his bed built into the center of the room between his private quarters and his study so he could easily get up and off to work in the morning). 
As interesting as the inside of Monticello is, the outside is just as much so. We took our time touring the large, well-tended and charmingly rustic garden that grows along one complete side of the property. Walking along row after row of crops, we marveled at the relaxation among the order, the calm of the space amongst so many daily visitors and wondered aloud to one another, "who in the world eats all the food that is grown here?" 
A favorite part of the day at Monticello for my girls was exploring the hands-on activities tucked away in a shady spot near the main home. Who wouldn't enjoy trying the art of writing with a quill pen and ink?
The Mountaintop Hands-on Activity Center offers fun experiences for Monticello visitors of all ages.

Here is one of my girls trying out the camera obscura, a device that led to the invention of photography.
The camera obscura is a popular attraction at the Monticello Mountaintop Hands-on Activity Center.

Visiting Monticello was a perfectly lovely and relaxed way to spend a day together as a family. 
I stated up front that this is a story of the present, past and future for my family. 
Remember the wedding? (Present.) 
Remember Monticello? (Past.) 
So what's the story about the future? 
A new fan of UVA and Charlottesville, VA is born.

We had such a lovely time in Charlottesville that all three of my girls have declared their intention to attend college there. Oh, my! I'm not quite ready for that just yet!
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