My teenage son and I were on a trip in Virgina. For almost three weeks we used our little rental car to visit as many historic sites as possible. I was the driver while my son was the navigator keeping all his trusty maps on his lap guiding us safely to each daily destination. For most of our trip we had rented a condo in Williamsburg. While we were comfortable we both felt like Williamsburg was a cheesy tourist destination that used its historical value to sell cheap trinkets. At least it motivated us to get up early every morning; each day we had a new destination, each one historical.
One day we made plans to take a drive just 20 miles out of Williamsburg where there were lots of famous plantations to visit; most had been involved in one of the two wars. We visited nearly ten different plantations, many with huge grounds, each describing the battles that were fought. At the end of our day we felt as if we had been near death all day. We read about death, were told about death, walked where death had taken place, even sat on the spot where the famous song ‘Taps’ was composed, a song about war and death. Our day ended at Richmond, a city so large we felt like we could get lost so we decided to just park the car, grab some dinner and head back to our condo for the night.
On one of our tours we were told how often many of the cities in Virginia flood. causing them to always appear to be almost ghetto-like in certain areas, even if it’s a nice part of town. We became accustomed to seeing major areas with stores and homes boarded up for blocks at a time. Richmond was no exception. We headed to a part of town recommended to have great restaurants but when we parked we found ourselves walking blocks in a “washed up flood zone” until we located the area with all the restaurants. Normally we would not have minded having to walk though the boarded-up area, but after our day of “death” it felt like we were in another war-torn area.
We found a nice place to eat, a comfortable soup shop that made us feel warm and safe again. While we ate we met a man who told us all about the history of Richmond and the area we had just spent the day visiting. He was not only informative but incredibly interesting to listen to. After a short while he encouraged us to visit his “live” museum where actors bring the history to life. Excitedly, we headed off to the museum and after quickly buying tickets we headed in. Actors played ghosts of famous dead people and their acting out the events meant they jumped out at you looking bloody and bruised like the day they died. We had bought tickets thinking we would see a historical haunted house; it took us nearly 45 minutes to get through our haunted historical tour. At the end of the it we were exhausted and felt almost paranoid, as if there were dead people out to get us.
To make matters worse, we stopped at a gas station on our way home only to see it being held up by armed robbers right as we pulled in. As fast as we could we speed off in our little rental, driving by all the plantations we had just spent the day visiting. All in all, being almost out of gas, with our cell phone not getting service and a fog that barely allowed us to drive, it felt like we were caught up in some murder movie. In silence, we drove as quickly as we could to Willimsburg. When were got there we were greeted with all its lights and cheesy goodness. Both of us never felt so glad to be back to the land of bright lights and tourism. I think my son kissed the ground when we got back.