On Tuesday of spring break 2018, we awoke in downtown Richmond and arrived just after 9am at Tredegar Iron Works to see the national park service visitor’s center, so the children could get yet another junior ranger badge whilst we toured where the CSS Virginia (FKA the “USS Merrimack”) was built, along with a whole bunch of cannons for the Civil War.
The children (especially the boy) loved putting on Union and Confederate uniforms in the kids’ “dress up” section of the museum and learning about (plus climbing on and fiddling with) the cannons.
We’d noticed signs for an Edgard Allan Poe Museum the night before and decided to squeeze it into our plans in Richmond, given my visiting the Poe house and museum in Baltimore in 2006 and his house in Philadelphia on father’s day 2017, because when it comes to honoring writers I like, I prefer to come strong (as I did with Hemingway).
We were glad we went. The museum is housed in the oldest still-standing home in Richmond and honors the many years the writer spent living in the city. The children were mostly interested in the 2 cats on the property, but they also loved learning more about Poe’s life, having read some of his stories and watched a film on PBS about him last fall. We loved our very knowledgeable and suitably deferential tour guide, Debbie, and asked many questions even after her tour concluded.
Our next stop was the Maggie L Walker National Historic Site, where the kids’ second junior ranger badge of the day was earned. We toured the prominent lady’s 100-year-old house, learned how she started and ran a bank back when women (especially women of color) weren’t bank presidents, and how she organized a streetcar boycott for civil rights way before bus boycotts were cool.
Then we drove a couple hours east and toured Yorktown Battlefield, where the children earned their third badge of the day. Inside the visitors’ center was a ship to walk through and crawl all over; outside were cannons and the trenches used for cover that we could run on and around to give perspective to the battle reenactment we’d seen on the film in the visitors’ center half an hour prior.
The park was closing, so we drove into Williamsburg, had Italian for dinner at Maurizio’s Ristorante and then moved into our AirBnB–a cottage with a couple bedrooms and den sofa bed (plus a harp and other odd decorations)–where we’d spend the next 2 nights. Next up: a full day at colonial Williamsburg!