We arrived at historic Jamestown as soon as it opened on Thursday morning, exploring the glasshouse and fort buildings before going to the archaearium and visitor center (taking in a 360-degree film there–best NPS movie theater I’ve seen!), where I added a cancellation to my NPS passport book.

The guide walked us through the area where the first church stood–its floor has recently been removed to allow for archeologists to dig below it and discover even more history.  We stood there several minutes, listening to the guide and watching the working archeologists.

We then drove to the Jamestown Settlement area, a “living history” exhibit that included replicas of the Jamestown fort, a Powhatan village, and the ships:  Godspeed, Discovery, and Susan Constant.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes action shot of how the above picture was made:

I found the NPS property (the actual location of the settlement) more interesting, but the replicas/living history Settlement area next door was more fun.  The children loved scooping out the charred inside surfaces of dugout canoes with shells, like the Powhatan did hundreds of years ago.  They got to wear armor, tour houses, and play games as youngsters their age may have done 400 years ago.

That afternoon, we had plans to meet my friend since 3rd grade, Jody, and his 2 daughters at a campground in South Carolina, but first, my son insisted we stop at South of the Border, an area just off the interstate after we crossed the state line; he’d read about it in a quirky “roadside attractions” book he likes to consult any time we travel by car (it’s how we found “Goats on the Roof” on our way to see the solar eclipse a few months ago).

We were in a hurry to beat sunset, as we’ve never pitched our tent in the dark before, but we let the children get pictures with a T-Rex.

Two hours later, we pulled into Congaree National Park, joined Jody and family, and threw up our tent just before dark.  We built a fire with the wood I’d bought at a highway bait and tackle store and had dinner right there in the woods like wild animals.

Since all we’d brought was a tent, sleeping bags, and a 6-pack of Colonial Williamsburg beer, we relied heavily on Jody’s Eagle Scout training and pre-camping grocery shopping to survive our overnight stay in a national park where the overnight low would be mid-40s.

We survived the night.  But would we survive a Friday morning canoe tour during snake mating season?  Find out next time I post!



  1. Camping season is here! This story so got me in the mood for camping. I haven’t been to Jamestown yet, but would love to visit with the family.

    • We aren’t regular campers but hope to do more of it now that we’ve had our first overnight experience in a national park !

  2. Pretty Bride

    Cliffhanger!! Even though I know how the snakes worked out. Loved Jamestown even the third time around. And I can’t believe the betta fish survived camping! We are animal geniuses.

  3. looks like a great time. We’ll probably start in the back yard, but I think we are ready to introduce some camping as well.

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