Tuesday, December 20

Mount Vernon

We visited Mount Vernon this week.  We visit probably a couple of times a year.  They decorate for the holidays and show how the Washingtons celebrate the holidays.
 One of favorite things is the statue of "Nelly" Washington, George Washington's stepdaughter that sits with the First Couple in the lobby of the Visitors Center. 
 The kids received an adventure map to accompany the journey. 
 Part of the holiday decorating is a collection of themed Christmas Trees each representing something or someone on the original plantation.
 As you can see, this is Lady Washington's tree.  Even for those who do not celebrate Christmas, it is fun to look at the trees and try to determine why they chose the pieces they did.
 
      In 1787, George Washington paid 18 shillings to bring a camel to Mount Vernon for his guests’ enjoyment. Now every year the Estate brings back Aladdin to the delight of all.  He is very very friendly.

 
 Froggy "cooked up" some great stew in the large kettle and then we went looking for something sweet.
 And found my personal favorite part.   A full demonstration of the chocolate making process
.   It smells so good in the tent.  This gentleman showed us pictures of the cocoa plantation and the giant pods that chocolate starts as.  He was roasting the beans and the kids even got a chance to help shell them.
 Then the beans were smashed and the cocoa liquer mixed with the cocoa butter.  Froggy loved this step. 
 Then we met a team of four year old oxen.  The field hands stopped and chatted with us.  We learned about the team's average day.  They are exercising the team and training this young team for their summer work since winter is the slow season. 
Next stop, the blacksmiths.  Above is the coal in its various forms.  The blacksmith explained how the coal changes as it burns.  The lowest piece is coal ready for the fire.  The top piece is the waste impurities that are left behind and won't burn.  These rocks need to be regularly cleaned out of the fire pit. 
 
On our way back to the visitor center, we encountered "Nelly Calvert" who told us about her life on the plantation after she married George Washington's grandson. She was kind enough to show me the details of her clothing.  Her dress is an apron style closed not with buttons but with straight pins.  Froggy was boggled that she walked around all day with straight pins.
 
Our last stop was the gingerbread display.  a detailed replica of the Mansion created by former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, 
 
. 
And Chocolate trees
 
And then we saw the replicas from the chefs in training, 4th graders who created their versions of the buildings of the Estate. 
 
 The kidlets were then given the opportunity to match the replicas with the building they represented it.  It was fun listening to their reasoning.  There is no answer key but I think we got them all right.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful field trip!! Now I want to go, too! Thank you so much for posting and linking. Happy Hanukkah!

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