Day 4: August 24, 2010
The House that Tom Built
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I kind of expected the Blue Moon Diner to be fuller when I arrived about 8:30 and the fellow behind the counter (Yeah, I missed another name.) said it was the first morning in quite awhile that no one had been waiting for him to open. There was just one table filled when I came in but soon there was another, then another, then a couple more at the counter and before long we had a happy crowd. "Toads in a Hole" was one of the day's specials and I went for it. An English lady sitting next to me explained that, while still a breakfast dish, "Toads in a Hole" were something different in England; sausages, battered & fried, as I understood it. I'll try those another day. As evidenced by the nice selection of mostly local beer taps at the left side of the third picture, the Blue Moon does more than breakfast. It also does more than satellite radio. That vinyl lined up at the window does see action.

Entry to Monticello is through a small complex remote from the historical buildings. This is where tickets are acquired and there is a theater, museum, cafe, and store. Shuttles to the main attraction depart frequently from near a life sized statue of Thomas Jefferson. Since the building's signature dome is on the rear, a visitor's first view of Jefferson's home does not look quite like the back of a nickel but it does look impressive.

David is the guide for the first of two tours I've signed on for. It is the "Behind the Scenes" tour which covers the second and third floors. Prior to these tours becoming available barely two months ago, these floors could not be seen by the normal visitor. They're still not available to absolutely everyone since steep narrow stairs are involved in getting up and down. If you can, you should.

It was my understanding that no photographs were allowed anywhere inside the house. This is true for the first floor but David surprised us by saying pictures were allowed on the upper floors. Since rain looked almost likely when I left the car and I expected to be barred from any inside picture taking, I opted to take along just the small Panasonic camera that I can carry in a belt bag. I now regretted not having the Nikon with me but was thrilled to be able to snap away with the Panasonic. On the second floor I have photos of one of two surviving original coal stoves and some original bed slats. The stove will eventually be integrated into the chimney as it was in Jefferson's day. The slats are for an alcove bed which was the norm at Monticello.

With steps 22" wide and 9" high, Jefferson, the architect, fitted the stairs into a six-by-six column. This is why the upper floor will not be handicapped accessible any time soon. The dome room is quite impressive but was rather useless. A ball or banquet room immediately comes to mind but getting large groups up and down those stairs made that sort of use impractical. It probably saw as much use as a playroom for the grandchildren as anything. In fact, one of those grandchildren, Virginia, used the attic like space behind the door David is holding open as a "nice little cuddy" where she could find some peace and quiet.

The tour ends in the basement where the last picture was taken. The long tunnel is not part of the "Behind the Scenes" tour and is available to all visitors. There are several interesting exhibits along it.

I would also be taking the first floor tour but now had some free time to stroll about the grounds. The first picture is of just a piece of the beautiful garden and the second is of Mulberry Row. This is where many of the plantations's workers, mostly slaves, lived as well as toiled. The round ice house is at the far end of the structure shown in the next photograph; At the near end is the North Pavilion. The last picture offers a more recognizable view of the main house.

Here's a picture of our guide Wayne before we started the no-camera tour of the first floor. As part of the introduction, he explained that, having obtained the word from Italy, Jefferson would have used the Italian pronunciation (mon-ti-chel-oh) and so should we. There were, in fact, a few Italians in the group and Wayne enlisted a young man to help him. At critical points in his narrative, Wayne would pause and point to the Italian who would fill in the blank with a perfectly pronounced Monticello. Wonderful.

The second picture is at tour's end near the North Pavilion where Wayne pointed out the white dome of the University of Virginia some three miles away. Jefferson, who founded the university, reportedly watched construction of the dome from here through a telescope. Between these two pictures was a lot -- I mean a whole lot -- of really neat stuff.

As many do, I walked back to the visitor center in order to stop by Jefferson's grave. A nearby sign explains that this is not the original marker but it is certainly similar to the one Jefferson designed and it does contain the epitaph he wrote:
Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
Of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
and Father of the University of Virginia.

Back at the motel, I started hearing something that sounded more and more like a drum cadence. I finally looked out the window to discover that I was right next to a University of Virginia Marching Band rehearsal. I've stayed in rooms above bars with live rock music but a brass band is something new. Only the first picture is from my room. The others are from the motel parking lot. I predict that Queen's We Will Rock You and the Stones' Satisfaction will be part of some upcoming halftime show.

When I told friends in Richmond that I would be in their neighborhood, they agreed to meet me for dinner and came up with a great spot for it. National Geographic magazine called Crozet Pizza "Best in World" and they've received plenty of other kudos, too. I'll now add mine. Dee ordered a small veggie while Wes & I decided to split a "Special" (Mushroom, Onion, Green Pepper, Pepperoni, Sausage). We almost ordered a large then thought better of it. Good thing. There were leftovers from the medium we did tackle. That's Mo assembling our "Special" and here it is ready for eating. Compliments to Dee & Wes for picking such a cool place and big thanks for the treat, the transportation, and, most of all, the great conversation.

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