HolyCoast: UnHolyCoast Trip Day 6

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

UnHolyCoast Trip Day 6

Here's all nine trip posts: Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Final Day

The posting will come later in the evening for the next three days. In Washington it wasn't smart to be out after dark, so we were usually in by 7 pm and I could get the posting done early. We're in Williamsburg now and won't be getting back to the computer until after 10pm, so just check in a little later.

I think I'm starting to develop gills. The humidity is so bad, when you walk outside you'd swear you're breathing under water. It'll probably be this way the rest of the week.

We left D.C. today about 10:30 and headed south down I-95 with our first planned stop in Fredricksburg, VA, the site of one of the most deadly Civil War battles and one of many Union losses due to bad generals. If you saw the movie Gods and Generals, then you're familiar with the story.

After wandering around Fredricksburg a little bit, we found the battlefield visitors center which is located just below the infamous stone wall. Most of the battlefield below the stone wall is now developed, but there is still a section of Marye's heights that's been left open, but it's hard to get the full effect when looking down on a bunch of houses.
The final few yards before the stone wall. No Union soldier made it this far alive.

Our guide took us for a walk along the sunken road that runs behind the stone wall. The wall that's there now is a recreation of the original wall, but portions of the original wall are still in place further down the road.
The sunken road along which the Confederate infantry was hunkered down and shooting down the hill at the advancing Union forces.

We walked about 150 yards down the sunken road while the guide recounted some facts about the battle. When he reached the end of our walk, he told us that in that small space and down the battlefield below it there were over 8,000 Union and 300 Confederate casualties. Given the protection afforded to the Confederate troops by the stone wall and the uphill climb the Union troops had to make, it's no wonder the totals were so lopsided.

At the end of our walk we came to the statue dedicated to the "Angel of Marye's Heights", a Confederate soldier who braved enemy fire to bring water to the wounded Union soldiers. Upon seeing his good work, both sides ceased firing for over an hour as he tended to the wounded. You can read his story here.

As we looked east toward the river, you could see a small swale in the ground...no more than 2 feet or so. Hundreds of Union soldiers hid behind that swale for more than 2 days as it was the only protection they could find on the open battlefield. It's a little spooky to look across that ground and think of how many people died on that ground. I'm not sure I'd want to live in a home built over the battlefield.

If you don't know the story of the Fredricksburg battle, I'd encourage you to rent Gods and Generals.

From there we headed further south and east to Williamsburg, arriving about 3:30 at the Kingsmill Resort. What a neat place! We have a one bedroom suite that's at least twice the size - probably more - than our suite in Washington, and overlooks the James River. Here's the view out the back deck:

We had barely dropped our bags off when everyone wanted to head on over to Busch Gardens. We quickly headed off to catch the shuttle, and as we left the suite, we heard the first rumblings of thunder. The sky to the west was getting dark, so we grabbed our umbrellas just in case. That was a wise decision.

The shuttle driver took us over to Busch Gardens and dropped us off near one of the entrances. We have passes good for four days, and I mistook how they were to be used. I thought each of the four passes was good for one day and would get us all in the park. Rookie mistake. When I gave the employee my one pass, I found out each pass was good for four entries for one person. We now had a problem since the other three passes were back in the suite.

We ran back out to the shuttle lot and he was still there. I explained my stupidity to him and instead of taking us back and making us wait an hour until the next shuttle, he took us back to our suite, we picked up the passes, and he took us right back to Busch Gardens. Thank you, Dave the shuttle driver, for some exemplary service. (Dave knew what we were going through since he had done basically the same thing at Disney World.)

Busch Gardens has been described as the most beautiful theme park in America, and I'd believe it. Here's a quick shot of the entry off the shuttle drop-off point:

The sky was getting darker, and as we approached the entry, hundreds of others were heading out. Busch Gardens has a policy (and a good one, I might add) that whenever there is lightning within 20 miles of the park, most of the rides are shut down. A good sized storm was brewing across the river and it was coming our way.

Normally folks would probably be disappointed to get in a theme park and not be able to ride anything, but we decided to make the best of it and look around a bit to get the lay of the many lands. By this time we were starting to see lightning and the thunder was getting louder.

There was one ride that was open (it was inside a building) so the kids decided to go on that. Mrs. HolyCoast and I found a table under an umbrella and sat down to wait for them (we do that a lot - neither one of us like roller coasters). As we sat there the rain began to fall and within a few minutes we had a genuine tropical thunderstorm. We were able to stay fairly dry, and frankly, enjoyed the show. Being from Southern California, we never get to see thunderstorms, so this was not a bother to us at all - it was an added treat. Here's the Mrs. in our storm shelter:

Since the big rides were shut down, we ate dinner and took in an Irish dancing and music show that was very well done. By the time the show wrapped up, the storm had moved on, and though it continued to rain lightly the rest of the night, all the rides were back up and running and thanks to the rain driving most of the tourists out, we practically had the park to ourselves.

Within an hour the kids went on the 5 biggest roller coasters in the place and never waited more than 5 minutes in line. It was still very warm and with the humidity at 100%, we were all soaked, but had a great time.

Tomorrow we will be entering the park 1 hour before opening (thanks to a special deal that the resort has) so the kids will get to try out some other stuff before all the riff-raff gets in there. Mrs. HolyCoast and I will spend our time doing some of the more sedate attractions and we'll let the kids stand in the long lines.

See you late tomorrow night!

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