Day 12 – On to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

After a restful night at the Hampton Inn in Elizabeth City, NC we started Day 12 of our motorcycle adventure. The previous night we arrived in Elizabeth City early enough to wash our clothes and wash the bike. So with clean clothes and a clean bike we head to Charlottesville, VA.

The first half of the trip we stayed off the freeway and drove back roads through the North Carolina and Virginia countryside. Our route is shown below.

 

The temperature in the morning started in the upper 70’s which is ideal motorcycle riding temperature. Later on, after reaching Richmond, the temps were in the 90’s. Here is a photo of the countryside, beautiful farm land interspersed with woods.

 

For quite some time we saw this crop along side the road and could not figure out what it was. At first we thought soy beans, but the crop had flowers. After a few hours we figured our little mystery out – cotton! Not native to our home state so we can be forgiven our ignorance!

 
We arrived in Charlottesville aound 1:30 pm. When we were looking for things to do between Elizabeth City and Charlottesville there wasn’t much. But then we discovered that Charlottesville is home to Monticello. You know the place, you’ve seen it many times before, on the back of a nickel.
Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, who, after inheriting quite a large amount of land from his father, started building Monticello when he was 26 years old. Well you can read more about it here.
The view of the house you know so well.
 
From the side…
The inside was fascinating but no photos are allowed to be taken inside.
Monticello was built on the top of a mountain, this was Jefferson’s 50 mile view.
 
Thomas Jefferson had many gardens of various types.
 

Here are a few historical facts about Thomas Jefferson and Monticello:

  • Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States.
  • Thomas Jefferson was only 33 when he drafted the Declaration of Indenpendance. He felt that this was his most important life achievement.
  • He chose three accomplishments to be recorded on his tombstone, and being president didn’t even make the list. Here is what is inscribed at his grave: “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.”
  • In the Declaration of Independence he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Yet he was a slave owner. Although he had lofty ideals, they did not match up with his own personal actions.
  • Monticello was not just a residence but also a working plantation, home to roughly 130 enslaved African Americans whose duties included tending its gardens and livestock, plowing its fields and working in its on-site textile factory.
  • The United Nations World Heritage List includes Monticello in its rankings along with such international sites like the Great Wall of China and the Tower of London. In fact, it is the only American residence making the prestigious list.
  • Jefferson’s biggest political move was buying the Louisiana Territory called “THE LOUSIANA PURCHASE,” this more than doubled the size of the United States.
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