Download N Go: George Washington

Since we are switching to Calvert this fall, we’ve decided to do a “light” version of school for the summer. As part of that, Ani has started joining Cameron for his Download N Go lessons. Last week we learned all about George Washington.

Even the guinea pig joins us for lessons sometimes.

For three years we lived just a few miles from Mount Vernon, but we never went there. Now we live an hour away, but since the kids learned about George Washington, we decided it was time to take a field trip to see his house. So we went there on Saturday.

When we woke up, our 5 weeks without rain had ended. It was pouring. But the forecast was promising so we went anyway. By the time we got there at 10:30 it was only drizzling and a couple hours later the rain was gone completely. As it turned out, it was a perfect day to go because the rain kept the big crowds away, but the weather didn’t turn out too bad after all (2-3,000 instead of a typical 5-6,000 this time of year).

(No pictures inside the mansion itself… they don’t allow photography in there.)

With George, Martha, and two grandchildren.

We watched a really cool video. It had two screens, one flat and one rounded. When the cannons went off lights in the theater flashed and the seats rumbled. Fog filled the front of the room at certain points and it even snowed on us while they were at Valley Forge. The kids loved the snow.

The education building had a room for kids about 3-8 years old. The kids got to be George, Martha, and two grandkids.

They got to play with a big dollhouse made to look just like Mount Vernon.

They got to see the different “faces” of George Washington.

They even got to dress up like colonial people.

The hands-on part of the education center had really neat dioramas.

We went down to the farm after we finished at the education center.

They have a really nice round barn there.

There are lots of animals including sheep, oxen, hogs, and mules.

Once we finished at Mount Vernon, we went to the gristmill and distillery just a few miles away. Those were two of George Washington’s money-making ventures (he was an excellent businessman).

Right outside the gristmill are two millstones. They were never used for grinding grain, however. The furrows are too deep for that. They were used to grind seashells to be used for roads. The pattern of the furrows is the same as on the wheat grinding stones.

It’s amazing how the water wheel in the gristmill automated the whole process of grinding grain over 200 years ago. We got to watch the whole process from grinding to cooling to sorting (bran, coarse, fine).

The distillery is very interesting too. The gristmill was rebuilt in the 1930s by the state of VA. The distillery is much newer. They didn’t even start the archaeology research on the site until the late 90s. They knew it was there in the 1930s, but, of course, it would have been distasteful in the time of prohibition to advertise that our first president made (and sold as a wholesaler) common whiskey.

I wasn’t sure it would be worth the price to go to Mount Vernon ($51 for all of us and the little boys are still free), but as it turned out, it was totally worth it. If you live in the northern VA area or are visiting it’s definitely worth visiting (and go to the gristmill and distillery – it costs a little more than Mount Vernon proper alone – because those are absolutely fascinating!).

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