In Virginia: Jamestown, Surry, and Hog Island

I’m visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Williamsburg, Virginia. Yesterday was spent exploring Jamestown and the surrounding area. The first stop was Jamestown Settlement, the area with replicas and reenactments of the original Jamestowne, which is next door. A fountain stands in front of the visitor’s center. Looking at the display made me realize I am not familiar with most state flags.

The fountain in front of Jamestown Settlement, with state flags flying.

In the museum photography was prohibited. In the outside displays cameras are welcome. I enjoyed seeing the James Fort recreation.

A canon protects James Fort.

It was fun to examine the buildings up close to see the construction components. The thatch roofs were impressive. The gardens around the houses were primarily functional rather than ornamental (which makes sense). Herbs were the dominant plant group.

Gardens in James Fort.

The various tools and furniture on display and in use were handmade and rough.

Old-fashioned wheelbarrows in James Fort.

At the dock below James Fort three replica ships, the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant, are docked. They are based upon the three ships in which the first settlers of Jamestown arrived in 1607. I walked through the Godspeed and the Susan Constant. I can’t even imagine how miserable a long voyage in the hull of one of those ships would be. I really wanted to climb the mast but that was not allowed.

Replica ships docked at Jamestown.

After Jamestown Settlement it seemed fitting to see the historic Jamestown. It has been designated a National Park. The park is at the site of New Towne, a part of Jamestown established in the 1620s, and consists of a visitor’s center, a walking tour around the actual settlement with artifacts on display, and a short driving tour of Jamestown Island. An impressive monument recognizing the Virginia Company of London, founders and sustainers of Jamestown until 1624, sits at the entrance to New Towne.

The Virginia Company of London monument.

I noticed that the monument seemed to have received some recent repairs, which did not blend in well.

A conspicuous monument repair.

Foundations marked the sites of some buildings. These foundations were the sites of homes for a long time. Now they sit in a field full of strangers. As I stood looking at the upper class neighborhood I photographed below, I wondered about the stories that played out here. Who lived and loved here? What did a summer afternoon look like in this town a few hundred years ago?

A quiet upper class neighborhood in Jamestown.

The Voorhees Archaearium is part of the walking tour. It contains artifacts discovered in Jamestown. Photography was prohibited in the building, which was sad. One thing I learned in the museum was that the early settlers ate a lot of turtles, I don’t recall hearing that before.

After driving around Jamestown Island the next stop was the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. It was the first time I have taken my car on a boat ride.

The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, before we rode on it.

I found it amusing that some birds rode the ferry too. They made the entire crossing standing resolutely on a crane boom.

Birds taking the ferry.

On the other side of the James River we entered Surry County. The first stop was Bacon’s Castle. Ironically the castle featured no Bacon. It got the name when supporters of the rebel Nathaniel Bacon seized it in 1676–but Bacon was never there.

Bacon’s Castle in Surry County, Virginia.

The next stop was Hog Island, home of the Hog Island State Waterfowl Refuge. Getting to Hog Island requires passing through a security checkpoint at a power plant. This caused a short delay. Just beyond the power station the paved roads ends, and a gravel road begins. We forged on, determined to spot some fishing birds.

A typical Hog Island scene.

The birds on Hog Island were rather paranoid. We were there to shoot pictures, not feathered friends, but they were still flighty. Thus, most of my pictures were of rapidly departing subjects.

Turkeys running for cover on Hog Island.

I spied a snowy egret in the distance. A tree offered me some cover.

A snowy egret on Hog Island, viewed covertly.

I did not get any good pictures of herons. As I was attempting to stalk a heron, a dragon fly landed nearby. It seemed to be inviting me to photograph it, holding still and even smiling.

A blue dragon fly on Hog Island.

We returned to the ferry. I turned my GPS navigation system on while in the middle of the James River. TomTom was a bit confused initially, but eventually did determine that we were on the ferry. As an aside, the median speed during the crossing was 13 MPH.

My GPS navigation device was initially confused by the ferry.

Once back on land we returned to Williamsburg via the Colonial Parkway.

I enjoyed seeing Jamestown and the surrounding area. The artifacts and real locations were more interesting to me than the replicas and recreations. I also think it would be fun to spend more time on Hog Island, enough time to wait for the birds to come closer.


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