Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Enlightinging Idea about the Continental Spare Tire Kit

When we are in Williamsburg, Virginia, we like to walk around the historic area after dark. It is quiet, peaceful, and history seems to come to life in the shadows. We park in a lot on the edge of the historic area that is very dark. The spaces, while fine for cars, are just a little short for the Roadtrek even if I pull the tires all the way up to the wooden log that serves as a curb for each space. When I looked the back of the Roadtrek was sticking out into the exit lane by the length of the Continental Spare Tire kit on the back. The spare on the back adds about a foot in length to the standard Roadtrek length.

During the day, the Roadtrek is clearly visible to anyone driving past in such a situation, but I noticed while parked here at night that from the side, if driving down the entrance/exit lane, the Roadtrek was almost completely in the dark - and there was the spare tire sticking out into the lane. That night walking around in Williamsburg I kept thinking that this was really not good. There is no reflector on the side of the Roadtrek at all and the only reflectors on the rear are up in the air on the lights that are on the top halves of the cargo doors. I wondered why Roadtrek had not added reflectors to the Continental Spare Tire Kit - and it was certainly shaped to accommodate their placement. I decided that a trip to Walmart was in order. And, of course, we when got back to the Roadtrek that night I headed over to the 24 hour Walmart in Williamsburg.

I was not certain if I wanted to use plastic reflectors or reflector tape. I looked through what they had in the auto department and decided that the plastic reflectors with an adhesive backing would never stay on during all types of weather and temperature. I found the reflective tape and it just did not look reflective to me. You should have seen us walking around the store to where there were lights focusing down to a spot where I could hold the tape package and see how well the tape reflected the light. Pretty much it looked no more reflective than the red duct tape that they had. Then I saw a package of reflective strips intended to be placed on a truck bumper. This was very reflective and combined both red and white foil reflectors in each strip. Cut down this would work perfectly. It installed with an strong adhesive backing and should hold much better than the stick on foam that was on the plastic reflectors. (I did not want to drill holes to screw anything on.)

When I get an idea, no matter what time it is, I have to see it through. We purchased the reflective strips and went out to the Roadtrek in the parking lot where there was plenty of light. I knew that the campground was too dark - and besides, do it now when there is nothing else to do than wait until the morning and take the time for things we had planned. And it was not raining...

We cleaned the Continental Spare Tire cover with household cleaner that we have in the Roadtrek and paper towels. I washed it well and dried it completely. I cut the long strips into pieces and placed the side strips on - which were for the time being the most important. I decided that I would wait until I got home to do any more - but at night with just the side strips we would be fine in the dark parking lot. The large white strip at the top and the large red strip at the bottom are what we put on that night.The dots you see were added after we got home and I punched those from this same material with a 3/4" leather punch. It punched very cleanly.

At home I was pulling into my driveway behind the Roadtrek and realized that I could not see the back of the Continental Spare  Tire Kit at all in the dark. I had the reflector strips so I added the two red strips that you see here on the bumps that are molded into the tire cover.  The s original strip was cut lengthwise in half to fit here perfectly. Of course, everything was cut to matching size using a ruler and when stuck on I made sure with the ruler that each strip was as close as possible in a matching position. The bottom white strip was the last added, because I saw that my small car's headlights were not lighting up the upper reflectors.

I look at this now, and wonder, "too much?" I really don't think so. We are out of the campground a lot at night and the Roadtrek is very dark in a lot of parking lots. This added just enough to make the part of the Roadtrek that sticks out the most visible. Even if they are able to see the side of the Roadtrek - you could not see the spare tire sticking out the back - and if you cut it close, you clipped the spare tire. This is an easy mod and it cost about $8 for the reflective strips (package of four) to enlighten your Roadtrek's Continental Spare Tire Kit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Roadtrek Vacation, Part III

We left Monticello and started directly for out next stop - Williamsburg, Virginia. Monticello to Williamsburg is a direct route east on Route 64 with a bypass around the city of Richmond on Route 295 and then back on to Route 64. The trip is all of two hours and there is not much of a concern about traffic.

Directly off Route 64 in Williamsburg is American Heritage Campground which is our campground of choice in Williamsburg. I have written about this campground before and there is not really anything to add - though the space that we were assigned was not as level as the other spaces that we have had here in the past. When I backed into the space I found a place on the cement pad that was close, but just off to the passenger side. Other spots on the pad that I tried were way off. Looking later at the cement, it could be seen that it had sunk down toward the left side looking head in. I had an idea to somehow mark the spot that I found that was level - and this should not be hard on the cement.  We put down three twigs as a temporary marking. One at the side of the front driver's side wheel, one at the side of the rear driver's side wheel, and one at the back of that same wheel.That night, I bought a box of sidewalk chalk - which washes away completely with water - or the rain (which we later in our stay saw for ourselves). That night I came as close to the twigs as possible. With the chalk we marked the same locations we had placed the twigs. The markings remained for the stay - until it rained heavily one night toward the end.  The chalk idea works - if you are on a cement or asphalt pad site. It does not work on gravel. (I will share my new and improved marking system in a later article.)

One of the many nice things about American Heritage Campground in Williamsburg is the nice landscaping around the spaces. Spaces also have shade trees - though at this campground you do not get the atmosphere of camping in the middle of the woods. That is fine with us. But many here - more here than the other campgrounds we have been too - do their own decoration of their sites. Some really to extremes. This was the site directly across from us. And you can see in the photo all that he has put out - including a political sign (in August well before the elections). If one is traveling to an area where there is little to do in the way of local attractions, I could understand making a comfortable place to be during the day at the campground, but here in Williamsburg there is nothing but attractions to fill all of your time. At this campground and a couple of others we see people spending the day sitting outside of their RVs or trailers and spending the day there. If they were walking a nature trail or this was off in the forest surrounded by nature, or there were tennis courts or a golf course, I might even understand that - but they seem to spend the day looking at the view - which is the trailer or RV next to or across from them. And the golf carts! In the photo you see off the the left a golf cart. No he did not bring that with him. You can rent these at many campgrounds. This campground is not so large that there is nothing that the campground has to offer that is not within very fast and easy walking distance.  The building behind his fifth-wheel trailer is the bathroom/shower building. So certainly, there was no need for a golf cart to get there. No, you can't take the golf cart off the campground property so there is on traveling out that is possible with it.  I really don't understand the golf carts.

American Heritage Campground Sites
We spent our time here for the most part at Colonial Williamsburg (CW for those who work there and come there often). Because we were were here for ten nights, I had also planned to go to a few other area attractions. As you will recall from Part I - the weather forecast every day though this trip was "Scattered Showers and Isolated Thunderstorms". Each morning it became a routine - get up, look out the window (the Roadtrek skylights in the front make this easy) and check the weather for the day. Each day was overcast. The question was - would it rain. And if it might rain, would we want to go somewhere and pay an admission to an outdoor attraction in the rain. It was one of those trips where you just wanted to yell at the sky and say "I am on my vacation, make the sun come out!" - it  didn't work. We spent each day at Colonial Williamsburg with one day at Jamestowne Settlement. On two of those days at CW, it was actually pouring.

I know of a little known parking area for Colonial Williamsburg that is usually empty and easy for RVs  to park in - even those larger than our Roadtreks. I have thought about whether I am just going to share the location of this parking lot - and I have decided not to. Contact me only by email if you would like to know where it is. On one of the raining mornings we parked at this lot and started out with our fold up rain jackets on. Just because it is raining, does not mean that the temperature is cool and the rain just increased the humidity on this already hot day. As we walked around Colonial Williamsburg, it was just too hot to wear the jacket and just as we were peeling them off - the rain stopped and the sun actually peeked through the clouds. The next time it actually did rain, it was pouring and this time it did not stop. We spent the day inside CW's museum building - after waiting a considerable time for the rain to at least let up enough to go outside the Roadtrek and disconnect the electric  cable from the campground outlet without getting electrocuted. Raining or not - always click the campground outlet's circuit breaker OFF before removing your plug. The circuit breaker is generally right above your outlet and it is marked "30 AMP". Do this also when plugging in - turn it ON only after you have plugged in. There are free lockers in the museum and we stashed our rain jackets there and spent a nice dry afternoon inside. The rain was so severe that day that there was heavy flooding within twenty miles of where we were.

I am not going to go into detail about Colonial Williamsburg but I will say that last year, I was not happy to see the overemphasis on "production-like" programs without any real interaction with the public. This year that has changed - at least a little. And we spent time talking one on one with several "people of the past" during programs. We, actually spent a lot of time attending programs - something that has not been offered as much in several years. Despite the uncertainty of the weather, we had a very good time in Colonial Williamsburg. Here are some photos -

People you might see -

Patrick Henry

Thomas Jefferson

General Geoge Washingon and Staff

British General Benedict Arnold who led the British troops to capture Williamsburg in 1781

Building a mold to cast a brass cannon

I usually don't talk about where we eat when we are traveling but we had dinner in a restaurant in Williamsburg that I just have to share. The name of the restaurant is Pierces Pit Bar-Be-Cue and it is located at  447 East Rochambeau in Williamsburg, Virginia. The food is - barbecue - and I had some of the most wonderful ribs and pulled pork that I have ever had. It is said that really good ribs are fall off the bone ribs - and the bone came out clean from these ribs. The sauce was not to overwhelming or excessively sweet. This is not a waitress restaurant. You order at a counter and wait for your number to be called to pick up your food. There are tables both inside and outside to sit at. There is extra sauce at a counter and soda machines to fill and refill your soda cup.  I have been to regular restaurants for ribs, but these have been for the most part, chain barbecue restaurants. Pierces is not a chain - and everyone local knows about it. Expect to wait on line before you get up to the counter.  It is worth the wait.
We left American Heritage on our last day and headed north toward Mount Vernon which was our next attraction stop. We would be not be staying over night there, but would be moving on from there to Pennsylvania for a few days before we headed home. 

As I said, we did go to Jamestown Settlement and I will write about that in two weeks. I will write about Mount Vernon - and our exciting ride in the Roadtrek in a bad storm to get there, after that. Next week we will take a little detour to a mod I made while in Virginia.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monticello - Home of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, Virginia

We came west in Virginia in our Roadtrek primarily for one reason, to see Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. We have been to Monticello in our pre-Roadtrek travels many times. We have not been there in several years and were eager to see the new musuem complex that was only starting construction when we were there last at least five years ago.

Monticello was built under the direct supervision of Thomas Jefferson on top of a mountain. Everyone at the time thought that this was crazy but if anyone was going to be able to do this feat, it was Jefferson. During his adult life, Monticello was a home always under renovation - add a little hear, change something there. What you see when you come to Monticello today is the building restored completely to as it was when Jefferson lived here.

To get to Monticello, you have to drive up that mountain on a road that is one lane in each direction and it winds up the mountain. You share this road with cars, trucks, and other RVs. Along the way up you pass another historic site - Mitchie Tavern which is a restored 18th Century tavern to tour with a nice gift shop and a southern buffet lunch in a small restaurant if you have time to indulge. The Roadtrek made the climb just fine. This is another of those roads that you just drive up and then later back down at a speed you are comfortable with and avoid coming too close to the edge which in some places is unprotected from the drop down. When you arrive at the turn off to Monticello you are turning right when coming up the mountain, though Monticello is to the left. The right turn brings you into a curved entrance road that is relatively new - perhaps the last ten years and this will bring you into a wooded area and then to the entrances to the parking lot. One of the first lots that you come to is an RV lot with long spaces. We were glad to see this because we recalled the car lots with steeply angled and small spaces. We pulled in and there were just a couple of other RVs parked there. There were no other Class B's.   By the time that we left at the end of the day we were the only RV in the lot, as you can see in the photo.

The parking lot is a short walk from the ticket building and the new museum complex. You are still not at the top of the mountain and the house is still above where you are further up the mountain. When you purchase your ticket you are given a starting time for you tour of the mansion which is shown on your ticket. Our tour would start in about twenty minutes so we walked through the outside of the museum complex and headed for the shuttle bus that would take us up to the top of the mountain. It is possible to walk and we usually walk down, but it is not a climb that I wanted to make in the August heat. It is a small shuttle bus and the ride up is just a few minutes. The bus filled and we were on our way up. You arrive at the top of the mountain just in front of the mansion that is surrounded by large hedges at the edge of the paved bus route. You are told to arrive at the starting point for you tour five minutes before it will start. There is more to see at the top of the mountain than just the mansion and if you are there early you have time to see them - I will tell you about them as we go along. We had just a ten minutes or so, now before our tour and we took a short walk to a small gift shop and then back to the line for the tour.  

This is what you see as you look through the opening in the hedges and start to walk up to the front door with your tour guide. You are told about the house and Jefferson's plans to build it. As you stand on the steps you are told about the single hand plantation clock that sits above the door that is run by two weights that hang from chains just inside the door and enable the clock to run for a week with the height of one of the cannonball type weights showing the day of the week painted on the wall. There is no room from ceiling to floor to fit all of the seven days of the week so you must go into the basement to see those days.

Inside the house, no photography is allowed - and there is a tour guide with you every moment inside the house so you cannot sneak any. There are some very nice books of photography inside the mansion for purchase in the bookshop in the gift store along with postcards of the inside. Inside you will see the mansion as it looked and many of the furnishings are original having belonged to Jefferson. Jefferson lived here with his wife and their children. When his wife, Martha (yes, just like Washington, Jefferson married a Martha), passed away after just ten years of marriage, Jefferson promised her that he would never marry again, and he lived in the house raising his girls. Later when they married, they remained with their families and Jefferson was always surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Entering the house you come into a large foyer which Jefferson used as an exhibit area showcasing items sent to him by Lewis and Clark on their discoveries. This is a museum in itself with artifacts from dinosaurs, wooly mammoths, and native Americans.  This is as it was when Jefferson lived here. As you walk through the house with your guide, you will see the sitting room that Martha Jefferson and later the oldest daughter used as to run the household, Jefferson's library with Jefferson's books on the shelves. Jefferson's office, Jefferson's bedroom with the bed that Jefferson slept and died in, a parlor, two dining rooms. You exit the house through a bedroom that was the favorite for Mr. Madison and his wife Dolly to stay in when they visit and was called, "Mr. Madison's Room" by the grandchildren. You come out of the house onto one of the porticoes on the side of the house.

From here you are on your own to explore. Looking out from the portico toward Charlottesville through a telescope you can see the University of Virginia dome and Jefferson often came out here to watch the progress of his design being constructed. You can walk around Jefferson's garden, tour his kitchen garden, and also see Mulberry Row where the slave quarters are. You can also go beneath the house to see the kitchen, the wine cellar, the clock weights below the main floor,  beer storage and bottling room, and the necessary (outhouse). There are also the house stables and garden room on one side.There is a great deal to see and in addition there are several guided tours around the property outside that you can take that are included in your admission ticket. There is one tour that is not included and that is a lot of money and only takes place on certain days, and that is a tour of the upper floors of the house, particularly into the dome room. Contact them in advance of your trip if you would like to do that - and find out if it is available when you will be there.

After our tour of the house we walked around the grounds, took the Mulberry Row guided tour, and saw all of the rooms below the house. We usually walk back down the mountain and we wanted to be sure to see the new musuem. On the way down we stopped at the family cemetery and looked at Thomas Jefferson's grave and the obelisk that marks it. The walk down is pleasant and through the woods on a path. It is not really steep though if one has any problem with a path like this you can get the bus down either where you got off or at the cemetery gate.

We went directly to the new museum building. In the past there had been a Thomas Jefferson museum with personal belongings and details of the house in a building a few miles away at the bottom of the mountain on Route 20. Our expectation was that they took what was there and added to it. We imagined a very large museum much like the new musuem at Mount Vernon, home of George Washington (I will write about Mount Vernon in the very near future). We walked into a room that was not very large in a much larger building and basically saw what we had seen in the past in the old museum. If you have never been to Monticello then you are going to like this museum, but if, like us you had some hopes about a technology rich and artifact full museum, you are going to be disappointed as we were. In fact, some key things at the old museum were missing from the displays here - one being a book shared between Jefferson and his wife that played a significant part between them at the time of her death. There was more on display about the architecture of Monticello and Jefferson the architect than there had been before. It was just our expectations. I am sure that they feel that they have created an excellent museum. We just wished it to be more. Outside the museum there is a small restaurant with pre-paid sandwiches and snacks. There is also a children's hands on area. There is a theater that runs a continual showing of an interpretive film about Thomas Jefferson. Of course, there is also a gift shop and bookstore.

We spent about five hours or so at Monticello. This is not a place to come and not spend time. What you are looking at is what Jefferson looked at and what he loved. You look out off the mountain to the surrounding country side. You look at what inspired one of the great founders of this country. If you have never been you should go. Before we stopped traveling and before the Roadtrek we went every summer. We will certainly be going back. I have seen it many times, but there is always something new that I learn each time I am there. I love coming here. There is a feeling of serenity that you get when you are here, especially looking out from Jefferson's mountain.

Rear View of the House

Side of the House

Workman's Living Quarters - one of the two original buildings on Mulberry Row
Mansion Kitchen

Garden House - Jefferson would sit here and read

View from the top of Jefferson's mountain
This is all that there was of Monticello when Jefferson brought his bride there to live

Jefferson's Grave Stone- Jefferson wrote what he wanted on his stone and this is what he wanted to be remembered for

Jefferson's Necessary - this is below the house and where Jefferson went to do what is necessary

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Charlottesville KOA Campground, Charlottesville, Virginia

We stayed for one night at the Charlottesville KOA Campground in Charlottesville, Virginia. When I was planning our trip I did a lot of looking for campgrounds in the Charlottesville area and this one is it! The biggest tourist attraction in this area is Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The City of Charlottesville is also the home of the University of Virginia, started by Thomas Jefferson. The Charlottesville KOA is not far from Monticello.

I wrote about driving to this campground in a previous article, but this is so important for RVers and Roadtrekers that I am going to repeat it. This campground is located in the woods in the mountains. The campground website has a clear statement of warning about two routes to not take in an RV or trailer when coming to or leaving the campground. Here is that statement right off their website -

WARNING: DO NOT take exit 120 off I-64 as some GPS and online maps may suggest. This route (631/Old Lynchburg Rd) is not recommended; it is very narrow and has sharp turns! We also DON'T recommend route 708/Red Hill Rd coming from route 29 if you are driving an RV.  

You will not find this warning on the KOA pages for this website and because of that I almost got into a problem. I had planned to come into this campground from Route 29 on Red Hill Road. The campground is located on Red Hill Road and there is a way to get to Red Hill Road from Route 20 - which is also a turning mountain road but far less daunting than the roads they are warning you about - especially if you have a large RV or trailer. For the heck of it, as I also wrote about in another article, I tried leaving by heading toward Route 29 on Red Hill Road and it was a little more than I was comfortable with in the Roadtrek and I would not do it in the rain or in the dark. Take Route 20 and you will be fine. 

So, the Charlottesville KOA is, as just said, in the mountains and in the woods and the campground is what you would expect in the mountains and in the woods. It is very rustic and it is very nice. This is not a large campground and has only 54 RV/Trailer sites. They can accommodate RVs up to 45 feet long in pull through sites and smaller RVs like the Roadtrek or just larger in back in sites. The sites that they offer to RVs and trailers have water, electric, sewer, and cable TV connections. They also have sites that are just water, electric, and cable. They do have a dump station if required. I noticed that this was located at side of the entrance/exit road to the campground and wondered how this would be to use if an RV or trailer was coming through on that road. The pull through sites have 50 amp/30 amp/ 20 amp electric service. The back in sites have 30 am/20 amp service. A Roadtrek only requires 30 amp service so any site here is fine for a Roadtrek. There is free wifi throughout the campground that was not bad. No tents are permitted on RV sites and there is a limit to six people to an RV site including visitors.  In addition to RV/trailer sites, there are tent sites, one room cabins, a two room cabin, and a cottage. 

I did not want to arrive at this campground after dark because of the road warnings and because I was unfamiliar with the campground, as well as the roads coming to it. We arrived well before the office hours ended at 7:00 pm. The office/registration is just into the campground from the entrance road to the left in a building that also has a small gift shop and supplies store. There was not that much in the store. The campground is run by a young couple who I understand from doing informal research on this campground recently took it over. Prior it had been owned/run by an older gentleman and his wife who are spoken well of in comments about the campground. I am uncertain, but I suspect, that one of this couple is related to those former owners. The young couple was very nice. Check in was fast and pleasant. 

All of the roads in the campground are gravel and all of the sites are gravel. There is a fire ring at each site. Backing the Roadtrek into the site was no problem at all, though I will caution that if I had pulled to the very back of the space, I would have been very close to a drop off that went several feet down to another row of sites below. Go too far and you can go over with nothing really to stop you.
Electric service tested perfectly. There was a water connection, a cable connection, and a sewer connection also at our site. The site was almost level. It was not bad and not very much off level. I am always wondering if these sites are leveled for much larger RVs than the Roadtrek and that is why it is hard to find a spot that is level all around with the Roadtrek. You can see in the photo that I settled on a spot that was close to one side as this is what I found to be acceptably level.

For the middle of the week in mid-August the campground was not crowded but there were a number of RVs and trailers there. And, we saw another Roadtrek at this campground - an older, Dodge model Roadtrek that was parked in a site in the row below ours. We also saw another Class B - two Class B sitings in one campground was a first for us.   

When we arrived we decide to take a walk around the campground. The main area of sites is a circle around with pull through sites in the middle. You can walk both up hill and down hill toward other areas in the campground. As I said earlier, there was a row of sites on a road that was below our site in the back. That row did loop around toward some of the facilities at the campground. 


This campground has a nice little playground shown in the photo on the left. 

There is also a swimming pool. The pool is small but large enough for a campground this size. There were a number of adults and kids in the pool so I did not want to take photos, but here is the entrance area to the pool - which is uphill from the rest of the campground. You can see the fence to the pool on the left with table umbrellas inside. 

There was also a sports field and you can see in this photo the volleyball net that was set up and the tether ball court. 

There is a game room and a laundry room in their own building near the entrance to the campground. 

The campground also has a hiking trail through woods and this seems to head down a path to what was marked on the campground map as a beaver pond. I thought it would be fun to go and check this out but the path was through the forest and steep. A more adventurous camper than I would have no problem getting to it.  


Everything at this campground was very well maintained. We went into the restrooms to see how well they were kept up and they were very good - clean, well lit, and well maintained. The restrooms are closed every day at Noon for cleaning.  Here is a photo of the men's room. This was located on the side of the building that housed the office. As you look at this photo, not all of those stalls are toilets. The one at the end is a shower stall. For those of you who have never been to a campground before, I have a photo to the right looking into that stall with its privacy shower curtain. There was another building with restrooms near the swimming pool. 

The cable service was clear. There were only 25 channels with just one movie channel and it had commercials in that selection.  For those who travel with pets, the campground is pet-friendly. Generators may not be run at any time. There is one central dumpster near the office building to put trash.  

View of the Campground sites
View of the Pull Through Sites

After our tour around the campground, we went out to Charlottesville to dinner. When we returned to the campground it was the middle of the night and I did the trip down Route 20 in the dark. It was a little more harrowing than it was in the daylight and when we got on the road that the campground is on, we drove v...e...r...y  s...l...o...w...l...y so that we would not miss the entrance. 

There have been comments about this campground that there is poor cell phone service here. We did not have that experience. We had voice cell service on T Mobile and on Sprint. Data service was marginal but there is wifi in the campground so data service is not necessary. I am not sure how anyone can blame a campground for any level of cell phone service, as this is in no way in their control. Anyway- we had no problem with cell service.

We will be returning to the Charlottesville KOA. We liked it. Because of its location in the woods on a mountain it was very much what one would imagine a campground would be. It certainly was quiet. There is nothing around to make noise, though you are just several miles from main roads to take you into Charlottesville or out to western Virginia or east to the coast. You make reservations for this campground through the main KOA website. You can reserve a site online or use the number there for this campground to call the campground directly to make reservations. The campground does have its own website which you should definitely look at in addition to the KOA website. After your stay, KOA does send out a survey asking if your stay was satisfactory, so there is someone keeping tabs on how things are at KOA sites. They got an excellent report from me.

The address of the Charlottesville KOA Campground is 3825 Red Hill Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903 Albemarle County. The phone number is 434-296-9881.  If you are a KOA member you will get a discount on the rate.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Museum of the Confederacy, Appomattox, Virginia

The place in Appomattox, Virginia that I most wanted to visit was the new annex of the Museum of the Confederacy that just opened in March 2012. The Museum of the Confederacy is a Civil War museum that has been located in the city of Richmond, Virginia next door to what is known as the White House - the house occupied by the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. That building is also part of the musuem. It is difficult to visit the Richmond museum as parking is either on the street or in an indoor garage at a hospital complex next to the museum - and there is no where really to park an RV, even a Roadtrek. This new museum in Appomattox has its own outdoor parking lot with free parking and is an excellent presentation of the events that took place just before and at Appomattox that led to the final conclusion of the Civil War - or War Between the States as it is still known in the South.

The new museum is housed in its own building adjacent to the National Historic Park that is the site of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia by General Robert E. Lee to the Army of the Potomac under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant. This museum is the first to present artifacts of that event.

The museum looks large from the outside but the exhibit area is only half of the building inside. The other half holds an auditorium for programs and conferences. As you enter, the admission desk is ahead of you, the gift shop is to the left, and the exhibition halls are to the right. Admission to the museum was $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 62+, and $6 for children 7 - 13. I hesitate to give actual prices because these are always subject to change. The museum is open 10 am to 6 pm daily. There is a $20 package admission that also includes the Museum and White House of the Confederacy in the city of Richmond, which is quite some distance east of here.

As you enter the first exhibit hall you are presented with what led up to the surrender - the retreat from city of Petersburg, the problems encountered in not finding food that was supposed to be delivered to a starving army, and the battles that took place along the way as the army was chased by Northern troops. All along in the display cases are uniforms of both the officers and the enlisted men and items that they had with them. Much has been given or lent to the musuem by the families of the men who fought for the South.

Most significant in the collection and on permanent display is the sword that Robert E. Lee wore to the surrender. As noted in the musuem, contrary to popular belief, Robert E. Lee did not surrender his sword but kept it. The photo to the right is that sword and its scabbard.

Also on display is the uniform worn by Robert E. Lee and his gloves worn at the surrender. Shown in the photo on the right.  Lee made sure to wear his best uniform to his meeting with General Grant - who was wearing a dusty and worn uniform - not as elegant as portrayed in portraits of the event.

Perhaps I should note - and not surprisingly as this is the Museum of the Confederacy, that what is on display in this museum is one sided. You are seeing this event from the side of the South. There were no artifacts of the North on display.It is noted that the terms of the surrender agreement offered by General Grant were far more generous than General Lee expected. And General Grant demanded that the government in Washington following the assassination of President Lincoln honor those terms exactly as offered.

As you go along through the exhibit galleries there are displays of weapons, surrender flags, and remembrances of the event. We spent the entire afternoon at the museum and did not have time to visit the National Park site of the actual house that the surrender took place in, as I had anticipated for the day. We had to be moving on so that we could arrive at the campground we had reservations at in Charlottesville, Virginia while the office was still open, so we left Appomattox and moved on - as I detailed in part II of my article about this summer vacation trip. When we come back to Appomattox in the future, there is a campground right across from the National Park and this museum.

We spent time looking at each display in each display case and reading the accompanying descriptions. If one finds this only marginally interesting, one could walk through the entire museum just glancing at what there is to see in fifteen minutes - but then why would you come here in the first place.

If you are interested in Civil War history, I recommend this musuem. I have also been to the National Park site in the past, and I highly recommend that to see as well.

The Museum of the Confederacy - Appomattox is located at 159 Horseshoe Road, Appomattox, VA 24522. The road that this museum is on is the same road that the National Park entrance is on and is just west of that entrance. The phone number at the Visitor Services Desk at 434-352-5791 or toll-free (855) 649-1861, ext. 201. There is a website.