My family is a three five ring circus at the worst of times, a minor side show at the best of times. We always have a thousand things going at once. It’s a constant juggling act of everyone’s schedules, random events, and projects. In the summer, things only get crazier. Even though I am not living at home, I still somehow get mixed up with the craziness (somehow I feel out of sorts when I am not involved in a thousand things). Last week, my family came up to visit and the next day I flew home to Florida, because I had to start my visa process for Germany. Anyways, on Sunday, my father decides he has to go see Monticello the next day.
So hotel rooms were cancelled, cars were rented, and tours were booked. The next morning at some ungodly hour, off we trekked in a roller skate of a car to the 3+ hour drive to Monticello. I was not amused. Roller skate cars are all good and fine when you are in the front seat and everyone in your car is small. Roller skates are not fun when your 6’4 father is driving with the seat all the way back and your teenage (WHEN DID HE GET SO OLD?) brother is riding shotgun. My mother and I were shoved rather un-ceremonially in the back seat, where we are delighted to notice we could hear the whole cacophony of noises from the surrounding areas and the car engine itself.
Luckily, I was elected car DJ, and took my job rather seriously. How does one temper the desires of a “rap” influenced teenage boy (he doesn’t like good rap in my opinion), my ABBA loving mother, and my father, who can’t hear anything but has opinions on everything. Enter the song of the car trip: Rude. It wasn’t fast enough that my father couldn’t understand the words, it was hip enough that my brother felt cool listening to it, and the chorus was catchy enough for my mother. I swear we must have listened to the song at least 15 times, all of doing our best to sing (i.e. off-key).
Lo and behold, Monticello was actually amazing. I had done a study of the house in college comparing his use of Vitruvius and Palladian techniques, but had completely forgotten about it. It was amazing. The tour was amazing, the garden was amazing but the best thing was the view. Words nor pictures can do the justice to the scenery. Breathtaking. Growing up in Florida, I don’t really understand mountain views, but this was spectacular. Seeing the ice-house (which kept things cool during the summer), the dummy waiter, and the coolest set of doors was amazing. Thomas Jefferson was ahead of the times in several aspects and he kept meticulous notes (like when each flower bloomed meticulous) so everything was exactly the way it was during his lifetime. If you find yourself with a spare day in the DC or Virginia area, I recommend the trip even if you drive a roller skate car.