Carolinas Section

It's off to Mercedes & Muskets we go!!

It's off to Mercedes & Muskets we go!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 11:45am to Sunday, September 11, 2016 - 11:45am

It was Thursday 9/8. E350 says it is noon and an hour to go at 29.4 mpg. After 7 months of planning Harriet and I are finally on our way to Mercedes & Muskets in Williamsburg, Virginia! The event officially starts Friday but we are going to get the members tickets, pick up some Colonial door prizes and meet other early arrivals. It was to be a great event. Top rated Italian restaurants, two authentic Taverns, and personal tour guides!

Cars are not allowed in the Colonial areas so this event was to be all about the members being together and learning about how this nation came to be. Members received a condensed pocket guide in advance so they would have an idea of what they would see.

At 6 PM Thurs. early arrivals met in the Embassy Suites hotel bar, introduced each other, and talked about their trip. At 7 PM we head to a local restaurant called Giuseppe's for a good Italian meal. One of the local Club members, and a retired but active CW tour guide joined us. Lots of discussion during a good dinner including of course Mercedes. Members also received a Colonial theme gift after dinner. Nice job Giuseppe's.
And then for a good night's sleep after a long day.

Friday AM brings breakfast, discussion and then some head to the restored area or for some shopping of which there is plenty. Members start arriving at the hotel throughout the day. We have members coming from Michigan, Georgia, Virginia, and of course both Carolinas, six Sections, and 32 members and associates in all.

That evening we met at 5 PM sharp, in the Jefferson room of the Hotel for a pre-tour meeting. President Nick talked about the next day's events, last minute changes and then introduced two members from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation who spoke to us about the Revolutionary City. They did a great job and members were given a copy of the Colonial Williamsburg, Trends & Tradition magazine which is normally given to donors. What? No, you can't go to the bar yet! We then watched a 20 min. film called Making of a Patriot which is an orientation film usually shown at the Visitor Center. It tells the story of preparing to declare our Independence from England and our preparations to fight for same.

Now we go to the bar! Then the conversation starts. We will never make our 7:15 PM reservation so we call Sal's by Victor and let them know we will be a bit late. By 7:30 we made it! No complaints about another Italian restaurant!. Sal's is one of the most popular restaurants in the City of Williamsburg and being a Friday night it is packed. Despite that they had us seated together, and both the service and food were excellent with even a visiting Italian musician to entertain. Again, lots of discussion! Where do you hook up that wire? Our acting Treasurer Harriet passes out more Colonial gifts to the members. Members then head out for a good night's sleep as we must leave the hotel by 8:30 AM sharp on Saturday. Thank you Sal's by Victor for handling our group on a busy Fri. night with no restrictions.

We meet at 8:30 AM Sat. in the reserved Tavern parking lot. No waiting for shuttle buses for Mercedes Members! We make a short walk to Bassett Hall where we meet out two tour guides Valery and Janice. This was the home Rockefeller bought and restored to live in when he and his wife were in Williamsburg checking on restoration progress. Dr. Goodwin, pastor of Bruton Church, convinced Rockefeller to start funding the restoration of an entire Colonial City! At that time Rockefeller spent over $68 Million. Members divided into two groups, saw a film and toured the cozy but very nice home, originally built for a Senator. Very modest for a Rockefeller.

From there, on to the Capitol! This is where our Government started and where our laws were carried out. Members heard a presentation in the Assembly chamber, toured the meeting and council rooms, and then went to the high Court room where our own Dr. Ogilvie presided! Treasurer Harriet served as lawyer/prosecutor and some of us as jurors. We found Marianne of the Greater Washington Section guilty of all charges!! She was of course then granted a pardon so we did not have to brand her hand with an iron as was customary!

From there we head as two groups to Wetherburn Tavern. This was an upscale Tavern where some members of Congress met and slept when not at the Capitol. While some of the first floor meeting and eating areas were quite nice, when members saw the upstairs sleeping quarters it gave a whole new meaning to "upscale"!

From there we head to Shield's Tavern for lunch. Shield's was one of the smaller Taverns in those days. It still has service on 3 floors and it served us well for a Colonial lunch of beef, pork, or chicken. During lunch we were met by one of the Town's upper crust who explained to us the proper way to do a toast! "May your home be too small to hold all your friends", and at least 5 more!

At 1PM we meet with our very excellent tour guides again. The two groups head to visit Mr. Carlton's Coffee House. Prior to going in we watched an assembly and march of a fife and drum corps with young "musketeers". Members of Congress would rent this coffee house to have private meetings away from the Capitol or public taverns. Our Members enjoyed authentic, chocolate, coffee, or tea while there.

Now on to the Palace!! Past the wig shop. Past the men's shoemaker we go. Ladies had their own.
The Governor's Palace is very large and plush to say the least. Members heard about the liked and hated Governors of the period. They toured the first floor greeting rooms and then saw personal quarters upstairs. Finally we all met in the Grand Ball Rooms and talked about the parties of the times. When all was over we met outside for a group photo.

From there we visited our last building on the tour, the large home of Peyton Randolph, the Speaker of the House at that time. We saw how an upscale political family lived then as well as how the slave families who took care of the home worked and lived. It was impressive.

From there we ended at the Raleigh Tavern. While it is only open to special programs on Sat. the bakery behind it was open for us. Ah, for a Colonial cookie, gingerbread cake and other goodies with a drink. We thanked our tour guides profusely for a great job that day in unusually warm weather. They REALLY know their stuff!!

We then had a couple of hours to return to the Hotel, grab a quick nap and shower and meet back in the hotel lobby for happy hour. At 7:15 we were all back in our parking spots and heading to The King's Arms Tavern for a Colonial Dinner by candlelight. Our dinners were very good, the wine good and a wandering minstrel even spent some time with us. At the end some short speeches and the end of a truly great day.

Sunday AM some had discussions around breakfast, some had to get on the road. Some headed back to the restored area, some on to Bruton Church for services where Washington, Jefferson and others worshipped, and some wanted to get in a little more shopping at Merchant's Square before they headed out. From the photos you don't see many Mercedes as cars are not allowed on the colonial property and every parking lot was too full to get all the cars together, but you do see lots of members and that is what this Event was all about.

In all we barely scratched the surface of what is available in Colonial Williamsburg but we also accomplished a lot in a short period of time. I wish to thank Colonial Williamsburg, the Embassy Suites and the 4 restaurants mentioned and especially their staffs, who made the Event a very memorable success for our members. And special thanks to our members who made this all possible. Hope to see y'all again!

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