Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hopewell and Jamestown(e)

    On Sunday morning I woke up at the absurdly late time of 8am.  A kid staying at a camper next door came over and talked to me.  He complemented me on my tent (it is pretty nifty), and asked me what I was studying for (the novel I’m reading was on picnic table) because, as every elementary, middle, and high school and university student knows, the only reason to read something is to try to memorize something just long enough to pass a test.  I attempted to explain (and convince him) that sometimes people read things for fun.  I don’t think he bought it.
    I hiked a 1.5 mile loop around one of the park lakes, ate a restaurant that has curly fries, and then headed to Hopewell.  I drove straight to the house where my mom grew up which is located in a suburb right outside of the “downtown” area.  I had only snapped a handful of self portraits in front of it before a lady nonchalantly walked outside with a notebook in her hand.  She strolled so casually that I didn’t have any idea what she was doing until she walked about twenty feet down the sidewalk, whipped around and wrote down my license plate number.  She then walked back toward her front door without saying a word.  Despite the whirl of confusion (quite a transfer of mindset to be imagining my mother’s life as a little girl one second and worried the police are about to be called on me the next), I managed to sputter out, “I’m um.  I’m taking pictures because my parents…I mean my mother grew up in this house.”  She turned.  “I get really funny about stuff like that.”  “I’m sorry,” (that you live in fear) I said (and later thought).  She said a name and asked if it was my family’s.  It wasn’t and I clarified.  She went inside and closed the door of the house and any hope I had of going inside.
    This incident bothered me a little bit.  I suppose, like a lot of things, the cause of it can be linked to a breakdown in communication.  I could have knocked on the door and introduced myself before I started taking pictures.  She could have asked what I was doing before turning into a secret agent.  Then again, it could be worse.  I could have gotten mad and said, “Don’t bother writing down the license plate number, I’ll be in a different car when I come back tonight.”
    I passed a few more family history attractions including the church my mom attended, the location of her old elementary school, and a cinema she used to go to.  I didn’t want to stay too long in case the cops where on the lookout for a tall, bearded hippie driving a silver Volkswagen.

From Twin Lakes State Park, Hopewell, and Jamestown Album
    I arrived at Jamestown(e) around 3pm.  I walked around the old village (almost entirely ruins now).  I got an answer to a historic question that I had always wondered which is, if this is the first permanent English settlement, why is it so far from the coast?  So the Spanish wouldn’t find it.  Another thing I learned is that the main purpose of founding Jamestowne was to find a way to profit off of the area’s natural resources.  What about all those fairytales of escaping religious persecution and stuff?  We traded peacefully with the Indians didn’t we?  We shared a Thanksgiving feast with them I know it – I was in a first grade play about it!  Well, we did trade with them, and they did teach us things.  A couple lessons I saw that the early settlers could have learned most from are as follows: If you plan to establish a permanent settlement, have a better food plan than, “Eh, we’ll just bring some copper beads and trade with the Indians.”  Also, a key ingredient to a civilization that plans to last for a while is people who can grow babies (surprise!).  Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, and truthfully I only know what I’ve read on the informational boards there and what I can (try to) read between the lines.  Maybe one day I’ll read more on the topic and better education myself.

    I drove around the marshy areas around Jamestown and walked down a little trail to a secluded beach cove.  I took the very scenic Colonial Parkway toward Williamsburg and was planning to stay there until I called one Inn and was quoted a rate that exceeded my weekly shelter budget.  I detoured over to Newport News Park.  This was my first city park of the trip and I was shocked to find the office still open at 7:30pm.  The fast talking kid at the counter said it was $32.50 for the night.  I asked, “Does that come with beer, women or both?”  Okay, I didn’t, but seriously, $32.50?  There are a couple things that seem to be consistent: the farther I get away from Louisiana, the more expensive the parks are (started at $8!), and, the more expensive the park, the less spiders there are in the bathroom (there was no bathroom at the $8 one).  The bathroom here was immaculate, but I’d rather save $20 and use a tree.


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