But Jamestown was the big thing this weekend.
Friday dawned at 5:30am with showers and getting dressed and on the road for our 7am shuttle into the area. We got to the settlement at 8am, plenty of time to settle in a bit and relax before the busy day. I got to work with Carla and Anne on the Devon Oven for that day. While not a baker, I did put my fire tending skills to the test and worked on the fire in the oven each time to get the maximum heat with the least ash blown around. It was fun, if very hot and sunny in the middle of the day, work. Here is a pic from Theo of Anne and the oven from when Sandy worked it on Saturday.
Friday ended up being a longer day than planned with the boys as part of the Opening Ceremonies, and then said ceremonies being pushed back to later. There was quite a bit of drill, look alive, settle down, hurry up and wait. Heather and I had to wait for the boys to finish up since our transportation was reliant on them, unlike the other women who bailed for A/C and food prep. Since we were still in costume, we were asked many questions about the ceremony and seating, etc. Sadly we had to admit to being uninformed and simply sitting on the grass due to fatigue and laziness. After a good long wait, and a joke with a Greg about fetching beer, I grabbed Alan's wallet and brought back two beers from the food court, one for Alan and one to share. That went over very well, except that then some started asking for fries and lemonade. So Heather and I tromp off to fetch minor sustenance, and get back to the ranks just as they are forming up to head on stage for the big deal. It was amusing to watch the food scarfed down, and then Heather and I got to watch the very fine display that our boys and the Jamestown Settlement honor guard put on. (We had to gather about 34 folks since we heard that Colonial Williamsburg were presenting a 35 person fife and drum corps. Not EVEN their century! Glory hounds. They had music and more air time, but our boys had weapons and a very fine ensign wielded by Gareth.) After all this, we had to head back to the fort to drop off the weapons and armour to then catch a shuttle back to the hotel, shower, change and head out for a very late dinner with the crew. While the company (and country ham) was excellent, we were just too tired to take good advantage of the time together.
Saturday dawned equally early and I felt every ache and pain, but work and visitors awaited. Carla, Jen and I were scheduled to be on laundry duty with staff member Joan. It was surprisingly great fun, especially after Heather loaned me her straw hat for shade. Must remember to pack a straw hat next time. Here you can see Theo's picture of me at the laundry. She also got video, but not knowing it was on video, we joked about cleaning the boys shirts from yesterday instead of talking about the whole laundry process of fetch water, heat water, shave and dissolve soap, stir laundry, rinse items, spot clean and wring out. Alan did get to wear a freshly laundered in a period fashion shirt on Sunday that he seemed to enjoy the sun-dried lye-soap smell effect. Fear not, you will have to pry my Maytag out of my cold dead hands. Laundry was also the dirtiest jobs I did all weekend. The Devon oven was smoky, but small and contained. The Barracks was just a bunch of standing and talking. The laundry was hot, sweaty, smoky and dusty, and also involved more hands on with the kids and adults who wanted to try the yoke and carrying water, or stirring the pot, or wringing out the water from clean shirts. I did take a break for lunch and to reapply sunscreen and sunscreen my forgotten and now exposed forearms, and fetch a cold Diet Coke from the staff area in the 4 Bay. I also noticed a mild heat rash on my neck, that blissfully calmed down in the rain and following shower.
While it was the shortest day we had, it was also the dirtiest I felt once we got back to the hotel. I also elected to wear one of Alan's shirts to let my smock air out since I haven't finished the new one, and my old old one is in tatters. Sadly I learned the need for at least knee length smocks as my thighs (from bike shorts to tops of knee socks) were filthy black from the smoke. I made Kirsten take a picture, but thought the better of posting it after really looking at it. Just gross. Kirsten, Alan and I got back to the hotel, did dinner within walking distance, and then I crashed on the bed with hand sewing in front of the TV and sent Alan and Kit off to the Morgenstern's hot tub without me. Apparently they got back only 10-15 minutes after I went to bed, but I was so soundly asleep, I don't remember a thing.
Sunday, we decided to take advantage of the President's visit and sleep in until 7am, get a pancake breakfast next door, and then make our way to the shuttle bus at 9:30 instead of 7. The security line was long, but not as long for other visitors, and we got a sheriff escort back to the education wing. We hoped to make it into the gallery, but got there too late to even get in and kicked out, and just had to wait. We did later get an escort back to the lunch tent for an early lunch, some hanging out with the earlier arrivals, as well as some indoor time in the maintenance building before being called to action. As others mentioned, one of the staff members told us we could go to the Mall to watch the President's speech from the jumbo-tron, but not a one of us was motivated to such action.
Eventually we made our ways to the fort to set-up and ready ourselves for the onslaught of visitors who wanted to see the other areas outside of Anniversary Park. Carla, Jen and I were scheduled for the Barracks with staff member Heather. Alas it seemed the smoky fire that we needed early on in order to have coals for cooking drove Jen from the building, but she dutifully stood outside and guided folks in. Since it was then Heather, Carla and I, Heather and Carla did the grunt work and I stood and talked all day. 1-6:30pm. All day. I did take a small break to indulge in a slice of the apricot almond custard tart, as well as the cheese tart made on Sunday. When one visitor asked if the food on display from yesterday was real, I cruelly picked up and took a bite of one of the mince meat tarts in front of them. I also had some of the almond cake, to verify that it was tasty. In addition to the talk about the barracks, temporary beds, normal food situations versus the food we were cooking on-site, I also added in the disclaimer of please don't touch the food, nor the fire, but encourage them to try the furniture. Yes, the strawberry jam tarts are/were quite tasty. No, you can't have samples, the health department won't let us. It was cool enough to wear my wool doublet, and the cleanest and easiest of jobs, if a whole lot of talking. Thankfully Carla kept my mug full of water in between her cooking duties. We finally closed up and encouraged the visitors towards the 6:30pm concert in Anniversary Park, yes we are closing the fort, so sorry. But then we waited as Roland and Kit had to clean their guns. Since I saw some firefighters' faces peeking through the closed rear gate, Alan and I let them in and gave them the stand in the center and point quickie tour of the fort and answered any questions they had. Since they gave up their time on watch so no fires broke out, I figured the least we could do is satisfy any curiosity they might have had. It ended the day on a lovely and friendly high note.
Sunday night was also a late departure, back to the hotel to shower and change and place an order to Red, Hot and Blue for carryout to the Morgenstern's to enjoy company, Klondike bars, and the well needed hot tub. It was most excellent. Kirsten and I had convinced Alan that morning to take Monday off and we'll extend our hotel stay a night longer so we could be well rested on the return trip and come fetch gear on Monday morning instead of schlepping it on the shuttle bus on Sunday night. This was a good idea. We got to sleep in again on Monday until 7am, and then make our way to the fort before it was open to visitors in order to collect gear and chat with the staff one last time. Cindy (fort coordinator) let us know that we had approximately 68,000 visitors over the weekend. ~17K on Friday, ~28K on Saturday, and ~23K on Sunday. Sometimes I wonder where they went, and sometimes I feel like I talked to each and every one of them. I was glad to note that on the whole, I got to see nothing but friendly, inquisitive, respectful visitors in a great mood. I did catch myself countering their "Thank You's" with a "Thank you for coming and visiting the fort! Enjoy the rest of your day." There was only one girl who somehow fell down and spilt a bucket of water on herself at the laundry station, as well as one girl at the oven who wanted to touch every part of my outfit, including the boning in my bodice. wow. Other than that, the visitors were lovely. I even had one little girl who raised her hand every time she had a question, so I made sure to call on her first.
It was rewarding and tiring, all at the same time. So much work, but so much fun as well. Gardiners rocked the party and provided a very impressive and dedicated crew for the weekend. I think it will take a while to recover fully, both on sleep and aches, but it was worth it. Makes me want to schedule for some more weekends volunteering down at the fort, as well as possibly eventually extending to the Riverfront Discovery area in time.
We few, we happy and tired few...
More pictures of the events can be found on:
My Flickr page
Theo's Flickr page
and Monica's Flickr page from Gabriel's camera
You can also see a very fine picture of our Greg/Nathaniel with GW here. I think it is cute that many of the press call us actors. tee hee.