Hark upon the Gale

Or, “Father’s Day Visit”, part 2.

So, Tuesday morning, got up, did the three-mile walk with Dad and Sam as usual (those walks have been really wonderful), and Dad and I had breakfast. Then got cleaned up and packed and on the road by about 11:00. Three hours of fairly pleasant driving and then found myself in much-built-up Williamsburg.

A bit of background – my first times in Williamsburg, and on the William & Mary campus, was as a 12-year old clarinetist at band camp. I did that for two summers, and loved it, but then the camp stopped happening. I applied to W&M for college for fondness’s sake, mostly (my college selection process was pretty fucked up, as was I at the time), and it wasn’t my first choice at all, but it’s where I got in. But I loved my college years, and had returned for visits twice during grad school to see the resident G&S company do their annual show.

But I was never in that neck of the woods by chance, and it took me over 25 years to come down for another visit. In 2013, I found myself with use-it-or-lose-it vacation days to dump by the end of January, and C couldn’t get away, so I spent about four days in Williamsburg, flying down from New York, renting a car in Norfolk and driving up. Stayed in the Hospitality House (or “Ho House” in campus parlance) and walked around campus a lot, and got reacquainted with the area. I’ll sum up that trip briefly:

  • Campus was mostly the same, but with some new construction, most notably the new campus center on one end of the football field.
  • Colonial Williamsburg hadn’t changed at all, of course, it’s not supposed to.
  • The surrounding town and shopping areas and such had been built up tremendously.
  • Although I had no official reason to be on campus, I never felt unwelcome as I poked around (I didn’t try to go into dorms, that would be creepy) and sort of ended up feeling like my four-year stint in the college’s over-300-year history was a bead on a giant tapestry, but just as nice and important a bead as any of the other beads. It was a nice place for my head to land.

So this trip, I didn’t have a huge agenda, I just wanted to walk around. A few mis-turns coming off the highway, but I figured out where I was soon enough and managed to find my B&B, the Fife & Drum Inn, fairly easily. Perfectly situated right where the campus ends and CW begins, and it was very pleasant. I’d booked it quickly, and it turned out it wasn’t the sort of B&B that has full breakfast, but they had plenty of baked goods and coffee and lemonade.

Out to walk the campus, stopping for a selfie first.

I went down Richmond Road, and checked in at the College Delly, figuring I might want to have dinner there. They were open with outdoor seating, but were not doing their own (fabulous) menu, but using Paul’s Deli and the Green Tavern’s instead. OK, whatever. Walked by the Alumni House, which has been greatly expanded (I think the original house is now the farmost wing – it’s about five times bigger.) Down through the new (to me) fraternity village. The last time I’d been there, they’d been constructing new frat houses on the lawn in front of Yates, my freshman dorm, but they were finished now. Lots of new buildings, fairly nice. (The old buildings are still mostly there, including the not-very-nice complex at the very far end of campus where I spent my sophomore year.)

Up through New Campus, saw that Phi Beta Kappa Hall (the theater) is still under construction and up to where Ewell (the music building) is. Ewell was completely remodelled about a year or so after I graduated and was unrecognizable inside when I visited last. And now they’re remodelling it again! They’re putting some sort of landscaped pedestrian plaza in between Ewell and Jefferson.

Did another loop of the interior, visiting the statue of the kids sitting reading with their cassette player, looped up by the infirmary and up the other side. All this took about an hour. It was brutally hot and sunny – I never did spend a summer in Williamsburg, and never wanted to. So I did a break with a giant frozen mocha and then realized I’d never had lunch, just a big bag of Combos in the car, oh well.

Set out again, this time to walk the length of Colonial Williamsburg. Walked to the Palace Green, then up Nicholson Street to the capital, then back on Duke of Gloucester (“Dog”) Street. Again, miserably hot. OMG, I pitied the CW representatives in colonial costume standing around waiting for people to come to their building (I said ‘hi’ but kept moving.) Social distancing by the tourists was iffy and random – I steered around and I was wearing a bandana to pull up. That all took about another hour or so.

I hadn’t been sure what I’d do about dinner, but the local Merchant’s Square restaurants were mostly offering outdoor seating. I checked out the seafood place, which I hear is great, but they were having live music, which I didn’t want to deal with. Checked in with the Blue Talon, a lovely restaurant right across the street from the B&B, to see if I’d be able to get an outdoor table in an hour or so, and they said ‘no problem’. So I went and chilled for a bit in my room, and showered and got cleaned up, and went there, armed with my Kindle. My table wasn’t anywhere near any other customers, and the waitress was masked, so I was not feeling in danger.

Two cosmos, a nice green salad, and seared tuna with green beans and a potato cake. All favorite things, except I need to remember that “seared” means “not cooked on the inside”. It was fine, though. Afterwards, I was still hungry, and wanted a big ol’ piece of cake or something. (the coffee place where I’d gotten the mocha had some really impressive cake on display, was thinking about that) But the restaurant didn’t have anything like that, so I got chocolate mousse and it was really terrific. And then I went back to the B&B and got some baked goods and decaf and watched TV.

Pretty much the end, except for heading out the next morning. I got a really a breakfast burrito and a large latte from the coffee place for breakfast and, although the burrito was messy for car food, they were both fantastic.

Stay tuned for part 3!

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