Sunday, October 23, 2011

Best Kept Secret in Fredericksburg

When I moved just around the corner from Gari Melchers Museum at Belmont in Virginia, I had no intention of ever visiting the museum until my children were at least 10 years old.  What I didn't know until over a year later, is that this estate isn't just a place for your toddler and preschool aged kids to experience instant boredom and troublesome behavior inside a museum full of irreplaceable art; it's also home to 27 acres of what I call, an enchanted garden.

This place hordes some of the best views of the Rappahannock as well as many little streams and springs.  Since we only live a half a mile from this place, we've been coming to explore these trails at least once a week since our home school year began. This week alone, we've been here three times.   It's the best recess I can provide for my little students.  Here's some pictures of our trip on one of their trails.
Eating an apple in back of the house where famous artist, Gari Melchers lived.

Beyond the gazebo, where we sometimes enjoy a packed lunch, lies a sweet little path that winds down across a pretty stream and eventually to the rocky river's edge.

Analee loves to 'read' all the signs as she goes.  Each time she says: Do not sit here eva' eva' 'gain.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the first time were here and I pretended to read those words from the sign after she tried sitting on one and nearly breaking it.  Now she doesn't believe me when I try to tell her what the sign really says (bad parenting 101).

a wild hydrangea turned bright red.  there's my little girl reading another sign...sigh.

Here's the pretty little stream.  I don't know what the stone wall was for- maybe an old damn?  I should ask next time we visit...
Better than any jungle gym!

Finally, we make our way down to where "the Native American Algonquian speakers of the eastern coastal plains and the Siouan speakers from the western Piedmont met." (taken from here)  I love that this place is so full of history! Later on, this part of the Rappahannock also "brought European settlers to the area; they used the water to power mills and ship their goods to Europe from the bustling harbor in Falmouth," (also taken from here).  Some time after that, thousands of slaves from the south used this part of the river to cross over to a safe house called the Conway House, which is just below our own house.

I could watch the river all day on this rock.  So peaceful.

Except that after 5 minutes, I can't take any more of my kids running around on this rock that touches potentially deadly river. 

So we move to a safer location to throw rocks in the water.

Or play in our own private 'beach'.
Analee pretending to eat the fish she caught with her stick.
Or even 'go fishing'!

My kids could spend all afternoon here, but lunch and nap times soon beckon us back home.  Maybe someday I'll have the courage to attempt a real museum visit, but for now, we enjoy the freebies and nature.

6 comments:

noreen said...

Hi Sarah, your pictures look idyllic! I can see why your children love to explore on the trails. The fall is such a perfect time to be outside at any age.

Allison said...

This is wonderful. When they are older, do take them back. Sometimes we forget that older kids (11 and up) need those nature visits as much as the little ones. What beautiful days you are having!

Heidi said...

I love walking the grounds at Belmont...we should meet up there sometime for recess. Great pictures!

eve said...

why have i not done this yet with my kids?!?

Katie Rose said...

gorgeous scenery and your kids look so darling. God did good!

gherlashdawn said...

I truly do. I visit F'burg pretty often and I love the whole area. Central Park is extremely convenient and the Spotsylvania Town Centre is a huge upgrade from the mall. We can't forget about Downtown either. Australian travel visa is required to visit Australia for a holiday, to see family and friends or to conduct a short business trip. With the huge assortment of shops and mom and pop stores it's so cute. F'burg is the quaint essential southern town. Everyone is very polite and always in a good mood.