Tag Archives: VA

Blabberize with Thomas Jefferson

This is a video called a Blabberize. It is a piece of writing that is spoken to make the mouth move. I made it after we went to Monticello in Virginia. My dad told me about this website and I started with writing the script about Thomas Jefferson. Then I got the photo and started to blabberize. Below is the script that I wrote and used.

DSC_0076“Good-day. My name is Thomas Jefferson, but you can call me TJ.

I was born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia. It was a beautiful place to grow up. My father was a surveyor and he had lots of land and slaves. When I was older, I went to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. It was there that I studied law and became a lawyer.

In 1776, I joined the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to represent my colony of Virginia. At this meeting, they asked me to write the Declaration of Independence because I had the best writing. In the Declaration of Independence, I wrote “All Men are Created Equal”. I was trying to abolish slavery but some of the parts got scratched out by others. We still got our independence from England.

After that, I got elected as the Governor of Virginia. I was also Secretary of State under George Washington, Vice President for John Adams, and then President of the United States.

As President, I bought the Louisiana Territory from France. It cost 15 million dollars for over 500 million acres; that means about 4 cents an acre. This doubled the size of America. I also sent out explorers, Lewis and Clark, to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean. It took them over two years before they returned. Along the way they made friends with Native American tribes and brought me back some artifacts like arrows and fur blankets. They couldn’t have done this expedition without the help of a Native American called Sacajawea.

My favorite place to be is my home in Monticello, which I designed myself. It is filled with books, collections of fossils, maps, and Native American artifacts. I like to drink wine and eat French food with my guests. I also have many pets including mockingbirds and bear cubs. I invented the polygraph, which makes 2 copies from 1 handwritten letter. This lets me keep one copy and send one so that if someone replied, I always know what I said before.

As I reach the end of my life, I feel the need to do something else so I’m creating the University of Virginia. I do not want to have hundreds of slaves, but who will take care of my house if I have no slaves? The slaves will get passed down to my family. I have lived a wealthy life but I have lots of debts to pay.

As I grow old, I’ve been thinking that on my grave stone I want it to say that I was the author of the Declaration of Independence and Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom and that I founded the University of Virginia. I believe in “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.”



Four Foto Friday – Virginia and North Carolina


(Yep, another Saturday post, but no wifi at yesterday’s campground. Really!)

Spent more time in Williamsburg, Virginia than we were expecting. Aside from the big three attractions — Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg — this location put us in close proximity to two other great destinations: Charlottesville and the Outer Banks.


Monticello: Early in the week, we took a day trip up to Charlottesville in order to visit the home of Thomas Jefferson. We’ve been learning a lot about him as one of our “founding fathers”, and it was great to see so much of his character come through in this plantation home he had built for himself. We toured the house, which remains remarkably intact, explored the grounds, and enjoyed the excellent museum. He was a fascinatingly complex man, full of ideals and contradiction. Definitely worth the side trip.


Outer Banks: Traveling in the opposite direction (towards the NC coast) we took a short sojourn to the Outer Banks. It was definitely off-season here, but a couple of days of clear and cool weather still made for a good time at the beach. We enjoyed collecting shells, listening to the surf, visiting the lighthouses, and swimming… in the indoor pool at our hotel.


Corolla: One of the area attractions is seeing the wild horses that roam the dunes in the northern tip of OBX. These mustangs were brought by Spanish explorers 500 years ago and still retain 100% of that original genetic lineage. Our tour included a 4×4 ride through the dunes, some neat bird sightings (bald eagles and ospreys), and several of the wild horses. The boys also got a kick out of our funny guide, who gave their dad a hard time for being a Yankee’s fan.


Wright Brothers Memorial: Another big attraction was in Kill Devil Hills, where Wilber and Orville Wright conducted their first successful flights. We enjoyed learning about their story, which was a lesson in perseverance, teamwork, and scientific thinking. Here, Miles and Owen challenged the park ranger to their own paper airplane flight tests (part of another Jr. Ranger badge).

All in all, another good week on the Gold Family Road Trip. We’re halfway through our southern swing, with this next week’s adventures in Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks for following along!

Four Foto Friday – DC and Around

(Just noticed that I forgot to post this last week. I hit “drafts” instead of publish… whoops! Sorry for the FFF overload this week!)

OK, so today is Saturday, not Friday. You may have also noticed that I missed last week’s FFF due to our action packed time in DC. To make up for this, I’m doubling my efforts with 8 photos from the past 2 weeks. Also, since it’s the end the month, our latest album of October photos can now be found on our Gallery page. Hope this makes up for last weekend’s laziness, and that you enjoy these shots from our recent adventures!


White House: It takes some advanced planning to arrange a tour (thanks, Susan and Jeff!) but this was definitely a DC highlight. Our intern/guide met us at the gate and led us through the East Wing and Main Floor of the house, which was filled with spectacular art, historic furnishings, and many great stories about the presidents and families who resided there. While the Obama’s didn’t appear to be around, we did catch a glimpse of the family pooch, Sunny (Bo’s sister). The whole tour was a very memorable experience for us all!


DC Sights: It’s hard to choose from our photos of DC, so I’ll just use this one to capture them all. Our visits into the city included: the US Capitol, Supreme Court, National Archives, Ford’s Theatre, the Newseum, and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art… all of which can be seen in our October photo gallery. This one was taken from Arlington Cemetery (VA) on a crisp autumn morning.


Mount Vernon: Along with the DC sights, we also explored the area on several day trips, like this one to George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. Here we not only toured the house and learned about our first president, but also took the “Slave Tour” and saw Mount Vernon from a very different perspective.


Gettysburg: Another day trip from DC was our drive up to Gettysburg (PA), known for the battle that’s considered the turning point of the Civil War. We took an audio-tour of the battlefield and found these Confederate re-enactors practicing their drills.  We also visited the spot where President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address to memorialize the fallen soldiers and embolden the Union cause.


Family and Friends: Of course, it’s not all about historical people and places… DC gave us a chance to catch up with loved ones, too! It was great to leave the RV, spend time with family, and appreciate the comforts of “home”. We also enjoyed catching up with friends from Peace Corps (the Browns), from Delhi (Raj’s and her girls) and from Beijing (the Kochs).


Williamsburg: After 12 fantastic days in DC, we hit the road again and headed to Williamsburg, Virginia. The area of Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum with so many attractions it was hard to see them all in one day. We learned about town life in the 1700s through visits to the courthouse, jail, silversmith, wig maker, brick maker, and governor’s palace. We even stayed into the night for a Ghost Tour… a creepy but fun way to explore the 300 year old homes.


Jamestown: The history in this part of Virginia goes back to the earliest American settlers, those of Jamestown Colony. Another living history museum, it was interesting to see how Jamestown differed from Plimoth Plantation, which we saw up in Massachusetts. Like Plimoth, the Jamestown museum also showcased the lifestyle of the Powhatan indians who occupied this region.


Halloween: What a perfect way to cap off another month on the road… trick-or-treating for Halloween candy! The boys dressed as scary bears, and even Jen got into the spirit. Although we were able to do some of this in Beijing, the neighborhood we found here in Williamsburg turned out to be an ideal spot: lots of kids, many decorated houses, and tons of American candy. Whoo-hoo!