Afternoon: Hotel check-in: Available from 3:00 p.m. Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table between 4:00-5:00 p.m. to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: In the pleasant ambiance of the Windsor Room, enjoy a buffet meal that offers a choice of two entrées such as lemon basil chicken, lasagna, and stuffed flounder, side dishes, two salads,and beverage choices including coffee, tea, water.
Evening: In our opening educational session, a local expert will provide an overview and insights into the historic houses we will be visiting and their illustrious owners. The settings, architectural designs, and collected treasures of their homes reveal much about the eight Virginians who have served as our nation’s Chief Executive. We will also learn what Mount Vernon tells us about George Washington's business acumen; why James Monroe's Highland stands within sight of Monticello; why Madison's Montpelier has two front entrances; why John Tyler's Sherwood Forest was so named; and much more. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: The bus transfer is approximately 2 hours each way with a rest stop. Walking at Mount Vernon is about a mile with some uneven, hilly paths including the walk to the mansion that is approximately 1/4 mile uphill on crushed stone (no shuttle); only the first floor of mansion is wheelchair accessible. Those who prefer something less physically demanding can explore extensive exhibits in the Reynolds Museum and Education Center.
Breakfast: In the Windsor Room, the breakfast buffet typically includes selections such as scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage links, pancakes or French toast, grits, hot cinnamon apples, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, English muffins, bagels, cereals, fruit, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: We board our bus for the 2-hour trip to Mount Vernon. En route, we will view “Pursuit of Honor” — a film that follows Washington as he matures from volatile young man through his military career in two wars to becoming the first President of the United States, stature as Father of His Country, and back home to his beloved Mount Vernon. Consider the many enterprises in which Washington engaged, including the crops he grew, the livestock he raised, the grain that was milled and the whiskey that was distilled, even the very profitable fishery he ran. Learn what this riverside enterprise tells us about the determined Virginian who became “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Upon arrival, we will explore the Reynolds Museum and Education Center, a new Museum that contains 25 theaters and galleries and more than 500 original artifacts that detail the storied life of our nation's first great hero. The Museum includes interactive displays, a major movie, short films produced by The History Channel, and high-tech, immersive experiences. Three life-size models created by a forensic anthropologist present Washington from his teen year to maturity.
Lunch: The Group Leader will provide vouchers for the Mount Vernon food court where you can choose what you like from fare such as salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizza, a variety of drinks, and sweet treats.
Afternoon: We will explore the mansion with a knowledgeable Mount Vernon expert to gain an understanding and appreciation of the family's wealth and status evidenced in the decoration, furnishings, and numerous original possessions. You will then have some free time for personal independent exploration through the grounds. Washington's beloved estate includes four different gardens, the tombs of George and Martha, and a working farm with a recreation of his famous 16-sided barn.
Dinner: In the Windsor Room.
Evening: Free Evening
Activity note: Walking up to a mile, uneven paths, limited access to some areas of the houses. At Monticello, we take a shuttle ride from the Visitor Center to the house. The grounds include steep paths and steps. The Visitor Center exhibits at Monticello provide an alternative for the less mobile. At Michie Tavern, only the dining room is handicapped accessible. Some interior steps at Highland can be avoided by going back outside, around the house, and rejoining the group below.
Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
Morning: Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe were friends and neighbors in rural Albemarle County. With our expert, examine their lives and philosophies. We will also consider the world of the landed gentry and how it contrasted with that of the small farmers, women, and the slaves who made such a lifestyle possible. Learn something of the mindset this way of life gave to both men and how it affected their politics and careers. We board our motor coach for a field trip to Highland, once the home of James Monroe. This is a small, homey dwelling in contrast to the stately mansions of Monroe's friends and neighbors. Recent archaeology suggests that the current structure may be a guest residence and that Monroe's home was a much larger nearby building that no longer exists. Information on these finds will be provided during the visit. Discover how the existing house has evolved through the centuries with different owners. Explore the elegantly furnished rooms of this "cabin-castle", including the study and children's room added during the tenure of the Monroes on the plantation from 1799-1828. Stroll the grounds to see the gardens, reconstructed slave quarters, and original Overseer's Cottage while taking in the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Lunch: At historic Michie Tavern, journey back to the 18th century with a traditional Bill of Fare including fried chicken, black eyed peas, cornbread, and much more (good Southern cooking!) . This tavern founded in 1784 by Scotsman William Michie (rhymes with sticky) was a social center of the community. After lunch, we will explore the building with an engaging local expert.
Afternoon: Our motor coach next takes us to Jefferson’s amazing home, Monticello. As we walk through the magnificent mansion, you will glimpse the genius of Jefferson in the architecture he employed, a wonderful homage to Roman antiquity. No less delightful are the many innovative gadgets that he devised and that now fill the main floor, carefully preserved and presented for the latter day visitor. Step back in time to the President's retirement years not only in the house visit but also in walks through the extensive ornamental and kitchen gardens and the Jefferson family cemetery.
Dinner: In the Windsor Room
Evening: Having visited his home, what could be a better way to end the day than with a conversation with one of the Founding Fathers? A very convincing historical interpreter gives you a first person perspective on James Monroe and his celebrated friends of the Virginia Piedmont in “A Visit with Colonel Monroe.”
Activity note: Considerable walking and standing indoors and out; the round-trip walk between the Visitor Center and the mansion is approximately 2/3 mile on a pebble walkway that slopes (no shuttle). The second floor is reachable only by stairs; there are exhibits and videos on the first floor. Exhibits in the Education Center provide an alternative for those who prefer something less physically demanding.
Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
Morning: Jefferson was the great mind of the Revolution. Madison was the architect of the young Republic. Follow the friendship of these two remarkable statesmen, tracing their influence on each other as well as their divergent thinking. Learn not only about their political connections, but also those of philosophy and culture. On our field trip via motor coach to Madison’s home, Montpelier, we will take an expert-led walk through the beautifully restored mansion that has just undergone a major refurbishing to return it to its appearance at the time it was occupied by James and Dolley Madison. The estate, which Madison described as "a squirrel's jump from heaven", features historic buildings, ongoing archaeological sites, a walled garden, and a freedman's cabin and farm. The visit will include time to explore the Education and Visitor Centers as well. During our travels today, we will also have an opportunity to see the site of Montebello, birthplace of President Zachary Taylor. While there is no place for the bus to stop, we will drive by as slowly as we can and thereby encounter all eight home sites of Virginia Presidents!
Lunch: In the Visitor Center’s Exchange Café adjacent to the DuPont Gallery, we’ll have box lunches with a sandwich, fruit, chips, cookie, water.
Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You might like to visit sites such as the Grounds of the University of Virginia or the Downtown Pedestrian Mall, both accessible by public transportation.
Dinner: Tonight's meal has been excluded from the cost of your program tuition. Your group leader will be happy to provide suggestions nearby.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: The bus transfer is approximately 2 hours each way with a rest stop. Sherwood Forest Plantation is accessible by 4-5 steps. Berkeley is accessible by about 6-8 steps up to the house and down to the basement where the introductory film is shown. Uneven pathways at both houses.
Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
Morning: Aboard our motorcoach en route to Sherwood Forest Plantation, we will see a film titled, “The Presidents” focusing on the antebellum Presidents and in particular the two Virginia Whigs: Indian fighter William Henry Harrison and running mate John Tyler, who utilized the nation's first campaign song in their quest for the White House. Consider what today seems to us almost impossible: the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates of 1840 being from the same state. Learn about the lives of these Virginia patricians who were Charles City County neighbors. During our field trip, we will see how landed gentry of Tidewater Virginia in this era lived at the home of John Tyler, the first “accidental” President. Tyler called it Sherwood Forest as an inside joke in recognition of his “outlaw” status as a Whig politician. It grew to become the longest frame house in America, more than 300 feet, and has remained in the Tyler family ever since. There are 12 original outbuildings or dependencies on the beautifully wooded landscape.
Lunch: At a restaurant across the Benjamin Harrison Bridge, enjoy a delightful riverside lunch, with a choice of entrée plus dessert and beverage.
Afternoon: Berkeley Plantation was the home of William Henry Harrison, the first Whig President and the first to die in office a month after his inauguration. Born into a wealthy slave-holding family, he moved to what was then the Northwest Territory before the end of the 18th century. He eventually ran for President as the candidate of “the common man” — the most egregious instance of political spin in early U.S. campaign history. We will stroll through the gorgeous tree-lined lawn and 10 acres of formal gardens before participating in an expert led walk through one of Virginia's oldest three story brick homes. Berkeley claims prominence as the site of America's first Thanksgiving in 1619. This was also the place where "Taps" was composed when the Union Army camped here during the Civil War. On our return ride, we will see the film “Woodrow Wilson” to learn about the exceptional career of Virginia's only 20th century President.
Dinner: In the Windsor Room.
Evening: Engage in a detailed study of James Madison, revered as the Father of the Constitution, including his co-authorship of the Federalist Papers and career of public service. Connect the President to his magnificent home as it grew and changed with the needs of his family. Learn the details of the life enjoyed by him and his delightful wife Dolley, heroine of the burning of the White House during the War of 1812.
Activity note: The family home, known as the Manse, is in Staunton’s Gospel Hill Historic District; uneven brick sidewalks. The Museum galleries are on the first floor; the World War I trench exhibit on the ground floor is not handicapped accessible, however, visitors can see a video presentation. After the field trip, we will return to the hotel by approximately 11:30 a.m. Check-out is by 12:00 Noon.
Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
Morning: Woodrow Wilson was educated at Princeton, the University of Virginia, and Johns Hopkins, where he earned a doctorate with his dissertation “Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics.” He served as a professor at Columbia, Bryn Mawr, and Wesleyan before joining the faculty of Princeton and was eventually chosen as its President. Learn about Wilson’s views on government, politics, Constitutional law, and follow his progress to Governor of New Jersey and finally the Presidency, where he managed the most progressive legislative agenda until Franklin D. Roosevelt, followed by U.S. involvement in World War I and his efforts on behalf of the League of Nations. At the Woodrow Wilson Museum and Birthplace, we will explore the museum and its galleries dedicated to President Wilson's life. Then enjoy an expert-led walk through the house with its period furnishings and Wilson family belongings. Finish with a stroll through the charming boxwood garden, a restoration project of the Garden Club of Virginia.
Lunch: We return to the hotel where you can pick up a box lunch to take away with you. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!