Thomas Jefferson was an incredibly well-traveled man. His travels are reflected in his writings, his home, and his beliefs all manner of things from governing and liberty to architecture and gardening. When he traveled he often took the following with him:
- ivory leaf notebooks
- a lap desk
- a small telescope
- a compass
- a thermometer
- drafting instruments
- an architect's scale
- a pocket knife
I had to take some time off this month (it's use it or lose it time for PTO) so I decided that I would do a bunch of random things with my time including a day trip...somewhere. I usually go to Baltimore but I wasn't really feeling Baltimore this time around. Instead, I decided to take the 2-ish hour drive south to Charlottesville - home of Monticello and the University of Virginia. It's also the setting for one of my favorite books, Love is a Mix Tape. I've talked about this book before and will now admit something a little crazy: I have read this book 12 times. I can't help myself - it's just that amazing. And sad - you know how I like sad things. I sort of idolize Rob and Renee so this trip was a bit of a homage to them. The playlist (100 songs, 6 hours of music) was inspired by Love is a Mix Tape and includes songs referenced in the book as well as my own takes on the artists and songs I thought that Rob and Renee would love. It began with Frankie Valli, Liz Phair, and Martha & the Vandellas - always a good way to start a day.
I decided to start at Monticello because Thomas Jefferson is my favorite Founding Father and he's certainly my favorite part of the musical 1776. He wrote the Declaration of Independence (which is amongst my favorite government/historical documents). Yes, I have a favorite Founding Father and favorite historical documents. That's perfectly normal.
I like the tone of the Declaration of Independence and the boldness of its statements. I haven't been to Monticello since high school so it felt like time to visit again. There are several ways to get to Monticello from Arlington. I opted for the route that goes through Chancellorsville and the Wilderness battlefields and connects to the Constitution Route (VA-20). As I entered the Chancellorsville battlefield, the first Big Star song played on my iPod. Big Star is the band that brought Rob and Renee together (and they happen to be responsible for one of my top five songs). I took this as a sign of a good day ahead - Big Star would be sprinkled throughout the day but for my favorite song to be so early in the trip just felt right. If I had been so inclined, I could have stopped and seen the place where Stonewall Jackson's arm was shot off by his own men during the Battle of Chancellorsville (it was an accident). There's a white historical marker on the side of the highway so you can stop. I was not so inclined today. I also did not stop at the Battle of the Wilderness historical shelter but I did enjoy "Ring of Fire" as I drove through.
I have a friend who doesn't see the point in road trips. For him, travel is about a destination not how you get there. I don't agree - I think that's a simplified argument and leaves out a lot of what goes into traveling: the nuances and navigation of travel, the need to communicate to fellow passengers (if there are any), getting lost. Every travel writer I've read or have heard speak doesn't ever just focus on the destination - they'd have no story to tell if they did. Interesting things can happen along the way to somewhere. Or to nowhere. That's really the point that my friend is missing - sometimes there isn't a destination at all. Sometimes it's just a journey. You might stop at places along the way but it's really about being out in the world and not really worrying about where it is you'll end up at the end of the day or road or whatever.
As long as you have one more song to listen to, you'll be fine.