Friday, June 16, 2017

Last Morning in WV and a Visit to Lexington

Monday morning, we knew our trip had come to end. We had breakfast, packed everything up, and gave the house a cleaning. Despite the 10 of us invading the space, it was like we had never been there. The kids were all sad to see it come to an end. I was thankful for the great time we had. It could not have gone any better. Everyone got along perfectly and enjoyed the outdoor activities our weekend in the mountains offered.

When I asked people their favorite part of the trip, Jack said making s'mores, Anna said walking along the rocks of the Cranberry River, Luke said throwing rocks, Kara said the waterfall hike, Thomas said swimming in the river, and for me it was the relaxing moments of playing games on the lawn with our friends. If we go back, I want to do everything all over again!

We left the house just before 10 and drove straight to Lexington, VA. It was on the way home and I didn't want to pass through without stopping to say hello to our old stomping grounds. Thomas and I graduated from W&L in 2004. We spent the night in 2010 on our drive to Maryland and I have been itching to go back ever since. The kids were happy to humor us. We stopped for lunch at Dairy Queen and then headed to Lee Chapel. We did the Chapel tour and then went to the museum. I enjoyed seeing General Lee's office, which has been preserved just as he left it at the time of his death in 1870. We learned some things I either didn't know, or had forgotten. For example, when the North came through during the Civil War, they burned VMI and some of Washington College (it wasn't named Washington and Lee until after Lee's death). They didn't burn the entire university and it is rumored that they didn't want to destroy the statute of General Washington that looks down on the University. It was fun to revisit and remind ourselves of the cool history of the school. 

The only picture we took in the beautiful Lee Chapel, right as we sat down in General Lee's family pew, they called us for our tour.

The Colonnade of the undergraduate campus looked exactly the same. We walked from Lee Chapel across my favorite footbridge in the world to the Law School. The outside looked the same, but there were some major changes inside, mainly to the library. Since school is out for the summer, there weren't many students around and we were able to take the kids into the classrooms. We showed them where Thomas and I had our first small section together and told them about some of our history with the school. They were very patient listeners.

Seeing the colonnade is what made Anna decide she wants to be a future General.

On my favorite bridge, built in 1927.

Kara took this one of Thomas and me

There were other significant changes, the University has built beautiful student housing behind the law school and a new student center that houses an indoor pool. After seeing all it had to offer, Anna is now committed to go there for her undergraduate years, Jack and Kara said they want to attend the law school just like we did. Of course, it is the only college campus they have toured. Luke just looked for rocks to throw ;) 

We had so many great memories. I was feeling super excited and positive and just enjoying being a tour guide to the kids as we walked the campus. We showed them the student apartments and the field where Thomas hit about a million home runs during Dean's Cup. Then, as we got to the doors of Lewis Hall, I had a bit of a sinking feeling. It brought back the memories of going to difficult classes and taking finals; those memories weren't the happy, bubbly ones that the rest of the campus elicited. Of course, they were the whole reason for being there and you can't get a law degree without going through some misery. Overall, it was an amazing experience. I am not sure I will encourage our kids to be lawyers, but if they choose that career path, I would be thrilled to have them at W&L!

Taken just before the sinking feeling reminded me that it wasn't all flag football and scenic hikes.
Unfortunately, we were a bit worn out from our West Virginia trip, so we didn't do as much as I had planned. I really wanted to walk the Woods Creek trail and show the kids the first place we lived as a married couple (Eleanor's mountain basement). But, we settled for our time in Lee Chapel, the walk across campus and the drive around town. Speaking of which, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there were also some major changes at VMI. All the buildings have been painted and it no longer looks like an old insane asylum (what I legitimately thought it was the first time I saw it). They have also added at least one large building. On our next visit, I hope we can go to the Marshall Museum and spend a bit of time at VMI as well. So much I want to do!

The rest of the drive home was uneventful and despite the amazing weekend, we were all happy to sleep in our own beds.

Postnote: So, I just looked up W&L law tuition--$47,165!!! When we were there, it was $20,000, with inflation, that is the equivalent of today's $26,000, so that added 20k is a huge increase! My kids better hope for full tuition like their smart dad had (or at least 75% like their almost as smart mom). Undergrad is $49,0000! We better take the kids on a tour of the University of Maryland soon...

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