Our Washington Crossing the Delaware Adventure

Since we were local this Christmas, we decided to do something a little different and view the annual re-creation of Washington’s Delaware river crossing. Although a little chilly, the weather was really beautiful and perfect for a drive in the country. After getting dressed appropriately, we ventured to Washington’s Crossing Park in New Jersey. There is also a Washington’s Crossing Park in Pennsylvania but for some reason, Google maps told us to go to New Jersey. Probably just as well since there seemed to be more parking.

After a 45 minute drive, we parked near the visitor’s center, which was closed, and then we walked along the same path the colonist militia walked towards Trenton. We went the other way towards the river. I hoped I wouldn’t have to pee because there is nothing worse than managing a historic dress in a freezing cold port-ta-potty. But, after five minutes or so, we came to this:

Washington's Crossing, December 25, 2013
Washington’s Crossing, December 25, 2013

The water in the front is a tow-path and in warmer weather, we’d like to return to explore. However, seeing the smoke wafting from the chimney indicating a place to warm up, was very welcoming, like visiting our colonial-era neighbor. We found a lovely couple (in period clothing) inside, warming up cider over the fire and serving cider donuts. My phone was dead so I didn’t get as many photos as I might have but Frank takes much better photos than me. We had a little chuckle over the fact that the little house, although looking quite colonial, was actually built 18 years after our own little home. After spending some time in the cozy room, I conclude that if we took the appliances out of our kitchen, it would look very colonial indeed. Appliances ruin everything!

Warming up cider over the fire.
Warming up cider over the fire.

I am sorry our kitchen fireplace has been bricked to a point where we can’t cook in it. We’re considering restoring it to its former cooking glory when we redo our kitchen sometime in the next ten years or so. The housekeeper, who was passing out donuts and cookies, told us that next month they’re having a cooking in your fireplace class that sounds like a lot of fun.

The Delaware River.
The Delaware River.

After we warmed up, we explored the area and crossed over the bridge to the Pennsylvania side. Frank took this photo to show how fast the current in the river is. Thankfully, no ice, but still, very swift moving. The Pumpkin wanted to take a boat across but that’s not allowed. To ensure the safety of those crossing the river, there were motor-powered rescue boats on standby just downriver from the crossing area.

There was more activity on the Pennsylvania side along with more houses, a museum with indoor plumbing (yay!), a gift shoppe, a restaurant, a boat house, and more people in period attire.

Washington's Crossing, December 25, 2013.

Here’s a lovely Georgian home. In this area, they seem to be stuccoed instead of the plain brick we have by us in the city. Either was fashionable but in Europe, the style was to cover the brick. If the original owners were from Europe, it could explain the stucco. Or maybe they just liked it that way, or the brick has been damaged and it was covered in later years. Next time I should ask.

In any case, I wish the houses had been open for exploring but they were closed. I regret not taking the free program book because I got a little overwhelmed and distracted. Alas, I have no idea what house this is. Doesn’t matter. I wish I could just move in. Frank says no, our house is old enough. The nice colonial gentleman in front of the house was a nice touch for the photo.

Washington's Crossing, December 25, 2013.

Here are some militia. There were so many historically attired people, although these gentlemen stood out with their very interesting hats with deer tails on them.

Your author at Washington's Crossing, December 25, 2013.
Hey! I know that person!

Here I am, standing in front of the house with the yellow door. That color appears relatively frequently on colonial houses and is a nice complement to my green dress. It was so cold but I pushed my cape back a bit for the photo and took off my very non-18th Century hat. What I need is a decent hat. There were plenty of other attired ladies who had very smart straw hats.

The best thing about this dress is that over the years, it’s expanded so that even though it’s nearing 20 years old, it still fits. During the 18th Century, this dress was in style for roughly 50 years so I’ve 30 more to go. A very smart design.

The new corset worked out very nicely and I can actually breathe now. When we got home, I kept my dress on and even did dishes and folded laundry; a welcome improvement from my old stays which were a bit suffocating.

Washington's Crossing, December 25, 2013.

Here is Frank. His outfit was very popular. The more we go out, the more I think that it’s rather nice to embrace history with a little modern twist. Frank is more Assassin’s Creed than Benjamin Franklin but you know what? He’s pretty bad-arse and very dashing! And, the leather kept the wind at bay. Seeing this wall reminds me we need to re-point our kitchen wall this spring.

Maybe this is George Washington?

I was expecting to see the same George Washington that we saw a few years back on George Washington’s birthday at Valley Forge. However, no one really looked the same. Instead, this might be George Washington. He looked rather important and seemed like he was in a hurry but he’s wearing black and I’m pretty sure George Washington’s breeches were beige although we don’t have a photo so maybe he did wear black breeches. I wonder if someone wrote that down somewhere. Then again, there are more pressing issues at hand than the color of a man’s pants.

Because we were exploring, we didn’t get a very good vantage point on the shore. After partially seeing one boat launch, and because we had lost feeling in our feet by this time (next time wool socks and clogs!), we decided to cross the bridge back into New Jersey. Halfway over, from the bridge, we got an excellent view and watched the rest of the crossing, making funny jokes about the orchestral accompaniment blaring over the loudspeaker and how we were quite sure that George Washington had Pandora on his iPhone playing what sounded like 19th Century music during the original crossing. I will note that crossing a swiftly moving river in a row boat is no easy task. No history book can really adequately explain this; you have to see it in person to comprehend the difficulty.

On their arrival, everyone clapped and cheered. Two more boats made the journey and once over, there were cannon’s fired to celebrate a successful crossing.

Washington's Crossing, New Jersey, December 25, 2013.

I could have stayed longer but my feet were protesting the exposure. We stopped at the little house with the cider to warm up (here is the Pumpkin enjoying her cider and modeling her new bonnet) before walking back to the car. The Pumpkin really needs a new dress but I need a good two days to adapt my adult-sized Robe a la Francoise for her.

We had such a good time that this is going to have to become a tradition.

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