MonticelloWe’re out visiting friends in Charlottesville, VA. Thanks to their wireless setup, being here is a lot like being home… Except all I need to think about is our next meal/activity and whether or not there’s such thing as Too Much Natural Beauty. Trees everywhere, lush rolling hills, Blue Mountains in the distance (blue, exactly as advertised).

And, of course, Jefferson’s fancy crib (which we just toured). It seems so quintessentially American to me that this founding father — whose credits at age 33 included being principal author of the Declaration of Independence — also has the dubious distinction of having “abhorred” the idea of slavery, yet owned over 600 in his lifetime. To top it off, he apparently only “freed” 7 of them, ever, and that was mainly to help pay off the enormous debts he accumulated by the end of his life. Flawed, human… A brilliant mess, and so very American. A tall, skinny, redheaded rich kid who went on to have his face � and yes, his fancy-assed crib � etched on the humble yet ubiquitous U.S. Nickel.