Having just returned from vacation, I am sad to report that I didn't write a bit over that entire week, save for one blog post. The good news is that I was able to squeeze in some on-site research for my novel in progress.
On our way home from the beach we stopped at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. A pivotal scene from my novel-in-progress takes place at the Monticello Cemetery. I had traveled to Monticello about 6 years ago, but only saw the cemetery from the bus. When writing the crucial scene involving the cemetery at Monticello, I drew from my memory and from pictures that I was able to find online. I thought I had the scene as accurate as could be until I actually visited the cemetery this week. I looked at Jefferson's burial plot from every angle, noticing the kinds of trees surrounding the grave, the thickness of the iron fence surrounding the cemetery, and the enormity of the obelisk-shaped monument on top of Jefferson's resting place.
Another benefit of my visit to the place where much of the action in my novel occurs is that I will be able to add in another layer of accurate detail, allowing my readers to feel as if they were there. If readers actually do visit Monticello, they'll be able to see that I've done my homework. Take, for instance, the imposing crest adorning the wrought iron fence surrounding the cemetery, pictured below. This formidable --dare I say "haughty"-- crest plays right into one of the themes of the novel, the duplicity of well-intentioned aristocracy.