I am really enjoying learning more about the state moto. Virginia is for lovers comes from the idea that you can find everything you love in VA, Virginia is for mountain lovers… fill in anything you want!
Leaving from DC we drove to Shenandoah National Park on our way to visit friends in Fulks Run VA. Hurricane Joaquin was heading up the coast and bringing a lot of rain and fog, even as far north as we were. Driving into the park we decided to sleep in our car for the first night. After about two hours we were woken by a very friendly park ranger who sent us on our way to the nearest camp site about 20 miles away.Making our way through the park, hundreds of frogs, awakened by the rain, leaped across the road. While at first this really beautiful show made my jaw drop, I quickly realized we were probably participating a frog slaughter as they jumped beneath our wheels.
The fog wrapped the mountains in a blanket and spilled into the valleys, keeping all the scenic spots cloaked in secrecy. That didn’t stop cars full of visitors from snapping photos in the moments of clear views that rolled in with the wind. Not yet outfitted with a raincoat we hopped in the car, avoiding the rain, and drove to Fulks Run, VA, a rural town about 30 minutes outside of Harrisonburg. We roasted a chicken and drank homemade prickly pear mead with friends. Waking the next morning we explored the streets in Harrisonburg, a small college town with great food, coffee shops. Short buildings ensure that the mountainous landscape is not obscured (we think, it was too foggy to tell). We saw cousins and enjoyed some time with the wonderful ring bearers from our wedding.
Then, off to Charlottesville.
In Charlottesville we visited with more teacher friends from Philly. A beautiful small city, we had a few days to adventure around and here is what we did!
Firefly A really neat restaurant whose food and vibe reminded me of Philadelphia. A great beer selection and a fun american inspired menu featuring tatertots, burgers, and ribs. There was live music while we visited, a three guitar band… but they also offer trivia nights, as well as lots of game options.
The Whiskey Jar A southern inspired menu and soo good. Another great beer selection, but also whiskey (duh), ciders, and cocktails. Mason Jars, rough wooden decor, and bluegrass flair.
The Pie Chest On a last stroll through the downtown mall, we found ourselves in a pie store. Sweet and savory pies, even vegan pies! This one was quite tasty with crispy, flaky crust.
Wine Country, VA has a few options for vineyard tours. We visited a few along the way, we were told they have great views! We visited three of about 30 vineyards in our time.
Cardinal Vineyards is a low key vineyard, with a small tasting room. Their wine was pretty good and they offered a Chardonnay fermented with hops which is worth a taste! This place stood out for two reasons
- Free tastings for teachers with teacher ID
- An air B and B for rent in the middle of the vineyard!
Veritas Vineyard is a great place to visit when it is raining. They have a huge and beautiful tasting room with a fireplace as well as a large covered porch. I also enjoyed their wine the most of the three vineyards.
Finally, we visited Afton Vineyards. This one has a vineyard dog, enough said.
Both Veritas and Afton give free glasses with your tasting, so be prepared to come home with a whole new set of wine glasses after your trip.
Livery Stable Almost underground, this place is kind of a dive. I promptly spilled all my change on the floor when trying to get my ID out in front of an unamused bouncer. Sticky tables aside, this place was well worth it. The overworked bartender was so friendly and provided great service despite being way too busy. They are known for their moscow mule which comes in a copper cup. The cups have a tendency to be stolen so when you order one they keep you card, similar to starting a tab. Well I did not know this and the following conversation occurred.
Me to bartender “ hey when i opened my tab I left my card”
Bartender “Oh. Give me my cup back”
Me (Looks back a table that had already been cleared) “umm we don’t have it…”
Don’t worry, I did get my card back but I was pretty nervous for a minute there.
Wine Loves Chocolate Along the downtown mall, a small wine and chocolate store. For 10 dollars you get a three truffle and wine pairing. Two delicious things and you cannot go wrong. It doesn’t have the best ambiance, but was still a worthwhile quick stop. I enjoyed a bananas foster truffle that melted in my mouth. I have never had bananas foster but if it tastes like that truffle, I will love it.
The Other Stuff
Charlottesville is best known as the home of Monticello, the private residence of Thomas Jefferson. An expensive tour, but well worth it. This residence is beautiful and the tour guides are very knowledgeable, each tour offering a new piece of trivia. Most interesting, Jefferson died in extreme debt 100,00-200,000 thousand dollars. How this is possible in his time is baffling to me.
Hikes and Runs- you can read more about these here!
Art Park is an outdoor art space, the walls covered in murals with sculpture art scattered around the grounds and stairs painted as piano keys adorn the surrounding hills. A small free library built of books and offers books for exchange, and a very large butt ( check out #lovebutt, not even kidding). An outdoor venue and concert space this was an awesome space to stop by on our trip.
Luray Caverns, the fourth largest cavern system in the US was pretty mind boggling. The tour was awful and the entire place was hokey and outdated, so we loved it. It is pretty expensive ($26 dollars a ticket) and you can visit the largest caverns (over 400 miles) for the same price a few hours away at Mammoth. We are headed over there this week so keep an eye out for new photos!