April 17, 2011
This morning we both were awake at 6 again. Darn! We apparently need "sleep in" lessons. After our motel breakfast we packed up and went to see Lexington, Virginia.
Lexington is the home of Virginia Military Institute, the "West Point of the South," which opened in 1839. It is awesome looking. Having been to West Point once, I could see that VMI is quite similar in its appearance. The buildings have tops that reminded me of a castle fortress. Stonewall Jackson is in statue form in front of one of the main buildings. Uniformed students walk solemnly around the campus.
We had dinner last night at Applebee's and the place was full of students, as Washington and Lee University, founded in 1749, is actually right next door to VMI and we found out that they share some of classes. Washington and Lee is absolutely gorgeous, many buildings of red brick with white pillared buildings. (Robert E. Lee served as its president at one time, and George Washington donated money to begin this school.) Since all the blossoming trees are blooming, tulips and daffodils abound, and all the trees and grass are bright green, it is an incredible sight for two Ohioans, fresh from the unrelenting winter of 2011.
This morning we visited the grave of Stonewall Jackson at one end of Main Street, in an ancient cemetery filled with CSA markers on old stones, and the grave of Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller, at the other end of town. Lee and Traveller are buried at Washington and Lee, one in the chapel, and one just outside the door. It was a fairly nice walk through old streets lined with antique shops and bistros. The uniformed and un-uniformed students walked to and fro, mingling.
The city had an ecumenical Palm Sunday event going on, also, which was upliftingly nice to see. As our walk began, we encountered a throng of people gathering in a park midtown. Clerics in black robes led a group of parishioners carrying palms, led by a bagpiper playing "Oh, Shenandoah," through the streets of Lexington. As our walk intertwined with the parade, we realized that this group of mixed-Christians was going from one church to another, stopping for prayer for unity on the front steps of each church. This involved many churches, as we noticed nearly every denomination within the boundaries of the historic district. We got the gist of this parade: Christians should stop berating other denominations of Christians, and follow Christ's lessons.
Now, I know that you are waiting breathlessly for my report about the Natural Bridge of Virginia. It is about 12 miles out of Lexington, and the drive there was so lovely with the sun out, flowers abloom, a wild animal zoo on the right, a pink Cadillac luncheonette on the left. Every home entrepreneur between Lexington and the Natural Bridge had put out a sign and was in some kind of business. The drive was truly beautiful in spite of the blight. Then, voila! We arrived at the Natural Bridge Entrance where we could buy tickets, go to the huge souvenir store, use the restroom, buy ice cream, have our photos taken with some wax museum people, and then go out the back door to actually SEE the Natural Bridge of Virginia!
Now, if you have not read my yesterday's entry, telling of the mishaps we have had trying to SEE this thing, you need to do that. Suffice it to say that at least 3 attempts have been made to get me there, not counting the several other trips by where, "Did we miss it or what?" was uttered too late to go back.
Today was the day, and I marched myself right up to the ticket counter to buy the tickets.
"Two adults for the bridge, please," I said, pulling out Valerie, my Visa card. "Are there any discounts for AAA or seniors?" I added.
"No," replied the sweet young thing at the counter, "but the Bridge is not open just now, due to the heavy rains we had here yesterday."
She went on, "But it might open at noon, if you want to buy your tickets anyway."
"What if it doesn't open at noon?" I asked, nearly wheezing. "Would I get a refund?"
"No refunds.................but we can give you a rain check," the sweet young thing said, politely.
I slid Valerie back into her case, whispered, "We can't use a rain check. We are travelling, but thanks, anyway," and moved away from the counter, too dazed to speak.
I did take a picture of a post card of the Natural Bridge, right there in the souvenir shop, however, and then bought a post card for my journal. I have "seen" the 7th wonder of the natural world, apparently, as closely as I am going to see it anytime soon. We decided, as we drove on, that there is some reason in the plan of the Universe, that Kim is not supposed to go there. Yet.
We drove to the foot of the Blue Ridge Parkway for our picnic lunch. There's a lookout place that has a huge rock right at that location, where we have been before. In 2002, we took all four of our children there for a view of the mountains before we continued to the Outer Banks for our "Beach Buddy" week vacation. It brought back tender memories while we ate our sandwiches at a picnic table there, freezing, in the very cold and windy noontime weather.
From then until 5 PM we just drove, following Rt. 64 east through the mountains of Virginia, to Williamsburg, where we had an ulterior motive: dinner at Pierce's Barbecue Pit. I don't know how many times we've been there, but sometimes it has been going AND coming that we've stopped for the world's best barbecue sandwich. Tonight it was chicken BBQ, and on the way home it may be the pork. The place is a gold mine for the owner. It's open every day of the year but Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving, 10-9.............and there is standing room only every time we've been there. (No, I don't believe that I am related to these Pierces, but if I were, I'd be sure to ask for the sauce recipe!) Tonight we sat at a picnic table, outside. Spring is here in Virginia!
We checked into a Windham Motel here in Williamsburg. It has wicker rockers on the front and side porches, where we enjoyed a glass of wine before hitting Pierce's BBQ. We did one short trip through the business district of Williamsburg, "just to see it," and are tucked into our room for the night.
The scenery we've seen today has been breathtakingly beautiful. We are in love with the mountains, the sun, the flowers, the green grass, the leaves on trees, the smell of mown grass. The good news is that we know it's only a short time until we get all of these wonderful things in Ohio....................except for the mountains.