Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Forced March Home.......Staunton and a Winery.....or Two

We left the Outer Banks yesterday morning, and we're managing to take as long to get home as we can. We know the party's over.  The last hurrah was at Ace Hardware in Kitty Hawk.  Great store.  We always have to go there for something, and even though we didn't need anything, it was a ritual.

We didn't stop until outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, where we had an impulse stop at King Vineyards. We'd met some lovely people, the Hulls, from Richmond, who told us a lot about Virginian vineyards. The King Vineyard was like being in Napa. There was a bridal shower going on at the patio, and a wedding rehearsal taking place out in a field near the polo fields. No kidding. This place even had horses walking around out there, and also all the people were beautiful. Maybe there was some magazine shoot going on, and we were in the wrong place, but we sipped and then bought a bottle of good cabernet franc. The place was like a movie set. I truly hope that the weather was as beautiful and the sky just as clear for the wedding today that we watched being rehearsed there. What a gorgeous setting for a wedding!
We drove on to Staunton, Virginia, where we had made a reservation at a motel we'd stayed in back in 2002 with all of our children on our way to the OBX. Staunton is nearly midway between home and the beach.

That's not "STON ton"........It's "STAN ton."  We learned that from our AAA book yesterday. We'd heard some folks say "Stanton," and since I teach reading, I just knew it was STONton........wrong again.  Someone told us this morning that the way they know you're from Virginia is if you say Staunton with a short A sound.  Well, I am NOT from Virginia, but if I wanted to be, I might qualify now!

Staunton is very old.  It was untouched by battles of the Civil War, so its buildings go back further. Really really old. There is an eleven-block historic part of town which is just a fun place to walk and shop. It is also the home of the Woodrow Wilson boyhood home and his Presidential Library. We've been here before, and always walk around that building. We can see Wilson's Pierce Arrow in his glassed-in garage, and enjoy the library gardens.

 We had dinner at 22 Beverley Street, at Emilio's Italian Restaurant, then went back to get a good night's sleep. 

This morning we visited a National Cemetery, where bodies of Civil War soldiers were buried, and the cemetery was dedicated in 1867. There are over 500 soldiers from that war who are in graves marked "Unknown Soldier," and many of them are in graves marked "Two Unknown Soldiers."  There are also over 230 soldiers whose names are on the stones. We parked in the sole parking space while we traipsed over this hallowed ground.
Then we parked on Beverley Street again and walked into the gates of the Trinity Episcopal Church which has been there since 1746. What an awesome sight! Surrounded by the graves of its deceased members and flowering dogwoods and boxwoods, this ancient brick building was the epitome of "quiet" in the early morning hour that we were there. I had wanted to go inside as there are twelve Tiffany stained-glass windows in this one building.  If you've never seen a Tiffany, you really need to be INSIDE the building to really see it. Unfortunately, we were there too early to get inside, and the Parish House was still closed.  We walked around the church, I walked the labyrinth in the garden, we read the tombstones, listened to some amazingly wonderful birds that were singing in the treetops, and just as quietly as we had come, we left.

We left Staunton and headed home to Ohio, but we were dragging our heels all day. We never like a vacation to come to an end. We found every possible excuse to stop and see something else.  Just before 10:00, we were at the Rockbridge Vineyard in Raphine, Virginia. The owner opened the door and welcomed us in.  A bit early for a tasting, but we had a sip or two and looked over the beautiful mountain site for their vines. Then we drove on, up into the higher mountain areas where forest fires have haunted the woods for the past few days.  Rt. 64 had been closed yesterday due to heavy smoke, and we were fortunate not to have that problem, however we did see some heavy smoke, and by the time we got to Covington to stop for lunch, the air was thick with white smoke. We were glad to move on.
     Just before we reached Beckley, West Virginia, we stopped to see the Welcome Center for a National Park. We'd never even noticed the sign for it before. It's a lovely learning center about the environment, and apparently we will have to go back to further investigate this place. Park rangers were very helpful. The center itself is a "green" building, built within the past eight years, and they were proud to show it to us.

We decided to stop in Beckley.  It is far enough away from home that we don't have to explain why we're still not there, but close enough that we can get home in a few hours tomorrow, do the laundry, put the "stuff" away, and get ready to go back to work on Monday.

Thanks for traveling with us.  This is my last official "spring break," you must know by now. I have felt the "sharks circling around my feet" for the past few days, and know that I have to go back to the job.  Next year at this time, if we leave town in the spring, we can set our own deadline.  (From my keyboard to God's ear...........)