Sunday, March 1, 2015

Exploring Virginia

Virginia had a climate similar to Alabama, one I was used to being in; cold in the winter and hot in the summer with time in between for the leaves to actually change colors and then fall off the tree. In Florida we had hot summers, a few cold days in winter; this meant we also had green leaves one day and they were brown, dead and all over the ground the next. It was nice to be back in a climate that had all four seasons portrayed properly.  The drives through the hills on those two lane winding highways were very beautiful and relaxing; these rides also gave me and the lil one time to just talk with no distractions. Wild turkey was one thing our eyes were always open for, it seemed there was a flock on every other hillside; there weren’t as many brave deer here as in Texas, they were still smart enough to stay away from people in Virginia.

     We tried to get out and explore the different small towns around us as much as possible. It seemed we were always passing a Civil War Cemetery, Memorial Marker, or a rock fireplace still standing from some structure that was significant during the Civil War. The country side was littered with them; if we had stopped and read about every single one we had passed, we would still be in Virginia a year later. Our landlord was a history buff and filled us in on a lot of the local history. Such as the old grooves dug into the ground behind his house was part of a road to move soldiers and supplies through the rolling hills during the Civil War. Lynchburg was a town he said we had to visit, just for the beauty of the historical town perched precariously on the steep hills leading to the main water source; the views here were awesome! This just so happened to be the only major city in Virginia that was not captured by the Union before the end of the war. I will advise against visiting Lynchburg if you happen to have to travel West back home in the evening as the sun sets; you will be driving up and down STEEP hills on very narrow streets facing due WEST. This city was nicknamed the ‘City of Seven Hills’ and I guarantee you I drove over at least 5 of those hills, blinded by the sun, wondering if I was running a red light or stop sign and about to get side swiped by somebody.

     We decided our plan of action was to find a central parking area and walk around to explore, we didn’t have daddy with us to help navigate the unfamiliar roads; it was left up to us to not get lost. We didn’t too many times; our first stop was to ride the trolley tour. This would provide us with a local’s perspective and also an idea as to where we wanted to go in this city that was saturated in history. As our luck goes (if you’ve followed us to this point, you know I’m laughing as I type this thinking of our ‘luck’), the trolley got stopped about 5 minutes into the tour. We had to wait on the street to clear from a construction zone that didn’t look like it was ending anytime soon. The trolley operator got word that it may be 30 minutes before we could move again about the same the lil one told me it was time to visit a potty. Great. The trolley driver broke the rules and let us get off midway; we were just sitting there anyway, and pointed us in the direction of the nearest bathroom. This ended up being a 2 block hike with a lil one doing the pee pee dance all the way.

     We found the free museum the trolley operator told us about. It was a beautiful old house with the lined walkway up to the HUGE white pillars that was normal on the plantation houses of old. Inside this magnificent structure, there was a winding staircase in the original gleaming hard wood that went from the ground floor

to the third floor. I only thought I was in good shape until I started climbing this staircase. In every room there were artifacts to look at and plaques to read, we spent a little bit of time there exploring 
the two floors that were open to the public. The lil one’s eyes would twinkle as we wound around another corner to view something of the old days, the mind was slowly taking it all in. We talked about what it would be like to live back then and have to wear 50 lbs. of corset and dress even in the 110 Dog Days of August with absolutely no air conditioning. We decided those days wouldve been a lot harder in some ways but much simpler in other ways.

     Slowly we made our way back out into the blinding afternoon sunshine, looking to walk the streets of downtown enjoying the architecture. It seemed on every street there was some old antique building that made us stop and stare for a few at it, snapping all kinds of shots; there was beauty from every angle. Soon enough we were staring at a huge hillside with steps and terraces all the way to the top (after doing some research, I learned it was 139 total steps). 

On each terrace there were benches and a monument commemorating Lynchburg citizens who fought and died in any war. I say this vaguely because they literally had every war that I can remember studying represented here; the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and those serving presently. I was so thankful for those breaks in climbing those never-ending steps; we took advantage of every single bench along the way. At the very top of this climb, looking down, you felt like you climbed Mt. Everest; I did anyway. We found ourselves looking at the doors of the old Court House Museum and dreaming of its air conditioning cooling our heated skin after that momentous climb. I didn’t really care what the charge was to get in; we were going in no matter what. This one wasn’t one our most favorites, but it was interesting none the less.  

     We slowly wound our way around down town, up and down those steep hills, finally making it back to the parking deck and our truck.  There was one place we still had to stop at that we spotted on our way in, the banks of the river that made this town a town way back when. There was a nice park, with more benches and a sidewalk that meandered along the river. There was a stark beauty in the old abandoned broke down warehouses across the street and the beauty of the majestic houses right across the river dotting the hillside. Soon enough it was time to load up and head back to Dillwyn and a family dinner.

     As I mentioned previously, the drive out of town was torturous. The sun absolutely blinded me to the point that I didn’t know if I had a stop sign or red light at any of the intersections ahead. I prayed a lot during those few blocks. Soon enough I was out of that area and facing a different direction and could finally see again. I had decided to stop by a 100+ year old cemetery on the way home, it was on the way; or so the map said. We found the cemetery easy enough; our luck was that everything was closed. They had buildings from the civil war era that were as original as could be, an old pharmacy and such to step back in time in. One thing that wasn’t closed was the ol’timey rope swing hanging from the majestic 100 year old oak tree. We took a minute to smell the flowers and feel the breeze as we swung under the shade tree.

     As our luck would also have it when me and the lil one wondered out on adventures, we had road construction causing a detour and causing me to get lost. Go figure. The lil one just so happened to have to go potty too, yep could it get any better? Lost in a town I have no clue as to where to go and know by the bars on the windows and project style apartments we had just passed getting into the cemetery that we probably weren’t in a very good part of town; what’s a mom to do? Pull up at the nearest gas station boasting to have the best fried chicken for 3 counties and ask to the men standing outside how to get to the main road and if their chicken was really that good. Yep I went in with them to get directions from the cashier who was better at directions than them; and some of their famous fried chicken and potato wedges, there goes the appetite for the family dinner later. She got us back on track, telling us to turn 3 different turns; 2 of which happened to be by Juniors Used Tires (the names of the places weren’t Junior’s Used Tires, Junior was what the owners were called, I knew no Juniors that owned tire places so I was technically still lost but getting full on the best fried chicken for 3 counties).

     We decided to get in the truck and head in the general direction they pointed us in and was lost again soon enough, it never fails. We found a road construction crew standing along the side of the road with a parking lot next to them, pulled in there and they got us going in the right direction; FINALLY heading home. It was a peaceful ride through the hillside as the sun set, after it made it past the horizon and I could see the hills that is. The only worry was running into a deer that just happened to be standing in the middle of the road, other than that it was the same as taking a trip down the Natchez Trace on any fall day. Soon enough we were home safe and sound, the lil one filling daddy in on what all we saw and of course that mommy got us lost not once but TWICE in ONE DAY!! I had to hang my head in shame after traveling the countryside and back and getting lost in a small town like that, laid out like a perfect grid; even I have my moments.

Until next time…..

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 7: 1966-1974

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