A Virginia road trip….. part one.

A Virginia road trip….. part one.

Chateau’ Relaxo has had two vacations this summer. Chicago, which didn’t include me, and Virginia which didn’t include the kids…. notice a pattern?

This summer vacation had a classic road trip written all over it.  A flight to Richmond, VA on Saturday and a flight back out on Thursday, that was the extent of our plans. Roughly 500 miles later we were done and back in Richmond.

Leaving the airport we headed west on 64 to Charlottesville. There we came across Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. We managed to catch the last guided tour of the day. Beyond my 10th grade American History class I knew little of Jefferson. While he was our third president, Jefferson was living as if he was our forty -second one. Jefferson was passionate about functional design. Combine that with crazy family drama and you have Jefferson’s legacy.

Monticello’s gardens will make you question your semi-monthly jaunts to Home Depot. Do yourself a favor and skip the tour bus and walk back to the visitor center, it’s downhill and less than a half mile.

In Charlottesville, there’s no shortage of choices when it comes to dinner. For us, we ended up at Kardinal Hall,  beer, bocce and food hangout. A solid three stars, great beer but the food fell a bit short.

I’ve possibly hit the age where I’m too old for a place. When I’m in a new town and thirsty I want local beer, Kardinal Hall delivered. Their menu offerings are unique. I ordered the Yak burger and it was delicious. My partner ordered a burger well done and her first bite revealed that it was medium and medium close to the rare side. We also ordered mac-n-cheese which was just OK. We really were expecting this wonderful two cheese blend encasing noodles. We’d return, but tweek our order a bit. Yelp

Sunday morning we toured the Charlottesville monuments and then hit the wine/beer trail.

The Virginia wine/beer trail has no shortage of stops. In our case, we chose three.

Trump Winery – The winery opens at 10:00 AM, by 10:30 we were sampling their offerings. This isn’t Napa, but the wines were better than average. So much so that we shipped three bottles back, one Cab and two of their Cru’s. I figure we’ll bust these out around the holidays and see what unravels. All political leanings aside, the wine was solid and was priced less than what I thought it would be. The tasting was $12.00 and included an officially engraved Trump wine glass.

Blenheim Winery – Established in 2000 by owner Dave Matthews, Blenheim Vineyards is located 20 minutes southeast of Charlottesville. I’m a complete Dave Matthews fanboy and the winery is exactly what I imagined it would be. Dave designed the facility, complete with a see-through floor. He also lends his artistic talents to the t-shirts and wine labels. We shipped back a few bottles of last years Rose’ as well as their signature 2016 Painted White. The tasting was $8.00 including the glass.

Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub  – Beer is my wheelhouse, so much so that I drank my 999th unique beer here. Basecamp is a destination location. There’s RV hookups, a music stage, several firepits, a restaurant and of course the brewery. Since it was a chilly rainy Sunday we started with curry soup and finished with a wonderful BLT.

Our waiter crushed it. I explained to him that my next beer, (My name is Steve. Hello, Steve) would be number 1000 and could he hook me up with one to-go. Minutes late he returned with a Crowler of their Imperial IPA.

That afternoon we headed to Staunton, VA.

That’s where we visited the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum. This is a  presidential library that isn’t managed by the National Park Servicebut worth a visit if you’re in town.  It’s $14.00 per person for the guided tour, which also includes a self-paced tour where you can see the  President’s original 1919 Pierce-Arrow limousine and a recreated World War I trench.

On the way out of town make sure to pass the Giant Watering Can  and snap a picture, or two.

Sunday nights lodging was at Skyland which is inside the Shenandoah National Park. Entrance to the park is $30.00.

The 47 miles we spent on Skyline was breathtaking.  From the mountain views to the woodchucks and bears, each hairpin turn revealed something new.

Skyland Lodge reminds me of my Yosemite tour in 1971. Think big clunky furniture and lots of brown paneling. The food was tasty, including a very expensive breakfast buffet with a made-to-order omelet bar, $14.99 including your beverage. At 3600′ feet, we woke up Monday morning in the midst of fog as we headed down the mountain to Luray, Va.

One of my bucket list items is to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. I’ve hiked the AT in Georgia, Tennessee & North Carolina. On our way out we logged some distance on the Virginia section.

Once you hit Luray, the major attraction is the Luray Caverns and all that it offers. I love cave and cavern exploration but after the recent Thailand incident, some might give it a second thought. Not me, my insurance premium is up to date.

The tour will set you back $28.00 but it also includes the Car & Carriage Caravan, Luray Valley Museum & Toy Town Junction. The Car & Carriage Caravan took all of five minutes and we passed on the Valley Museum and Toy Junction.

At this point, we’re a bit North of 200 miles in this adventure and it’s time to hit “submit” and move on to part two. Please check back for the exciting conclusion.

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