To my friend T., whom I love and admire. She never knows where and when to stop. And sometimes that makes for the best memories ...
T. was the driver, so she'd ask, calmly: "What direction do you feel like it's right to go into?". I 'd say "to the left", on a whim of course. And we'll take it from there. Just like life, sometimes, it's a coin toss!
With GPS in hand, and maps, and with an experienced driver behind the wheel, we still got lost at times.
And so, when that happened, we kind of went by our gut feeling, and see where the road would take us next. This is my favorite kind of traveling. I am usually too chicken to try it on my own, though, so I was plenty grateful to have a partner there with me, to accompany me on “the roads less traveled”.
We had a very basic plan this past weekend, my friend T. and I. We were going to drive up to
But as good friends go, they don't hold each other to an agreement. They let fate and a little bit of accident come into play, and follow only the hands of the clock, common sense and our own very insightful feminine guts to guide us on our trip. We would listen to the sound of our stomachs to plan for meals, and we would go to bed with the sun, when the day was over.
We started the trip with a detour. We’re on vacation, we kept telling ourselves, we don’t have schedules, or places we need to be in, so why the heck not detour. T. took me on top of this mountain where her family owned a farm when she was growing up. The place is poetic! It looks like a painting (thanks, Aa.), or a fairy-tale landscape (thanks, sis!). It’s eerily peaceful, surrounded like a mythological ring of majestic woods, with almost a perfect round pasture on top. Some of the land is now developed, but the beauty and tranquility of nature is still very much a presence! I can easily see how this is probably the place T. comes to, in her mind, when the storms of life take her away. It reminds me of my mountains. And I can understand mountain language, for sure: the timeless sky and woods, the quiet of the wind through the leaves, the bees in the honey, hot air. The memories of animals and people past!
Then, we were on our way to
You could easily get lost in the selection of wines at Siips - a wine and champagne bar. I tried to figure out what the name means, and just gave up saying it must just be the VA pronunciations of "sips".
Another good find in
A huge surprise for both of us was that
On Mulberry Row, at Monticello
Another unexpected was that we spent almost a whole day at
I felt overwhelmed by the severity of the facts that happened on those grounds, belittled by the grandeur of the historic times past. If only those walls could talk and tell us the real story! Or the hardwoods and maple trees on
On the way back home, we had somewhere North of 15 wineries to choose from. I am not sure how we picked them, but I think it’s safe to say it was a mixture of planning and chance. We're both wine lovers, and faithful goers to the Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival every year. To say the least, tasting wine is one of our favorite past times.
The search for good wine started with Kluge Winery from the Wine Trail map, and the road pretty much carried us on from there: Blenheim Vineyards was on the same road as Kluge - so chance brought us there. This ended up being my favorite, because of the Dutch barn and the all-wood-and-glass winery building. It was so airy and so open to the vistas below! The wine "coaches", I call them, were two hip and chatty gals, and we ended up having a great time there. Upon returning home, I also found out that Blenheim Vineyards has been in fact designed and is owned by Dave Matthews, as in from Dave Matthews' Band (thank you, Mary!). Now, that is such a lucky accidental find! I love Dave’s Band (not many people hate it), and now the bottle of rose will be extra special. Another interesting thing is all their wines come in screw top bottles. Now, some wine snobs out there will always tell you that's not a real wine, in a screw top, but I can tell you: these were some seriously good, and sophisticated wines! And the wine girls said that screw tops are actually better, for allowing a better air flow into the bottle - allowing it to breathe right. I don’t know all about that, but I am all for an easy to open bottle! Especially after a few glasses.
I liked Kluge for the very unique garden setting and for their interesting wine tasting flight. Although, I have to tell you: when all the wineries in the area ask for $5 for tasting, and they ask for $10.95, it makes you wonder if it's worth it. I guess the setting is!
First Colony boasted "pure wines", no blends of grapes. Also an adorable orange tabby named Fritz! Virginia Wineworks were a tad remote and somewhat scary, at first glance, but the host was welcoming and so incredibly generous with the tasting portions!
I loved the wine tour! It made me want to watch Sideways again (good friends in search of good wine!), and it reminded me of one of my midlife crisis dreams: to move to
In the unpredictable sort of vibe this trip was driven, we skipped visiting the Natural Bridge on Sunday night, and we stopped for lunch in Staunton (be careful not to mispronounce here!), instead. Here, I was treated to the best croissant sandwich ever! Usually, I am not picky what you put on a croissant: it's all good. But this one, at Byers St. Bistro , had roasted turkey, bacon and ... warm crab dip on it! Oh, my God, was it divine!!
OK, maybe Priceline lied about the wireless internet and the type of bed(s) we were going to get. And maybe the GPS was rusty at times, or just gave up on us winding around aimlessly, but the surprise factor made all the difference in this trip! The little “big” bonuses like the hippies, the lessons learned of what we can let go of and still be happy, and the Dave Matthews wine, the history lessons, and journey back into our own past, were what will make this trip unique!
We ended up not only with good memories, with a whole new city we have learned and are looking forward to be returning to, but also with new lessons about each other. We both discovered that when truly on vacation mode, we are less the driven women we usually are, and we can sleep in very comfortably late, and that we're both cheap when it comes to parking spaces! We also realized we can both survive on just two main meals a day when we travel! And we also re-affirmed the trust that we will always have each other, for trips, wine, girl talk or political gossip! All in all, it was a priceless weekend!
Thank you, Ms. T., and looking very much forward to the next adventure! You are a blessing and a treat!!! Love you, always!
Please visit The Wander World Picture Site for a complete set of pictures.