a trip to nellysford & “expanding horizons”

Saturday, November 2:  I drive to Nellysford, Virginia this morning to visit my old friend Susan, who lives near Wintergreen Ski Resort.  It’s still lovely in the mountains, with red leaves now brightening the landscape. 

This is the first time I’ve met Susan in her new home.  In the years since I’ve seen her, she’s retired from her job as a stockbroker, sold her Richmond house, and moved out to the country.  When I arrive, she takes me to Blue Mountain Brewery for lunch and then we head into Charlottesville, where we wander around the Downtown Mall.

Charlottesville's Downtown Mall
Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall
Susan at an outdoor vendor's table
Susan at an outdoor vendor’s table

We take a two-mile walk through the farmland around her house and, later, we meet a good friend of hers, Mary Ann, at a Nellysford bar.  Here a small cast of local characters huddles around the bar, listening to a trombone-playing astrophysicist and another electric piano-playing musician.  We enjoy Pinot Grigio from our convivial bar seats, and while Susan and Mary Ann eat tacos, I enjoy every bite of a smoked hot dog with chili, cheese & mustard.  I descend into my bad eating habits, as I do from time to time.  Never mind; it’s a great evening all around.

me, Susan and Mary Ann
me, Susan and Mary Ann
Susan and Mary Ann
Susan and Mary Ann

Sunday, November 3:  This morning, while Susan goes to church in Nellysford, I revise chapter 31 of my novel: “Expanding Horizons,” for a total word count as of today of 7,082 words for 3 chapters.  I know I need to cut more, as my goal is to have each chapter no more than 7 pages long; this one is 10 pages.  This is where an impartial editor would be helpful; this editor would probably have me cut out some questionable sections that don’t really move the story along.  I cut from 11 to 10 pages and my total page count for the novel at this point in the story is 237 pages for 31 out of 50 chapters.

Oh, it’s so hard to discard words you wrote so painstakingly.  I’m sure they’ll have to go in the end. 🙂

When Susan returns from church, we go out for brunch at Stony Creek; we both eat chicken sausages and French toast with bananas Foster.  Not very healthy eating this weekend!

Nellysford, Va
Nellysford, Va

I completed Module 1 of the Travel Essay writing course by Thursday night, since I knew I was going out-of-town this weekend.  This morning, I listen to our instructor evaluate our assignments.  We were supposed to find “niche” publications to pitch a story to; but sadly I didn’t have time to peruse niche publications at the bookstore to find ones that publish travel articles.  I used the Washington Post Travel Section for the assignment, which was not really what the instructor was looking for.  Hopefully, since I’m not going out-of-town next weekend, or probably for the rest of November, I’ll have more time to focus on the exact assignment (a travel angle for a story about Tasmania) by the due date.

Nellysford, Va
Nellysford, Va

Back to work tomorrow, after spending three hours driving back from Nellysford, and two hours marking essays for my Advanced Writing Workshop. 😦  Work, work, work, and only some of it is fun.

I’m afraid there won’t be much excitement happening in my blogging world for the next month. It’s all I can do to keep up with my challenges for the month!

a road trip to charlottesville: wandering the downtown mall & wine-tasting at pippin hill farm & vineyards

Wednesday, August 14:  There’s nothing I love better than a road trip.  Quite by accident this week, when trying to arrange a visit with my daughter Sarah in Richmond, I found she had Wednesday and Thursday off.   Suddenly, my wanderlust kicked in, and remembering that I had promised her a girls’ weekend because she never got the opportunity to visit me in Oman, I suggested we go on an overnight road trip to Charlottesville.

So, this morning, I drive to Richmond, pick her up by 10:00 and we’re on our way to the mountains of Virginia.  We’re both excited because it’s supposed to be a glorious couple of days, with sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and NO HUMIDITY, a rare thing in a Virginia summer!

Charlottesville is best known as the home to two U.S. Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as the home of the University of Virginia, which, along with Monticello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Monticello is Jefferson’s mountain-top home.

By the time we arrive in Charlottesville, it’s lunch time.  We’ve heard about a great lunch restaurant at The Historic Downtown Mall, Revolutionary Soup, but when we walk to the door, we find, much to our disappointment, that they’re closed for renovation.  Luckily, they have another location in Charlottesville that we can check out tomorrow, but today, since we’re downtown today and since a sign on the Rev Soup door suggests: “Try The Whiskey Jar!” we head there for lunch instead.  We’re not disappointed.

Windows of The Whiskey Jar
Windows of The Whiskey Jar

We each order a bowl of Chicken & Dumplings soup, and we share a sandwich: Egg Salad with Pimento Cheese, Forage Beans & Heirloom Tomatoes on Sunflower Wheat Bread.  I order a Torch Pilsner from a brewery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

It’s a beautiful day to sit outside at the outdoor cafe and have a beer and a wonderful lunch and to spend time with my darling daughter, who I have missed dearly over the two years. 🙂

Sarah at the Whiskey Jar
Sarah at the Whiskey Jar
me at The Whiskey Jar with my Pilsner
me at The Whiskey Jar with my Pilsner
Chicken & Dumplings soup
Chicken & Dumplings soup
Egg Salad sandwich
Egg Salad sandwich
Inside The Whiskey Jar
Inside The Whiskey Jar

After lunch, we wander around The Historic Downtown Mall, an outdoor brick-paved pedestrian mall with an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants housed in the historic buildings on and around old Main Street. We dip into shops of funky clothes and jewelry.  Vendors are set up on the street selling scarves, skirts, sunglasses and hats.  These are interspersed among quirky outdoor cafes, giving The Downtown Mall a European feel.

strange sunglasses for sale
strange sunglasses for sale
vendors at The Corner
vendors at The Historic Downtown Mall
The Corner
The Historic Downtown Mall
Used books and prints
Used books and prints
The Corner in Charlottesville
The Historic Downtown Mall in Charlottesville
fountain at The Corner
fountain at The Historic Downtown Mall
Cute funky shop
Cute funky shop
famous brand name shoes & boots for sale
famous brand name shoes & boots for sale
Street art at The Corner
Street art at The Historic Downtown Mall

After exploring the shops, we drive out to the countryside for some wine tasting at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards.  We’ve been told by one of the shopkeepers that, of all the vineyards around Charlottesville, it has one of the best views.  It is indeed a lovely spot, and after our tasting of 6 wines, we each order a glass and sit outdoors at a table overlooking the vineyards and green rolling hills.

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Sarah at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Sarah at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
me at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
me at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Sarah ~ wine tasting
Sarah ~ wine tasting
Sarah enjoys a glass of wine on the deck
Sarah enjoys a glass of wine on the deck
the view from our table
the view from our table
Crispy Chesapeake Oysters with grilled scallion remoulade
Crispy Chesapeake Oysters with grilled scallion remoulade
Arrancinis, saffron aioli
Arrancinis, saffron aioli
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

After our lazy afternoon, we go back into Charlottesville to check in to our hotel and relax a bit after our wine tasting.  Later, we go out for dinner at The Local, where Sarah has crab soup and mussels and I have meatloaf wrapped in bacon over mashed potatoes, accompanied by asparagus.  The highlight is the dessert, a blackberry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream.   What a beautiful eating-and-drinking kind of day. 🙂