in search of a “happy” 4th of july

Friday, July 4:  This year I didn’t get to celebrate our country’s independence, or much of anything else.  No fireworks, no barbecue, no parties. Things started falling apart on Monday of this week.  While I was at work, Mike texted me that his mother had been admitted to the hospital with a bad cough.  She is very frail already, and on oxygen.  In the hospital, she weighed in at a wispy 83 pounds.  She’s also very confused, talking non-stop about things that simply don’t make any sense.

Fourth of July on Boulevard in Richmond
Fourth of July on Boulevard in Richmond
On Grove Avenue in the Fan District
On Grove Avenue in the Fan District
Grove Avenue
Grove Avenue

On Tuesday, I got the sad news that Christine, fellow blogger of DADIRRIDREAMING, had died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage.  Christine was a lovely and spiritual woman.  When I was stressed out after returning home to Virginia from Oman, she sent me an hour-long guided meditation, in her voice, which I listen to when I need to relax.  I’m happy to have a bit of her voice to keep with me forever.

a lone bicycle in the Fan
a lone bicycle in the Fan
Fan District
Fan District
Hanover St.
Hanover St.

On Wednesday, my daughter Sarah got a ride up from Richmond and we went to visit her Nana in the hospital.  We were afraid she didn’t have long to live. The doctors decided on Thursday to release her to go home, under the care of hospice. They say there’s nothing else they can do for her.

the iconic New York Deli of Carytown
the iconic New York Deli of Carytown
Carytown, Richmond
Carytown, Richmond
Carytown
Carytown
Carytown shops
Carytown shops

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, my sister called to tell me that my dad had been admitted to the hospital for an emergency surgery.  It turns out the surgery fixed the problem and he was sent home on Thursday.  I called to ask if he’d like a visitor. He sounded like he’d appreciate it.

Carytown in Richmond
Carytown in Richmond
Cupcakes
Cupcakes
All decked out for 4th of July
All decked out for 4th of July

On Thursday, after Nana was settled in at her home in a bed set up by hospice in her family room, with a view of her beloved garden, Sarah shared this video with her grandmother, hoping to cheer her up.  It’s a rendition of the Pharrell Williams “Happy” song, filmed in Richmond.

All Thursday afternoon, and over the next couple of days, Nana replayed the video repeatedly. I was happy that it seemed to make her happy.  Later, I found out the reason.  She told one of the around-the-clock caregivers that her granddaughter was in the video.  I said, “Nana, no, Sarah’s not in the video, she just likes it.”  But Nana insisted that her granddaughter was in the video, and continued to watch it non-stop.  Later, I heard she told another caregiver that all three of her grandchildren were in the video.

At another time, I heard her tell a friend who phoned, in an agitated voice: “I need to go now so I can get the cushions so I can get to Richmond.” Somehow, Richmond and her grandchildren and the urgency of her getting to them are all tied up together in her mind. Sweet, but sad.

Carytown
Carytown
Carytown
Carytown
Vintage Clothing
Vintage Clothing

Sarah had to go back to Richmond for work, so we got on the road at 5 a.m. on the 4th and drove 2 hours to Richmond, where I went for a walk and she for a run.  I then showered and headed another hour south to visit my father.  He seems to be okay; he’s just having a little trouble getting around because of the incision.  I visited for a couple of hours, then got in the car and drove 3 hours back to northern Virginia, where I was too exhausted from the stressful week to do any kind of celebrating.

Chop Suey Books
Chop Suey Books
Chop Suey Books
Chop Suey Books
Portrait House
Portrait House
Street Art
Street Art
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

We spent a lot of time with family over the last week: my kids, Mike, his mom and sister, my dad and his wife.  It was a week of connecting, with the sad awareness that ties could be cut at any moment.

I had a lovely walk around Richmond on the most beautiful Fourth of July, weather-wise, that I’ve ever experienced in Virginia. Usually, it’s unbearably hot and humid, and generally miserable in July. I realized that Richmond holds a lot of memories for our family.  I used to live here, and Mike’s first wife, who died of breast cancer, lived here.  I met Mike in Richmond.  Sarah lives here now, working and going to school at VCU.  It’s truly my favorite Virginia city.

The Fan
The Fan
Wall art to honor a former employee of Joe's Inn, who passed away
Wall art to honor a former employee of Joe’s Inn, who passed away
Street art at Joe's Inn, a Richmond dining establishment where Sarah works
Street art at Joe’s Inn, a Richmond dining establishment where Sarah works
Heroes & Ghosts Tattoos
Heroes & Ghosts Tattoos
Vespa Love
Vespa Love

When I drove home from my dad’s on Route 17, a mostly deserted highway that runs nearly parallel to the dreaded I-95, the setting sun cast a glowing light over dancing cornfields, and I felt overwhelmed by the beauty and changing nature of our world.

springtime at lewis ginter & a milestone birthday party

Friday, May 9:  Today, I drive to Richmond to meet my daughter Sarah to celebrate her 30th birthday, which was on April 26.  We’re a couple of weeks late.  She’s been busy with four classes and as today is the last of her final exams, she’ll finally be able to relax and enjoy the party.  Mike and the boys drive separately to meet us at 4:00.  They plan to drive back home after dinner, while I intend to stay the night with Sarah in Richmond.  We have some shopping to do on Saturday for that birthday.

Since I arrive in Richmond around 2:00, and Sarah is still taking her exam, I drop by Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens to see what’s in bloom for spring.  As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the nicest gardens in Virginia, although I’m sure there must be many more beautiful ones throughout the state that I haven’t visited.  Here’s a little of what I find.

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slideshow.

I have probably misnamed some of the flowers, so I would appreciate any gardeners out there who can set me straight.  For instance, I’m not sure if the flowers I’ve labeled azaleas are such, or if they’re rhododendron.  And I wish someone would tell me the name of the white flowers with the yellow Chihuly-like centers.

{Thanks so much to Carol of Wanderings of an Elusive Mind and Jonah from Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens for setting me straight on the flower names!)

By the time I finish walking around the gardens on this hot and humid day, I’m soaked and my hair is sticking out like it’s been whipped with egg-beaters.  I run to Sarah’s and take a shower so I won’t look like the dregs of society when we go out tonight.  The celebration is mainly for Sarah’s birthday, but also for the end of her demanding semester. It’s also a celebration for Mother’s Day.  It’s not often I have all three of my children together.

Sarah has the idea to go to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for wine tasting on the patio.  In the pond beside the patio are Chihuly’s Red Reeds.

Chihuly's Red Reeds
Chihuly’s Red Reeds

I take a picture of my three children, but, as I don’t have my glasses on, I don’t realize until later that Sarah’s eyes are closed. 🙂

Alex, Sarah & Adam
Alex, Sarah & Adam
Mike, Sarah, Alex & Adam
Mike, Sarah, Alex & Adam

We then head to dinner at Bacchus on Main, where we have a feast fit for kings, a queen and a princess.  As Sarah seems to know all the waiters in the Richmond establishments, we get some little perks, like a dessert we don’t order and an extra appetizer.  Happy birthday to Sarah!

Bacchus: Sarah on the left, Alex, Adam and Mike on the right. :-)
Bacchus: Sarah on the left, Alex, Adam and Mike on the right. 🙂
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the ukrop’s monument avenue 10k

Friday, March 28:  This afternoon, I leave my house at 3:00 for what should be a two-hour drive to Richmond, Virginia.  I’m planning to walk tomorrow morning in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k along with my 29-year-old daughter Sarah, who’s planning to run.

I sit in barely moving traffic on I-95 south from Washington to Fredericksburg, at which time the traffic finally begins to move at more than a snail’s pace.  It takes me 3 hours and 40 minutes to make what should be a 2-hour drive.  When I arrive in Richmond, I stop at the Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center to pick up my bib and race packet, along with thousands of other people.

Traffic on I-95 South on a Friday night
Traffic on I-95 South on a Friday night

When I arrive at Sarah’s house in the Fan District, she’s making a linguine and Bella mushroom dish, accompanied by warm decadent garlic bread.  After all, we need to load up on carbs for the race.  Her friend and running-mate Rose, her roommate Daniel, and her annoying cat, Chicken Little, who insists on jumping up on the table at every chance, also share the meal.  We relax soon after dinner so we’ll be ready for the event tomorrow.

Saturday, March 29: According to the Richmond Time-Dispatch: Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K by the numbers,  36,365 people registered for this event.  Despite the rain, 27,404 participants finished the race, including me. 🙂

Sarah and Rose on Sarah's porch
Sarah and Rose on Sarah’s porch
Me with Sarah
Me with Sarah

Since there are so many people, there is no parking nearby.  We have to walk to the starting line near Harrison and  Broad.  When I MapMyWalk, I find the walk to the start from Sarah’s is one mile.  So, including the walk there, the 10k and the walk back, I cover a total of 8.2 miles.  In the rain.  Needless to say, I’m soaked like a wet puppy by the time I return to Sarah’s house.

Passing the runners on Monument Avenue as I walk to the start
Passing the runners on Monument Avenue as I walk to the start
I pass a church along the way
I pass a church along the way
Monument Avenue - one of the many monuments along the road
Monument Avenue – one of the many monuments along the road
Runners
Runners
A shop on Broad Street
A shop on Broad Street
A team in yellow runs by
A team in yellow runs by
Street art on the side of Club 534 along Broad Street
Street art on the side of Club 534 along Broad Street
Painted Wall at Club 534
Painted Wall at Club 534

There are a total of 90 minutes of wave starts.  I’m pretty impressed that the organizers, Sports Backers, do such a good job with the logistics of organizing such a huge event.  Sarah and her friend Rose are in an early wave of runners so she actually finishes running before I even start.  The walkers are at the back of the pack, and my wave, XB, doesn’t start until nearly 10 a.m.

My wave, XB, one of the last to start
My wave, XB, one of the last to start
At the starting line
At the starting line

Sarah meets her goal of finishing at 58:32.  She’s pleased with her results of finishing 7,420th out of all participants, and 613th place out of her division of women 25-29.

Mile 1!
Mile 1!

Since I am walking, I’m hoping to keep around a 16:45 minute per mile pace throughout.  My total time ends up being 1:46:58, about a 17.25 minute pace.  The first 3.1 miles of my walk is an average pace of 16:42, so I meet my goal in the first half.  In the second half of the run, it begins to pour, and I think that slows me down. I finish way at the back of the pack at 24,348th!!  I didn’t realize I was so slow. I finish 625th in my division of women age 55-59. I may be slow, but it seemed like a lot of work to me!

Margaritaville??
Margaritaville??
Jimmy Buffet land
Jimmy Buffett land

I figure that I walk a little over 3 miles every day, so it should be easy to simply double it.  However, I find that my back is really hurting in the second half, quite a surprise as I don’t normally have back problems when walking.  Maybe it’s the distance combined with the hard asphalt.  My toes also feel like they’re stuck with pins and needles.  It’s hell getting older!!

Stonewall Jackson stands on his pedestal and horse on Monument Ave
Stonewall Jackson stands on his pedestal and horse on Monument Ave

Despite the rain, hordes of Richmonders come out to cheer on the walkers and runners.  Thirty-three small bands are set up along the route, under tents, playing jazz, R&B, classic rock, blues, folk, bluegrass, jammin’ oldies, Christian rock, funk and surf instrumentals.  Many participants and bystanders are decked out in costumes.  I pass some ladies wearing a pirate ship!  Some guys mime from a balcony in Superhero costumes.  There are people dressed in team costumes and holding signs and banners.  Thank goodness for all the people who came out to cheer on the runners and walkers on such a miserable day.  They kept our spirits up!

Superhero cheerleaders perched on a roof
Superhero cheerleaders perched on a roof
Falun Dafa
Falun Dafa

The VCU Massey Cancer Center is the official charitable fundraising partner of the 10k.  Participants take an active role in cancer prevention.

Some signs of spring - cherry blossoms?
Some signs of spring – cherry blossoms?
two walkers wearing a pirate ship
two walkers wearing a pirate ship

So after all that hard work, what do we do?  We head straight to the Star-Lite Dining and Lounge, where I order possibly the most unhealthy thing on the menu, biscuits and sausage gravy.  Sarah orders Crab Cake Bennies – “Classic Bennies with a pair of grilled crab cakes added to the stack.”  We also each have a beer. 🙂

I would challenge anyone to undo hard work as efficiently and thoroughly as I do!

 

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shirley plantation & lunch at joe’s inn

Sunday, September 29:  This morning I leave my dad’s house in Yorktown, taking a detour off of I-64 to stop at Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia. The eleventh generation of one family continues to own, operate and work this colonial plantation.

Driving to Shirley Plantation
Driving to Shirley Plantation
Shirley Plantation
Shirley Plantation

It is also the oldest family owned business in North America, dating to the establishment of the farm by Edward Hill I in 1638.  The home has been continuously inhabited by descendents of the same family since 1738.  The mansion is referred to as “The Great House.” (Shirley Plantation: Shirley’s History)

James River
James River

The most important building, the Great House, is closest to the James River, with buildings of lesser importance further away.  The Great House was originally flanked on either side by freestanding wings, which have since been dismantled.

Shirley Plantation from the James River side
Shirley Plantation from the James River side

According to the plantation brochure: Shirley Plantation is America’s first plantation; it was founded in 1613, only six years after the first permanent English settlement of Jamestown.  Shirley Plantation survived Indian uprisings, Bacon’s Rebellion, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the Great Depression.

Shirley Plantation
Shirley Plantation

Pork was a major staple in Colonial Virginia.  As much as 10 tons a year were butchered, cured and smoked at Shirley.  Hogs were butchered in the winter months, then rubbed with salt and cured in tubs for two weeks. The meat was hung from the rafters and pegs in the smokehouse. The smoking process lasted two weeks and required burning a fire outside the Smokehouse day and night to supply coals. Green wood was placed on the hot coals in the pit to create a rolling smoke.  The most popular types of wood used for flavoring included hickory, oak and apple.  Apple wood was preferred at Shirley.

extended plantation
extended plantation with the smokehouse in the foreground
stellar flowers
stellar flowers
plantation buildings
plantation buildings
kitchen
me in the kitchen
fake food
full fake working kitchen
full fake working kitchen

outbuilding

cotton
cotton
cotton and machine
cotton and machine

I get a tour of the house, and see the original family furnishings and portraits.  However, we’re sadly not allowed to take pictures in the house.

After the tour, I wander around the grounds to get the full lay of the land.

the lay of the land
the lay of the land
purple berries
purple berries

Shirley’s dovecote is round and made of brick. Shirley’s dovecote was built between 1723 and 1738 and has 6 rows of 18 roosts for a total of 108 roosts.  Doves were an important source of dietary protein, both from their meat and eggs.  Outside the dovecote, I run across some goat and chicken crossings.

It’s bizarre to me that I’ve lived my whole life in Virginia, and I’ve traveled the road between Yorktown and Richmond too many times to count, yet this is the first time I’ve ever taken time to stop and visit this plantation.

I love tree-lined lanes like this
I love tree-lined lanes like this

After leaving Shirley Plantation, I drive another 15 miles to Richmond, where I stop in to visit Sarah at Joe’s Inn, where today she’s working as bartender.  After about 45 minutes, she gets off and joins me at the bar.

the bar at Joe's Inn
the bar at Joe’s Inn
Joe's Inn
Joe’s Inn
Wall art on the wall of Joe's Inn
Wall art on the wall of Joe’s Inn

After our lunch, I head back home to the dreaded northern Virginia, to prepare for another week of work. 😦

the grounds of lewis ginter botanical garden

Friday, August 16:  After I tear myself away from the orchid garden in the Conservatory of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, I walk outside to take a stroll around the extensive grounds.  I first see the Robins Visitors Center across the Fountain Garden.

the view from the Conservatory to Robins Visitors Center over the Fountain Garden
the view from the Conservatory to Robins Visitors Center over the Fountain Garden

Asian Valley celebrates the sacredness of nature with East Asian plants, rocks and water cascades.

Plants in Asian Valley
Plants in Asian Valley
Asian Valley
Asian Valley
Asian Valley
Asian Valley
water garden near the Lotus Bridge
water garden near the Lotus Bridge

The West Island Garden is a wetland garden with a focus on native species and carnivorous pitcher plants.

the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
the West Island Garden
Winter creeper at the West Island Garden
Winter creeper at the West Island Garden

The Flagler Garden and the Woodland Walk have winding paths featuring a rich palette of perennials, shrubs, trees and bulbs.

Flagler Garden
Flagler Garden
Flagler Garden
Flagler Garden
Flagler Garden
Flagler Garden

The Children’s area has a tree house, a children’s garden, a farm garden and an international village.

the Kids' Tree House
the Kids’ Tree House
children's garden
children’s garden

The Louise Cochrane Rose Garden has more than 1,800 roses selected for fragrance, rebloom and disease resistance.

Louise Cochrane Rose Garden
Louise Cochrane Rose Garden
Asian Valley
Asian Valley

By this time, I’m getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and I promised my father I’d be at his house in Yorktown by 5:00, so I head out of the beautiful Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, promising myself to return here on a cool fall day.

Four Seasons Garden
Four Seasons Garden
Four Seasons Garden
Four Seasons Garden
Four Seasons Garden
Four Seasons Garden
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Four Seasons Garden

lewis ginter botanical garden: succulents, palms, orchids and other little pretties

Friday, August 16: After leaving the butterfly exhibit, I explore the rest of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden‘s Conservatory, including succulents, palms and orchids, along with the little gingerbread house that sits in their midst.  Well, it’s not really made of gingerbread, but it sure looks like it is. 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After my time in the Conservatory (I always think of the game of Clue when I hear that word: “I think it was Mr. Green in the Conservatory with the lead pipe”), I head outdoors to explore some of the rest of the gardens….

lewis ginter botanical garden: the conservatory & butterflies live!

Friday, August 16:  This afternoon, before heading to Yorktown to visit my father, I stop to explore the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Lewis Ginter (1824-1897) was a prominent businessman, army officer, and philanthropist in Richmond.  He had a number of business careers, making and losing fortunes several times over, finally amassing great wealth in the tobacco industry.  He helped develop many civic and business interests throughout Richmond, including the Jefferson Hotel.  Major Ginter brought this property inf 1884 and built the Lakeside Wheel Club here as a destination for Richmond bicyclist.

the entrance to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
the entrance to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

I first head through the visitor’s center and across the Four Seasons Garden, the Healing Garden and the Fountain Garden, on my way to the Conservatory.

Crossing the gardens to the Conservatory
Crossing the Four Seasons Garden to the Conservatory

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASixteen years after Major Ginter’s death, his niece Grace Arents purchased the abandoned clubhouse from her uncle’s estate.  She remodeled the structure, added a second floor and opened a convalescent home for sick children.  Later, when there was no more need for that, Ms. Arents developed gardens on the grounds and named the property Bloemendaal (“Valley of Flowers”) to honor her Dutch ancestors.

Fountain
Four Seasons Garden

When Ms. Arents died in 1926, she bequeathed life rights to her friend and companion Mary Garland Smith, who lived with her, with the stipulation that upon Ms. Smith’s death, Bloemendaal would become the property of the City of Richmond  to form a botanical garden named after her late uncle.  Mary Garland Smith died in 1968 at the age of 102.  The property transferred to the City of Richmond, and after languishing for over a decade, the gardens opened its doors to the public in 1987.  (Information from the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden brochure)

The Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with the Fountain Garden in the foreground

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInside the Conservatory is a Classical Palm House, tropical orchid wing and themed floral displays.  At the north end of the conservatory is the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, which will be at the garden until October 13, 2013.

Outside Butterflies Live!
Outside Butterflies Live!
water gardens outside the Conservatory
water gardens outside the Conservatory
water gardens
water gardens
in the water gardens outside the Conservatory
in the water gardens outside the Conservatory
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens

Before entering into the Butterfly garden, we must step into a middle room where we must leave bags behind, as butterflies like to hitchhike on large objects.  On the way out, we must stop in the room again and be inspected by a staff member, to make sure we’re not unwittingly carrying any butterflies on our clothing.

Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
pretty flowers inside Butterflies LIVE!
pretty flowers inside Butterflies LIVE!
flowers inside the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit
flowers inside the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!

After enjoying the butterflies fluttering all about and lighting on pretty flowers, I leave the exhibit and head into the orchid garden…..

richmond: sticky rice & a little slice of the fan

Friday, August 16:  I’ve written about Richmond’s Fan District before (richmond’s fan district), and I don’t want to repeat myself, but I’ll just say it’s one of the cutest neighborhoods ever.  I used to live in the Fan, and my daughter lives there now, and I have to say I’m quite envious.  Whenever I can take the time to make the 2+ hour drive from northern Virginia, I make it a point to escape to the city I still love.

houses near Sticky Rice in the Fan
houses near Sticky Rice in the Fan

After walking along the Canal Walk and through Shockoe Slip, I’m awfully hungry so I stop in at a restaurant in the Fan where Sarah and I have eaten before, Sticky Rice.  Sticky Rice is a Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar, and like many corner bars and restaurants in the Fan, it is a bustling place frequented by students of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and local residents.  I don’t actually see any Japanese people either working or eating here.  It also has a warm and cozy atmosphere, especially on what is fast becoming a cloudy and dreary day. (Sticky Rice)

Sticky Rice
Sticky Rice
the sushi bar at Sticky Rice
the sushi bar at Sticky Rice
street view from my booth at Sticky Rice
street view from my booth at Sticky Rice
Inside Sticky Rice
Inside Sticky Rice

I order the Crunchy Shrimp Roll, which is Tempura-fried shrimp with avocado, cucumbers, tobiko and spicy sauce.

Crunchy Shrimp Roll
Crunchy Shrimp Roll

After eating this, I’m still a little hungry, so I order the starter, which I obviously should have started with: Spring Rolls filled with rice noodles, carrots, red peppers, cilantro, basil and mint. Served with a peanut sauce for dipping. Served fresh, not fried.

Spring rolls - to finish
Spring rolls – to finish

Then I go outside to explore the neighborhood surrounding Sticky Rice, which is on West Main Street.  I love the pretty row houses, some painted in pastel colors and some with welcoming front porches adorned with potted plants, hanging plants, elaborate gardens, wicker chairs, porch swings, flags or picket fences.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I find a little street art too, but this is near Hollywood Cemetery, just outside the Fan.

the Victory Rug Cleaning Co.
the Victory Rug Cleaning Co.

It’s looking like it might rain, but I’m determined to go to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, so I get in my car and use my new iPhone to tell me the directions. Sarah taught me how to do this while we were in Charlottesville; after all, I’m just getting with the modern age where the high technology of smart phones is involved.

richmond’s canal walk & shockoe slip

Friday, August 16:  After visiting Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, I venture down to Richmond’s waterfront to check out the Canal Walk.  I used to live in Richmond some 26 years ago, and I frequented the area known as Shockoe Slip, but there was never any Canal Walk at that time.  At that time it was all just a rather ramshackle industrial area.

I think it’s fun, as I settle back into life in America, for me to take periodic trips down memory lane: to revisit some of the places I’ve been before and note how they’ve changed.  I also know that for years, before living and working abroad in Korea and Oman, I’d taken what America had to offer for granted.  Now I plan to rediscover the little historical and natural gems with a fresh view.

Richmond's Canal Walk
Richmond’s Canal Walk
Canal Walk
Canal Walk

From a brochure prepared by venture richmond, I find that in the mid-19th century, Richmond’s waterfront bustled with business and trade, workers and travelers, hotels, saloons and tobacco warehouses.  Along the canals, barges were towed by teams of horses and mules.  Batteaux for carrying freight plied the river and the canal around the rapids, and passenger boats, called “packets,” left for Lynchburg every other day.

Canal Walk
Canal Walk
Richmond's Canal Walk
Richmond’s Canal Walk
Canal Walk
Canal Walk

Richmond has now restored its historic canals and has created a pedestrian path along them.  Along the riverfront are the sites of Indian trade routes and of early Colonial settlements.  Tredegar Iron Works buildings have been restored, and the remains of bridges burned when the Confederates evacuated the city still stand.  Tobacco warehouses, electric trolleys, and an early African-American church have all left their mark.  Their stories, and many others, are now told along the Canal Walk.

Richmond's Canal Walk
Richmond’s Canal Walk
Under Richmond's convoluted highways
Under Richmond’s convoluted highways
under the highways
under the highways

After centuries of periodic flooding by the James River, development was greatly stimulated by the building of Richmond’s James River Flood Wall in 1995. Ironically, the next flooding disaster came not from the river, but from Hurricane Gaston which brought extensive local tributary flooding along the basin of Shockoe Creek and did extensive damage to the area in 2004, with businesses being shut down and many buildings condemned.

Flood wall
Flood wall

The wall shows the heights the river has reached during various storms.  Here are the flood marks, from the bottom up: Hurricane Camille 1969, Juan 1985, Agnes 1972, and Historical (Unknown) at the top: 1771.

James River Flood Wall
James River Flood Wall
Canal Walk
Canal Walk

When I lived in Richmond, I worked at SunTrust Bank, which was at that time called Crestar Bank.  You can almost see my old office in this picture, as I was on one of the top floors.

The view of downtown Richmond from Shockoe Bottom
The view of downtown Richmond from Shockoe Bottom

Shockoe Slip earned its unusual name from the creek that once flowed through it.  Shacquohocan was the Indian word for the large, flat stones at the mouth of the creek, and “slip” refers to the area’s position on the canal basin where boats loaded their cargo.

Founded as a small trading post by William Byrd in the early 1600’s, Shockoe Slip was the commercial center of Richmond and most of the western part of the state.  A young George Washington surveyed The Kanawha Canal that ran west and became the super waterway for goods until the Civil War.

East Cary Street in Shockoe Slip
East Cary Street in Shockoe Slip

Shockoe Slip literally rose out of the ashes after retreating Confederate troops burned most of the downtown.  Railroads and highways replaced the canals and waterways as major commercial transportation routes over the next century.

Once an old tobacco warehouse, the Tobacco Company Restaurant has been a mainstay of Shockoe Slip for 30 years.  I used to eat here quite frequently when I worked in Richmond.

The Tobacco Company Restaurant
The Tobacco Company Restaurant

Shockoe Slip has been slowly restored since the early 1970s, and it has a distinctly European flavor with its Italianate brick and iron front buildings and a Renaissance-style fountain.  Now the area is a fashionable shopping district with apparel stores, galleries, restaurants and hotels (Historic Shockoe Slip).

The Urban Farmhouse Market & Café was founded in 2010 with a mission in mind:  Bring the farm to the city and suburbs and provide area residents with local, wholesome food in a warm, rustic environment (The Farmhouse Story). This seems to be all the rage in America now, with organic markets springing up everywhere I look.

The Urban Farmhouse Market & Cafe
The Urban Farmhouse Market & Cafe

It’s nice to see that Richmond is going through an urban renewal, like pockets in many cities throughout the U.S.  Richmond is one of my favorite towns in Virginia and I hope to see it prosper. 🙂