Monday, July 14, 2014

A weekend in RVA

I know I said we have decided to stop spending money unnecessarily, but Jon came home from work on Thursday and declared that we HAD to get out of town for the weekend.  I got to go to Cape Town, while his broken arm used up most of his vacation time.  Suddenly it seemed like a mini vacation could be categorized as a necessity.  So we went to Richmond.

I've been to Richmond many times--regular jaunts to the Science and Children's museums when the kids were little, and hanging around in the Fan or Carytown since Brigid started school there, but I've never visited with "getaway" in mind and there is a lot we haven't seen.  We booked a room at the Linden House Inn, near downtown.

Our hotel on E. Franklin St.

Friday night, we went to Bistro 27 on Broad St. for dinner.  When we arrived, they seemed a little nervous and told us it was the first night with their new menu, and to please be patient, but everything was lovely.  If it was chaotic in the kitchen, you couldn't tell in the dining room.  We started with a mackerel pate.  I ordered a vegetarian entree; lentils and seasonal vegetables with feta, wrapped in naan bread.  I loved this!  I would definitely order it again if we were to return.  We finished the evening visiting with Brigid (now safely home from Cape Town) and her boyfriend, Ryan.

Hotel dining rooms at breakfast are interesting places.  Everyone is from somewhere else and has a different story.  Most people are cheerful at the prospect of a "free" breakfast that someone else prepared for them.  Over my coffee and book, I eavesdropped a little.  A table of chemistry professors were mocking their students' obtuseness. One of them said,  "I told them, 'One mole ten to the 27th power times six tons of grass clippings' and what answer did they choose on the exam?  Eight."  She sat back in her chair, triumphant, amid sympathetic clucking from her companions.  At another table, a woman was gushing on the phone about the hotel, "My room is bigger than my house.  It's GRACIOUS. LIVING." 

After breakfast on Saturday morning, we went to Caravati's architectural salvage.  I have been dying to visit for years.  You can find all kinds of old house parts: claw foot tubs, stained glass windows, fencing, mantles, door knobs, hinges, lighting etc.  We spent a happy hour browsing and taking stock for future projects.

A forest of columns

Perhaps you need stair bannisters

Or an antique stove

At Brigid's boyfriend's suggestion, after Caravati's we walked the pipeline.  This was super cool!  You walk through the giant flood wall that protects Richmond from the James and follow a track through the grass to the pipeline.

The track takes you to this ladder.  (I took this picture after we were finished and were ready to climb back up.)  We met a guy at the top of the ladder who was planning to carry his dog down it.  We didn't stay to gawk at him, but I know he made it because we saw him later. His dog probably weighed close to 100 pounds.

Anyway, you walk on the top of the pipeline, under the railroad bridge and along the James River.  I was hoping a train would go over while we were there, but it didn't happen.

Eventually, there's no more walkway or railings and you walk directly on the pipe.  At a spot where someone had piled rocks against the pipe, we were able to climb down onto the rocks by the river's edge, where we rested and watched people in rafts and stand up paddle boards go past.  Blue herons nest on the island and one stood watching us the entire time.

The walk back was a little scary.  First of all, I had trouble climbing back up to the pipe.  Standing on the very top of the pile of stones, I just managed to drag myself onto it.  The pipe isn't really wide enough for two people, but now lots of people were heading toward us with their picnic coolers.  You had to turn sideways and edge past each other, and on the part with no railings, this was scary.  We made it to the end fine, though.

Later in the afternoon, we went to St. John's Church, where Patrick Henry famously ranted, "Give me liberty or give me death!"  I took my father their years ago, but I wanted to return to see the view.

This is St. John's

This is the neighborhood around St. John's

We talked about how we need to familiarize ourselves more with Virginia.  We have lived here for fifteen years, and we have never been to Norfolk, Virginia Beach,  Chincoteague, or even northern Virginia, except for field trips to Wegmans and Ikea.  We're hoping to be able to do some more local vacations.

After a siesta, we went out for dinner with Brigid and her boyfriend and after that to a place called Wonderland in Shockhoe Bottom, to hear some music.  It turns out the show had been cancelled, but we stayed to have a beer.  Sunday morning, we left early to return to Charlottesville for our usual weekend chores.

What about you?  Do you tend to ignore your region when traveling, or do you do local trips?


  1. What a fun little jaunt! Our vacations this year will be in-state, for reasons of both time and austerity;) That salvage shop and pipeline walk both look marvelous--hidden treasures.

  2. I did not even know there was any kind of pipeline near the East Coast. Thanks for the tour!

    These days, when traveling, I tend to drive straight to the Old Folks' Home, or to my kids' college on move-in day, and then straight back. But we are going to NYC on vacation later in the summer! Yes, this means ignoring our region, but it seems it's mostly trees inbetween us and NYC.

  3. I've done a lot of local trips where I live.

  4. If I can't get there in a car in a few hours, then I probably haven't been there. I'm quite local in my excursions.
    I know a good chunk of both the Greenleaf Lane house and the new Rose Hill building of Betty's came from Caravati's.