Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer on the go... Part 2

Our second Summer vacation included a road trip out east in July. We really enjoy taking road trips to explore our surrounds. We like to get off the interstates wherever possible to witness a more ‘authentic’ and less-franchised America. We missed out on a road trip last year due to my appendicitis and pregnancy with Mietta, so this trip felt way over-due. One of aims of this road trip was to catch up with friends that live in Virginia, namely: David and Bernadette and their kids, Aiden and Mikayla (great friends and our road-trip companions in ‘06 and ’07) and Gabrielle and Craig and their kids James and William (our best friends and school buddies who recently moved from Chicago).   

Leaving after one of Paul’s phone conferences, we had a short travel day down to Madison, Indiana. We arrived at our hotel and I was immediately disappointed. The hotel was located in ugly-Americana-strip-mall-parking-lot-dominant-anywhereville. I had specifically chosen Madison as it was touted to be one of America’s best preserved towns. A trip downtown restored confidence with a brilliant and historic main centre, devoid of chain and franchise stores (I did notice however, that a Subway had snuck in).  Arriving late, we had a choice of precisely one eatery in the downtown precinct: the Hong Kong Kitchen. Thankfully, the owners were very welcoming and accommodating for our little ones. In the morning, we had more of a look around and visited Roger’s Diner and Soda Fountain for a milkshake in a retro and long-established diner. Madison would be a lovely day-trip or weekend destination from Chicago. Full of lots of boutiques and curio shops, the stores opened late and closed early. 

Our second day saw us drive through northern Kentucky and into West Virginia. We were really taken by the lush, green and very dense forests - just beautiful. We would love to explore the Glen Ferris area a little more - looked gorgeous with the wooded hills, winding roads following a river and sections including swimming areas and rapids. We found our hotel at Fayetteville and went in search of something to eat. When I researched and discussed possible destinations with Paul, I asked him “Who would eat at a place named Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit?” “I would!” he answered without hesitation... so this is where we had dinner. What an experience: a very full car park was a good sign; a very basic building (not unlike a barn) with screened porch with a number of would-be patrons waiting for tables. The interior was festooned with flags and sports pennants, the floor covered with peanut shells and walls plastered with signed one dollar bills. It had DIVE written all over it - and it was great! Fayetteville is extreme-sport central, with whitewater rafting, mountain biking, rock-climbing and, once a year, bungy-jumping and base jumping from the New River Gorge Bridge. Fayetteville sported its fair share of Nimbin-types!  We had breakfast at the very comfy Cathedral Cafe in the morning. We were super-impressed with the cafe’s toy chest - where children were invited to select a pre-loved toy and take it home with them. This helped keep the boys amused for some time over the long car journey.

Our day’s journey saw a re-emergence of Luc’s motion sickness (had not seen this for some time!) We arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia around lunchtime and we headed straight for Monticello, the house, gardens and plantation of America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson. We had a highly-organised tour of the house and learnt a little of how incredibly brilliant a man Jefferson was. We enjoyed the gardens and stretching our legs for a bit. The boys tried their hand at writing with a quill and ink. Back in the car, we headed for Fredericksburg to stay with David, Bernadette and family. 

Photo: The boys try their hand at writing old-fashioned-style with a quill and ink. 

POST NOTE May 2013: 
This post originally appeared in my previous blog: 

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