Posts Tagged ‘Virginia places’


Lee Highway

This morning I had an appointment in Staunton, Virginia and took the serene Lee Highway.  It is normally a 45+ minute ride but I like driving through serenity with views of a tranquil rural Virginia.  And on this bright, sunny day it felt like I was driving the only car on the road.

That was until the traffic jam caused by an accident up ahead.  First a 20 minute wait with the engine off and then a forced U-turn to start over on the Interstate.   Arghhh!

Lost – Time 

Being a woman of  iron will and firm determination I got on that hated truck-dominated freeway chewing on my cheek from nervous anxiety and made it to the appointment just in time to find the doors to my destination were locked.  Arghhh!

Found –  Destination

Lost – Nobody There

A strange looking fellow dressed in raggedy clothing came up to my car and said, “Can I help you?”  Putting on a nothing-scares-me demeanor, I said,  ” I have an appointment at this place but noone is there.”

And he said:  “No, you don’t have an appointment.  We are closed.”  Turns out the scruffy fellow was the one I had an appointment with.

It is possible I had the wrong date but not likely.

Nevertheless, after some not-so-polite words with the person I was supposed to have the appointment with, I moved on.

Lost – Time and Temper

I next wanted to find Milmont Greenhouses in Stuarts Draft, VA.  I don’t have a GPS but managed to muddle my way to this bastion of millions of blooming and budding things.

 I was on a search for Cat Mint!

Cat Mint is supposedly critter proof (deer and rabbits hate it).  It is also drought resistant, blooms almost all summer, looks a lot like Lavender, and “if you can’t grow Cat Mint you should stay out of the garden.”

O.K., so I miraculously found the place!


Found – Milmont Greenhouses

But then I couldn’t find the Cat Mint.

Lost – Energy (Staggering Around a Giant Nursery)


Cat Mint is listed under Nepeta.  Who knew? 


Nepeta – Cat Mint

After wandering around the greenhouses among crowds of manic gardeners I managed to look on the good side and said to myself, “At least you are getting some Vitamin D3 with all this sunshine!”

Found – A Positive Outlook on Life

And finally there it was – the Nepeta.

Found – Nepeta (or YES – CAT MINT)

But my sunglasses managed to disappear.

Lost – Sunglasses

I thought I lost my cell phone too but it was in the car all along.

Tension does this sometimes – causes you to lose your mind.

Lost – Mind

I did find my cell phone though.  It was tucked in the creases of the passenger seat.

Found – Cell phone

It was a very strange Lost and Found kind of day.




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20160221_174840We had dinner at The Pink Cadillac again, since it changed owners.  The “diner” has always been a great trip to the past, and now it is freshly painted, and refurbished.

A fellow came in and asked our hostess what she would recommend on the menu.  Her reply was quick.

“An Elvis Burger, French Fries and a Milk Shake!”

I had not ordered that but maybe next time.  Sounds irresistible if not deadly!


I love the Texaco gas pump and tried to photograph the gas price on the front.  It isn’t clear but it was 32 cents a gallon!  Sometimes I think we are headed back, back, back to the old pricing doesn’t it?

20160221_173725 Oh look!  A real jukebox on the back wall.  It still works and plays a lot of Elvis tunes as well as some more modern selections.

There’s a great feeling at this little diner on the edge of Lexington, Virginia where you just can’t help smiling.

If you come here for a visit, I’ll meet you at the Pink Cadillac for an Elvis Burger, French Fries, and a Milk Shake!

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Ubon Thai Victorian Inn 2Yesterday I went again with my friend to the Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant and Inn in Staunton, Virginia!

I know the name of the place is enough to make you smile!

We had been there before for lunch on one of our “outings” but were hankering again for the ultra delicious Thai food.

And we were once again greeted by the happy energetic Mrs. Ubon Herlong.  She was born in Nakonsawan City, Thailand) and is the eager-to-please owner/chef/server who insists demands you enjoy yourself.   She loves telling stories of her life in Thailand and will even call you “Baby!”  And her cheerful presence actually enhances the authentic Thai dining experience.

“No MSG here!” she said.  “All organic!  You want MSG?  You go Chinese!”  Ubon and Dan Herlong

And we are immediately grinning.

Our big smiles begin in the parking lot in back and escalate as we follow our noses down meandering garden steps.  Somehow we wander into a Thai inspired world of kitschy ethnic charm.  The restaurant is in a building 150 years old offering succulent food inspired by Anna and the King of Siam! The name of the place is cause enough for smiling, but merging the Thai culture and cuisine with a splendidly elegant Victorian atmosphere is totally unique.

And then there is Dan Herlong (Ubon’s husband) who graciously took us on a tour of the Inn the first time we were there.  This time he showed us a cell phone tracking device that helps you find your misplaced phone.  It beeps louder when you are heading in the right direction!

And of course the building is a beautiful example of the Victorian age in Virginia.  Within blocks of downtown Staunton it was once called The Belle Grae Inn and was built in 1870 as part of a 200 acre farm at the edge of town.

Today’s version of the Belle Grae Inn in Staunton’s historic “New Town” is now the Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant and Inn.   It’s a pleasant walk to shops and museums and an easy drive to Colonial and Civil War history, a little tricky to find, but patience and a bit of circling around Staunton got us there just fine with “ample parking.”

But the irresistible draw of the Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant

and the cause of so many smiles is the attention and the food!  

Ubon makes you feel you are visiting her in Thailand and the food?  

Well, the food is simply delicious!





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When I was a girl, we took family drives for recreation and entertainment.  I suspect my parents also drove us around just to cool off and escape mosquito invasions. Evidently mosquitoes don’t like wind generated from open car windows.  We lived in Florida you see, and had no air conditioning at home and not in the car either.  We would drive along at the high speed of about 30 miles per hour and my brother and I loved to hang our feet out the windows, or wave our hands in the wind, greeting truckers to put smiles in their day.  We thought that worked because they always waved back.

A Pickle for a Nickel

On our drives, we stopped at little country stores for fresh fruits and vegetables.  The ice cold Cokes in  big coolers were sold in frosty bottles (no such thing as “diet” versions). There was root beer too and all manner of fascinating other possibilities like candy, comic books and card games.  Some even had barrel pickles and you picked your pickle for 5 cents right out of the barrel.   Our traditional family outings took us out of the realm of the humdrum into new and fascinating other worlds.

The Upscale Country Store

Nowadays here in Virginia, my grown up country drives still feature those sorts of roadside stops and they vary from just lean-to sheds to actual general stores, and many are vastly expanded, upscale versions.  For instance, a few miles from my home there is a Country Store that has been there for over 52 years.  The place is still a local favorite  where every one finds fresh harvests of fruits and veggies served up with congenial conversation.  There are lovely peaches, watermelon and of course tomatoes in season, and apples and pumpkins in the fall.

Why do I call it upscale?  This store is now carrying the finest meats/cold cuts and the best brands of creamy ice cream, and they sell casual clothing, gifts, flags, jams and jellies, handmade sandwiches, and a lot of basic essentials like bread, milk and local honey.  Country hams are always big sellers, but beware if you are a “Yankee” because you may not be prepared for the heavy salt.  Country ham, sliced paper thin and served  on a warm buttered biscuit is an extra special treat.  Virginia Ham Biscuits make wonderful snacks for parties too.

Remnant of Olde Time America

Roadside country stores still stir me, and as my husband and I drive by, I feel a little twinge of excitement and I want to scream, “Stop!”  Of course he will stop if I ask, but he lacks the necessary sense of wonder so we often travel on by.   Bill grew up in the Bronx, New York and his streets and alleys were no doubt devoid of roadside stands.  His imagination does not soar at the thought of the treasures we might find.  And I cannot convince him that even if all there is to experience is color, conversation, fresh corn and tomatoes, stepping back in time to an America of simpler pleasures is always worth the stop.

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On July 13, 2011 I did a blog post as The VIRGINIA SHOPPER for Virginia Born and Bred (a little local gift store in Lexington, Virginia).  The post is about Colonial Williamsburg. 

The VIRGINIA SHOPPER is rediscovering historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia – the nation’s largest living history museum!  Would you believe over 4 million people visit there each year?

Good thing I’m wearing my ugly walking shoes! I am managing to keep up a snail’s pace, but covering 301 acres exploring reconstituted buildings, homes, stores, and taverns has me wishing for a horse!   It’s easy to forget pain though.  My mind is on the murky past.

At the risk of sounding like the Twilight Zone, I’m actually slipping back to the 18th century.  The buildings, shops and homes, and even the people in period dress who talk to me in colonial tongues are urging me back, back, back to another simpler time and place.

Everyday tools and tableware were not only functional necessities, but added comfort, beauty and interest to the lives of the Colonists.  I am discovering that many of these objects (adapted, remodeled, designed after or replicated) offer the same benefits today.  They have been licensed by Colonial Williamsburg for sale in other places as authentic reproductions or replicas of things excavated from the historic town site.

For instance, I’m thinking of getting a wrought iron Table Top Votive modeled after an original that’s perfect for my patio table.  Then there’s a pair of Sarah Coke Candle Sticks I love!  They are adapted from unearthed archeological fragments that date back to the Coke family in Williamsburg.  John Coke was a goldsmith and tavern keeper who died in 1767.  There are lots of other articles like a Hooked Pineapple Rug, or Tavern Shrub Glasses based on a flared design found on glasses excavated at the site, and the Travis House Lantern with a carrying ring for easy transport of outdoor candle light.

The pineapple was and is Virginia’s symbol of hospitality and a Pineapple Trivet for the table was and is a way of welcoming guests.  And the Williamsburg Bird Bottle – used in 18th century Virginia to attract birds and control insects – was hung on the side of a building with a single nail. Modeled after an original excavation find, it’s as beautiful and functional now as it was then.

Although my feet hurt, I can say with pride that Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia is a fantastic place to visit again and again. It is an experience in virtual reality and is the only place I know of where the murky mists of time have been removed to expose real people who came before us, and where I can get a glimpse of their homes, businesses, tools for living, and ideals and visions for future generations.


The motto of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia is “that the future may learn from the past” and it is that ongoing dedication to detail and historic accuracy that makes this a vacation destination unlike any other.


When visiting Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, be sure to wear comfortable shoes!


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The Natural Bridge
Rockbridge County, Virginia

“I sometimes think of building a little hermitage at the Natural Bridge (for it is my property) and of passing there a part of the year at least.”   ~Thomas Jefferson, former owner of the Natural Bridge to William Carmichael, 1786

It has just occurred to me that the name of this blog is Virginia Views and I haven’t developed any posts with a touristic flavor.   I never tried my hand at travel writing, so this may be a challenge.  It’s definitely a departure from memorable meanderings around the countryside.   Well, “What the heck!” That’s an old fashioned way of saying, “Take ur chances.”  So, here goes!

Not far from me in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is the awesome Natural Bridge.  The Bridge is an immense overpass formed by nature over hundreds of years ago.  It’s old!  Very Very old!  I still go there (and not just because I am THAT old!).  If you come for a visit, I will surely take you there too.  Ha!

Popular with Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries, the two biggest sights to see were Niagara Falls and you guessed it – Natural Bridge.  The latter has even been listed as one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World” and is one of the oldest tourist destinations in the U.S.  I repeat, “This bridge is OLD.”


To illustrate my point, note that guests at The Bridge (before the horseless carriage – the automobile) rode on horseback or by horse drawn carriage to explore the country side.  Braver guests could be lowered over the edge in a hexagonal steel cage to the accompaniment of a violinist!  Talk about an exciting vacation!  This could be the earliest precursor of bungee jumping!


AS the legend goes, in 1750 young George Washington surveyed The Bridge for Lord Fairfax.  They say he even carved his initials on the wall of the bridge and yes, by golly, you can see them from across the creek – “GW” – Gee Whiz!  That’s an old saying meaning “Wow!”


And this is not a legend.  This is true.   In 1774 Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land including The Natural Bridge from King George III of England for 20 shillings.  Wouldn’t you love to own a bridge?  It would be almost as good as owning an island.  Jefferson was a brilliant fellow, that’s for sure.



A serene nature trail along Cedar Creek goes right through and underneath the great stone archway of the Magnificent Natural Bridge! You can amble along this trail that eventually leads to the waterfall that once helped to form the bridge.  It’s a lovely walk and when you look up, the tendency is to stop in awe.  Like a physical blow to the gut, there is a stunned, almost overwhelming reaction to the sight of this enormous structure.  You see, the creek carved out a gorge in the mountainous limestone terrain to form a natural arch 215 feet high with a span of 90 feet!

How’s this for my first travelogue?  If you come this way for a visit, don’t miss The Natural Bridge!

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