Friday, February 22, 2013

Random Musings Friday: The Week in Review in Pictures

 Linking up with Shana for her Random Musings Friday. Please join our random fun!

I know sometimes it feels like a bit of a ShanAlly LoveFest up in here and it's not on purpose...but I can't pretend it doesn't happen. She has been down to see us 3 times since Baby Blue was born and if you're doing the math, that's almost once every other month. So there has been a lot of peach ice cream consumed, many museums visited, and perhaps some wine drank. She just returned home from her most recent trip (in which we tried to squeeze as much of the state of Virginia into 4 short days as possible) and there were lessons learned and alarming amounts of food consumed.

This is the Pink Cadillac Cafe in Natural Bridge, VA (that is the black sky of a snowpocalypse that never materialized). Also, this...
and this...
and this...
It is a diner in every sense of the word: 1950's memorabilia (heavy on The King of Rock n Roll), teal booths slicked by years of tourists sliding in and a thin mist of Crisco, the obligatory checkered floors and tablecloths, and a Pac-Man arcade game living in harmony next to a full size jukebox. The Elvis burger, which was enough meat to send every one of us into heart failure on a toilet, was perfectly divine. Top it off with some fries and you've got the makings for an XXXL velvet jumpsuit. Shana and I went with the apple pie for dessert. Word to the wise: they have a hard time getting the top crust cooked so just go ahead and peel that puppy back and dive into the gooey apple goodness beneath. All in all, we give it 2 jazz hands way up.

Natural Bridge is quite close to Lexington, VA so Neal wanted to do a drive-by through Virginia Military Institute.
Campus and the central parade ground were reminiscent of our anniversary weekend at the Citadel in Charleston several years ago.
What's a military campus without a cannon? It's like a Catholic Church without a relic from a saint (which I can now reference, thanks to our tour through Blandford Church yesterday).
General "Stonewall" Jackson stands guard outside the school where he was a professor and commander during war time. Poor Stonewall...depicted as a whole person here, but in reality was buried without his arm (which he lost in battle). You can visit his grave in Lexington or his arm (which people keep trying to dig up) in Locust Grove, VA.
In other words, he will resolve to haunt your ass if you dig up his arm and store it in your basement.

Before heading out of Lexington, we had to make one last stop (it would have been 2 if the car safari had been open. safari...feeding camels and giraffes from the heated seat comfort of your Lexus). But car safari is closed until March. Apparently the animals of the bush don't much care for a wind chill of 15 degrees. Foamhenge we went. Yep, full-size replica of foam. Initially an April Fool's joke, foamhenge is set atop a hill along VA-11. We were here for about 3 minutes because it was gusting wind and freezing. In fact, I know I visited because there are pictures to prove it, but I'm pretty sure my brain, along with all memory of that stop, were cryogenically frozen until we arrived in Charlottesville (which is how I will justify trying to convince Shana that the Aborigines are albinos from Africa with bones through their noses).
Oh, we're going to Foamhenge? May I bring my mini-Druid?

We left Lexington for Monticello, which is located just outside of Charlottesville, VA. In my head, we were going to visit the estate of one of our country's esteemed presidents.
But in reality, Thomas Jefferson was kind of a dick. He famously penned the Declaration of Independence which, if you will recall from History class, begins with "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." So, apparently, ole TJ believed that the slaves he owned and refused to free, even after the Declaration of Independence was signed, were not actually created equal to him. Although he supposedly fathered 6 children with one of his slaves after his wife passed away, he only freed 3 of them in his will (and chose not to free their mother...AKA his baby mama). Also, he often sold slaves away from his estate (and their families) as punishment. So...yeah...if I had known last week what I know now, I probably would have skipped the whole thing. The staff had their panties in a bunch because we had Baby Blue with us and I try not to give Neal's hard-earned Army money away to houses of hypocrisy. Neal ended up leaving the tour about 10 minutes in to a 90 minute tour because the babe was getting too loud. But I found a lovely website that will walk him through the house and he won't even have to be subjected to the tour guides in bowties or the stuffy manner in which they corral and herd tourists through the first floor. But since we were already there...
This is a window in the dome room, which (I think) is the most breathtaking of the 43 rooms and yet Jefferson found it suitable for storage. Dumbass. It presents 360 degree views of Charlottesville down below and is flooded with magnificent light from these windows, as well as the oculus above. Shana thought so, too.
My Downton-Abbey-adoring heart almost couldn't take it. Sounds exactly like the opening credits. No Carson or Mrs. Hughes here, though, as Jeff insisted on owning his servants instead of paying them.
Monticello from the back.
Monticello from the front. The back of Monticello is the image on a nickel. So the front was the back and the back was the front and this is probably why Jefferson was so bassakwards on who was equal to whom. But instead, he died in debt and all of his belongings, from the china to the children were auctioned off right here on the front lawn. Suddenly, W. doesn't look so bad, does he?

When the tour was over, we found Neal and Baby Blue in the car...taking a $42 nap. It would be awesome if Neal could have hopped in with the next tour while we took babysitting duty, but they are very strict about all of their rules. I guess exceptions made creates problems down the line, but it was a pricey lesson to learn about babies and schedules.

Charlottesville and Lexington are funny places. The trend in women's fashion is skinny jeans and riding boots, but I'm almost certain that none of the women we saw had just been on (or had any intention of getting on) a horse. They are home to Washington & Lee (Lexington) and UVA (Charlottesville) and are both quite serious about preserving a college-town feel with an abundance of local commerce. This became a problem in Charlottesville when we were looking for our dinner spot. I generally cross-reference Yelp and Trip Advisor to find all of our restaurants while traveling. It was almost impossible to find a restaurant in the top 25 that had consistently excellent reviews. And the ones that did made no secret of their baby-unfriendliness. You don't have to have a cache of high chairs, but it would be great if you didn't shoot daggers in our direction when he starts drooling in my dinner. It's my dinner, after all. So, I widened my search and found Fardowners in a small town about 12 miles outside of Charlottesville.
Jackpot. It's a pub with live music on the weekends and piped music played loud-ish the rest of the time. Remarkably, Baby Blue slept through the entire meal...even when they turned it up louder, even when the table of drunk co-eds right behind us began screeching Happy Birthday and banging on the table. I don't understand why the pacifier is such a strong sleep aid...all I know is that it works. And that's good enough for me. I was able to thoroughly enjoy my Philly Mac and Cheese (yes...a heaping bowl of macaroni and cheese, prepared Philly cheese steak style. Be still my heart). Neal had a salad because he is a robot who never rewards himself with food. And I can't remember what Shana had but I remember it came with tater tots. The best tater tots I've ever had, I should add.

I also overheard a conversation behind me about Christian Laetner and Duke vs. UK. And that's how I met a fellow UK alum who now lives in Charlottesville. Big Blue Madness,'s everywhere.

The next morning, with the wind at our backs, we scooted back down I-64 to the house. It had been a grand adventure and now it was over..for Neal anyway. Shana and I had more to explore.
This is what $80+ worth of chocolate looks like. That package in the middle is sea salt merlot caramels. That alone has to be worth at least $100. All of our love to For the Love of Chocolate in Richmond for making this happen.
She turns her nose up at tuna but tries to cram her entire body into the bag from the chocolate shop. Smart kitty.

Lunch was right around the corner on Cary St. at Can Can...which was chosen simply because it had been raining all morning and there was an awning covering the sidewalk from the chocolate store to the restaurant. But what a fine choice it was.
It fancied itself a french bistro with a modern flare. And the staff stopped repeatedly to ogle Baby Blue...which is pretty much the easiest way to make me like you. Shana had the Croque Madame with this cheese sauce that we sopped up with fries and bread and our fingers. I chose the squash crepes because it included bok choy and...well...crepes. But just as good as the food were the bathrooms.

Right?? First of all..fresh flowers on the sink. And real toilet paper holders in the stalls. It was clean and fancy and I got to pull a chain to flush the toilet instead of balancing on one foot while stomping a lever down with the other. I swear, for a second there I felt like a Zelda or a Gertrude.

One other great find in this lunch spot was their pear and hazelnut bread that they serve on the table. As it turns out, you can buy it by the loaf. And this knowledge is at least as dangerous as when I found the peach ice cream at Lane's Peach Orchard in Georgia.

Our last stop of the day (after a quick drop in a boutique Goodwill) was the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. You may remember a little gushing I did here about the VMFA and the Chihuly glass exhibit we saw last month. Sadly, that show left a few weeks ago so I had promised Shana an excellent viewing of Faberge, one of their permanent exhibits. Except, when we got there, we learned it had just left. For two years. So we decided to check out the French Impressionists and the photography exhibits and then head home. The Impressionists wing included about 3 Degas paintings, several statues and this chick, who has quickly become my favorite of Degas' work.
And then a bunch of stuff by painters I had never heard of...which is kind of saying a lot considering how much I've studied the Impressionists. Photography didn't fare much better. Literally it was one wall of a hallway with maybe 20 photos. It was rough and all we could say was "at least entry is free." But Shana did find this interesting piece...
She wanted to know when J had made the time to have an exact replica of himself created.

And then we spotted this new fashion on our way out of the gift shop.
This, by the way, was the same gift shop where the cashier was asking if I bought my ripped jeans that way. I wanted to say "Look Twiggy, at least I managed to get out of maternity pants." but I just smiled and secretly judged the train wreck she was passing off as a hairdo.

Our last day was a quiet morning of scones with blackberry jam (made by Webb with fruit found in her Farmer's Market last summer) followed by the express tour of Tiffany's windows at Blandford Church (where we witnessed the former president of Mississippi's southern ladies of the confederate something or other battle it out with the tour guide over which state is the birth place of Memorial Day) followed by the most heavenly chicken salad at Hiram Haines Coffeeshop (which is famous for housing Edgar Allen Poe and his child cousin bride on their honeymoon night. But really should be famous for their chicken salad). It all went by way too quickly and I still feel like there are so many more nooks and crannies in this part of the world that I want to show her. I'm in love with this area and although I don't think we'll get to stay, it's on our list. Of course...the committee is now 3 days late in handing out assignments and in the same way as The Jerk, every day that we wait feels like 2 weeks and the last 3 days felt like a month but before that, each day felt like 2 days....

Cheers and Happy Champagne Friday!


  1. No.WTF is that phallic type thing?!
    I want to go to the Pink Cadillac Cafe!
    You're so good about visiting your area...I just sit on my ass and never leave my house.

  2. Cheers, dear lady! Sorry i forgot to tell you about T.J. - assumed you knew. Also wish i had known you were also headed to VMI - dad was a grad, but it looks like you did a good job on the important sites there.

    Raising a glass in you direction this afternoon. Glad you had a good visit. Only a couple of weeks til MM - go ' cats.

  3. I, too, love the way you explore and enjoy what each area has to offer. You share it with your real-life friends and with your blog friends. Now I feel like I need to eat salads to compensate for all those good meals (and chocolate) I've just read about.


That's it, let it all out....