Friday, March 18, 2005

Richmond, Virginia, Friday, March 18, 2005

It’s 9am and Bob is still asleep. This is the latest I have slept on this trip. We’re in Richmond now for a few days and today is going to be a resting and relaxing one. We got into town yesterday around 5, having stopped in Charlottesville earlier in the day and toured its historic downtown, enjoying the pedestrian-only shopping area and historic mansions that surround it. We spent some time in Virginia years ago and drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, visited Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello and saw the Cumberland Gap and the Appalachian Trail. But we had not spent any time in the city of Charlottesville.

We said a tearful goodbye to Jessica and Nick on Tuesday morning, March 15th, with Indianapolis as our destination for that night. Since we decided to by-pass Chicago, traffic was light and we made it there by around 2pm. What a delightful little city! I had designed a brochure for a client that included photographs of the city and I was interested in seeing it first hand. What I read about Indianapolis in my guidebooks also piqued my interest. The city had been considered one of the dirtiest cities in the nation in the 60s but really cleaned up its act and now ranks as one of the cleanest. Talking with some of the locals, I learned that it is also among the safest with the lowest crime rate for a city its size. Bob and I had so much fun taking photos of the old buildings and the monuments and architectural details. I especially enjoyed the ArtsGarden, which is this wonderful glass-domed structure that sits over a major intersection like a bridge and is owned and operated by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The arts are flourishing in this city and you can find out all about what’s going on there, as well as enjoy music concerts and see art exhibits. Very creative use of this area above the street and a lovely little jewel for the city. Again, we found the historic downtown area being appreciated and renovation efforts are everywhere apparent. Lovely old buildings sit side by side with modern ones. Old warehouses are being turned into lofts, and shops and cafes are opening up, creating fun little areas to walk, shop and eat. We had dinner in a place called “The Scholars Inn” and sat by a window, watching the sun set over the city. It was a very satisfying visit, although too brief.

We had become quite the pit-crew every day in my Jetta, packing and unpacking with precision and knowing exactly where everything was stashed in the front and back seats and in the door pockets. But since we left our car with Jessica, and picked up the rental, we are having to re-learn the whole system. It’s not as MUCH bigger as we had hoped and in many ways the Jetta, small as it was, had pretty good storage areas. But it’s fine and we are checking off another milestone on the path of this great adventure. We went from being two people with jobs, a house, two cars and many responsibilities for taking care of all of those things to two travelers with no house, no jobs and no cars (OK, technically, we do still have a car at our disposal!). Footloose and Fancy Free. In so many ways I feel as though I am jumping off a cliff leaving everything safe and familiar behind, but below lies excitement and adventure and my eyes are open as I take this plunge into our next life.

Leaving Indianapolis, we drove though Indiana farmland and across Ohio, into West Virginia. We had originally planned to stay in Charleston, West Virginia Wednesday night but all the hotels were filled with high school basketball fans. There was a state championship tournament taking place and every available bed in the city was filled! (Those of you who know us will appreciate the fact that we did not have a clue that this was happening or that it would be as big a deal as it was.) We ended up in a town called Beckley but toured around Charleston in the afternoon. We have been making a point of visiting the state capitals if our journey took us through them and Charleston was one that seemed especially interesting since it boasted a 23 karat gold leaf dome we thought would be cool to see. Unfortunately it is undergoing restoration and was completely covered with a white cloth (Bob and I have this thing we say – like when we were in Italy and there was scaffolding everywhere that is a take off on a line in the movie “Young Frankenstein” where Gene Wilder tries to kiss Madeline Kahn and she stops him from messing up her dress saying “Taffeta, Darling.” We have changed that to “Scaffolding, Darling” and it makes us laugh at how often it happens that things we want to see are covered due to restoration and so we are unable to see them in all their glory. At any rate, we found Charleston to be mostly lovely, with beautiful 19th century homes and buildings along the banks of the Kanawha River.

Outside Beckley we took a little detour through some incredible scenery in the Appalachian Mountains to the New River Gorge National River and climbed 220 feet down a beautifully constructed natural wood staircase to view the Gorge and the bridge that spans the gap. The New River is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America, originating more than 65 million years ago and, unlike most of the world’s rivers, it flows northward. It’s also known for its white-water rapids, which are said to rival those of the Colorado River. A light snow fell as we drove through the Appalachians near the Blue Ridge Parkway (closed now for winter) and the dusting on the trees created breathtaking views at every turn of the road. The state of Virginia has an air of refinement about it. The classy neighbor of West Virginia, which seems more earthy and rustic. It always amazes us how different one state is from the next with its own personality and terrain that separates it. In the case of Virginia and West Virginia, it is the majestic mountains of Appalachia that act as a natural divider. Small homesteads (from the obviously wealthy to the desperately poor) lead up to and in places, into, the mountains. On the other side are the elaborate estates of Virginia’s gentlemen farmers – little fences meander up and around rolling hills, horses graze lazily, everything appears bucolic and well tended.

Last night we met Chris after work and went to a very fun restaurant, “The Melting Pot” where we shared a four-course extravaganza called “The Big Night Out.” This is a fondue restaurant where they serve you the first course of melted cheese with fruit and bread and veggies to dip in followed by salad and then the main course – a plate of beef, chicken, lobster and shrimp that you cook in the fondue pot, followed by a chocolate fondue and all the goodies that go along with that. Truly yummy and very, very fun. We are looking forward to a relaxing few days here in Richmond, and especially to seeing our little granddaughter Kyla and playing with her. We were here for Christmas before she was actually crawling. Now Chris tells us she is zooming all over the place and is just adorable (of course he is biased, but we are sure we will agree!). He is obviously a very proud Daddy and having a great time.

I hope I haven’t bored you with all my tales here. It’s fun for us to recount the story of our days. It helps us to remember what we did and we enjoy sharing it with all of you.

We hope also that you will remember to keep checking this site and keep us posted as well with what is going on in your lives. We miss you all very much. It’s easy to post comments on this site also, by clicking “comments” and “posting” them.

We are more than half way through the “Farewell Tour” now. Next week we will be in Pennsylvania and New York. And then the rest of this journey begins.

Take care,
Rosemary & Bob

2 comments:

Linda Helser said...

Rosemary, I'm a reporter for az.rep. trying to do a story on international retirement. would love to include the two of you. tried to reach you by e-mail but it wouldn't work. would love to interview you either by phone (I'll call you) or thru e-mail. there will be others included in this story so I won't have to take too much of your time. my e-mail at work is linda.helser@arizonarepublic.com,602-444-8243 and at home,lhelser@mindspring.com and 602-253-4069 and cell, 602-228-5126. Mostly I just need to find a way to make a connection with you. Hope you'll get in touch. I'll be working on this story Mar. 22 & 23.

Barbara said...

Hey Bob and Rosemary! Great blog! It sounds as if the two of you are easing your way to Italy...we've been waiting for you to arrive for quite a while now, and it's hard to believe that you'll actually be here in 2 weeks! I need some way to give you our phone number so that you can give us a call once you arrive. any ideas?