Friday, October 10, 2008

October Travel Log

Journey to Massanutten

Saturday October 4, 2008
We left Fayetteville around 10:30 heading to Lynchburg, Virginia. This is the first leg of our journey to rest and relaxation at Massanutten Resort in the Shenandoah Valley. Our first stop is at Blue Ridge Community Church to attend a party for Stick and Lois Thomas for their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. I was very impressed by the food. The party was catered by the cook/hostess at the church. I expected the usual reception fare from Sam’s or the deli at Kroger. I was delighted to find coconut battered chicken nuggets, a layered Mexican dip that I make myself, a baked cheese dip (in a ciabatta crust that I will be making soon), BBQ, as well as assorted pastries and cookies (trumpet cookies that melt in your mouth). The cake was not only beautiful but tasted wonderful and I think I am going to ask for this recipe. After spending a couple of hours visiting with old friends we set out for our nights lodging in Raphine, Virginia. No, I had not heard of Raphine until I attempted finding a hotel room amid several college football towns. The best I could do was the Days Inn. I would not recommend it. Fortunately the hotel was not a dump, just in bad need of renovations. The paid help was scarce as was the appeal of the continental breakfast which we skipped. The best part of the room was the free WiFi which I used to find a place to eat dinner, the Fairfield Diner. This place gave me a laugh because it was located on Soapy Lane (unknown to Google maps) beside a Laundromat and a carwash. This is a very small place and we got there about an hour before they shut down for the night. I wasn’t very hungry so I ordered the grilled ham, tomato and three cheese sandwich. Nick ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese burger. My sandwich tasted okay, but I don’t think I like tomatoes on my grilled sandwiches. Nick liked his burger, except that the meat was burned on the outside. The place was cute and had some good sounding items on the menu, but I wasn’t willing to fork out that much on a dark horse. I doubt that I will ever pass this way again, but if I did, I would probably drive on down to Staunton to Cracker Barrel or some other chain restaurant.

Sunday, October 5, 2008
When we left Raphine Sunday morning, we pulled off of interstate 81 at the Staunton exit for Cracker Barrel. That’s when we saw the sign for Mrs. Rowe’s. We had no idea that this little restaurant had been featured in Southern Living. The lobby was crowded, but we had comfortable rocking chairs with college emblems while we waited for about ten minutes. The restaurant décor is very homey with heart of pine paneling and solid wooden tables and chairs. The prices were a little higher than we normally pay for breakfast, but the food was really good and the portions generous. I had bacon, eggs, hash brown casserole and toast. Nick had tenderloin and gravy over biscuits. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who is traveling in this area. My only disappointment is that we couldn’t have one of Mrs. Rowe’s famous pies for breakfast! After our late breakfast, we drove around Staunton for a while. This is such a scenic area with a lot of historical houses including the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson and his library. We then continued north to Harrisonburg to kill some time because we couldn’t check into our condo until 4pm. Harrisonburg is the home to James Madison University and has some collegy areas as well as the usual retail strip. I have finally seen a mall that is more pathetic than Cross Creek. ;-). Finally we made our way on to Massanutten. Our condo is really nice; we could even smell the fresh paint. Everything seems to be clean and in working order. What a relief! Nick is thrilled because we have a gas burning fireplace. We have it on while we watch the Amazing Race! Even though it was warm today, the night time temperatures are a lot lower here in the mountains. Tonight we had dinner at Hank’s Smokehouse Grillery. The interior of the building is rustic and the interior, a friendly, casual, woody atmosphere. The first thing we noticed was the delicious smoky aroma. While we were waiting for our food we tasted all the varieties of sauce and all of them passed my test for sweetness. I decided to have an entrée salad with fried chicken tenders. The salad was fresh and the blue cheese dressing good; however, I only got two strips of chicken for $8.95. Nick had a barbeque combo of chopped pork and beef brisket. Of course, the pork barbeque is not the type we are used to at home, and Nick knew this, however, the meat contained an overwhelming amount of smoke flavor. The best tasting pork barbeque has a subtle hint of smoke that doesn’t hide its natural flavor. The tender beef brisket had a nice flavor. The sauces were good with just the right touch of spiciness and sweet. Given the remoteness of this area, Hank’s Smokehouse Grillery is a good choice for a good meal at a reasonable price.

Monday, October 6, 2008
This first order of the day is to shop for groceries. Not only are most of the restaurants back in Harrisonburg, it’s a good five miles down the mountain, so we decided to take advantage of our full kitchen and prepare our own meals. We drove a few miles to the Food Lion in Elkton. Food Lion is one of my least favorite grocery stores, but we were able to find some nice looking pork chops, rib-eyes, and wings, as well as plenty of accompaniments. We even found something we love: cream filled French horns, which Harris Teeter never has….good thing, that’s just what I need is yet another vice. The clerk was nice enough to scan her MVP card so that we could get the weekly discounted prices. The rest of the day was spent napping and reading, you guessed it, by the gas logs. WiFi is $10 a day, so I decide I can live without the internet for a few days. So my mac daddy computer just became a very expensive word processor and Mahjong Titans game station.
She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes.....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Today went traveled over about forty miles on Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah Valley. I’ve got some great pictures to post later. We packed our own picnic lunch and really loved this lazy tour of spectacular mountains and foliage. After this strenuous day of getting in and out of the CRV at the overlooks, we spent a considerable amount of time in a hot tub the size of a party barge. Wish we had one of these at home!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Today’s weather is the coolest we’ve had; I am actually wearing a corduroy shirt and jeans. We went into Harrisonburg to the Shenandoah Valley Farmer’s Market. This sounded really cool and I had flashbacks to the Bird in the Hand Farmer’s Market in Lancaster County, PA. What a disappointment! This is more like a flea market than a farmer’s market. I didn’t buy a thing, but I did find a store up on Market St that had Crocs on sale. Momma is getting a pair whether she likes it or not! The rest of the day is spent lounging and soaking in the incredible hot tub! I am so glad this place has a washer and dryer. We’re packed and ready to head out after breakfast in the morning.
Heading South

Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tim and Becky Arneson have traveled early in the morning from Fayetteville and we’re having breakfast this morning at the Thunderbird Diner. This is a small place and is laid out just like the diners I see on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The coffee is really good and I had sausage gravy over biscuits with hash browns. Nick had a western omelet which he really enjoyed. The kids had pancakes and French toast. Becky had a breakfast burrito that smelled wonderful. I thought for a resort area that the prices were reasonable, in fact, this would have been a great place for lunch if we had not been eating in the condo. We’ve said our goodbyes and we are heading back to Fayetteville via Richmond. We arrive in Short Pump around twelve thirty. According to Nick, this area used to be country, but in recent years has grown up into sizeable suburban sprawl. Nick’s BFF, Brad Ivey, lived in Richmond while Nick lived in Lynchburg. They visited back and forth quite a bit. I found this area online when I was looking for a hotel for Saturday night, long story, not Williamsburg, but Massanutten, by the way, great choice, Becky! Richmond has always reminded me of Raleigh, and now, I am even more convinced that they are twins, separated at birth. They have a new mall that makes me salivate. I’ll be expounding on this mall in a later post. We only visited a couple of stores because we needed a travel break not a day long shopping spree! Down the street was a brand new Trader Joe’s. It opened two weeks ago, and I was disappointed that it seems a little bland. Maybe the plans are to spiff it up later, I missed the usual colorful murals. Fortunately, the contents of the store are the same as the others I have shopped. Finally, we hit I-95 south, homeward bound.
Home again, home again, bunkety, bunk!

Friday, October 10, 2008

After watching the season premiere of CSI (way too sad), I was able to sleep for 8 ½ hours straight! The last five nights without my trusty recliner took a toll on my usual sunny disposition. What a great week, just what we needed! I have lots of things to write about and can’t wait to get them posted. Please be patient with me, it will take me at least a week to my house in order after vacation, and I’m game for all those subbing opportunities at VCA. Minnie and Jilly are back from the kennel, and Hunter is excited that we are all back in our little cozy nest on Delaware Drive. Can’t wait to see all of ya’ll!!!