Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Heading South, a trip to Lynchburg, VA.

Follow Route 29 for four hours south of DC and you will roll into the city of Lynchburg, Virginia.  Having just driven all that way one would think that you'd want to nestle in and nap for a while.....not I!!!

My husband occupied on business and I wanting to explore, I set out on a solo journey for the next three days, here is my story, it promises a very happy ending ;)

Itinerary:  See and experience as much as I can!
Day 1:  Natural Bridge, VA.  (54 minutes west of Lynchburg)
Native American legend has it that the Monacan Indians were fleeing from their enemies, the Shawnee and Powhattan Indian tribes.  Desperate for an end to their nightmare of a journey to escape the terror of being captured, the Monacans fell to their knees and prayed for escape!!!  Trapped at the edge of a huge canyon, the entire tribe prayed for a miracle and when the the tribe stood on their feet and looked out into the canyon once more, a great, stone bridge called to them!!!  Thankful and bewildered, they sent a few members of the tribe across to test the strength of the bridge, and when the bridge held their weight, the rest of the tribe quickly escaped to the other side.  "The Bridge of God" as the Monacans later called it, was their salvation, they held the bridge against their enemies and kept their freedom!!!

Formed by the collapse of a cavern which left only the standing arch, Natural Bridge is a natural wonder!  500 million years ago an ancient sea was home to thick deposits of carbonate which formed into heavy rock, and as the years passed the flow of water carved through the rock creating the cavern.  As a young man, George Washington surveyed here in 1750 while working for Lord Fairfax; and Thomas Jefferson was a frequent visitor, relishing in the serenity and privacy of the secluded area.

While here, I walked the same route through the woods as the Indians did, I saw George Washington's initials carved in the side of the rock face under the bridge, I sat by Lace Falls and I walked out onto the rocks in the creek and skimmed my fingers along the soft, cold current of the water.  What a beautiful, peaceful place, and the drive to it was just as peaceful and just as mesmerizing.

Day 2: Smith Mountain Lake (1 hour and 35 minutes southwest of Lynchburg)
On a quest for antiques, wineries, and breathtaking views, a wonderful man in a small antique store pointed me toward Smith Mountain Lake!  And he was right on!!!  After a drive filled with KIND bars, plenty of SMARTWATER and GPS issues, I found it thanks to a mother on her way to pick her son up from school. Having been contemplating left or right on the side of the road, she stopped in her van to ask if I needed directions, and after a short talk she pointed me in the direction of her home and said if I went around back I'd find the view I was looking for...and she was right!!!  I parked the car, wandered up her wooden deck steps and found myself on her sprawling deck looking out onto the crystal waters of the lake.  Miles of shoreline stretched as far as the eye could see and the light danced off of every peak in the water, it was like diamonds.  I walked down to the shoreline and walked along the water which lapped rhythmically at my feet, it was wonderful!

Day 3: Poplar Forest (20 minutes southwest of Lynchburg)
Named for the beautiful poplar trees that grow around the property, Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha inherited this 4,819 acre plantation from her father. Over the period of many years Poplar Forest was in the back of Thomas Jefferson's mind.  He made plan after plan to enhance the property and the surrounding areas and constantly had people working on it.  Thanks to his love and passion for France, there were many aspects of Poplar Forest that had a french flair, like the sunken garden which graced the back of the property right off the house.

Thomas Jefferson, getting older, seeking peace from the never ending fame he'd acquired through his Presidency took refuge at Poplar Forest.  He spent many weeks and months at a time there, in the company of his granddaughters.  He found peace and happiness there, away from the hustle and bustle of Monticello.  Jefferson usually got up before dawn, went riding on his property, farmed the property, and took a long lunch.  He read books by Plato, Homer, and Shakespeare, as well as any other writers, wrote letters to business partners, family and friends, and worked on inventions like his polygraph.  He took dinner either alone, with his granddaughters or neighbors, enjoyed evening tea, and took conversations out onto the terra which was like a side veranda he built above the kitchen and servant quarters off the side of the house.  I would've loved to have had conversations with such a smart, inventive man over a porcelain tea cup filled with tea.  Every time I visit one of Jefferson's homes, I feel as though I'm transported through time.  I can truly feel his grand presence, he lives on in every aspect of his properties, his vision lives on through our experience.
Staying in Historic Lynchburg, I was able to find my way back "home" every evening.  I say "home" because that is what my Husband and I call anywhere where we're staying together.  I'm not sure how, but he tells me that anytime I am able to accompany him on a business trip I make the hotel room feel like home again:)
While in Historic Lynchburg we ate at The White Hart Cafe, Dish, and Robin Alexander, all of which had quirky, fun atmospheres, great menus and tasty food and drink. We highly recommend them!  And be sure to visit the Bedford Wine trail, many antique shops along the ride and enjoy the view....hey, its the Blue Ridge, stop and smell the country:)

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