Friday, August 29, 2008

Blue Ridge Mountains Relaxation -- jcarolek

Last weekend my friend and I took a little jaunt, about three hours from here, to a destination in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We stopped in Louisa, VA to visit my daughter and her husband and shared a meal with them. After spending the night in Charlottesville we took Saturday as a long relaxing meandering day...driving first to Monticello and looking at the slave's graveyard on the grounds of the Thomas Jefferson estate. I was saddened by the lack of care shown to the graveyard, and the apparent lack of respect for the dead buried there. A vinyl fence separated the graveyard from the excavation site... of what appears to be preparation for more parking lot space.

We opted out of catching the shuttle bus to the mansion for the tour of the estate, preferring to examine this little graveyard that had no visitors...

We then took a drive to Waynesboro, VA where we headed onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. About five miles into the drive we found Humpback Rocks, where a small group of musicians were playing and a smaller crowd of people sat listening to the music. We parked and joined the audience, taking pictures and video of the event. The songs were what I always considered "hillbilly"...and the instruments they played included violins (okay, "fiddles"), banjos, guitars, dulcimers, harmonicas, rain sticks and spoons. After a little while, my friend joined the musicians, adding the accordion to the mix. And I continued to shoot video of the pleasant afternoon in the mountains.

We ended the musical event around 4:30 in the afternoon with an everyone-sings-and-plays version of Amazing Grace, and we, once again, started driving. Another 6-8 miles along the parkway we found an overlook site with a picnic table that was secluded up a hill in the woods, a bit away from the actual overlook, and which screamed at us to set down awhile and play some more. And so we did. As others came and looked at the valley from the vantage point of the lookout, we played guitar and accordion and sang songs we knew and songs we thought we knew, and enjoyed the perfect weather.

As the sun set at around 8:30 PM, we picked up our instruments and headed back to the overlook to take pictures of the magical sky the setting sun produced. And the girl that had spent the last couple of hours sitting on the stone wall with her gigantic dog said, "I really enjoyed your playing." Hah, I guess we weren't as invisible as we'd thought ourselves to be.

When all the light had left the sky we returned to the car and began to make our way back to Gloucester. We stopped for supper at a local Waffle House and were entertained by the very animated waiter. We must have spent an hour and half there just enjoying the meal, the entertainment (albeit unintended, I'm sure) and that sense of freedom just to be and do as we pleased, rather than keeping time with a schedule.

When we rolled into the garage at about 1:30 am, we agreed we'd had a wonderful trip. Simple, relaxed, and, of course, musical.

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