Touring the Virginia mountains

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 26, 2007

I started last time to talk about the days my friend Shelia and I spent in the mountains and ended up reminiscing about grandma’s family. This week I will try to finish what I started.

Our first stop in the mountains was Monticello. If you have never been it is a beautiful trip to the past. Thomas Jefferson chose to build his home on the top of a mountain. You can turn in a circle around his lawn and you see nothing but mountains.

On one of the terraces you can see Charlottesville in the distance. He watched from there, through his telescope as they built the University of Virginia, one of the things he was most proud of designing.

There are two very long terraces that were made for walking. All weather passages were under those terraces for days when weather was too bad to walk outside.

The stables, icehouse, carriage house and wash house was on the underside of the north terrace. The kitchen, cook’s room, smokehouse, slave quarters, dairy and service room were on the underside of the south terrace. There was also a privy on each underside.

There are 43 rooms in the entire structure, 13 skylights and eight fireplaces. Jefferson was an inventor and many of his inventions are seen in his home. I guess one thing that draws me to Jefferson is his love of books and he had a library of 12,000 books. Take it in if you can.

Close by is Montpelier, James Madison’s house.He was Jefferson’s best friend and Jefferson kept a room in his home just for James and Dolley Madison.

Shelia and I didn’t get there this time because it was late by the time we finished touring Monticello and we wanted to head toward the Shenandoah Valley. I want to go back to visit it.

We came down the parkway from Afton and while we had been told by some that it might not have changed because of the drought, we found it spectacular.

We stopped at Natural Bridge after we came off the parkway. Natural Bridge is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It is 215 feet tall and 90 feet wide.

It makes you feel pretty insignificant when you stand under it. A creek flows by the side of the bridge and meanders several miles. Other recreations of area life are shown further along this trail. Thomas Jefferson owned Natural Bridge and George Washington carved his initials part way up the side. There are caverns and a wax museum in the town of Natural Bridge which makes it a nice stop on a vacation.

But if you don’t stop for anything and just slowly make your way through the Shenandoah Valley, you will see enough natural beauty to make you want to go again and again.

I sound a little like an advertisement for Virginia today but I just want to entice you to visit the Shenandoah Valley for yourself. I want everyone to enjoy the beauty of the area.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was quiet, peaceful and all anyone could ask for. We were a smaller group this year than we have been for a long time. We usually number close to 20. This year it was six but it was nice for a change of pace.