Sam already posted about the bad weather we had in the early hours of our trip. Luckily we outran the storm after about 90 minutes on the road. We left Northern Virginia after a quick breakfast with my mom and headed out on I-66 to catch Virginia state route 29 (Lee Highway).
We took 29 most of the way to Esmont, initially encountering ice pellets mixed with powerful winds, but soon the weather cleared out to reveal gorgeous colors with a lovely overcast sky, perfect picture-taking light.
We made Esmont or first stop because my Uncle Ed and Aunt Deb live in a lovely house there on a quiet country road. The house was filled with light and my uncle's paintings, musical instruments, and delicious smells that foreshadowed delicious food.
They had lots of great ideas for things we could do today but this painting that hung in their living room inspired us to take an impromptu trip out to Nelson County, Virginia.
My grandmother (and Ed's mom), from here on known as Mom-mom, grew up in a little town in Nelson county called Massies Mill. Realizing that we were just an hour away and that Ed would be a very knowledgeable tour guide, we hopped in the Omimobile and got on our way to see Massies Mill as well as the site of the painting in the living room, Durham's Run.
Mom-mom's family, the Mahones, owned a general store in Massies Mill and then in August 1969 the majority of town was washed away when Hurricane Camille hit. My great grandmother's store was lost in the storm, but the church Mom-mom attended as a child and married my Pop-pop (read: grandpa) in still stands.
Before we started the trip Mom-mom told us where we would be able to find the key to unlock the church door so we could look inside. Believe it or not, the key was hidden in the exact spot that she told us to look and we snuck in.
The church is very small, with a capacity of maybe 120 people if they squeezed in really tight, but as you can see the stained glass is inspiring.
Our next stop was a twenty minute drive up a mountain to a spot at the north fork of the Tye river where my family has gone camping for generations. We parked the car and began a leisurely hike up a private road that follows Durham's Run. There was still a dusting of snow on the ground, but luckily it was 50°F or so.
There has been so much rain and snow recently that all of the creeks we've seen in Virginia are running high and this one was no different. The big difference came when we came to a part of the road that's clearly meant to cross over the creek. Instead, Durham decided to Run right over the road. After attempting to rock-hop across the first melding of road and run, we rounded a bend and were faced with another flooded intersection. Sam and I attempted to find a better spot to cross the creek while Ed rock hopped again and Deb decided the best option would be to just Wade across. In the end, that was by far the best solution.
A few hundred steps later we reached our destination: a swimming hole that was vertically sandwiched between two waterfalls. It looked exactly like Ed's painting.
On the road home we visited the cemetery where my great grandparents are buried with a gorgeous view of the mountains.
Back at Esmont we were treated to the aforementioned delicious smelling food: a slow-cooked chicken soup with orange zest and saffron, followed by Deb's tasty customized chocolate chip cookies that she made while we sat together for kitchen table chats.
Miscellaneous statistics from the road: Day 1
Bad weather is not permanent. Freezing rain can transform into blue skies a lot faster if you're driving in the right direction. This almost sounds like a metaphor.
Unresolved "You were right" banter for the day:
Is a court an exact synonym for cul-de-sac or can a court (in the sense of a road) mean another kind of street?
Yellow Sexy Count, below the Mason-Dixon rules apply:
Sam: -1 (better luck tomorrow!)
Tasty beer of the day: Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale
Artistic inspiration of the day:
W: Seeing Ed's large scale landscape paintings.
S: The drive into the Blue Ridge mountains (they are called that for a reason). More shots needed. "There's always tomorrow."