Monday, May 11, 2015

Virginia List: Our Trip to Charlottesville Went Off With Basically No Hitches

We went to Monticello! Matt took a nice panoramic photo and I photobombed it and ruined it.

For our belated dating anniversary/early wedding anniversary (who knows anymore, we've started calling the months of March through May "anniversary celebration months"), we planned a trip out to Charlottesville, Virginia. The ultimate goal was to see Monticello, the house/plantation/estate that Thomas Jefferson built that also kind of doubles as his presidential museum. We didn't really make any specific plans outside that.

When we were looking for a place to stay, Matt went on AirBNB and found this guest house on the outskirts of Charlottesville that looked really cute, and it was on a little farm! I was really excited to see some goats. They also had chickens and a rooster and a little pond full of tadpoles and fish, and some cute puppies.

Goats named Nutmeg and October!

Isn't this place just the cutest? The dogwood trees had just bloomed. (Those are the white ones.)

By the time we got to Charlottesville, it was almost 8 p.m., and we were hungry. The owners recommended a few restaurants and breweries to us that had good food, and we went off to Crozet Pizza and Pourhouse, where I discovered that pear cider is really freaking delicious, and way better than apple cider. If you ever find Bold Rock pear cider in your grocery store's beer selection, you must buy it. (The pizza was good, but nothing spectacular.)

The next morning, we went down to explore the farm and talk with the owner for a bit, and then we headed down to Monticello! I'd say we got there around 10 a.m., and by the time we got there, the earliest house tours that were available were at 2 p.m. If you're going on a weekend, get there earlier than we did! Of course, there's still plenty to do and see even if you have to wait a while. We highly recommend the garden tour.

The grounds were beautiful, and there were different varieties of tulips EVERYWHERE. I would not consider myself to be particularly interested in plants in general, but the garden tour was very interesting and the tour guide told us a lot about the different plants that Thomas Jefferson had imported from other places.

These are tulips even though they're upside-down. Supposedly these date back to biblical times.

In addition to the tulips, apparently Thomas Jefferson imported a whole lot of different plants from other places, and then had trouble getting them to grow/stay alive, so he'd import more of them.

I suppose you're probably bored of tulips now. This isn't even half the photos I took of them.

Because our house tour was scheduled for so late, we also had time to do the slavery tour beforehand. We weren't quite as enamored with this tour. Although it included good information about the running of the house and how the slaves lived, I had a hard time liking Thomas Jefferson during it. It said in the video in the visitor's center that Thomas Jefferson saw slavery as evil but couldn't see a way around it, and I'm like … uhhh, maybe if you didn't insist on going millions of dollars in debt for this enormous estate, you could set your slaves free and pay them to do the work. Problem solved.

The veggie gardens were pretty awe-inspiring. But TJ, you could have still had that if you'd just paid your workers!

There's a vineyard down the hill, but Jefferson allegedly sucked at wine-making.

Here's the house! (No pictures allowed inside.) Did you know that in addition to an office in his quarters, Jefferson had TWO libraries? How come I don't have two libraries, Matt? :)

By the time we'd gotten through with the house tour and the other available tours, Matt wanted to go across the way to see James Monroe's nearby Ashlawn-Highland home, but I was a little history-ed out and besides, I was getting crabby from the walking and the sunburn and being mildly hangry. So we settled for driving around Charlottesville until we found a brewery so we could sit down and chill.

We passed an hour or so at Three Notch'd Brewing Co., playing the board games they had stacked along one wall and sharing a flight of four of their brews. They weren't my favorite beers, but Matt really liked the coffee-flavored Jack's Java. Then Matt got hungry, and since Three Notch'd didn't have a kitchen, we went in search of a different brewery that had food.

(We didn't intend for this to turn into a beer trip, but it kind of turned into one. Matt later said his goal was to try a local beer everywhere we went. Even Monticello had beers in their café, where we had lunch!)

We'd heard that the Blue Mountain Brewery had spectacular views, so we headed over for dinner on the patio and to watch the sunset. The parking lot attendants directed Matt to park among the kegs, and I thought that was really funny.

It was very relaxing, even though we both propbably got more sunburned. I will never not have sunscreen on hand again.

On Sunday, we had planned to stop at the University of Virginia, then drive back along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove part of it last fall, and wanted to see all the blooming trees, but the mountain tops hadn't yet gotten the memo that spring had sprung.

We took a walk around UVA's campus, since ol' TJ was the founder. The grounds were lovely, with very pretty buildings, but Matt and I agreed that they could have used some of the University of Oklahoma's landscaping budget. (Boomer.)

Finally, we hopped on the Blue Ridge and headed home. Note to everyone: if rain is forecasted, maybe take a different route. It got insanely foggy up on the ridge once it started raining. Parts of it were so bad that we couldn't hardly see the road in front of us, which was kind of frightening.

Matt just said that it was unusual that something hadn't gone wrong on our trip, so of course we'd end up with Hunger Games-style fog.

I didn't realize this, but in addition to there being a lot of scenic overlook spots, the Blue Ridge Parkway has a lot of hiking trails.

(That's basically just for your information in case you're ever in the area and want to hike. I maintain that I will never go hiking again.)

Though we did climb up this huge rock. I'm good at climbing rocks, but not so good at getting down them.

Have you taken any weekend trips lately? What's your favorite local brewery or winery? How about your favorite flower?


  1. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvMay 11, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    Loved looking at all your photos. Sounds like a good weekend trip! Love airbnb! We love checking out local breweries and wineries on trips like this. We have a few local favorites as well like Troegs, Lancaster Brewing Company, and Spring House.

  2. It looks like you guys had a really fun time! I love tulips, too, but they don't seem to last long down here. Ryan's favorite brewery ever is Jester King in south Austin. I don't drink beer, so I just prefer places that have food and air conditioning. (Why don't more breweries in Texas have air conditioning?) Pinthouse Pizza is one of my favorite local places because it has beer, good pizza and salads, and the boys enjoy it, too.

  3. I wish Matt liked wineries, but we'll be heading back that way over the summer with some family in tow, and I'm hoping to try some of them then!

  4. Tulips don't seem to last that long here either, they were awesome for about two or three weeks and then they mostly disappeared. :( I hadn't heard of Jester King. And for real, why don't more breweries have food options either?!

  5. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvMay 14, 2015 at 8:46 AM

    eh, you make it work! Ryan didn't like wineries initially, but after two trips to NY wine country, he's a fan now. I don't drink beer but still go to breweries. :)