Monday, July 5, 2010

Five things to know about Virginia

Having just completed my first visit to the state of Virginia, here are five pieces of information a person may find useful when traveling there.

1. I traveled to Virginia by car, and most of my trip was along I-81 through the Blue Ridge Parkway. If the area looks that beautiful in July, I can only imagine how good it looks in October when the leaves change color. There are numerous byways off the interstate that drivers can take to investigate the hills more deeply. Unfortunately, I did not get to do as much of that as I would have liked, but I really enjoyed what I saw. Long car drives can be a drag, but meandering through the hills of western Virginia is a nice way to spend time.

2. As I feared, I had to spend part of my time there antiquing. However, if a person finds themselves backed into that corner, the Old City portion of Fredericksburg is not a bad way to spend an afternoon. The city, as well as the state, uses local history as a way to attract tourists. The folks there in Fredericksburg did a good job of doing that. Though this has nothing to do with its local history, I did find shops that sold old albums and singles. I was able to score an original issue of The Beatles' single 'Let It Be' b/w 'You Know My Name (Look Up My Number).' It was a good day.

3. Speaking of local history, it was unsettling how 'confederate' the culture was up there. I know Virginia is considered part of the South, but I expected to see less of that as I traveled north. At times, it was almost like being in Alabama (notice I wrote almost). I understand that the Civil War was a pivotal moment in American history, but sometimes folks cling too tightly to the old culture. It is tough to describe when that line is crossed, but I know it when I see it. I am not referring to places like battlefields and cemeteries. Those locations are fine examples of history, but it seems like I spent half my time there riding on roads named for Jefferson Davis (or 'Jeff Davis' as he is referred to up there). Historical locations are one thing, but naming a highway after somebody comes across as an endorsement to me. I wonder how black people feel about driving on those roads every day. Is it a subtle form of racism? Or maybe not so subtle?

4. I know rain has caused folks in Middle Tennessee a lot of problems this year, but at least we have had some. Even without the flood in Nashville, our area has received good rainfall this year. I can not say that about Virginia. The landscape there was brown and dry. Their growing season likely starts later because they are further north than us, but their corn crop looked withered and was a good two to three feet shorter than here. The soil there appeared sandier than in Tennessee. In some respects, the terrain reminded me of how our land here looked during the 2008 drought.

5. The Cracker Barrels in Virginia are exactly the same as in Tennessee.

1 comment:

Tenn Irish said...

I hate Cracker Barrels and their babies, too! I want all of 'em dead! No, wait a minute, that was...
But to speak to the allegation that there is something sick about honoring our Confederate Heritage, all the people I know who join these organizations are not standing outside the polls on Election Day brandishing weapons and all that. Nothing like someone named Shabaz to bring this issue into proper focus