I've been pretty much off the air for five days. Hey, it was a holiday weekend! We dropped off the Corgis at a nice kennel and drove south to bro-in-law Carl's house south of Richmond for a family celebration: Carl's son Matthew graduated from high school this year, the first of the next generation of Cathy's family. He'd done very well in high school and was accepted as an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia.
So we celebrated: way too much food, loud music (world music, Matt's studying a variety of languages and makes the cultures part of his study), and a 50 liter keg of Blue & Gray Classic Lager. Which was quite tasty, particularly since with the brewery's recent move, the only way they could sell Carl a keg -- Carl being a fairly regular customer -- was to give him unfiltered beer. Very tasty indeed, although when we had to move the last three gallons or so last night, it got real cloudy; lots of yeast in those last glasses!
We had some cans of Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale, too, and a Pike Place Monk's Uncle Triple (very nice golden color, pleasantly dry malt presentation (too many sappy tripels out there), with some great spicy notes -- quite a good beer, and I recommend it to you), and I got a bit sappy myself drinking some Old Charter 101, but mostly...we drank Lager. Mostly Carl and I drank Lager, although his brothers Chris and Curt helped. (Don't anyone's parents come to graduation parties any more?) We worked some of it off with a hike around the pond at Pocahontas State Park (that's Carl in the hat and Curt in the...skin).
Most of the family went home Sunday morning. We had breakfast with them before they left, then went to 11 AM mass, and took the rest of the day pretty darned easy as it rained almost all day. More Lager, of course.
Monday Cathy and Thomas and I toured University of Richmond and William & Mary, part of the reason for the trip. We're doing college visits this month. It was not as grueling as we'd feared: the weather was simply wonderful, high 80s with hardly any humidity. Of course, we were touring two beautiful campuses, which didn't hurt. We took the Johnstown-Scotland ferry back across the James River on the way back from Williamsburg, which was smooth, cool, and very pretty, then joined Carl and family for one last dinner (pizza and salad...and Lager).
Today was grueling. We left Carl's at 8:30, drove down I-85 and had breakfast at Brian's Steakhouse in South Hills, VA (excellent), then struck west on VA Rt. 58, a fun and gorgeous drive I've done in the past, and enjoyed again today. But...it was 1:15 by the time we made Wake Forest, and today was hotter (thank God for the breeze). After the talk and the tour (another nice campus, Thomas pulls a face when he notices me taking a picture), we toddled down to Little Richard's Bar-B-Que on Country Club Road.
Holy crap, it was good. I got the coarse-chopped tray with slaw, hush puppies, and fries (why do these places insist on deep-frying 'krinkle-kut' "fries"? Make some damned fresh-cuts, willya?), and tossed the meat up with Little Richard's "dip," the Lexington-style sauce that is just hypnotic to the tongue. Yum-damnit-yum, and the hushpuppies were plentiful and crisp, the slaw diced with dip, and the meat...well, I'm very glad that Little Richard's actually smokes their 'que. 'Nuff said. The side of beans was disappointing: if they weren't lightly doctored canned beans, they were putting too much effort into making something that tasted just like lightly doctored canned beans.
Somehow we managed to realize that dessert -- banana pudding! -- would just not have been -- chocolate pie! -- a good idea, and hit the road at 5:15...for Charlottesville. Argh. The Jetta's nice, don't get me wrong, but four people in it for eight hours? We got a little snarky at times. The driving was fabulous (once we got off I-40 onto Rt. 29 North); hills, practically deserted four lane highway, beautiful vistas of forests, even the waves of kudzu looked good. We got to Ch'ville at 9, and dossed down in our hotel room. Know how grueling all that driving was? I didn't have the energy to drive into town to take in the excellent beers at South Street. I feel like I've let you down, but I was just not getting back in that car again till tomorrow morning!
Tomorrow we tour UVA, probably grab lunch at either Michael's or the Mellow Mushroom (fast good pizza, one pint for the road), then drop in to take a look at the Dickinson College campus before picking up the Corgis and going home. In other words...we're looking at another six and a half hours in the car. Although the last hour and a half will be in both cars, with the Corgis, which will be much better. Talk to you later!