2012 Road Trip Catch-Up: West Virginia to Virginia


Saturday, 21 July 2012

On our way out of Charleston, we grab an early breakfast at Frutcake–a great cup of coffee and a very tasty blueberry scone and egg & sausage muffin. Undeterred by the drizzly weather we hit our first landmark stop of the trip: The New River Gorge Bridge. We make the descent down to the bridge overlook, snap some photos, and marvel at the view. Even with the fog and under overcast skies, the bridge is wildly impressive. So what if it’s no longer the world’s longest steel single-span bridge (it’s third), NRG Bridge is quite a marvel.

Killed it.Continuing on to the Virginia state line, we stop in the cute town of Lewisburg, WV for lunch. The Stardust Cafe was a real accidental find, tasty locally-sourced ingredients and loads of character. My avocado melt was fantastic. Before we hit the road again, we three split a pot of French press coffee and a slice of the delicious cocoanut cake that has been tempting us from the display case of delectable baked goods.

Back on the highway, we’ve left coal country for the lush, green-forested winding roads through the Appalachian mountains between West Virginia and Virginia. We reach our destination, Charlottesville, and check into a very nice Courtyard Marriott near the University of Virginia campus. At dinnertime, we walk about a mile over to a pedestrian mall that is hopping with activity, shoppers and diners, tourists and locals. We dine on fresh fish at Blue Lite, sitting outside in the middle of the mall, sipping local beer and people watching.

2012 Road Trip Catch-Up: Kentucky to West Virginia


In preparing for my next road trip east (just a few weeks away), I was surprised to see that I’d never updated my blog with the particulars of last year’s trip east to Virginia. So, in an effort to catch up and thoroughly confuse things, I’m posting my trip notes from last summer now.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The drive from Chicago to Georgetown, KY is uneventful. We pass miles of brown fields baking in the sun. Rows of corn that look small and tired. We make good time to Jan’s, about eight hours, including a stop at New Albanian Brewery for lunch and to pick up a growler of beer for our evening meal.

At Jan’s, we crash for a few hours, resting and reading until dinnertime. A tradition was born on a previous trip: BLTs made with bacon cooked on the grill by Jan’s neighbor Day–the secret is hickory chips on the fire–and home grown tomatoes from the rooftop garden. We polish off the growler and watch the sunset from the roof. Early to bed.

Friday, 20 July 2012

VAiPhone_2012-07-20_13-54-50_IMG_7783_©KathrynWare2012We hit the road to West Virginia, stopping for lunch in Ashland, KY. The town isn’t much to write home about. We all get a chuckle out of lunch at Crisp’s Dairy Treat, a local hot dog/hamburger/ice cream take-out joint. I order the hot dog “with sauce,” which turns out to be ground hamburger. Hmmmm, meat on meat. I sincerely hope all our meals will be looking up from here.

Before leaving Ashland, Jan wants to make a stop at “The Judd Museum.” Don’t look for it in any guide book; it’s actual name is The Highlands Museum. It’s as small town as a museum can get and prominently features displays of the region’s famous musical talent–Ricky Skaggs, Crystal Gale, the Cyruses (Miley and Billy Ray), and of course The Judds–complete with costumed and bewigged mannequins. Let’s just say it didn’t inspire me to augment my music library.

VAiPhone_2012-07-20_16-24-34_IMG_7784_©KathrynWare2012Had a pleasant drive once into West Virginia. Charleston, the capital, looked fairly grey and grim, a town that’s seen better times. The overcast weather didn’t help. We check into the Best Western and then walk through the historic district toward the golden-domed capital building. For dinner, we take a chance on Bluegrass Kitchen, a restaurant that touts locally grown/sustainable cuisine, with a cozy bar populated by locals. To our delight, ours is a memorable, relaxed meal accompanied by some interesting local brews. I had the locally caught trout with grits and braised kale. Outstanding. If I ever find myself in Charleston again, I will definitely make a return visit.

While walking the mile back to our hotel, we pass a cute little bakery and make a note to stop there for breakfast on our way out of town.