Sunday, May 19, 2013

Back Country Roads of Virginia

After attending a meeting in Washington, D.C. it was our plan to drive South through the the rolling hills of the beautiful states of Virginia, and Tennessee, on into the mountains and farmlands of Georgia and on home to Florida.  My hope was to try to capture some of the amazing beauty of the good ole USA through the lens of my camera.

During our stay in Washington it had been raining, and the rain continued on as we began our journey.  We wanted to drive the back country roads and stay off the Interstate Highways as much as possible.  The Interstate Highways are wonderful when you want to make excellent time while traveling, but if you want to get a feel for the heart of the country,  the back roads are a delightful way to travel.

Map of the USA,  showing the state of Virginia,  borrowed from the Internet.
The beautiful state of Virginia provided four of the first five presidents of the United States.

We began our drive through Virginia in the rain, rain, rain!
We traveled along Highway 66 on over to Highway 11 and on into the Shenandoah Valley.

In a town called Mount Jackson, which is located in Shenandoah County,
 we saw this pretty historic home.

And, this interesting covered bridge.

The Dogwood Trees were blooming beautifully along the way.

And, what looked like Spiraea was blooming too.

And, this beautiful Wisteria.

Another Dogwood Tree along the way.

In the below photo,  we are driving along on Highway 33,  on our way into Charlottesville, Virginia.
The countryside in and around Charlottesville is so-o-o beautiful with rolling hills and lush greenery.

Getting close to Charlottesville, we spotted this pretty stone-gate-entrance leading 
into a very old looking church yard.

When we arrived in the Charlottesville area, yes, it was still raining.  

The below photo is a quick snapshot as we drove down one of the side streets in hopes of seeing the Historic  Downtown Mall.    It is hard to tell from this below photo, but they say this pedestrian Mall contains 120 shops and 30 restaurants or outdoor cafes.

As you probably already know,  one of the main attractions in the Historic Charlottesville area is the amazing home Thomas Jefferson created.  We decided not to go there on this visit due to the heavy rains.  Below are some photos taken on a previous visit.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

Monticello is the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States.  He was also a Founding Father of the United States, and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.  It is  truly amazing all Thomas Jefferson accomplished in his lifetime.

Thomas Jefferson inherited a large amount of land from his father and started building Monticello when he was twenty-six years old.  The plantation land originally was a total of 5,000 acres

Thomas Jefferson loved gardening.  Whenever he traveled he obtained as many gardening seeds as was possible.  He was also known as the Ellis Island gardener with all of his experimental seeds from other countries.

Thomas Jefferson had a 1,000 foot long, terraced vegetable garden.  He also created a six-acre fruit garden that contained 170 varieties of the most celebrated varieties of fruit known at the time.  He insisted fresh produce from his garden be served to his family and guests at his home in Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson wrote:  "The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to it's culture."    Back during his gardening days at Monticello, he would pass out seeds to his friends and neighbors, and also to his fellow politicians including George Washington and James Madison.

Later in life, one of Thomas Jefferson's accomplishments was the founding of the University of Virginia in 1819 in Charlottesville.  He considered the founding of the University to be one of his greatest achievements.   

After a long career that included political leader, writer, architect, inventor and horticulturalist,  he designed the University, planned the curriculum,  and recruited the first faculty.

There is so much history in and around the area of Charlottesville I was reminded of a movie we watched a few years ago,  which included a lot of history about Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers including John Adams.  It was one of the best movies I have ever seen, and full of history about our country.  It originally was shown as an HBO for TV movie and was shown in segments.  The movie was taken from the book by David McCullough and is called John Adams.

I keep a folder of interesting places I come across in magazines or newspapers ... Places I would love to visit  if we are ever in the area.  In Southern Lady - September/October 2009 magazine, I saw a write-up on Keswick Hall, and placed that write-up in the folder.  Therefore, it was on our list of places to visit on our way home from Washington ...

There is no way that my limited photos can show you this beautiful place.  If interested in seeing more you can check out the website below:

Keswick Hall is a spectacular 600 acre estate in the heart of Virginia's horse country and is close to activities in and around Charlottesville.  The estate offers a spa, 3 pools, tennis center, resort activities, hot air-ballooning, vineyard tours, wine tastings, horseback riding, fly fishing, skeet shooting,  hiking,  historic tours and fine dining.

Unfortunately, since we were not staying at this hotel I did not feel at liberty to be snapping photos inside.  The view from the huge dining room in the back of the hotel overlooking the most beautiful rolling hills was incredible,  and I would have loved to have a photo of that beautiful view to show you.

The front entrance grounds of the hotel were so very beautiful and lush and green as could be.

Pink Dogwood Trees do not do very well as far South as Tallahassee so it was a special treat to see these light pink dogwoods, even in the rain.

    We drove a short distance from Keswick Hall to the beautiful picturesque Vineyards of Keswick.

As you can see the rain clouds were still with us,
but we still found it amazing that we could see grapevines as far as the eye could see.

There was a caretaker taking care of the lawns in and around the vineyards.
 He gave us permission to drive through the vineyards and take pictures.

I don't know very much about grapevines, 
but these looked very nicely taken care of,  and very healthy.

It looks like proper pruning is one of the important keys to growing grapevines.

The below home belongs to the current owners of the vineyards.  It looked so pretty sitting out in the middle of the beautiful rolling hills covered in grapevines.  We were told that many beautiful weddings take place here.

Edgewood Estate

  Keswick Vineyards is located at this historic 400-acre Edgewood Estate not far from Charlottesville.
The land was part of a land grant which originally consisted of 18,000 acres.  The direct descendant of the original grantee, built this current home in 1911.

This property was the site of two important historical events, 
one during the Revolutionary War and the other during the Civil War.

Today, Keswick Vineyards is a family owned and operated Virginia winery and vineyard located in the heart of wine country,  just outside of Charlottesville.  The current owners chose this historic site for their dream vineyard,  recognizing it's potential for producing world class wines.

The above photo was taken from the Internet and shows all of the details of Edgewood Estate.

We enjoyed our drive through the back country roads and the beautiful rolling hills of Virginia,  and I hope you did too!   It was so much fun trying to capture some of this amazing beauty with my camera, even in the rain.

Come join me next time as we go "on the road again,"  this time on a drive up to the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.

I hope it was an especially nice weekend for you and your family,  and wish you a special new week wherever you may be.

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