Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Staunton River State Park Camping Trip - Part Two

I'm totally going to finish this trip recap!

I don't have any more fun pictures to post with this one, though. Wait! Maybe I have a picture of our campfire. I'll check in a minute. Now I must focus on remembering where the hell we went two weeks ago.

We woke up sweating in our tent, because it was super humid that weekend and never even got chilly overnight. I think that next year I'll aim for two weekends after Labor Day. I like camping to require our awesome, flannel, double sleeping bag. We sparked a pretty great morning campfire and made some delicious breakfast quesadillas! Jeff did a great job making sure our foil packets didn't leak the eggs out like they usually end up doing. We like to use chopped up kielbasa, eggs, onions, peppers, and plenty of cheese.

The bathhouses at Staunton River are a little older than some of the newer ones in state parks we've visited. They don't have the family shower rooms on the outside of the buildings. My shower was a little cold, but that was welcome to help me prepare for the sticky air outside. We got all cleaned up, straightened up the campsite and tent, and headed out for our winery adventure.

We visited a few of the wineries on the Southern Virginia Wine Trail a couple of years ago on a trip to see some of my family in South Boston. I wanted to sample some more, and check out a few new ones, so we started our day with a beautiful, back-road drive to Annefield Vineyards. This began the day of living-room-tastings - each place we visited had tastings offered directly inside their homes. This was a new experience for us, and happened at all three of our stops - it was such a nice treat! It feels like you're visiting a friend. The old farmhouse at Annefield has been renovated to an amazingly beautiful condition, and since they talked about plans to build a separate tasting room, I'd hurry out there to visit before the main house is off-limits! The wines were mostly dry and very tasty.

Our next stop was Hunting Creek Vineyards and another living room tasting area. Their wines are delicious and cleverly named, including Temptation, Indulgence, and Repentance. We loved all of them and bought a bottle of the Decadence, I think. I love the art on their labels. They told us that a kid in the area drew it. It's remarkable! Perhaps as a lover of trees, I am biased.

Jeffrey was very excited about our final stop at White Oak Mountain Meadery, because mead is old and ancient, and he likes old and ancient stuff. We called ahead as the website asks, and Betsy East told us to, "come on out!" We were delighted to be invited inside for tasting and a lesson about mead, right at the dinner table of Mr. and Mrs. East. We learned about the entire process of attracting bees, collecting honey, and all the different ways to combine it with yeast and water to create delicious, alcoholey mead. I was amazed at the variety of flavors between the bottles - even ones that had no fruit added tasted drastically different depending on factors in bottling. If you visit the meadery, be prepared to listen and learn about everything that goes into this art.

Did we eat lunch? I don't think we ate lunch. Wow, that's a lot of alcohol tasting with no lunch. We had some snacks in the car (CHILI CHEESE FRITOS CHYEAH). Wait! We totally had lunch! We decided to have a late lunch and then cook dinner at the campsite (since we cheated the night before and went out for Mexican). We took a break between Hunting Creek and the meadery to enjoy some grub from Southern Plenty, a charming spot in the historic downtown area of South Boston. We ordered at the counter... I cannot remember what we ate at all. I do remember ooohing and aaahing about it for the duration of our meal. And I remember that they had a ton of local art, canned goods, and other neat things to browse through while we waited on our lunch.

So, phew! After our adventurous day, we headed back to camp and lit the fire to grill some hot dogs.

We enjoyed a few hours sitting far away from our campfire because it was too hot, then turned in for another night of no-blanket-sleeping. Despite the humidity, our trip was very fun! I love how cozy our campsites always end up being.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Staunton River State Park Camping Trip - Part One

My husband and I finally got our camping gear out of the closet and went on a weekend trip! I put it off in the spring, summer got busy with Mom's surgery, and I couldn't stand the idea of a whole year going by without pitching the tent and wrapping some breakfast quesadillas in aluminum foil to toss on the fire. I wanted to throw a quick entry together so that I'll remember some of the special places we stopped during our adventure.

We had to wait around for the DirecTv technician to come by and install our new HD receiver on Friday morning. Jeff has been wanting to upgrade for a while, but I was resistant. I don't like paying extra for the HD when we can't use the included On Demand features (no internet at home). Also, I have hours of old Fit TV programming saved on the DVR receiver we've been using, and didn't want to sacrifice some of those old favorites. I finally conceded and agreed to the new receiver, putting the old receiver in our den. Sheesh. I feel like a moron for all my, "It won't even be that big a difference!" arguments... it's like we have a brand new TV! I almost wanted to cancel the trip to veg out in front of it all weekend, but no! The great outdoors awaited us!

We took the route I used to drive to Longwood - I64 to I295, use the Route 10 cut-through to I95, hop on 288 North, and hop off for the long haul on Route 360 West. We stopped at Walmart to pick up a new cooler, since we'd been meaning to for a while and saw the trip as a great excuse. Next up was lunchtime!

I searched for a small, locally-owned and well-reviewed place on TripAdvisor while Jeff navigated the Friday afternoon traffic. Twenty minutes later, we were at Hatcher Dining and Catering in Amelia Courthouse, and were greeted with an enthusiastic, "HELLO!" from the woman behind the counter and the other table of patrons enjoying a late lunch. Jeff got a tuna salad special, and I ordered the grilled ham and cheese with their special side for the day, green beans. Everything was super tasty. Their desserts looked fresh, but we were too stuffed to eat anything else... so I got some pecan pie and carrot cake to enjoy later tee hee.

A few hours and a few fun back roads later, we found Staunton River State Park and got our campsite all set up. The tent was still in great condition, our canopy was sturdy, and our two camping chairs made for a perfect home for the next two days.

We headed to South Boston for dinner with a craving for some Mexican grub. I've got some family in this area, and have seen a few Facebook posts of them at Mi Caretta, so we headed there to check it out. Holy guacamole! It was fantastic. I tried the Texas Quesadilla, which I try anywhere that offers it as a dish. It's just like the biggest freaking quesadilla you can get. It's got all the proteins in it, plus cheesy goodness, and onions and peppers. Jeff had the shrimp chimichanga and made lots of funny moaning noises that indicated lots of enjoyment over on that side of the booth. We also had a good time speculating about who would sit in this chair:

Heh heh. Jeff snapped another picture of me sitting in the low chair, but it's on his phone, and I have already bugged him at work enough this week for things like: finding some kirtan music for me, making pasta salad for me, buying sandwich baggies for me, etc.

Okay this trip report is getting a little more long-winded than I'd expected! Stay tuned for part two, in which I will cover our excellent winery sampling on Saturday complete with a meadery! Bees?