We drove up to Virginia on Friday, 10/6. It's 700 miles, we left at around 5am and arrived at our hotel (the Comfort Inn on 460, across from the hospital) a little after 4pm.
The leaves were just starting to turn, so the mountains looked green with bright spots of red and yellow. It rained most of the first day we were there, but it was beautiful.
Saturday morning we met my cousin Robin and her daughter Casey, and Courtney at the IHOP by the New River Valley mall. Other than the service (which was strangely terrible) we had a great time! I completely forgot to get any pictures of Courtney, but we did take a couple of pictures with me and Robin and Casey. Robin also gave me a pretty gift bag with bread and homemade apple butter... mmmmm....
I had planned to go right to Spruce Run, but decided to put that off until Sunday in the hopes that it would stop raining and I could get some decent pictures. So after breakfast we headed off to Radford.
Even though my Dad went to Va Tech and I think he always hoped I would go there, too, I really liked attending Radford. It's a smaller university, not many people have heard of it because it doesn't have a football team -- it was actually a women's college until the 70's. They have a decent English/Fine Arts program, and I ended up majoring in Journalism, with a minor in English. (Two more classes about boring Beowulf or Chaucer or something similarly boring and I would have had an English major, but I couldn't hack it.)
I showed Greg all around the campus and the terrible places that I used to live -- one of which used to be a giant apartment complex called RU Living. (Yes, at good old Radford U, the "are you" jokes abound.)
We then went to Blacksburg and walked around downtown. I was heartbroken to find out that Books Strings & Things, the best independent bookstore in the world, was closed. The Lyric Theatre was still there, and has been renovated and reopened, and Gillies was exactly the same. We ate lunch at Macado's, where I used to go all the time with friends/dates.
All day on Saturday it was windy and cold, with sporadic rain. The sky was that solid white that it gets before snow.
On Sunday we woke up to fog and more rain, but it was our last day, so visiting Spruce Run couldn't be put off any longer hoping for sun. I drove across the mountains to Spruce Run, which actually looked almost exactly the same to me as it always has. We drove to the New River and took the Eggleston road over to Pembroke.
Greg had never in his life seen roads like this, and they are just impossible to describe, you can't imagine what that kind of tiny, winding, mountainous road is like until you actually get carsick on one. I spent my whole childhood being various degrees of carsick, especially on the school bus.
Then we drove up to Mountain Lake Hotel, where I worked at the front desk when I was 17 (this was the year before they filmed Dirty Dancing there). It was terrible -- there was so much fog we literally couldn't see the lake. The actual hotel had changed a lot, but the front desk area still looked the same.
On the drive back down we stopped and took some pictures from the side of the mountain. There were a few moments of clear spots, but I'm still disappointed that we couldn't get any pictures of the lake.
We visited my Aunt Hun on the way down the mountain. She was in the hospital recently, and I have been a little worried about her, but she looked really good. I took her some pictures of Mom & Dad, and my new house, and all the relatives in GA. She was one of the main reasons for the trip, and I really enjoyed seeing her.
Then we went to Pearisburg and drove past my old high school. The downtown area of Pearisburg is pretty much closed up, which is a shame and probably directly related to the new super Wal Mart next to the high school.
Then, finally, rain or no rain, back to Spruce Run to see the house I grew up in. When Mom got pregnant with me, Mom and Dad were living in Atlanta, and they decided to move back to VA to raise me where they grew up. Dad built a house next door to Aunt Cleo, and next door to where he was born and raised. I remember when I was 4 standing inside the staked-out area that was going to be my bedroom.
So we went first to Dorothy Jean and Frances' house, right on the other side of "my" house. Dorothy Jean just immediately offered to take us over there, and she introduced us to Alicia and Bruce. They seem young (early 20's?) but they were just so sweet, they told us to come right in and look at every single room. They even told Greg to go ahead and take pictures!
I know it's a cliche, but it really did look smaller. They have made a lot of improvements, but it still felt like "my" house. I almost cried once. :-) Greg took all the pictures and told me to just concentrate on looking around, which was cool. The sun even came out a little when we were walking around outside, looking at all of Dad's trees.
Then we went back and visited with Dorothy Jean and Frances, they both looked really good and Greg enjoyed meeting them. We walked over and said hello to Charlsie and Homer, and saw Allan.
I also drove down to the church to take some pictures there. The sun was out and it was beautiful.
We stopped to visit Carolyn and Kim, but they weren't home, they were out of town.
The next morning (Monday 10/9) we left our hotel around 6am, and it was really foggy until we got to Fancy Gap, and then it just all disappeared and the sun came out.
I can't wait to go back!