Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blue Ridge Wanderers

The Wanders family decided to squeeze out one more holiday this summer so we climbed in our van and headed south. First stop was Kings Dominion amusement park where I was warmly greeted by Snoopy!

This was especially exciting for me, since many of you know that I love the Peanuts gang even more than I love Mary Worth. In fact, one of my three mottoes in life is, "If a T-shirt is worth wearing, it's a Peanuts shirt."

The day was beautiful, and the crowds were very light. The older kids had a great time on all of the roller coasters, while Mrs. Wanders and I hung out with our youngest. However, I was tricked into riding the Exterminator, or Denominator, or Terminator or something like that. My kids rode it several times. You can see it in the background in the photo below.

This coaster was so intense that I literally almost blacked out from the G-forces. I'm not joking. As we zipped around the first curve, everything started getting dark. Just when I thought I might black out, we pulled out of the curve. I mentioned it to my 15-year-old daughter afterward, and she said, "I know, right?"

The next day, we headed to Charlottesville to see Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello.

As spectacular as Monticello was, and as much as we wanted to linger, we had bigger fish to fry.

While we had been planning this little excursion, I had said to Mrs. Wanders, "Isn't Charlottesville the big city that the Waltons were always headed to?" So we did a little research and found the real "Walton's Mountain" (or at least the hometown of the show's creator, Earl Hamner). We knew we had to visit!

We had to drive quite a ways to find it. We followed directions from a website that said not to use our GPS because we would end up on dirt roads. The town of Schuyler, Virginia, is a small town that seems to have seen better days during the depression. Back then, it was a company town of 7,200 where Earl Hamner's father worked at the Soapstone plant that employed most of the citizenry. These days there are about 1,200 people living there.

We visited the Walton's Mountain Museum, which was located at Earl Hamner's high school. It still pretty much looks like a small high school. We entered through the gym, and first noticed that the exhibits were stapled to the bulletin boards around the room. However, there were several more things to see, and they had actually turned the classrooms into various re-creations from the television show.

Afterward, we walked across the street and saw Earl Hamner's home, which had been restored quite nicely.

I won't take up your time expressing the range of feelings I had about our visit to Walton's Mountain (mostly a bit depressing). Let's just say, I still love the show. Our family is working our way through the DVD's watching it together on Sunday nights.

We got back in the car and had one more stop to make: Lumpkin's Restaurant and Motel.

I wanted to eat there, but my family informed me that just because a restaurant has a giant fiberglass statue of a cowboy or rooster outside, doesn't mean it is actually a good place to eat.

So, I suppose this officially ends our summer. I hope everyone has had a good one.


Diving Off A Cliff said...

I love The Waltons too! I need to get back to watching my DVDs as well ...

Vicki said...

Glad you had a fun time, Wanders! Summers fly by too fast.

mrvy said...

Animal statues from diners are the best! A church member once brought home a large white deer from a diner that was being shut down. We tried putting it next to a creche during Advent, but it's so big that it looked like our church was staging "The Reindeer that Ate Bethlehem."

I suppose the diner's demise says something about the quality of the grub. Does animal statue = bad food?

Barbara Hanson said...

Good night, Wanders. Good night, Mrs. Wanders. Good night, Mikey. Good night, Lonnie. Good night, Mary. And, good night, Charlie Brown, wherever you are.

katyb said...

Wanders: From on Peanuts fan to another: Summers fly,winters walk.

Mollie said...

Another "Waltons" fan here -- love your vacation idea, and also your family DVD viewing! I hope you're not getting to the last couple seasons yet. There's a pretty steep dropoff in quality toward the end. (No offense, New John-Boy, but if I see you I turn off the TV.)