This wasn’t my first time in Virginia as those who have been following each blog and have a keen memory may recall. I stopped over to visit some friends while navigating my way around Maryland, meeting with the gym and brewery owners there. I had to make a point to visit Virginia again because I had some friends I wanted to see.
While I lived in Hawaii for a couple years, I met many kind people, including a co-worker and her future husband. I could write blog after blog about the good times I had with them. There were life talks as I call them where we would share perspectives and advice. There were wild adventures of golfing and food and more. When they got married, I was working on my own transitions and it was just a poor case of timing that I couldn’t make it. Now that they were married and had a kiddo, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out again!
It was so nice to see them! They were welcoming and gracious, even though they just finished a big road trip of their own, and had some parents staying the night. I was able to relax and do my laundry which always sets me up well. Another big takeaway was the meals! I was fed so well for multiple meals! One meal included Brussel sprouts with bacon. When I was younger I was extremely picky, but now I’m much more adventurous in my eating habits. One of the limitations of being picky meant I had never tried Brussel sprouts. This first occasion of trying them sold me that they can be good! (maybe it’s just the bacon…details) I did enjoy the feeling of being like a giant and eating tiny heads of lettuce.
Beyond the hospitality, and enjoyment of my friends, I did have my meetings that needed my attention. During a drive, I found a brewery that looked promising. I went in and found out it had been bought out by one of the bigger players. This meant the owner was not going to be available, but the staff told me about Great Valley Farm Brewery. I thought back to the fun I’ve had at farm breweries and needed to check it out.
As I made my way to the door for the pop in approach, I took in the amazing view as it was up on a hill overlooking a valley. One of the staff said the owner was around and she would reach out to him. I waited for a bit and he was kind enough to make some time for me. He said they focus on Belgian beers which have been a hit. There are fans of the style that get excited to come across the offerings, and there are other people who become fans after trying the beer.
As I was driving around looking for breweries and gyms –(I use google maps as a general plan but still must drive and take in the cities and towns). I came across Woodrow Wilsons birthplace, presidential library, and museum. My curiosity started to rise as I realized I didn’t know much about Woodrow Wilson, apart from 14 points, and he had ill health towards the end of his presidency. Being that this trip is about learning and growth and I was curious, and it was across my path, I felt a need to check it out. That and doing something besides going to a gym or brewery makes me feel more cultured, even if slightly.
The tour guide was a younger gentleman but offered up interesting information in his own quirky way. What stood out was the flashback type feelings I’d have imagining life at that time and how it would be to live in such a fashion. I think a lot of times people as a whole are often bashed for what we don’t do -such as actively protecting our environment, living without war, and so forth, but things like daily survival and working with the environment to function and come together are powerful feats often overlooked.
Upon completion of my time at the Presidential Library, I decided to go to Steam Bell Beer Works. They are proud of their environment of inclusion for everyone in the community. This means the people can go to a local spot rather than make the 20 plus minute drive down to town. It was a delight to enjoy a nice stout and they graciously gave me some beers on the road which meant I could actually be a nice guy with a gift towards my next friends’ place!
Getting to back my friends’ place it was a jolly good feeling! I had a chance to see some familiar faces and a familiar feeling to end the day. Something I found unsuspectedly interesting was seeing the family dynamic. I had known each parent before they started to date, then as a couple, but I had not been around since they became married and then added a kid to the mix. It was nice to see how they had grown as individuals, but also how they had grown together and interacted within this increased closeness. After a tasty dinner and chats, it was time for a nice restful sleep.
The next morning, I had a gym lined up and headed towards CrossFit Pushin Weight. They had recently moved buildings and google maps was having some slight issues. This was adding to some frustration on my part as my appointment time was nearing and I HATE to be late. Especially in a situation when someone is kind enough to spend some time with me. I decided I had to call for help/apologize.
I was greeted so cheerfully it caught me off guard! What a delight! The owner acknowledged they were working on that challenge and were giving me directions, but also walked out and waved me down. Since she was a good 500 meters or more away, she hopped in my car to go back. Arriving at the gym, there was a small sign that they had written Welcome Jeremy, which made me feel special! I had gone to numerous places, some people are happy to see me, some are just kind enough to entertain my presence, but this sign was certainly a first.
Through our talk, I learned how the simple things can be reconsidered and addressed with greater purpose. One amazing example was to consider the clientele of the gym and then purposefully have the gym staff experience a dinner that may be common for the clientele. This meant a nicer place, not something like fast food. The staff could then see from restaurant staff the high level of service and care. This is something that is then implemented at the gym. It was a moment of clarity. It made sense. It was also obvious, but I’ve never made this connection myself, nor have many others I from what I’ve experienced. When I was leaving, I was also put in touch with owners of another gym in Virginia who would want to meet with me!
Getting on the rest of my day, I had a huge desire to check out Monticello for reasons previously mentioned with Woodrow Wilson, but also because the place, and Jefferson are more renowned. When I was a kid I had read a book or two on Jefferson and did some sort of report for school.
I had tried to go earlier but realized I wouldn’t have ample time. I also looked up James Madison’s place but decided not to go there for cost, time, and lack of as much interest.
Getting back to Monticello, it is something I highly recommend worth checking out. It was absolutely outstanding. I was blown away by the experience as there was just so much information. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, and you got the feeling that he could go on for days but needed to stick to the time frame. He was outstanding at addressing any question that arose, as he would answer the question while adding additional information as well.
The house was beautiful and full of history. Much of it is preserved to be how it was when Jefferson was living there. It combined interest in art, science, and politics, but also so many things to learn and be studied on. I didn’t realize the science of tracking plants, weather, and so forth. Nor did I realize the conglomerate that Monticello truly was. I also appreciated the fact that they didn’t gloss over the fact that he held slaves. They addressed it as factual but also for us to learn from. This was something I was curious as I know sometimes history too favors some people and ignores their flaws.
Something I appreciated was the overall dynamic as I understood it. It seemed Jefferson believed there shouldn’t be slaves, yet it was such an ingrained part of his life and the operation of Monticello that without them, he wouldn’t know what to do. He would also have frequent guests visit from all over. I imagine there would have been a huge push back and pressure regarding changing the slavery dynamic as other people in the south would refuse to do so. It isn’t something that is justified but trying to understand the complexities an individual may feel, along with fitting within the cultural times was a nice exercise in thought for me.
As if that thinking wasn’t enough, I had recently seen the movie The Founder, about Ray Croc and McDonalds. It was incredible to see how much he was able to accomplish, although I disagreed with some of the methods. I had that in my head and it was almost a joke compared to Jefferson. The house, the declaration of independence the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom and founding the University of Virginia with the design of the campus and curriculum, are momentous accomplishments. It is awe-inspiring to see what people can accomplish.
After my educational experience, it was time to work on some writing and then meet up again with my friends. My new gym contact could meet in the morning, but I’d have a 4.5-hour drive to make it happen. It was partly a bummer to need to drive so far, but connections of good people reduced any doubt I had.
Another lovely night was had and then getting ready for the morning, my friends somehow increased their kindness up another level. They gave me this sweet goody bag for the road. A gift card for some tunes, some yummy snacks, and a nice card. I don’t think I’ve communicated to them that I’ve read that card a good ten plus times as it was comforting and made me feel good at other parts of the trip. Truly a blessing having amazing people like that in my life.
Hitting the road, I was excited about my last gym. As I arrived at Adroit CrossFit, I thought Detroit for a minute but realized that there was no connection. Adroit means clever or skillful with hands or mind. I blame my history of poor vocabulary here, but regardless I was able to push on. I met with the owners, a husband and wife tandem who were not only good people, they were great people! I heard the joy they feel when people reach new personal milestones. The meeting was enjoyable and informative. They were also fans of going to breweries which was fun. As I was departing, we took pics and they blew me away by the goody bag with beers and a koozie!!