Wednesday, May 22, 2013

#545 Vacation Virginia #6 - Blandy Farm

On UVA finals weekend when Charlottesville welcomes 35,000 out-of-town guests, we drive north two hours to the Winchester area for Vacation Virginia #6.  When we veer away from the commercial corridor that is highway 29 onto the lovely highway 231 paralleling the Blue Ridge, the scene shifts.  So many rolling hills, clear streams, inviting driveways, and often a view of the mountains make us think this may be the prettiest drive in Virginia.  But then we remember Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and all the other beautiful Virginia drives!

Our first destination is the State Arboretum of Virginia, UVA's Blandy Experimental Farm.   We give the secret librarian handshake and quick as a wink, we're inside the Blandy library.  

As cool as libraries are, we're really here to see the Ginkgo Grove.  The 300-tree ginkgo grove is the largest such grove in North America.  Seeds collected in 1929 from a single mother tree on UVA grounds were planted at the Blandy Farm and 300 of those seeds grew to maturity.  We enjoy the privilege of walking under the ginkgo canopy more than 80 years on. 

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is definitely a Michael Graves building.  Upstairs, the main gallery is topped by a stylized timber structure suggestive of a Shenandoah Valley barn.  I quickly remember another Graves-designed ceiling, the barrel vaults at the NCAA office.  Mr. Graves likes for us to look up.

Six acres of gardens surround the museum. We find the Chinese garden unexpectedly impressive.  Moss, stone, water, bamboo, and Koi are expertly stitched into this nearly hidden, serene, and superb Shenandoah landscape.

Our fun day ends with another drive-in movie, Star Trek Into Darkness at the Family Drive-In in Stephens City.  While Bengie's Drive-In had boasted of the largest screen in the country, the Family Drive-In boasts of being the only 2-screen drive-in theater in Virginia (and perhaps one of the smallest screens.)  The theater guy and UDITOA report 9 drive-in theaters are still operating in Virginia, but I can only find 8 (Christiansburg, Goochland, Keysville, Lexington, Marion, Moneta, Norton, Stephens City).  Does anyone know the 9th?

Yours in enjoying a weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of Charlottesville,

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