Day 4: July 2, 2017
From West to Regular

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On my last morning at Elk River Inn I walked out to get a picture of the entrance than grabbed pictures of the bar and restaurant areas as I headed to breakfast. It's easy to imagine this place really hopping during ski season. As the food was being prepared I walked into the yard and when asked if I'd like to eat outside I immediately said yes. Before long a young couple who would be riding the Bald Knob train later in the day joined me and I shared some notes from yesterday's ride.

As I've already mentioned, planning for this trip suffered by coming so close on the heels of the previous one. Only after I entered West Virginia did I think to contact some friends who used to live there. About the same time I heard from Tom (of Tom & Monica who also used to live in Hawaii and gave me some great pointers for my recent visit) I also heard from Wes who lives in Richmond, Virginia. I had a half day or so slack in my schedule and Tom described enough cool sounding roads to fill a few days. Then Wes listed some sights in Richmond and offered to be my guide. It was going to be tough selecting a subset of Tom's suggestions and I'd be going through Richmond independent of any side trips so I made to decision to accept Wes' offer and sent Tom an apologetic note saying I wouldn't be getting near his former home on this trip.

My next target was James Madison's Montpelier so I punched that up on the GPS and hit go. But I got curious. I added Franklin, West Virginia, where Tom and Monica used to live, to the route and it increased travel time by less than twenty minutes. When I'd looked at this earlier, I had planned on passing through Charlottesville (my end of day destination) on the way to Montpelier and adding Franklin increased the time for that route by more than a couple of hours. Changing the sequence brought the time down and, even though I wouldn't have time to check out any of the scenic back roads Tom had described, it seemed silly to not even go through the town. The GPS screen shot shows part of the route to Franklin with "fastest". I decided I was smarter than the GPS and proceeded to prove I wasn't. I decided sticking with WV-39, which is where all the remaining pictures in this panel were taken, was a better idea and I added another half-hour to the travel time.

As shown in the previous panel, I encountered a little rain on WV-39. I encountered more, sometimes rather heavy, on US-220. I had crossed into Virginia on Route 39, which has the same numeric designation in both states, and would cross back into West Virginia about fifteen miles south of Franklin. Just before that happened, my phone showed a signal for the first time in quite awhile. I grabbed the chance to call Tom but we had barely exchanged greetings when the call was dropped. I would be fifteen miles beyond Franklin before I saw another phone signal. I took pictures of the courthouse and a hotel I recalled Tom mentioning then went on my way.

I hastily snapped the picture of the roadside sculpture over my shoulder and through the window (hence the reflection) at the edge of Franklin then had a very pleasant drive through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

I had originally planned to drive my Mazda Miata on this trip but a few weeks ago, while I was stopped at a traffic light near home, the driver in front of me decided to switch lanes and backed into me. Repairs were scheduled to be completed the day before I needed to depart but they didn't quite make it. So I'm driving my Subaru Forester and was stopped at a traffic light in Harrisonburg, Virginia, when a driver behind me did not get stopped in time. The damage is relatively minor, the car is very drivable, and the trip is not ruined. But it is marred.

I made it to Montpelier without further incident and snapped a picture of the impressive home as I entered the grounds. Then I snapped a picture of James and Dolly in front of the visitors center and of the ginger ale I drank while I waited for the next tour. As the tour started I snapped a picture of the front portion of the group climbing the steps to the front door. Then I snapped no more. For unknown reasons, photos are permitted inside. I always obey these rules but don't always understand them. Prohibiting flash photography always makes sense. Exposure to light can be harmful to artifacts and distraction to other visitors. I have heard explanations of complete photography bans that made sense but more often than not the logic behind these bans seems to be to be questionable or absent.

Although I had originally planned on visiting James Monroe's Highland, I've since decided not to. One reason is time an another is that just last year it was learned that the house Monroe lived in no longer stands and the house that has been presented as his home was constructed somewhat later. The grounds were his and I'm sure a visit would be interesting and educational but the glow has been dimmed and I think I'll wait for things to be sorted.

It was my friend Wes who broke the news to me about Monroe's house but at the same time he did that he pointed out that I would be passing through the birthplace of another president, Zachary Taylor. Taylor's family was already in motion toward Kentucky at the time so there's nothing of Zachary to be seen in Barboursville beyond a plaque. There is, however the shell of a magnificent building designed by Thomas Jefferson. It was built in 1814 as the home of Governor James Barbour. It burned on Christmas Day 1884. Read more about it here. Look for this friendly greeter if you go.

After checking into my motel in Charlottesville I returned to the South Street Brewery which I remembered from my 2010 visit.

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