Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend in Virginia 2012

When it comes to most holidays, I prefer to stay at home and let others do the driving. Plus I love to entertain at home.  One news web site reported that 30.7 million people would be heading out in their cars for the weekend.

Our original plans were to go camping; however, being a holiday weekend, the few camp grounds I researched had a minimum three night stay, non-refundable fees, and higher prices than non-holiday weekends. So, Tony and I decided to visit our friends Carol and Glenn instead and go camping in June. Plus Tony got an extra day off, which he found out almost last minute.

Tony and I hit the road at 9am sharp on Saturday May 26th. Google maps read, “3.5 hours” to Toano, VA. It actually took four hours, but that included a quick stop for sandwiches and about four traffic slowdowns. Overall, it wasn’t a bad drive. And Lucy kept us company.

Glenn and Carol have a beautiful home in a large community. What I loved about their home were all the large windows, which made for a bright place to live. Carol wasn’t home yet, so the three of us took Lucy for a walk. Everything is so well kept, including the lawns, bushes, trees, etc. The community has two pools, the smaller one just around the block from the house. I figured a good walk for Lucy would tire her out so she could sleep while we were gone.

After Carol got home, we drove to historic Williamsburg, about an 20 minute drive. We spent a couple of hours walking around the area. It wasn’t crowded at all. Maybe most people traveling in this neck of the woods were at the beach. The weather was beautiful. Hot but not humid like in Frederick. We checked out some of the shops, as well as the gardens.


We were curious as to the price of a single day ticket. $39.95 per person! Tony wondered if they were to reduce the price a little if they would get more customers. I had been through Williamsburg before and didn’t want to pay this amount for just a two-three hour visit. We were allowed in a few of the buildings but the rest you needed the ticket.

My favorite spot were the gardens:

 Glenn suggested drinks at the Green Leafe Tavern (

 It took Tony at least 15 minutes to go through the long list of beers (64 draft and 150 bottled) before deciding on a flight of beers – yes, he’s a beer snob – or rather, a beer connoisseur. Carol enjoyed the woodpecker cider, Glenn the St George IPA, and I had a glass of wine (half price specials). I rarely drink beer unless I’m sitting at a large table with Maryland steamed crabs in front of me.

We shared the appetizing artichoke, spinach, and crab dip, which was served in a hearty brown bread – just to tie us over before dinner.

Back at the house I helped Carol with dinner, while the guys kept an eye on the grill. We had thinly sliced chicken breasts that were marinated in a sauce that Carol bought at Wegman’s (I need to get the name so I can buy some), cauliflower drizzled with garlic and olive oil, green beans with garlic; and a pasta salad. Everything was great.

After dinner we sat on the porch and had a good time talking.

The next day, May 27th, we took a trip to Smithfield, where Glenn and Carol used to live. It was too hot of a day to bring Lucy, plus she’s getting older and I figured it would be too much walking for her. so we kept her in the cool house. She didn’t like us coming/going during this trip and I think she had some separation anxiety.

We drove to Jamestown and caught the Jamestown/Scotland ferry. It’s a free service. We rode on the Pocahontas (70 car maximum). It was only a 12-minute ride to cross the river. As we left the pier, we passed by Jamestown settlement where I could see the top of one of the three re-created ships (Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery) that brought the colonists to Virginia in 1607. The Jamestown settlement is actually not the original spot where the colonists settled (Historic Jamestowne)– that spot is located several hundred feet away. At that location is a large obelisk, which was erected in 1907 for the 300th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown.

About 20 minutes from the ferry is Smithfield, colonized in 1634, famous for its ham – it’s the largest pork processor and hog producer in the world. It’s also the peanut capitol of the world.

Not many shops were open, being a Sunday, but we did go inside a few. We also walked along main street. There were lots of pretty buildings.

Inside the Smithfield Inn ( was a small jewelry show. Lots of pretty necklaces and bracelets made by Diane Milner. She specializes in bridal jewelry. Both Carol and I each bought a necklace. We plan to make jewelry from the sea glass we collected in Bermuda earlier this month.

For lunch we sat at the inn’s tavern. There’s outdoor seating too, but we decided to sit at the bar. Since we had plans for dinner, I just had a cup of She crab soup and a Caesar salad. The soup was fabulous! It was cream-based but not overly rich or thick, and there was plenty of crab in the cup. The salad was very good, but a little too much dressing on the romaine. There was a nice hint of anchovy. Tony had his usual…a burger, along with onion rings. They were huge! Glenn: Turkey club; Carol: fried green tomato sandwich on cibatta bread. Friendly service and reasonable prices.


Back at home (via route 64 rather than the ferry), we took Lucy for a walk in the neighborhood. The pool didn’t look crowded, so we dropped off Lucy and spent a little bit of time at the pool. There was one corner with an umbrella and chairs near some trees, so we had a nice cool, shady spot to sit. Carol said the water was too chilly and didn’t last long in the water.

For dinner we went to Food for Thought, The restaurant doesn’t take reservations but will put your name on a priority list. Being a holiday weekend, Carol had our names down for 6:30pm. When we arrived, we could see lots of people standing outside. Inside, we were told it would be about a 20-minute wait, so we went to the bar and had a drink. The restaurant and bar area was packed.

There’s an extensive menu with witty sayings, such as “Fowl Play”, “You have to Sea it to believe it”, and “The Garden of Eden.” If you have a moment, read thru their web site.

Our server brought us a basket of sweet potato corn bread and dark, hearty bread. Both were very good and fresh out of the oven.

I was torn between a few dishes to choose from but ended up with the salmon special. You can choose two sides, so I went with the creamed spinach and jasmine mushroom rice. Carol had told me earlier in the day that the restaurant has a menu online with photos. I wish I had gone through it – I probably would have ordered something else, although the salmon was prepared well and delicious. It came with an apple salsa. The spinach was excellent but the rice was a little on the dry side.

Tony had the meatloaf, a large portion, and was very good. Carol had the portabella topped with spinach and a crab cake (one of my choices – next time!); Glenn had the cod baked in parchment paper with vegetables (excellent he said).

On each table, there’s a small box with brain teaser cards. While waiting for our food, I read several of them.

There was a slight mix up with Glenn and Carol’s bill. Tony paid for the drinks at the bar before going over to the table. Apparently the bar tab didn’t include Glenn’s beer, which we thought was on it. The waitress simply took it off the bill.

At home again with Lucy happy to have us back, we sat on the porch enjoying our drinks.

May 28th: Tony and I weren’t quite sure the best time to drive home, but figured if we were on the road by noon, we would be pretty safe from heavy traffic.

After breakfast we drove to the Williamsburg Pottery (Carol wanted to take us to a special pottery place but it was closed for the holiday), a set of three large open buildings selling anything you can imagine for the home: kitchen gadgets, glassware, cookware, locally made pottery, home décor; one large area with food products, wine and beer, gourmet foods, etc. There weren’t any bargains but we did pick up a few items.

After lunch at the house, we packed up and left at 12:40pm. The drive home was much better than the drive down, although there were a few spots on 95 between Fredericksburg and Sprinfield where the traffic slowed. We’ll have to remember to leave right at noon.

Tony and I enjoyed our time with our friends, who were great hosts. We’re looking forward to seeing them again when the head our way next month.

More photos:

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