Thursday, December 31, 2009

Staunton - Virginia

It was my intention to write blogs about my first road trip down to Alabama. So, I could start my first blog by writing something like "I woke up at 2:50AM. I put my clothes on at 2:52AM ...". Nah..., I think I'll spare you from that.

Instead, I'll write about this little town I discovered along the way down called Staunton, VA (ignore the 'u' when pronouncing). The trip started as planned around 3:30AM. Though, I encountered a snowstorm around Liverpool, PA that scared me enough to stop, filled up my tank and bought a special deicer windshield wiper fluid.

But, just as it mysteriously came, the storm all of the sudden stopped 15 minutes thereafter. Since I had very little sleep before departing and I left very early, I was sleepy for a couple hours before sunrise. After literally a stop every hour to refresh myself, the sun came up to greet me when I arrived to Virginia. In celebration, I was ... naturally, looking for a Starbucks wanting to get a nice cup of Refresh tea to kick start my day.
The search took me to Exit 222, Staunton, VA. I wish I could've come to the more exciting reason why I discovered this town but no, it's all because of Starbucks. :) Driving up to it, I saw several signs promoting different sites in the area. So, once there and waiting for my drink, I asked the barista what this town has to offer. He suggested the historic downtown Staunton. Moreover, two ladies overhearing my conversation with the barista kindly chiming in to encourage me to visit the downtown area also. Not knowing how to say no after three people trying to convince me to visit, I said "what the heck, let's do this!" to myself and went.

Once there, I discovered that the Visitor Center doesn't open until 9:30AM. I had an hour to burn so I started walking around the area myself. I was looking for the Glass Blowing place called Sunspots intended to explore the possibility of landing that yet-to-be-found two wedding presents..... After several blocks without success and bitingly cold temperature, I asked a man sitting on a bench smoking chillingly for directions. To my surprise, he decided against giving me the directions but instead walked me up to the place himself. He introduced himself as Keith. I asked what he was doing sitting outside in the cold this early in the morning and he said it didn't bother him one bit. He said he was originally from Connecticut so he actually likes it. He went on to show me the water tower area where I could walk up and would be able to see the whole town. Never wanting to put myself in an isolated location under this situation, I moved along and kept walking toward the store. As it turned out, the place won't open until 10AM. I couldn't be here that long so I thanked Keith and walked over to visit other sites.

I walked up and visited Mary Baldwin College. This place is unique architecturally because all building are painted in a shade of white and many buildings were built dated back from 1844. I took several pictures of the place then went back down into town and checked out all the stores and coffee shops.

It's pretty much typical college town. Several cool shops and definitely cool coffee shops. Since I just had my caffeine, I didn't pop into any of them but went back to the Visitor Center instead. There, I learned a lot more about the town and realized that this town has so much to offer. It will take at least one whole day to get a full experience out of it. Some of those interesting sites are:
  • The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum
  • Frontier Culture Museum. An outdoor, living history museum. Current exhibit is West African. They literally brought the actual homes from West Africa over to the site for us to see and learn!?!?
  • American Shakespeare Center. A re-creation of Shakespeare's original indoor theatre, the Blackfriars Playhouse. How cool is that?!?!
  • Stonewall Jackson Conference Center. A 1924 building renovated and fully restored to it's original state.
I left there feeling good that I took the advices from those folks from Starbucks and Keith, my personal tour guide. This town definitely has a lot to offer and I am sure to come back and visit to fully experience it sometimes in the near future.