Day 2: Monticello, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Natural Bridge

Trip Start Sep 08, 2005
Trip End Sep 25, 2005

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Saturday, September 10, 2005

Our day started late again, with a good down-home breakfast at the Blue Ridge Grill in Charlottesville. Afterwards, we headed over to UVA, where Julia visited for awhile with her high school friend, Stuart.
Then on to Monticello. We were informed by our friendly guide that there was to be "No touching [the furniture], no leaning [on the walls], no photography, no nothing, and certainly no looking!" (He was kind enough to bend the last rule for us in our favor.) Thomas Jefferson's house is really quite beautiful and impressive, but intimate. The house clearly shows Jefferson's European tastes in the moldings, octagonal rooms, skylights and arrangement of spaces, very different from other Colonial homes we have visited. The grounds reflect his interest in horticulture, and are planted with many heirloom species as they might have been in his lifetime. Next stop at an influential American's house: GRACELAND.
Leaving Monticello, we drove south on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds its way through the heart of the (guess what) Blue Ridge Mountains. Even with its gorgeous vistas and winding tree-lined roads, we'd had enough after 50 miles and decided to make up a little time by taking the I-81. (The anti-interstate rule seems like it is going to become a very flexible one, if we want to make it to Los Angeles in time!)
Aiming to get to Roanoke for the night, we did stop just before dusk to see the fabulous Natural Bridge. Although admission was overpriced and we were heartily encouraged to stay for the Baptist bible-thumping "Drama of Creation" light show later that evening, the Natural Bridge was wonderful to see. It's an incredible formation, about 200 feet high, and is billed as the "7th wonder of the natural world." Quite near the Natural Bridge was another wonder of the world (though what category of wonder, I don't know): Foamhenge. Yes, that's right, Stonehenge, but made out of styrofoam. I'm not quite sure what they do with it when it gets windy, though....
So, long story short, we're in Roanoke/Salem right now, figuring out where to go tomorrow in Tennessee and how far we can make it to Nashville, which is 450+ miles away.

P.S. I had my first "Wait -- is this guy speaking English?" experience today. Thank you Mr. Parking Lot Attendant in Charlottesville. -Julia
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