Trip Start Jul 27, 2013
Trip End Dec 16, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How nice to be out of the big cities, to smell the fresh air, and my USA history lesson continued while visiting my friend Tom and his family in Charlottesville.

My friend Tom, who I met in Afghanistan, met me at the train station (of course my train arrived 1 hour late). His family, Andrea (Andy) his wife, Tristan his oldest son, Aiden his youngest son and Cleopatra (Aidens' dog) were all waiting for me to arrive to have dinner. Tom and his family have lived in Europe so they have different perspective to the average American family. For one thing they eat very healthy food which is a nice to see given the food in the south can lead you astray.
Charlottesville is a beautiful town and is famous for The University of Virginia and Monticello. Both places were designed by the 3rd President of the USA Thomas Jefferson (see photos and commentary).
My first day in Charlottesville was very relaxing which was exactly what I needed. Tom had volunteered to work at a polling station for the election. The following day Tom and I headed to Luray Cavens, about 90 minutes drive from Charlottesville. It has been a long time since I've been in a Cave system and this was a pretty amazing system. Fortunately, for us tourists, when this cave system was discovered it was preserved by the founders (see photos and commentary). That afternoon we headed to Monticello and we managed to make it in time for the last tour of the day, it was a beautiful time of the evening (see photo and commentary).
It was Aiden's 13th Birthday that day so I was invited to attend the family birthday celebration at a local restaurant. The meals were so big I was scared to order, so we ended up ordering platters to share and even with 2 teenage boys on our team we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were taking food home.
After our huge meal Tom and I went running the following morning. It was a sightseeing run initially through a trail of beautiful autumn coloured trees then through the University (see photos and commentary). We took Cleo with us and fortunately for both Tom and I, she was tired before either of us.
We then ventured into the historical town centre. Charlottesville was established in 1762 as it sat along a trade route. Although is sits very close to many of the American Civil War battlefields it was mainly spared from actual conflict and damage during that time. To be honest I'm still getting my head around the civil war. A war to abolish or maintain slavery - depending on what side you are on. Americans killing Americans - amazing.
I got to pick up my rental that day so I could take off down south (see photo and commentary).
On Friday I left Charlottesville to head south in the smallest car on the Interstate.
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