Joys of Travel with a Plan

It’s a big wide world out there. Itineraries are only made to ensure that you see something where you go.

I do not make plans that limit my trips. An agenda is only to make sure that I see the most important things to me. I do not live by a schedule. If the plan is not working on a trip, we throw it away and the trip starts writing itself once we get there.

NOTE: This trip report ended up being very long. I’ve divided it into three sections and will publish them on consecutive weeks.

Back from Ole Virginie: A Genealogy Trip

Part 1

What an eventful trip!  Last week, I had a scheduled a genealogy research trip to Virginia to investigate information on both sides of my family.  This trip had been planned for two years and I finally was taking the opportunity to drive out and look around.

I carefully planned my activities around the agencies I needed to visit.  Then those plans were set askew by my Uncle Max.  He was going to join a friend of his in Virginia for a fishing expedition.  His plans turned out to be in the same area where I was planning to visit.  I offered to take him out to his friend’s house to save that gentleman the drive to bring Uncle Max out there.

My original plans were to take my older sister along with me.  She was complaining that she never went anywhere.  She had wanted to go to the beach somewhere, but agreed to accompany me instead.  Linda is mentally challenged and has limitations around her condition.  This makes dealing with her sometimes difficult.  After all these years as sisters, I thought I could deal with this in person.

I drove down to Clarksville on Sunday to prepare Linda for the trip.  I assumed that she would need help figuring out what to pack.  Traveling light with some backup items is my normal plan.  I would use this same method to pack up Linda for the trip.  Let’s just leave to say that she was not happy about the way I packed the suitcase.  I did allow her to keep the items in her backpack and shower bag.

I meant to get my reward after packing and this meant eating dinner at Kingfish on the river.  We got our table and read through the menu to decide what we were going to eat.  Linda picked the easy thing with Fish and Chips.  I wanted something a little more and did the make your own feast.

Kingfish sparks many memories for me.  Back in the days when my grandparents had a farm in Charlestown, Pa and some of my uncles would drive into Louisville to gather many items from the menu.  Back at the house, the entire family would gather in the basement to enjoy dinner.  We would eat, share, laugh, and talk for a few hours. My memories of those times are warm.

I took Linda with me as I checked into the Holiday Inn Express.  This was our first night together for many days.  It was first real test if we could make this work without reverting to our younger selves and fight.  We definitely have different habits, but Linda is apparently OCD and stuck into some interesting habits. We did survive the night and barely made it through vacation.

On the Road to Virginia

On Monday morning, we left the hotel to pick up Uncle Max from his house.  He was worried that I have enough room for his suitcase and tackle.  I had to assure him that I would make it fit.  After several trips between the house and the car, I was able to pack in his single suitcase, three or four rods, tacklebox, fly box, and another couple of boxes that I had no clue what was in them.  It fit in my Subaru with room to spare.

I had to admit to a little trouble getting out of town.  An errand into downtown Jeffersonville meant that I was getting onto I-65 through the new concrete canyons of overpasses.  The map I carry in my head does not match this newer configuration.  After a couple of passes, I spied the southbound exit after turning one too many corners.  We were finally on the road and over the bridge to Louisville.  Taking the infamous spaghetti junction to exit onto I-64, we headed out of town at last.

We stopped for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel in Jeffersontown.  All I could think was this was called J-Town back when I lived in the area.  I really had a difficult time looking for the full name on the signs.  Uncle Max decided on French toast.  Linda picked out sausage gravy and biscuits.  My alt time favorite is the Smokehouse with a combination of eggs, sausage, biscuits, and grits. 

Living in the north is difficult for me at times.  There are very Southern food items that you just cannot get, unless you live in certain neighborhoods.  Grits is one of these items.  You even mention grits and the waitress looks astounded that you would ask for this.  Grits are one of my favorite things.  When I’m far enough south, I always get an order for breakfast.  Maybe I get an order for other meals when possible.

I-64 would be our ribbon winding from Kentucky and into Virginia for most of the trip.  It takes you from the rolling hills of Kentucky until they gather greater heights into the mountains of West Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains into Virginia. 

This was not the first time I had taken this road.  Over the years, I have had several adventures that begun here and lead either west or south.  It is one of the best roads for driving.  I love the steep mountains and winding passes.  With my love of driving, it is an excellent road for a vacation.

The trip went pretty well with the drive west.  The sunshine was shining brightly with soft clouds floating high enough not to cast too many shadows on the road.  The big trucks were few and managed to stay in the right lane of traffic.

After leaving Jeffersonville around 8:30 in the morning, we made it to Orange, Virginia sometime about 4:00.  We called ahead to get an exact address for Uncle Max’s friend.  The backroads led us through some beautiful farm and pasture lands.  The mailbox for our turn was obscured a bit, but I managed to see the street sign nailed to the gate announcing Temple Lane.  We had made it.

Billy Temple and his daughter, River, met us in the driveway.  After introductions, we began unloading all of Uncle Max’s many fishing rods and tackle, along with his suitcase.  In the house, we met their German beagle, who gave us the once over and disdained to associate with us.  After some discussion and last hugs, Linda and I left Uncle Max with his friend to discuss fishing strategies.

We continued on to our hotel in Culpepper.  This would be my headquarters as I went in search of locations and records for my Dad’s family.  My maternal grandmother’s family begins here for my family tree.  I had only discovered this fact in the last year when the Germanna Colony came online with their database, knowledge, and their beautiful location.

Visit to Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church and Cemetery

Tuesday morning dawned bright and a little bit warm.  I had left a message with Uncle Max about my intent to travel east to Augusta County to look for cemeteries and other locations.  Since his friend had a work assignment to complete, I thought he might like to go and see these locations with us.  We backtracked to Temple Lane to pick him up for a daytrip adventure.

I drove out to Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church in the northwest corner of the county.  This was in the area of where Long Glade had original stood.  I already knew that some cousins were buried there.  Walking into the cemetery, the front half of the yard is bare, with only minimal number of stones.  We carefully searched through those stones we could read.  I have to assume that either Edward C. Erwin and Frances Erwin are buried in those grounds without a stone to mark their graves or they were buried on the family farm.  This information is lost to me.

Since we had no breakfast at the start of this journey, I drove into Staunton to find Kathy’s diner.  In my planning, this was one eatery I had determined I need to try.  It did not disappoint.  We all turned out to need to breakfast.  Cindy took our order and it came up quickly.  Everything was delicious and there was plenty on each plate for us.

I was trying to determine what we had time to investigate and determined that we really need to head back to Orange to deliver Uncle Max to his friend.  One the way, I did take time to drive through the Shenandoah National Park and see the views from the mountain tops.  Uncle Max’s status as a Veteran got into the park for free, which was a bonus.

I drove up to the Visitor’s Center to start our trip.  The exhibits were closed, but we could prepare ourselves for the winding drive down before heading back to Orange.  The views looking down into the valley and back into Staunton were incredible.  We got out to enjoy a view of the overlooks where there were no other people.  I just look the national parks.  I know I had visited this one as a child with my parents and siblings, but I looked at with a different pair of eyes to appreciate its beauty.

We took the backroads once again to return to Temple Lane.  No one was home as River had stepped away for a bit.  Uncle Max was quite happy to sit on the screened porch and hope for animal life to walk across the yard.  Apparently, there were deer in the area.  Luckily, Uncle Max did not bring his gun with him.