I was quite taken with the brickwork in Richmond. To me, there is nothing more pleasing to my eye (housewise) than a brick home. Entire neighborhoods are comprised of brick homes it reminded me of neighborhoods in St. Louis, Missouri.
Along Monument Avenue the brick homes could be called mansions. There are several large manors along the avenue. At one time it must have been the most exclusive address in town. I'm sure that there are ritzier neighborhoods in 21st century Richmond, but Nat tells me that it still costs a pretty penny to reside on Monument Avenue.
This visit really materialised out of nowhere. In mid-August, David e-mailed me saying he had tickets to the 10 September 2005 Richmond NASCAR race. Knowing had a long-standing invitation to stay at my house, an excellent adventure was in the making. He arrived here on the evening of Friday, 9 September. Tired from the trip, I had supper ready and we just hung out. The following day was race day. However, it was an evening race, so we hopped to some light touring. We started at the (grand) Jefferson Hotel. Then it was off to the Virginia War Memorial. Before lunch, we saw each and every statue on Monument Avenue up close and personal. Lunch was itself a cultural experience. We ate at Sugar & Spice for some Southern food. It was David's first go of collard greens and, to my surprise, he rather liked them. He went off to the race on which he centred this entire trip that evening. The following day was the big touring day. Straightaway after church, Lee gipper84 and I escorted him downtown. We started at lunch in Carytown, then proceeded to the Museum of the Confederacy, the whole of the Canal Walk, and supper. David left to tour other parts of Virginia for the following week. For his last night he came back whereupon Lee and I took him to Carini's for supper at Krispy Kreme for dessert. It was great showing him around, but also introducing him to my friends Lee, Andy, and Bill.
When it's warm outside and your throat is parched, order up a limeade. Sweet tea is the soft drink of the south, and you can get that here in Richmond. But something slightly more Richmond is limeade which you can get at many restaurants in town. If made correctly it is on the tart side and much less sweet than lemonade. Some places you can get it that I know of are Comfort and all Bill's Barbeque locations.
Get one and try it... you won't be sorry!
Sense of history
Do not criticise the sense of history displayed by Richmond and the folks who live here. It is not that we are backward-looking, we are proud that so much American history took place within spitting distance of here.
Not only that, in Richmond, old institutions die harder than almost anywhere else. This may confuse the come-heres (folks who move here from elsewhere), old timers (not just those well along in age, but younger folks like me who grew up on the older names) still refer to what is now Fairfield Commons to its former name Eastgate Mall. The same is true for sport stadiums. We still refer to The Diamond as Parker Field. That even extends to airports Richmond International Airport is still commonly referred to as Byrd Field. More than five years out from its demolition, folks still mourn for Azalea Mall, and every now and then there is still nostalgia for the colour-coded CNB weather signage.
James River Plantations
There are five historic plantation houses and grounds along scenic Route 5 in Charles City County along the north side of the James River east of Richmond. Many date from the earliest years of European settlement in North America. The drive down Route 5 is very relaxing and scenic, especially on a nice spring or fall day. The plantations include:
Sherwood Forest (1730) was owned by 2 U.S. presidents, William Harrison and John Tyler
Westover (1730) was built by the founder of Richmond, William Byrd
Shirley (1723) was home to the mother of Robert E. Lee, who had some schooling in the house
Evelynton (1937), home to the Ruffin family since 1847, was owned by the person who fired the first shot at Fort Sumter at the start of the Civil War
Berkeley (1726) is reputed to be the site of the first Thanksgiving (1619) and is birthplace to a signer of the Declaration of Independence (Benjamin Harrison) and a U.S. president (William Henry Harrison).
All are open to the public and many have guided tours. I would highly recommend a day trip to check out these artifacts of our nation's history.