Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Visit to Lynchburg, VA

I wasn't here yesterday to post my usual, Monday kitteh post because hubby and I were wrapping up a glorious, long weekend in Lynchburg, VA. After the whole ordeal with the cats, professional development, and stuff going on around the house, we needed a break. Once we found a pet sitter that would come out to the boonies where we live, we were ready to go!

We've wanted to go down to the Lynchburg area to visit some of the local sites for a while. Lynchburg, VA is about 45 minutes south of Charlottesville and a beautiful little town surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's a college town too, with Liberty University, Lynchburg University, and Randolph College as the big hitters. We like going to places like this, as college towns seem to be more active and modern, with interesting places to eat and drink.

Old City Cemetery
Our first stop was the Old City Cemetery and Arboretum in downtown Lynchburg. We were there at the perfect, peak time of the year, as the place was entirely in bloom with old garden roses. Their heady scent was the first thing we smelled when we got out of the car. Heaven!

This is a garden cemetery, which is a wonderful and beautiful thing to behold. Many of the antique roses growing have been there for many, many years and serve as a historical record for the types of old garden roses planted in the 19th and 20th centuries.

There were walls and walls of them. So beautiful and hauntingly romantic. My favorite was a hybrid multiflora purple rose named "Veilchenblau". Oh, to have such things in a garden!

Besides the flowers of course, the cemetery itself is a wonderful, historical landmark with many of the graves dating back to the Civil and Revolutionary War. But you can tell I was there for the flowers!

National D-Day Memorial
After the cemetery, we drove west of Lynchburg to Bedford, VA where the National D-Day Memorial is located. The memorial is located in Bedford, VA as this town had the highest number of deployed casualties lost on D-Day than any other town in the United States. Of the 30 men who were deployed from this tiny, southern town, only 7 of them remained alive after the invasion of Normandy in 1944.

Blue Mountain Barrel House Brewery
Virginia has hundreds of local wineries to visit, but their breweries and distilleries are becoming more and more numerous and popular. We didn't plan to visit this brewery, but just saw the sign on the side of the road and decided to stop in. We are glad we did, as Blue Mountain Barrel House Brewery has the most amazing beer! Our favorite by far was their Dark Hallow Stout, which is aged in bourbon barrels. It was like drinking an after-dinner "bourbon beer".

The day we visited (actually the whole weekend) was really overcast and rainy. It seemed like you could reach out and touch the low-hanging clouds on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Blue Mountain Barrel House is located about 30 miles north of Lynchburg.

Local Cheese Farms
Besides wineries, breweries, and distilleries, Virginia is starting to get a reputation for making great cheese. What with all those lush, green mountains and pastures, it's no wonder.

The highlight of our trip was a visit to Caromont Farm in Esmont, VA. We didn't get any pictures at the farm, as it was too rainy and muddy, but we did bring home this:

The holy grail of goat cheese! Let me tell you, we have had some amazing goat cheese in our time, but NONE of it has compared to what these people make! We first tried and bought their cheese from a small cheese shop near where we lived and were hooked. In fact, we haven't been able to find it since and made a specific point to visit this farm. Fortunately, most of this can be vacuum-sealed and frozen. A visit to Caromont is not for the faint-hearted or lack of conviction. The farm is about 30 miles north of Lynchburg, deep in the woods, and at the top of a mountain. We were glad we had our truck!

Lastly, that large, red wheel of cheese in the middle came from Our Lady of Angels Monastery, which is about 15 minutes outside of Charlottesville.  Yes, this is a real monastery where nuns make this gouda everyday. There are no pictures again, as it's really a ring-the-doorbell-and-buy-some-cheese sort of thing, but it is worth it. When we were there, they were doing construction to expand the monastery, plus it was raining - AGAIN - so maybe next time we can get some pics.

Besides all that, we also managed to visit a few wineries and eat some great food. Lynchburg, VA turned out to be the perfect, little mini-vacay that we both desperately needed. We'll definitely be back!

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