I went to the Washington & Lee Mock Convention today. Or, at least, I went to Washington & Lee. Turned out I’d mixed up the two days’ schedules, and by the time I arrived they were stacking up chairs and sweeping the floors.
Determined not to drive three hours for nothing — and hoping the minimize the feeling of being a complete dunderhead — I spent some time strolling around their downtown. (I last visited Lexington two and a half years ago). Wanting to visit a slice of Virginia that I don’t see often, I decided to take a meandering route home. I started by heading north on Route 11, which parallels 81. (Little-known fact: Route 11 runs clear from New Orleans to the Canadian border. There’s a drive I’d love to take.) Then I headed east on Route 56, a twisty route that took me right up one side of the Blue Ridge and down the other. That was a beautiful drive — what a great route. It’s unchanged since it was first established in 1930 — it’s been repaved every so often, but that’s about it. The mountains enfolded me almost like they do down in Southwest Virginia. I passed very few cars, and the sights were just amazing. I’ve hitchhiked that route a few times, but this was my first time driving it.
Then I got onto Route 6 and headed for Howardsville, the southernmost point in Albemarle and one of the few bits of the county I’ve never visited. It’s where a pair of roads meet up with the train tracks and the James. There’s a general store, and that’s about it. From there I took a wandering route north to Charlottesville, watching as the landscape gradually changed around me, the pine turning into winter-bared limbs and the rolling Piedmont hills into mountains.
All in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.