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Archive for the ‘Front Royal’ Category

Having arrived at Front Royal the day before I had a quiet day after all the exertions of the four days in Washington. I explored the town cemetery and walked around the town, which is quite small. It was helpful that the Wine Festival was being held: Main Street was closed to traffic, there were stalls all along it, there were at least a couple of bands playing at various places, people were tasting the wine, and a generally fun time was being had. Front Royal is actually very small, and I think that on a normal Saturday it would be very quiet.

Now for the wine. I’d never heard of Virginia wine until this week, but it is in fact the fifth-largest wine producing state in the US. However, much of the planting is new – many of the wineries told me that they had started in 2006, 2007, and so on, and I think this showed in the wines. Many were very young and not especially subtle. There was a lot of sweet wine, including sweet red wine – not to my taste. There was also a tendency to produce wines with fruit additions – apple was a favourite. Also, many of the wines were made from blends of three or four grapes, which makes it hard for any especial character to come through. There were some exceptions, and I enjoyed what I tasted from the Naked Mountain winery. Perhaps not coincidently, that one dated from the early 80s (and the vineyards from the late 70s) so they already have over 30 years’ experience of making wine.

Back to the car, the little Hyundai. I found a really strange feature on it – it has three doors (actual doors, not counting the hatchback). There is a single door on the driver’s side, and two on the passenger side. Bizarre.

Finally, I ought to say that I had wonderful stay at the Woodward House B&B in Front Royal. Bob and Joan made me especially welcome and introduced me to a number of other guests, and a couple of very good evenings were had.

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I left Woodley Park Guest House on Friday morning after an excellent four nights’ stay. First destination was Dulles Airport to collect a hire car. This time I used the metro to the end of the Silver line, then the ‘Silver Line’ shuttle bus from the metro station to Dulles airport, and finally the car hire company shuttle bus round to their lot. All in all it took me abut 90 minutes, but it was easy enough. There was no problem with my large bag on the metro – there are lifts at all the stations both from ground level to the mezzanine (ticket barriers) level, and from there onto the platforms. Much easier than the London Underground, but there again the DC metro system is much more recent.

a Hyundai Veloster!

a Hyundai Veloster!

The car is a Hyundai Veloster, which is a model I’ve never seen before. Small, sporty-looking, 3-door hatchback and automatic. In other words, rather different from my VW Golf. The first few minutes were pretty panicky, and I then missed a turning a few minutes later so for a while I was driving without knowing where I was going. But I realised that I was in fact headed in the right destination (south), even if I wasn’t on the right road, and that I ought to hit the road I really wanted, Interstate 66, if I just kept going, and that’s what happened.

My first destination of the day was the Manassas Battlefield (US Civil War) site. It’s maintained by the US National Parks service. I arrived there at about 2 o’clock and started by watching a 45 minute film about the site and the two battles that happened there, in 1861 and 1862. I was especially interested in the 1861 battle which was the first significant battle of the war. Some 900 soldiers died altogether. It ended in a Confederate victory, but more significantly it signalled to both sides that the war would not be won quickly or easily. There was a warden-led tour of Henry Hill (part of the 1861 battlefield) where the crucial part of the battle occurred. The tour was very instructive; the warden didn’t pull any punches about what happens to soldiers who line up in front of other soldiers who are firing rifles and cannon at them. He knew the details of the various troop movements on that day and why and how the top of Henry Hill came to be the decisive location. It was an interesting and sobering visit.

Woodward House porch

Woodward House porch

After that I drove down to my next bed and breakfast in the town of Front Royal, Virginia. I’m staying at a small B&B (Woodward House) where I’ve been made very welcome.┬áIt’s also the case that there was a Food Festival in the main square in the evening, and a wine festival tomorrow (in fact, today as I write this). I had no idea about either of these, really; but sometimes things just work out well.

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