Charlottesville: The mini-vacation

We decided to take our family vacation to Charlottesville, VA. People keep asking us whether we were visiting family or friends. Our response was always “neither”. We didn’t know anyone there, but knew a few people who had been there. All of those people seemed to like it. After doing some research, it looked like it had everything we wanted: breweries, wineries, great playgrounds with water parks, hiking and running trails, restaurants with vegan food, and a walkable downtown area.

We wanted to take Skyline Drive down on Friday, but we got started to late and had to skip it. We got into town with enough time to check into our hotel, get changed, and drive to the vineyard where we were going to run a 5K. (I’ll have to blog about our 5K escapades sometime.)

The Wine to Vine 5K was seriously the best 5K I’ve ever run. There were just shy of 350 runners. The course started on the grounds of the vineyard and then was an out-and-back on an unpaved country road. There were some rolling hills which made it a somewhat slower course than what we tend to see in these here parts. I knew that this area of VA produced some good runners, so I assumed it would be a fast race. It wasn’t. I was very surprised. I finished 48th out of 348, 18th woman overall, and 5th out of 81 in my age group. Wow! S was the only person in the race pushing a stroller. We were really surprised by that one. There are always several strollers in the races here at home! People were all amazed that he was really going to push Little Dude for 3.1 miles. He got lots of applause as he approached the finish line.

A view of Barren Ridge vineyard
A view of Barren Ridge vineyard
Relaxing with wine (me) and cheese and crackers (him) after the race
Relaxing with wine (me) and cheese and crackers (him) after the race

We hung out after the race and tasted some wines. (Our entry fee got us the race, a really nice technical t-shirt, a wine tasting and a souvenir wineglass.) We got a bottle of their 2011 Harmony, which is a blend of Chardonnay, Traminette, Vidal Blanc and Viognier. We aren’t usually fans of white wines, but the heat of the evening begged for it. We sat on a blanket, sipped some wine, and watched Little Dude pick flowers and dance to the live jazz music.

On Saturday we walked a mile to the amazing Charlottesville City Market. (I had planned to get out for a long trail run, but was so exhausted that I felt like I could cry the night before. I decided to sleep in until 7am – which was totally sleeping in when compared to the idea of getting up at 4:30am!) Once we got there, I forgot that I wanted to be running. The market was ahhhhh-mazing. The produce was gorgeous. The smells of the breads and ethnic dishes made me so hungry. I became so envious of the people of Charlottesville! Wow. That market crushed the ones we have here. (Sorry, H-burg.)

I can still taste this coffee
I can still taste this coffee

We sampled some delicious foods, including a really, really good vegan burger from No Bull Burgers (though the vegan one isn’t yet on their website). I had the best cup of coffee ever from Mudhouse Coffee. It was so, so good and smooooooooth; I was absolutely blown away. They brewed it using a set-up I had never seen before, and it seems to have made all the difference. We rounded out our visit to the Market with some actual breakfast – a Filipino noodle bowl for S and a vegan, veggie-filled Bolivian/Andean fried pastry for me. Adios, diet!

Brewing coffee by the cup
Brewing coffee by the cup

After our jaunt through the City Market and some wandering through the Downtown Mall, we made our way back to the hotel. The boys took some time to relax while I went out for a run. I missed my long distance run that morning, but was okay with it since we had such a lovely morning. I decided to tour the University of Virginia during my run. Since we actually stayed at a hotel on the UVA campus, I barely had to go anywhere to see the beautiful campus. To spice up my run, I stopped every half mile and did 20 reps of one of these exercises: push-ups, squats, walking lunges (R+L=1), bench step-ups, stair jumps and chair dips. I could have pushed harder, but I was still pretty tired from the day before. Plus, it was hot. And I was on vacation.

After my run, we decided to take Little Dude to a local park with a splash pad so he could burn off some energy. On the way there, though, he fell asleep in the stroller. We decided it would be a good time to hit up the South Street Brewery since we were only a few blocks away. I hadn’t heard much about it, so I had no expectations. The beer was just okay. The food was good, but the portions (at least mine) were small. I had a fried chickpea salad which was visually lovely and tasted great, but it barely put a dent in my appetite.

IMG_4774 IMG_4760 IMG_4763

We spent a good chunk of time at the park for Little Dude and then made our way to the Starr Hill Brewery in nearby Crozet. (At this point we hopped in the car; we weren’t walking 20+ miles with a stroller!) I was really excited to check it out, but was a bit disappointed. There were eleventy billion flies buzzing around, and they drove us all nuts. The beers were just okay. The one I liked the best actually wasn’t part of the tasting. They had debuted a rauchbier. I hate rauchbier. They smell and taste like meat. Yuck. When the guy poured it and told me what it was, I told him I knew I wouldn’t like it. He was very nice and instead gave me a pour of their Love, which I thought was pretty good.

When we got back from the brewery, we decided to hit up Revolutionary Soup for dinner after discovering it was rated as the best restaurant for vegans (2011). I was so excited. I mean, really excited. We walked around the block from our hotel and found it. It was like angels sang. And then we realized it was closed. What? I checked the door and saw a sign that said they were closing at 3pm on Saturdays during the summer. I literally shed some tears. No kidding – I shut down. I told S I didn’t care where we ate. I got all mopey and nearly tripped on my pouty bottom lip. We ended up at Boylan Heights for burgers. Burgers. Whatever. I was bored by the thought. But I was surprised! Their vegan burger was incredible. I was thoroughly impressed, and forgot my revolutionary sadness.

So S just pointed out that I am writing too much. We’ll call this “Part 1” and I will write more tomorrow. Hasta manana.

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