Take me home, country roads... John Denver had it right! Steve's family is from the tiny town of Ronceverte, WV, population 1753. We hadn't been here to visit for many years so we were looking forward to our time here. Most of his family moved to Virginia over the years but he still has a dear aunt and some cousins here.
Many farms on rolling hillsides.
Our drive from Kentucky and through the lower part of Virginia was short and uneventful.
Always a surprise to look up and see this on the freeway.
This week we'd be settled in at the fairgrounds in neighboring Lewisburg. This is where the State Fair is held. They have thousands of campsites! Since there was only a couple of us here, we had plenty of space. We chose a spot near the front because it had a couple of trees for shade. It was very hot and humid! We haven't really had much of that up to this point.
Full hookups, $27. We were lucky as the Greenbrier Classic PGA Tournament was going on at the nearby ritzy Greenbrier the following week and the fairgrounds would be packed. They also jack the prices up to $50 a night.
The Greenbrier is a National Historic Landmark and world-class resort since 1778. For over 235 years, the natural mineral springs have brought visitors here including 26 Presidents. It is a gorgeous place! We've only seen it. Steve's cousin, Aaron, works here and invited us to come have lunch. Well, they have a very strict dress code of resort/formal attire. NO denim of any kind. Well, that counts us out! Maybe another time.
There are tours offered of the declassified Bunker at The Greenbrier. It takes you behind the scenes and walks you through a deep, carved path into the mountainside. Beneath the West Virginia Wing is an emergency Cold War fallout shelter which was once a top secret U.S. government relocation facility for Congress. The tours are $34 each. We haven't done this yet but would like to.
Steve's great grandfather once owned the hardware store in town. You can barely make it out anymore painted on the red brick.
Lee & Son Hdwe, Inc.
Not much to this town anymore, but like many others, there is a revitalization going on.
We visited the cemetery and brought fresh flowers.
We also drove to his grandparents property. Much of the land has been sold off over the years and the old homestead burned down several years ago. It is very overgrown now.
This is the old drive. Too thick to even walk through.
Still some pretty old buildings and homes along the river.
The Greenbrier River.
There are a few covered bridges in the area too.
Big, beautiful farms and horse ranches.
I do love to hear his stories of spending summers at his grandparents. Pointing out where they used to play, get ice cream, swim and get into trouble. Remember how some things "back then" seemed bigger? He was surprised when he showed me a place they called Hamburger Hill that they used to run up and down. Well, it's really more like a 10 foot dirt embankment! We had a good laugh over that one.
Ever hear of Salt Rising Bread? Me neither until I met Steve. It is a dense white bread that was widely made by early settlers in the Appalachian Mountains, It is leavened by naturally occurring bacteria rather than by yeast. Salt Rising bread is made from a starter of potatoes instead of sourdough starter. Rotted potatoes. The bread starter requires a shorter incubation period and a higher incubation temperature. The bread has a distinctive taste and odor. The pungent odor of the starter has been described as similar to "very ripe cheese". Not to be insulting, but to me it smells like vomit. And when it's in the toaster, whew, look out!
So my mission while Steve was working was to find one of the few bakeries around that still makes it. It involved an hour drive down a windy road that took me through even smaller towns. It was a beautiful drive. One particular town caught my eye and I parked and walked about a little. The town of Union had a monument behind the cemetery that needed investigating. I love walking around old cemeteries and this one also had a geocache hidden there. Bonus!
The scenery was so pretty and the Antebellum style homes were everywhere. Reminded me of Gone with the Wind. I did get to the bakery and bought the 4 loaves of bread. Across the street was an Amish Store. I bought a big slice of Parmesan cheese which I mostly ate on the way home. It was pretty good!
Of course we had to pop into the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co. Steve sampled a few, but wasn't all that impressed.
The beer wasn't so impressive but the brewery itself was.
Steve, Sally & Bob.
We visited with them a few times while we were there. On our last day we went to their house and Aunt Sally made us a wonderful home cooked Pot Roast meal with all the fixins'. It was so good!
They have a beautiful home and we enjoyed a lot of Front Porch Sittin'.
Later that night we were able to meet up for a drink with one of Steve's cousins, Aaron. He's the one that works at the beautiful Greenbrier Resort. We were very thankful to them for spending time with us so late at night as they both are crazy at work with the PGA about to go on.
Aaron, Susan and their son.
Thank you Susan for the jars of pickles. They are delicious!
Next up: More family time in Virginia and a Class Reunion.