Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From Monticello to Versailles - Day 2 - September 16, 2014

Surprisingly, we were up early after the previous day's adventures. We are early risers, normally, so that worked in our favor today. A little groggy, but functioning, we got to meet a whole bunch of people at the Inn who were from Kentucky. That was our final destination on this day, so we got some inside advice from them while we ate our breakfast burritos and enjoyed a nice morning at the Inn.  

We had bought tickets to visit Monticello, and had reservations to tour the house at 9 a.m.   Running late, we dashed out and found our way up there. You have to park your car at the visitor center and ride a shuttle bus up to the house. Turns out, we could have walked up there, but we would have missed our tour spot! This is definitely a place I want to come back to.  We didn't take a single photo of the house! Derp!  I think it's because we were so impressed by the grounds and gardens.

The vegetable gardens!!  I was so in love with the herb and vegetable gardens and could have spent the whole day wandering around here. 

We took some white morning glory seeds from the trellis you can see in the back here

I got to talk to the woman in the photo below and asked her how she liked her work. She was so calm and seemed so happy. Her job was to manage all the operations of the vegetable and herb gardens, and she said her favorite time of the day was very early morning before the tourists arrived. We had gotten there first thing in the morning, and I could see why she liked it so much, normally these paths would be filled with visitors

Below is the pathway from the house down to the vegetable gardens, which runs parallel to this path along the right side. This is looking back up towards the house, which is up and to the left of the photo

Me, with Thomas Jefferson. At the visitors center.

Jefferson's grave and the Jefferson Family Cemetery, which is still owned by the family to this day

a blue/black beetle we saw on the path back down to the visitors center. It was about 1.5 inches long and very glossy and beautiful

Given our schedule and a long ride still ahead of us, we had to leave Monticello too soon, at around 11:30. The Blue Ridge Parkway winds its way through the George Washington National Forest, and the vistas from turn offs are spectacular. Originally we had hoped to visit Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, VA, but road work and construction along the Blue Ridge changed our plans. We were stopped a number of times, once for almost a half hour, along the BRP. Unfortunately, this cut into our plans and we had to detour and catch Route 64W in Buena Vista. I think we ate stuff from the cooler in the car that day for lunch, while we watched a very large, tobacco chewing construction worker hold a giant Stop sign.  The rest of 64W all the way to Lexington, is beautiful, with gorgeous mountains and rolling hills the whole way.

Jeff on the Blue Ridge Parkway


In Rockfish Gap, found on Route 66 running from Strasburg all the way to Washington, DC.  196 years ago they were looking for a site for the University of VA. The tavern burned down 105 years ago. My maternal grandfather was 2 years old at the time!

Hog Walls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Castle Post Hotel in Versailles, KY (pronounced VER-SALES, by locals)

Here's where we stayed on Day 2. I will sum up this experience in one word: Shithole.  Apparently William Shatner stayed here, but it must have been in better hands when he did. We arrived late, and were greeted by Michael "our night guard" wearing a hoody-work-out-sweatpants-set, and upon first inspection, it seemed like we were the ONLY guests in the place.  He ushered us into a very small elevator and told us our room was on the 2nd floor. As the door is closing a shrieking alarm starts up, and our last view as the door closes is Michael, saying "ut-oh".  He's shouting not to worry and the elevator finally creaks into motion, hauling us up the one flight.  Our room is directly outside of the elevator door and  opening the door reveals a round bed.  Yup.  ROUND.  The room barely fits the thing and the door almost bumps into it.  Thankfully, we were super tired, hungry (we had counted on the restaurant in the hotel, but it was closed, and no bar with bar food), so we just crashed immediately.  Around 2:30 a.m. I wake up to some noise, and think that we are about to be murdered in our sleep by marauding vampires, or maybe Michael the Night Guard... I mean, no one else is here, right... why not? I didn't sleep much because my stomach was making too much noise, but was rewarded by a hot shower in the bathroom, which turned out to be really pretty nice.  

The Castle Post Hotel is for sale for 30 million dollars.  And that's firm.

Highlights from day 2
  • Monticello, we will come back
  • George Washington National Forest
  • Hawks and vultures riding the thermals
  • Vistas from Blue Ridge Parkway
  • round bed
  • vampires in the night 
  • 410 miles

What we drove
After visiting Monticello, we drove south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, again, following the Appalachian Trail, then headed into West Virginia on 64W in Buena Vista. Through Clifton Forge, VA to Beckly, WV up to Charleston, WV staying on 64 out through Huntington, into Kentucky. Through Morehead and Mount Sterling, into Lexington where we spent the night in Versailles at the Castle Post Hotel.  

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