Monday, May 22, 2006

# Posted 12:51 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LIVING THE GOOD LIFE IN THE VIRGINIA COUNTRYSIDE: To mark the occasion of my first annual 29th birthday, I spent this past weekend enjoying the Virginia countryside in the company of a very special young lady. Since we were fortunate enough to encounter a number of remarkable places, I thought I would mention them below, so any readers living or visiting in the area can do the same.

First, we spent two nights at the Inn at Meander Plantation, a bed & breakfast about half-way between Orange and Culpeper. The main house, built in the 18th century, was once the home of Col. Joshua Fry, commander of the Virginia militia. Fry's second-in-command was a young major by the name of George Washington.

It is hard to match the Inn for either comfort or aesthetics. In addition, there are extensive grounds and even a few hiking trails. We also enjoyed a five-course dinner at the Inn's restaurant, not to mention a gourmet breakfast both mornings.

Also in a culinary vein, we enjoyed lunch at It's About Thyme in Culpeper, which has a Cordon Bleu-certified chef even though is in semi-rural Virginia. Further south, we also enjoyed lunch at Orange's Elmwood at Sparks. There are no French cooking certificates on the wall, but the food is superb. I had the Hawaiian barbecue over focaccia with homemade cole slaw.

Switching over to wine, I highly recommend a visit to Pearmund Cellars outside of Warrenton. I bought bottles of both their Viognier and Cabernet Franc, although every one of the seven wines I tasted was excellent, and the staff was both friendly and informative.

Finally, our tour of the countryside did involve at least one activity that had nothing to do with food. On Saturday afternoon, we visited the moderately famous Luray Caverns near the town of (you guessed it) Luray. The caverns are filled with a jagged array of stalactites and stalagmites, including pillars that stretch more than forty feet from floor to ceiling.

The only downside is that in order to protect the caverns, all visitors must take a guided tour that is expensive ($19 for one hour) and a little bit cheesy. One can only imagine what it was like for the original discovers of the caves to wander through them on their own, discovering these natural works of art.

Now, you may think I sound like an advertisment sponsored by the Virginia tourism boad. But I can't help it. Virginia's a great place.
(6) opinions -- Add your opinion

It's About Thyme was much better a few years back. But happy birthday.
Try the German restaurant/roadhouse near Lexington, on the left, on the way from Charlottesville to Lexington, with accordians as well as food. Or, find someone to invite you to the Annandale Country Club (near the birthplace of Merryweather Lewis), and when you get there be sure to admire the magnificent couch from Thomas Jefferson's White House.
yes, that German restaurant is quite fun. Very unexpected. Near Stanton.
My first visit to Luray Caverns was with my aunts, almost 50 years ago.

It's ALWAYS been a little cheesy. But that's probably true of any tourist attraction which advertises by painting barn roofs all across the countryside.
The only downside is that in order to protect the caverns, all visitors must take a guided tour that is expensive ($19 for one hour) and a little bit cheesy.

When you see the amount of graffiti in caves that don't have such requirements, you'll understand.
All things considered, I'm 100% behind tour guide oversight, mainly for the reasons you point out.

And the $19 is probably good too, so people treat the caves with proper respect.
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