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Down by the River

To say Virginia is obsessed with their culture and heritage would be making a great understatement, so in lue of last weekends patriotic holiday we will be visiting a lovely little town rich in American history. In fact, you could say it was in this exact spot that the United States was finally given a chance to exist independantly as a country. Can you figure it out?

Ok, it’s Yorktown… You know, that big field we learned about in grammar school, where our buddies from France helped us tell Great Britain to scram? No hate GB, we heart you now!

Anyway… Yorktown. Probably one of my favorite places in Virginia. One, because I have an addiction to coastal living, and two, because who doesn’t love a huge field to run through? But before I go on I do need to give a quick shout-out to one of the staff members at the Battlefield Visitors Center. Seemingly a volunteer, this woman brought joy to my life with a passionate explanation of what the Yorktown Battlefield has to offer. Her descriptive comparisons to Lord of The Rings made me wonder if this woman and I were BFFs in another life. Her sneaky way of getting us out of paying the general entrance fee only confirmed that we probably were.

So with a lovely start thanks to our new/possibly old friend, we began to wander…

Rows of canvas tents and fire pits… sounds pretty accurate.

We weren’t sure if we were actually allowed to go in and play.

But they did it anyway.

Had to.

It’s pretty obvious that this place likes to whip out all the stereotypically touristy stops. Traditional garb, battle reenactments, and the like. Which is cool. But not my cup of tea… Get the irony?

Anyway, what is really special about Yorktown is the location. The battle fields are up on a hill overlooking the York River. And the fields are endless carpets of tall, stiff grass and what I’m pretty sure is wheat. Or something that looks like it. Either way it’s really pretty so here’s more pictures.

Tired from the hot sun on the battlefield we decided to head down to the waterfront for some lunch. After a long hunt for a spot, we ended up parking back at the top of the hill and walked down. This part of Yorktown looks a lot like Williamsburg. Similar architecture and style, but on the water.

Trolley spotting.

I’ve never been on this boat, but just having it in my view is enough for me.

Beaches along the York River are more like little coves, rather than traditional long stretches of beach.

We ended our tiresome day on our feet at one of my favorite places in Virginia. The Yorktown Pub gets seafood by season, most of it right out of the York River. There’s really nothing better than ending a day of roaming with seafood and beer.

I’d like to end this one with a fun little lesson or afterthought, but in all honestly I’ve got nothing at the moment. This weeks trip was a simple one. I think we used it as a bit of a detox from the rest of our lives, enjoying the warm sun and good company. It’s important to take time out of your busy life to have days like this. If you don’t have a place to do so, I highly suggest Yorktown.

*Follow me on Instagram @ginafontes to see these, as well as other photos from our trips.

Wet Land Wandering

For this weeks adventure I thought we could get a little closer to the more natural aspects of Virginia, so we headed south to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. We found ourselves in the town of Suffolk, exploring only the northwest region of the swamp, but as a whole the park covers parts of south-east Virginia and northern North Carolina.

Now when I first imagined visiting this swamp I envisioned something stereotypically boggy right out of Louisiana, and as usual we found it to be something a bit different. Whereas usually we are thrilled with our findings, this time we were faced with a bit of a challenge.

As per usual, I’ll start with the drive. It began with crossing the James River Bridge.

Then things got a little country.

Our first sign of swamp lands!

Being as attentative as I am at giving directions, obviously we got a little lost. Luckily we found a map at the entrance to an auto tour within the national park.

Auto tour entrance. It was blocked off but looked very tempting.

At last, we found the entrance to an open boardwalk trail. Upon pulling into the tiny parking lot a cricket/grasshopper sort of combo made it’s way through the sun roof of the car and into our business. Both of us having severe anxiety and an extreme fear of bugs meant this did not go over so well. Once we were safely parked and out of the car away from the monster we realized exactly what we were about to put ourselves through.

Bugs. A LOT of bugs. And other unidentifiable creepy crawlies. Did I mention we have anxiety?

We had no idea that this swamp was essentially an EXTREMELY muddy forest, creatures included. I mean don’t get me wrong it was beautiful, but it took pure strength to convince ourselves not to run squealing back to the car… On top of that, we were all alone. Im not saying that it was a bad thing, but being deep in the woods completely alone comes with it’s mixture of serenity and cautiousness. Actually… it was a pretty wild feeling.

But enough words, here’s some pictures…

Good thing I didn’t bring my horse.

We had NO interest in finding out what sort of species had been using this tree as a scratch post. It also just so happened to be the first thing we saw as we entered the swamp. If we weren’t anxious enough already, this really didn’t reassure us that we were coming out of this alive.

No shortage of butterflies in these swamps.

Do you see what I see? Something spikey taking a nap in the swamp. I can only guess that maybe it’s a toad of sorts. Wasn’t looking to figure that one out the hard way.

Ok, so maybe we weren’t completely alone.

These metallic little suckers where EVERYWHERE. If I wasn’t so entranced by the color I would have run away screaming.

I think/hope that there is something to learn from our little adventure this week. I’ve been on a “facing your fears/living your dreams” kick for a while, and without even realizing it I stumbled upon a blog post that emanates exactly that. I mean I wouldn’t call venturing through a bug infested forest a lifelong dream of mine, but we sure as hell faced a fear. If you have anxiety like me, you know how difficult it can be to overcome even the smallest obstacles. But when you build up the courage to do so, it can give you the push you need to face the bigger challenges in life.

So while we walked into the swamp expecting the worst, we walked out with a mind set that said… Bring it on.

A Celebration of the Vine

When you think of the term “wine country”, I bet the last place you’re dreaming about is Virginia. But if you’re a wine lover like me, then this up and coming wine region should be on the top of your to-visit list.

Virginians are extremely proud of their wine. So much that they have festivals celebrating these vines and their juices. If you like live music, outdoor markets and drinking mass amounts of wine, then I don’t think I’m going to need to do much to convince you here.

Making a day of it, we (my mom and I) thought what better way to start this celebration than at the beginning of the wine making process. So we made our way to the New Kent Winery. I chose this winery for two reasons. Convenience and architecture. Both being very important qualities of a vineyard in my book.

You may be thinking, I should have gone when the grapes were full. I think we all know what grapes look like, but not all of us have seen baby grapes! I think they look like little green raspberries. How precious!

The main building is a huge part of the beauty and intrigue of the New Kent Winery. Over 90% of this breathtaking structure is made from reclaimed materials, much of it dating over a century old. Pieces of history brought together to create something that feels vintage and lived in. The architecture welcomes you before the staff even gets the chance.

Everything from the bricks to the door knobs is taken from the ruins of once standing central buildings.

Nothing better than a great porch. I could go on and on about all of the amazingly well thought out detail in the porch alone, but its just not the same as standing there while learning about it. You will just have to come see for yourself.

Pieces of the Tasting Room.

The staff and our tour guide were extremely friendly, giving me tips on the best spots to get good photos. Their professional yet laid back attitudes really made us feel at home, making for a very relaxing and enjoyable experience. The wine might have helped too.

The production room holds barrels and ice cold vats filled with wine.

The highlight of this room is the gorgeous wooden beam ceiling structure.

My favorite aspect of the New Kent Winery was that they encourage you to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on their back porch. On a warm sunny day this would make for an amazing lunch date. I plan on doing just that in the very near future.

~

Next we met up with my sister and made our way to the Chesterfield Wine Festival, “A Celebration of the Vine”. And a celebration it was.

It’s a great feeling to be wandering through a market with a glass of wine. You can mark down your favorite bottles as you taste, then make your purchases at the end of the festival. I should warn you, the favorites often go quick, so some bottles you should buy while they are still available. We did that multiple times, therefore ended up leaving with 9 bottles. Don’t judge.

Then there was a dance party. Conveniently, the concert area was located at the end of the wine tent path. At that point you are pretty toasted and ready to enjoy some good music.

After endless drinking and strolling in the hot sun, its nice to have a good patch of grass to sit and relax in the shade.

This is why you DON’T wear white to a wine festival. Though despite the obvious stain she still manages to look fabulous.

Interested in visiting the New Kent Winery? Check out their website at www.newkentwinery.com.

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Please and Thank You 🙂

Welcome to Virginia.

If the furthest south you have ever been on the east coast is Maryland (Florida doesn’t count), then Virginia probably seems like the least appealing place in the world. I don’t blame you. Civil War reenactments can only be so exciting. But, we are not being shown everything. Beyond the family attractions and colonial garb is the real history behind the state of Virginia. I know this may seem like the least interesting topic ever, but if you just give me a chance I will use this unexpectedly diverse state to show you how to notice and appreciate the world you live in. Virginia is just an example.