I spent the evening of July 4 on the outskirts of Charlottesville, at a Hampton Inn. Charlottesville was filled with patriotic tourists doing Jefferson tours, and also populated by lots of preppy youths, students at UVA in one form or another. I didn't see the town itself, but outside the town there are miles and miles of shopping centers, sprawling businesses and office buildings, and housing developments. I was told that Trader Joe's was finally going to put a store in one of these shopping centers, after years of begging by Charlottesville residents. But this may not be really happening, I hear denials from the management. I heard fireworks explosions from my room at night and I rushed out to the parking lot to view a nice half-hour pyrotechnic display just over the trees, along with a small crowd of guests and passers-by.
July 5 was a rainy day. I wonder whether the Morgan drivers did their rallye and car agility contest in the wet weather. I left Charlottesville and drove around central Virginia in the mist, visiting antique stores and the excellent Lovingston Cafe, a brave gourmet restaurant serving urban-style food to folks in the little town of Lovingston, which has not yet been gentrified.
I then looped back toward Charlottesville and passed by it moving toward the central Virginia town of Orange. Orange, as you all know, is my favorite color, but Orange, Virginia is not such a bright place. It is an old industrial town which is only in the early stages of transforming into a modern place. I drove around but found no inn or motel, until I went back the way I came and happened upon a bed and breakfast place called "The Inn on Poplar Hill." This place had a porch, and gardens, and cats. It was just perfect. A kindly innkeeper welcomed me in and informed me of the amenities in this gracious place. It was like being welcomed into a friend's house as a personal guest.
Later in the evening I tiptoed downstairs from my "Secret Garden Room" to draw the parlor of this nineteenth-century house, while I sipped some chamomile tea. I had the weird feeling that I had somehow secretly sneaked into a private house, and I didn't want to wake the family who lived there.