After a full day of outdoor recreation—and an extremely tense, skin-of-their-teeth Tarheels victory that did nothing to calm me down before bed—I prepared myself for Day 2 of Richmond rambling. The first order of business, naturally, was to find a fresh, aromatic, steaming mug of deliciousness…um, “coffee”. (And I’m not talking about the push-button-machine kind that they have in the lobby, my friends—in order to wake up properly and get moving, this java-snob needed quality brew.) So the Subaru and I took to the road, in search of an establishment that could dispense the blessed Elixir of Life. (Was that a little dramatic? Well, that's me in the morning, before my infusion...)
This was the first time I’d gotten an actual look at the neighborhood my hotel was in, and I quickly discovered that, besides the aforementioned cigarette-company-that-shall-not-be-named…there wasn’t much else there. A handful of houses; lots of small, independent businesses in what appeared to me to be shabby, run-down buildings; and the occasional fast food joint. Oh, and a plethora of 7-11s, which of course do provide coffee--but in this case I was seeking something a bit more upscale.
Although I wasn’t finding anything particularly promising (not even a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, for which I would have settled at this point) I persisted for a few miles. And that’s when I noticed that I was driving on…the Jefferson Davis Highway. Ay yi yi. It was equal parts hilarious…and disturbing…that even though I’d driven NORTH for this excursion, I'd forgotten I was in a city that in some ways still considers itself part of the Deep South. Then (not making this up, I swear) I crossed over the Robert E. Lee Bridge, and decided I’d just better turn around before I dug myself any further into Dixie.
Fortunately, I soon arrived at Brewer’s Café, where I was able to obtain a decaf cup of awesome…with honey and almond milk. That’s what I’m talking about, people. Now let’s DO this thing! Right…what was the plan? Oh, yeah: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to start my day—because we’ve clearly established by now that I’m utterly obsessed with flowers, and probably need some kind of intervention. But until I’m stopped, I’m going to continue strolling amongst the blossoms and taking waaaayyy too many photos of the rainbow-hued beauties.
So that’s exactly what I did, wandering the pathways, admiring the colors, enjoying the peaceful setting, and appreciating the pristine weather, all while happily snapping away with my Nikon. I won’t bore you with (any more) details, because, frankly, I couldn’t tell you what most of the lovely specimens actually are, even if you quizzed me (and you know I hate to earn anything below an A, so let’s just not go there, ‘kay? Thanks...).
However, there was one amusing aspect of the visit: the venue was apparently hosting a Daffodil Show onsite…and by this, they didn’t mean “display”, but rather “competition”. As in, judges evaluated, rated, and awarded prizes to the winning entries. Although I confess that daffodils are NOT among my favorite plants—they just seem to be so common in people’s yards, and they all look the same to me--curiosity got the best of me, so I went in to check out the contest. And sure enough, while the blooms were absolutely flawless to my untrained eye…they all appeared to be so…just...uniformly daffodil-y…and I wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart if my life was at stake. Okay—moving on!
My final Richmond hurrah was a “100-acre American estate” called Maymont, which was donated for public use by the millionaire couple who lived there until 1925. Besides the mansion and a few other buildings that remain, there are vast, rolling green spaces, cultivated gardens, and a small farm with wildlife exhibits. All together, it formed a masterpiece of a park, where families and couples meandered the walkways or ate picnics in the grass, kids chased each other around the hilly lawns, and people played catch or threw Frisbees, or frolicked with their dogs. It was an altogether bucolic scene, not to mention a delightful way to pass my last few hours in the city.
After that, it was back to the car once more, for the return southbound trek. I had a wonderful time in Richmond, but during my travels it became obvious that I barely scratched the surface of what the metropolis has to offer. I suspect I’ll need to return at some point in the future to continue my exploration…and perhaps I’ll drag the rest of Team WestEnders along, to add to the festivities! For now, NC--and the return to routine after an extended (or in my case, compact) Spring Break--awaits. So long until next time, friendly neighbor to the north!