The Old Dominion

So they continue, college tours

This trip involved our heading to Mr. Jefferon’s academical village, his words, not mine

Located in the rolling hills of Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia, UVA is in her bicentennial year, still basking in its men’s basketball national championship. Damnit




(But, really, Go Tar Heels!)


The Rotunda and the Lawn all part of the Grounds


And, we’re off

Up and at ’em to C’ville by 7 a.m.

Seven hours in the car

Stop north of Fayetteville, NC, for gasoline where there’s a family eating Subway a little after 10 in the morning

Lunch discussions

“I don’t care where we eat, but not there”

So, as we pass through Wilson and Rocky Mount in North Carolina, no decision as to lunch

So, as we pass through Emporia and Petersburg in Virginia, no decision as to lunch

Then, we stop at the most crowded Chic Fil A in the world in Colonial Heights, VA

Sic Semper Tyrannis

We’re actually still stuck in that parking lot to this day

On up I95 to VA 288, which is an amazing way to get around Richmond

As we peel off, we see a wreck immediately to the north

Richmond traffic always stinks

We cross over the James River, into the rolling hills of the edge of the Valley

Ancestral lands for me and my bride and our Yancey, Coyner, Randloph, Isham, Perrin, Clopton, Hopkins, Flowerdew, Via, Maupin, West, De La Warr, Yeardley, Crowshaw kinfolk

Not the slightest interest from the children in tales of same as we pass the exit for Manakin where our Virginia Huguenots settled

“Anyone want to stop and see?”

“Um….only you, Dad”

Press on to Charlottesville

Off of I64 at the Monticello/Charlottesville exit

Through Belmont and Fifetown off of Monticello Ave

At a stop light on the way into town, I look over and see a barbershop

“Look, y’all. It’s the barber of C’ville”

Dad jokes

No one laughs

To parking garage and the Downtown Mall where I don’t think I lost anything, even in the cool used bookstore

Back in the car and over to the University and the Central Grounds Garage and University Bookstore

Some UVA swag for everyone

“Really? A national champs t-shirt?”


The familiar “V” in orange Virginia t-shirt

I think I had the same one 30 years ago

T-shirt with a picture of Edgar Allan Poe on it

Underneath his visage


“We sell a lot of those, Sir,” says the clerk who sees me laughing

We stop by his room on the West Range

Then a short walk over to the heart of Mr. Jefferson’s experiment, the academical village itself




Student Housing c. 1819


A swing around the Grounds

The Lawn

The Rotunda

The West Range

The East Range

Serpentine walls

So much gorgeous brick

Sneaking through a garden behind one of The Pavilions

“Dad, you can’t go back there”

“What? Why not? The gate was open?”

You can take the boy out of Beaufort


“Look, there’s someone’s grill. It’s fine”

There’s a big police presence in town, even around the Grounds

It’s been two years since an ugly tiki torch crew marched through the streets

To paraphrase The Blues Brothers, “I hate Virginia Nazis”

A quick drive around town, down to The Corner and through a more collegiate part of the western end of Main Street neighboring the Grounds

Cohn’s on the Corner

Bodo’s Bagels


Emmet St. N  location

Coffee place based in Seattle

Mincer’s Sportswear

The Virginian

The College Inn

Corner Juice.  Eureka! The juice bar spotted for lunch the next day, which will be perfect after our tour and before heading on up to Mr. Jefferson’s Little Mountain

To the Boar’s Head Inn, if only I could get there


How in the world do I keep turning into the wrong place?

Ivy Road should be a straight shot

It’s not

Metaphor for life

So many U-turns, illegal and legal, made during the trip

It’s the leitmotif of the trip

The U-turn

Finally, check in

To the room with its own porch

Straight to the pool

The Adult Pool at the Spa that is due to a private function at the Sports Club

Back to the room for a drink and a snack before supper

To the Aberdeen Barn, the self-proclaimed finest steak house in Virginia

It has not changed one iota since I was there in 1989

Not one iota

Derrick, our wonderful waiter, has been there since 1981

The same famous cheese spread with bread sticks and rolls

The same salads with a trio of house made dressings

Blue cheese, ranch, thousand island

The same inordinately large slabs o’beef cooked to perfection

The same baked potatoes in foil jackets dripping with butter, sour cream, and crumbled bacon

The same decor

The same satisfaction after the meal

The same regret, too

Back for another lap around The Grounds

Everyone asleep by 9:30

The next morning, bright, early, cool

Reading on the porch of the room with coffee, no humidity, the mid-60’s


Breakfast at the Mill Room

We will crush a buffet breakfast, especially with added waffles

We are a hominy people, but we love a breakfast potato, too

“I won’t need lunch”

“I’m not going to be hungry”

“Oh, I ate too much”

“That juice place will be perfect”

Famous last words

Back to the Central Grounds Garage and Bookstore

And, it’s the Grounds, not the campus

And, it’s Mr. Jefferson, not TJ

I was corrected

More than once

Sorry, I’m just a Sandlapper from the other Mountain of Conceit up here in Ole Virginny

We hike up Rugby Road to the band building

Forty-five minute info session from self-effacing admissions officer.  Not all millennials stink

This guy’s really funny

He was proud he was in the Bob Barker Appreciation Society, which gathered regularly to watch The Price is Right

Wa Hoo Wa

Lovely young lady tour guide


Joiner of clubs

A wee bit of a signaler of virtue

Tour all over campus, including the Nekkid Room in the liberry

UVA is beyond pretty



Formally Southern

Formerly Southern

A little bit stiff because of it

Texts with one of our favorite UVA grads to ask about involvement with IMP, Z, The Seven with no comments back from said grad

We will study rings on said grad’s fingers when next we are together

I did ask the tour guide if students still streak the Lawn and kiss the backside of the Homer statue on the south Lawn

Her official response “No Comment” as she shook her head up and down and smiled

Glad some things don’t change

We veered off at the end in order to head on over to Monticello

We were expected for dinnah, served at 3 p.m., natch

I got the car while the family ordered smoothies from Corner Juice as planned

Up to the Little Mountain

Parking and jumping on the shuttle

“How many steps do we have?”

“Almost 9,000”

From the Flower Walk


Walking around the house, down the Mulberry Lane, by the fish pond, around the Flower Walk on the West Lawn

Passing the air vents for the Privys

Mr. Jefferson was a genius

Taking the North and South Cellar Passages


Combated hunger with root beers and cookies from The Farm Shop

Smoke House


Store rooms

Ice house

Wandering to the garden Folly where we sit with a breeze coming in from the North


A view from the Folly


In line for our tour as directed ten minutes before scheduled departure

Spying an older lady wearing an anklet

When in the course of human events we forget to have standards

We the People don’t look so great

At least she painted her toe nails?


We can do better; we must


Behind the scenes tour

Highly recommend it

Small group

More time

A two hour tour

A two hour tour

Additional spaces to see

Up to the 2nd floor

Up to the 3rd floor

Incredibly steep stair case with 9-10″ risers

Form followed function

Mr. Jefferson never went up stairs

Stairs had no function for him

Everything he needed was on one floor

The stairs are so steep that only Mick Jagger could race to the top, according to local lore

On our tour, there was a fellow tourist with his hat on the entire time

Take your hat off, Sir

You’re in a sacred space

Wanted to say that


This was the same man who asked his wife, “Why do they talk so much about Sally Hemings?”

Well, Sir, if we have to explain, it’s probably better if you go on back to the hole from whence you crawled

Mr. Jefferson’s descendants are legion

White and black

It’s America

It’s the South

It’s Virginny

It’s similar to my family’s own history

So, let them talk about the Hemings

Please tell us more

Our tour guide asking where we were from

“Theodosia Burr Allston’s husband’s town”

“Well, how is everything in Charleston?”

I’m team Jefferson not team Hamilton

Jefferson’s bust continues to look across and down the Hall at Mr. Hamilton’s bust in death because, well, Mr. Jefferson was Mr. Jefferson


Reflections of greatness in the fish pond


Up to the 3rd Floor

The Dome

The Cubby in the pediment used by the grandchildren

Mr. Randolph’s room on the 3rd Floor

Mrs. Randolph’s room on the 2nd

Cousins of cousins who slept separately

Yet, they had twelve chirren, so something must have been fairly cordial

The widowed sister’s room

Aunt Marks

Can’t escape her watching, prying, annoying gaze

Doesn’t every family have an Aunt like that?

Oh, and since we’re in Virginia, it’s pronounced “Oughnt.”

Not “Ant” like in South Carolina or “Ain’t” if you’re lucky

But, yet, the nearby town is pronounced Stan-ton even if it’s spelled Staunton

My great-grandmother grew up between Waynseboro and Staunton

There’s a Yancey Mills named for her people

As they say in our family, she was from Virginia but she never got over it

Take me back to Old Virginny

Can we even reference that song anymore?




So we bid adieu to our distant kinsman with whom we shared cousins but no direct blood, unlike those complained of Hemings

Back to the hotel after a stop for some major snackage

“We don’t need all of that”

Yet, we ate all of that

Dip in the pool

“I like the adult pool better”

Well, of course, you do

Back to the room for a quiet time

Weather is on point

Upper 70’s

No humidity

Perfect to sit on the porch and read

Except for the loudmouths two porches below

Loudest people on the planet with the loudest children

I can tell you each of their children’s food allergies

Of course they have food allergies

Time to clean up for supper since dinnah at Monticello never appeared

Leaking shower in the bathroom

Engineering will be up shortly

Not until after we’ve gone to supper, please

Mill Room supper

Same family with loud children

Wonderful meal with a wonderful waitress

“I’ll have the fish, just for the halibut”

Again, no one laughs at the Dad jokes


He’s just fishing for something with them

Again, no one laughs

Back to the room where engineering has spread towels on the floor to deal with the leak

You had one job


Jam up there, engineering



No one sleeps well in hotel rooms in our family

Why should tonight be any exception?

Up and at ’em again bright and early

Breakfast at Bodo’s Bagels on Emmet St N by the 250 Bypass

“We got here just in time,” as Chad and Karen are wont to say

Down 250 to 64 to 288

Temperature climbs as we head south

A descent into hell

On I95 through Virginia, and North Carolina, and South Carolina

Discussing essays, short answers, the common app, direct apps, more standardized testing

I don’t think I ever discussed any of that with my parents since I was away at school

Stop for lunch at the Smithfield Barbecue in Lumberton, SC

We love a Smithfield BBQ in North Carolina

We love the people watching

“I have to take your tray to the table, Sir”

“Y’all need any mo’ tea?”

The “Blessed To Be Called Nana” t-shirt will be all the rage this fall

Spotted a Lumbee Homecoming t-shirt for the People of the Dark Water

I’m sure there were some Locklears, Oxendines, Chavises, Hunts, Jacobs, Dials, and Lowrys in there,

Back on the road

More talk of applications, deadlines, release dates, Early Decision, Early Action, schools without the Common App, what’s a reach, what’s a safety, disappointment in life

More talk of the Old Dominion as we cross into South Carolina

Dum Spiro Spero



3 thoughts on “The Old Dominion

  1. My mother’s poorly behaved Wheaton Terrier (terror?) is named Theodosia Burr Allston Duell (Theo for short) in honor of Charlie’s ancestor of your reference. Well, there is that. Also, I fully support and embrace your right to tell dad jokes. We dads must stick together in the face of our humorless offspring. Their turn in the parenting barrel will come, God willing.


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