|The Tootsie Roll|
You see, with all its wondrous features, the Box is a wee bit narrow for two adults to sit comfortably side-by-side for hours at a time. (For some reason, Susanne has resisted the idea that she have her left arm amputated to provide more room in the car.) Because we have been wanting to make a visit to Susanne's sister Robin at Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and to the Biltmore House at Asheville, it seemed the right time to bite the bullet and get a new, larger vehicle. And, like icing on a cupcake, Robin wanted to buy Susanne's low-mileage Subaru.
Nice as it is, the Sienna has none of the panache of the Classic xB that we all know and love. Its shape reminds me of a church-made Easter egg or a Tootsie Roll, elongated and rounded, even swirly, with none of the squared-off corners that raise my temperature. It does have heated leather seats, and a navigation system you can talk to, doors that open like magic, and a push-button start (didn't we have that feature 40 years ago?). It's got a moon-roof and satellite radio (but only until the free period runs out), and something like 14 cup holders. Oh, and it's Predawn Grey Mica in color. They used to call that dark grey.
Well, when we left town to head to W-S, we left the Box for his annual spa treatment at the Scion dealer. It must have felt so good to get clean oil, new hoses, filters, and fluids. And a nice shower at the end. The dealer takes your car back to your house for you, so the Box stood guard in the driveway during our absence, fooling all those "mean guys" who want our Lesterware.
After unpacking, we strolled along the main street and window shopped. We had a nice meal at a bistro-style place. I had some of the best eggplant ever.
|A lovely tea service from Replacements.|
Then it was back to I-81 to continue on to meet Susanne's sister Robin at her place of employment, Replacements, Ltd., outside Greensboro, NC. We let the lady in the navigation system guide us, and we took a nice scenic route. I was hoping it was an efficient route, too. We hung around in Replacements a bit and then met with Robin and a notary to sign some papers transferring the Subaru to Robin's ownership. I enjoyed searching for a bargain (few and far between) and ogling the gorgeous sterling silver tea services with their mile-high price tags.
|Robin and Ellen's parlor|
The house is spectacular, colorful, comfortable, and just like something out of a book on decorating. Our several days spent there were very comfortable and enjoyable. We had several great meals at local restaurants, joining Robin and Ellen's friends on two occasions, and shopped in some cool "funky" stores for home decorating.
We enjoyed presenting Robin and Ellen with a housewarming gift, paintings of the famous local Star Barn done on a box Robin had purchased last year. The artist was our talented friend Jane, whose distinctive style captured the decline of the Star Barn, which happily seems to be headed for restoration and moving to a new site away from the Interstate.
Soon it was time to take our leave. Susanne and I headed south toward Asheville, a great town nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. It's known for its fine arts and crafts and its somewhat relaxed and Bohemian atmosphere. We checked into the Homewood Suites, which would be our base of operations for the next four days.
Like Staunton, Asheville has great old architecture. And around the entrance to Biltmore House there are a lot of shops housed in 1900s-era buildings. One of the churches I visited was located there. Even McDonald's was housed in a new building sympathetic to the old ones.
|Dolly welcomes Susanne to Tennessee.|
We drove until we reached Lexington, Virginia, home of Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. It's a lovely southern town with narrow streets, very historic in feeling. We pulled up to the1868 Magnolia House Inn, where we were warmly greeted by our host and shown to the Equestrian Suite at the top of the stairs. It was comfy and had a fireplace and fine linens and was full of "stuff" that made it feel like someone's house and not a hotel. The living room, where we spent only a few minutes during our stay, had the same feeling.
|The 1868 Magnolia Inn|
After breakfast it was back to the highway for the last leg of the journey.
We had considered stopping in Baltimore to see our family there, but by that time I had developed a nasty cold, so I was not being very good company and pretty contagious. We went straight home instead, tired but happy to have seen Robin and Ellen and to have visited a beautiful area of our country that was largely unknown to us Yankees.
If you can stand it, continue on to see some photos of our trip.
The main street of Staunton, Va., is a poster for
historic preservation. On the other end of the street
is Woodrow Wilson's birthplace.
A display of colorful pitchers at Replacements, Ltd.
This sterling punch bowl would look nice on our
side table. It's only $10,000. Donations accepted.
Ellen and Robin's beautiful old-fashioned
back porch, complete with sky blue ceiling.
Ellen and Robin admire the Star Barn box.
Robin's cat (one of two) sittin' pretty.
Robin gives Susanne a birthday gift --
the coveted Turkish olive bucket!
Guess who now has this half-a-Dutch-
barn-door to hang over their
living room fireplace.
Here I am in front of the famous staircase
at Biltmore House, patterned after one in a French castle.
I could not help inserting this photo
of the original staircase at Blois.
We liked the European atmosphere of this
courtyard, created by the house on the left and
the elaborate stables on the right.
The Bake Shop kept calling to us. We
had a sandwich while others enjoyed
snickerdoodles and other treats.
The aforementioned snickerdoodles.
Susanne peeking out from a porch.
These flappers were taking a break in the Biltmore gift shop.
I admired this architectural detail on the
stable. Is it a milk bottle?
The Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls
stands just outside Biltmore's gates.
The church is square inside and quite ornate.
Even McDonald's, around the corner from the church,
has an early 20th-century look.
Here's downtown Asheville.
Architectural salvage in an old tobacco warehouse.
The Woolworth's lunch counter.
This public art graced the street in Asheville.
This town had a nice streetscape, too.
Asheville's Basilica of St. Lawrence, features
Here is the interior of the Basilica.
We stopped at the Folk Art Center on the Blue
Ridge Parkway. They show contemporary versions
of traditional arts and crafts.
This is the cool Tennessee Welcome Center
where we met Dolly Parton.
The main bedroom of the Equestrian Suite
at the Magnolia Inn in Lexington.
There was a second room in the suite for people who snore.
Our suite was right at the top of the stairs.
Mmm, mmm, the blueberry French toast.
It was grey and dreary, but the sky was dramaticover the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.
Crazy, I know, but I always feel we are back homewhen we pass the big paint can near Chambersburg.