Saturday, June 24
After many weeks of careful consideration about how far the car could go, we just drove to the Charlottesville area to go hiking in Shenandoah National Park. Unfortunately, the car decided that it was done. We started up the mountain the transmission started to fail. We tried to make it to the parking area, but realized it just wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully, we were able to pull over to the side of the road and let the car cool for a little while.
We tried to get a little hiking in near where we pulled over — but it was wet, buggy, and gross. After about 20 minutes we gave up and went back to the car. We did see two box turtles on our aborted hiking attempt. We coasted down the mountain and it turned into a scene from the Blues Brothers. We were going 30mph on the highway — just hoping we’d get somewhere. We put something like 4 quarts of transmission fluid into the car — all with a helpful local watching and chatting with Art. The fluid didn’t help particuarly, so we decided to try and make it over to the C-ville airport and rent a car to get home. Thankfully, the long-term parking was pretty cheap.
Since the hiking was a bust, we decided to still have a little fun and continue on the second half of the weekend’s adventure. We headed over to Horton Vineyards. It’s a terrible website, but a nice winery. Acutally, they are considered one of the best winery/vineyard’s on the East Coast. Art had brought home a bottle of their Pear Port when he did the Crozet Show — and it was so fabulous I wanted more. We did quite the tasting (it’s free) and then bought a few bottles to take home. Besides the Pear Port we also really liked the Vintage Port and the Viognier Reserve (2001).
Sunday, June 25
Now, back to the dead car issue. We knew the car was dying — and actually had already arranged for a car loan and done lots of research on what kind of car we were going to get. So on Sunday we checked a bunch of auto dealer websites and got a list of all the people selling Honda Elements in our area at the price and mileage range we wanted. We headed out with list in hand to buy a car. Note — always bring the list with you. I don’t think the dealer would have given us the car at the price if we hadn’t waived the Web page with the car and price in front of him. Plus, when he played the, “you won’t find this car for this price any where else game,” — we said, “Oh — really….”.
Now we are the proud owners of a 2004 blue Honda Element (I guess it’s water?).
Saturday, July 1
Back to C-ville! We ended up having to keep the rental car all week and return it to C-ville – or pay penalties. So off we went. We returned the car and moved the wagon to a parking lot where the people we are donating it to could get it. It did actually make it under its own power. Then we picked up lunch at a bakery we read about in the Washington Post. They definitely didn’t disappoint — both the lunch and pastries were great. We headed back to the mountain that killed wagon for a picnic and hiking.
It was a nice 6-mile hike along the AT, from Swift Run Gap to South River in the Shenandoah National Park. The highlight was two bear sightings! We saw a larger bear with one (or two) yearlings ambling through the woods, and then joined a whole group of people on the side of the road later to watch a mama-bear and two adorable cubs! We also had a great encounter with a deer and fawn. The fawn did some adorable frolicking for us. Oh — and we saw a toad. Toad’s a bit anti-climactic, I know — but we actually saw it first.
Sunday, July 2
I think we’re off to the National Portrait Gallery today. It’s re-opened after many years, and I want to go and see it. It’s a pretty big deal here in DC. We were going to the Folklife Festival, but I just can’t get into it any more. I think the Smithsonian has just done a rotten job the past few years, and taken it in a terrible direction. Between the tourists and the heat — I don’t feel like going if it’s not going to be good.
[tags]charlottesville, cville, shenandoah, at, patc, hiking, bears, horton vineyards, wine, food, bakeries, element, honda[/tags]