June 17th, 2014 / posted by paularath
A Civil War Battlefield in the rain. Photo by Jerry Mayfield

A Civil War Battlefield in the rain.            Photo by Jerry Mayfield

If you ask Jerry to name his favorite place to visit in the South, he will say without hesitation: The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

The valley is a little reminiscent of Umbria, Italy, with rolling hills and verdant countryside, speckled with prosperous farms and cattle ranches. It’s also a little like Napa Valley with numerous vineyards (24 and counting) – but without any crowds.

And of course there is history all around, particularly Civil War history. We visited the Virginia Museum of the Civil War, which is run by the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). They’ve done a beautiful job of preserving and communicating history. They show a film that enacts the first battle ever fought by the men (boys, really, as they were teens) of VMI. The battle was held in the field you see above, which is called “the field of the lost boots.” It was so muddy during the battle that the soldiers all stepped right out of their boots, leaving them in the mud. It happened to pour rain while we were in the museum, which seemed most appropriate and certainly helped to set the mood.

Virginia Wolf Gap winery

If you go to the Shenandoah Valley, please remember that most of the wineries are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. we did find one that was open, however: Wolf Gap Winery. It’s run by a couple that spends a lot of time in Hawaii. They are quite experimental with their wines; they even have a blueberry wine. My fave was the Chambourcin, a yummy full-bodied red.

View from "my" soaking tub at Young Manor.

View from “my” soaking tub at Young Manor.

We stayed in a beautiful B&B called Young Manor. It’s a gorgeous mansion perched on a hilltop and run by Diane and Stan Young. My favorite spot in the whole house was the soaking tub with a view of the mountains and total privacy to just soak and relax.

Young Manor has some unusual amenities, such as a full-on game room, complete with pool table, card table and wide screen TV to watch sports. There is a large sloping lawn with picnic tables and Jerry and I turned a table into our painting studio for a day. Jerry gave me a lesson in how to paint atmospheric perspective, which is something that really inspires us when we’re in the the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the Carolinas. It’s simply beautiful, with the layers and layers of mountains. The subtle colors change from purples to grays to blues, depending on the time of day and the ever-changing light. The sunrises are spectacular!

The game room at Young Manor.

The game room at Young Manor. This only shows half the room – it’s huge!

Although Young Manor feels like it’s totally out in the country, just a couple of miles away is a resort called Bryce (just like the national park in Utah). It’s a ski resort in the winter and a golf resort in the summer. Stan was nice enough to loan his golf clubs to Jerry. I rode along and Jerry played really well, especially considering it was a course he had never played and clubs he had never played with.

Jerry on the 17th hole at Bryce Golf Course.

Jerry on the 17th hole at Bryce Golf Course.

The Bryce Resort seems to be targeting mountain bikers and zip line addicts, having just installed extensive facilities for both. They also have tennis courts and a swimming pool. There are lots of condos around the resort, and more to come. The catch is that you have to become a member of the Bryce Resort in order to take advantage of all the facilities. (Except golf, which is very reasonable, especially after 4 p.m. And it’s light enough to play until after 8 p.m!)

Looking down at the Young Manor living room from upstairs.

Looking down at the Young Manor living room from upstairs.

Lots of folks from the Washington, D.C. area go to the Shenandoah Valley to unwind and recharge. If we lived a bit closer to Virginia, we would too.

For more about the B&B, go to: www.youngmanor.net.

By the way, I have always thought Shenandoah was a beautiful name. Come to find out it means “Daughter of the Stars.” Sigh!

– Paula Rath

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