Thursday, July 3, 2014

Travels with Friends

Our next excursion was to historic Staunton, VA.  Originally called Beverley’s Mill Place, the town was established in 1746 and is located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. It is the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson and the home of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library.  

Our focus on this trip, however, was Blackfriars Playhouse, a replica of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Theatre.  I wish photos inside the theater had been allowed, but as is often the case, I'll just have to remember it. Blackfriars Playhouse is home to the American Shakespeare Center, a theatrical company which performs fifty-two weeks a year and also tours throughout the United States.  

For the 2014 Spring Season, the performances included Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, Part I.  We were able to see both Merry Wives and Henry IV, and thoroughly enjoyed them.  The actors play multiple roles in all three plays, and I can’t imagine how they keep all their lines straight…but they do!

Since we were visiting on the weekend, Eugenia’s husband, George, and our good friend Renee O’Brien were able to join us.  Here is a shot of the four of us having an early dinner at Zynoda Restaurant before going to the theater.  

And here is a view of some of Staunton's beautiful old buildings from my room in the historic Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

After an all-too-short visit, we headed back to Alexandria, stopping on the way for incredible burgers in Luray, VA, at Uncle Bucks Restaurant.  Then we traveled a few more miles to the lovely Cross Keys Winery and Vineyard to sample some of Virginia’s very good wines. 

Before returning to Austin, Eugenia and I drove out to Arlington National Cemetery, where the cherry trees as well as many other flowers were in bloom.  Fortunately, a cloudy sky kept down the mid-day contrast and allowed the colors to really pop.  

While there, we visited the Columbarium, where George’s parents are interred, as well as the grave of Colonel Charles Douglas Cochran, husband of Carolyn Stinson Cochran, one of my Hamilton classmates.  

While driving through the cemetery, we saw the funeral cortege and honor guard for someone about to be interred.  It was very moving, even if we did not know the person. 

As usual, I had a wonderful time in Alexandria and the Washington, DC, area.  Not only did I get to spend time with very good friends, but I had four-legged companions as well.  Eugenia and George have four cats, two Himalayans, Maji and Nadi, and two lovely pearl gray shorthairs, appropriately named Pearl and Mini-Pearl.  Maji and Mini-Pearl are very shy, and I hardly saw them.  Not so with Nadi and Pearl.  They were my frequent visitors, and Pearl even “welcomed” me (or maybe claimed me) by peeing in my suitcase.  After that, she slept on my bed and was happy to pose for my camera.

Nadi was not so demonstrative, and mostly kept her inscrutable, sphinx-like demeanor when she wasn’t rubbing my leg to invite me to stroke her.

As always, my visit seemed all too short, but I left for home knowing that Eugenia would be back in Austin in a couple of months.

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