Bonus: Jutta's Solo Week

Cape Hatteras

As the date of the QuitZeitreise 2010 departure to Virginia, USA approached, I suddenly thought that it would be really nice to have one week of free vagabonding before the group arrived. I do love travelling with quilt groups, but of course being somewhat responsible for so many people is not always RELAXING.

So I stepped on the plane exactly one week before the group was to arrive in Washington DC. As usual, I had asked for the smallest car available, both for environmental and personal reasons. At home, I drive a small car even for European standards and tend to feel a little lost in big American vehicles.

Well, not everything in life turns out as you envisage it. I ended up driving around in a very smart , if not a bit oversized, purple Chevy:

Chevy

I started my trip with some leisurely wandering through the Virginian countryside. My first destination was Madison, a small town in the Piedmont area, which promised an Apple Harvest Festival and a quilt shop. I couldn’t find the Apple Harvest Festival, but the quilt shop was more than enough compensation.

That little Quilt Shop

“That little Quilt Shop” [Link einfügen] is a wonderful shop housed in a former Presbyterian Church built in 1850. The shop offers a full range of fabrics, quilting tools and notions and is well worth a visit. I especially liked the excellent selection of reproduction fabrics. To this very day I regret that I put back the pre Civil War bundle which I had carried around with me the whole time I was there. ;-)

On my way to Fredericksburg and my next motel, I stopped for a leisurely stroll over the Spotsylvania Battlegrounds.

Spotsylvania

When I visited the Gettysburg battlefields in 2006, I realized that for me it is unimportant how much time has passed since the fighting, killing and dying took place. I am always deeply touched by how many young people lost their lives for, to me, very questionable reasons and how little mankind has learnt since. That’s why I am not a good battlefield tourist and try to block out the historic background as soon as I have ingested the most basic information from the information bulletins.

As soon as I am able, I try to focus on the scenery and, in this case, enjoy the autumn sun that was shining as if there was a competition.

Spotsylvania

Spotsylvania

I even found a few mushrooms that strongly resemble mushrooms we have here in Europe. Luckily for the mushrooms, I was brought up with a deep respect for the years of knowledge you need to go on a mushroom foray and left them where they were.

Mushrooms

When I arrived in Fredericksburg, it was already time for dinner. True to my resolve to “Eat as much crab as you can get”, I went to a Joe’s Crab Shack restaurant. The poor waitress really had to earn her tip! I hadn’t eaten crab legs before and was at first a little nonplussed by the task that lay before me. But I have a persevering nature and I think I did quite well in the end…

The next day I was again woken by radiant sunshine. This was fortunate because I had planned to explore the Northern Neck, a peninsula that is bordered by the estuaries of the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers and juts out into the Chesapeake Bay.

My first stop was the Caledon Natural Area which I had visited during my 2006 trip. I decided to hike the Boyd’s Hole Trail to get a good look at the Potomac River and perhaps even at a few bald eagles.

Caledon

I got a very nice view over the Potomac River…

… but the Bald Eagles which I had thought I had seen were probably “only” Ospreys. This I learnt from a friendly gentleman whom I met on my way back to the parking lot. We had a very nice and very interesting talk about the USA and Germany in general and in particular. ;-)

After this refreshing experience it was high time to get into the car again. There is a lot to see and do in this area and you are treading on history wherever you go. If you can’t spend several days here, you will have to make a selection.

I had decided to skip most attractions to leave more time for my next destination: the George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument.

George's Birthplace

In the background, you can see the memorial house and the kitchen building. In the foreground, the outline of the original farmhouse building is marked with white sand.

In the memorial house, you will find two quilts and a very interesting bedspread among many other artefacts worth admiring. My question as to whether the quilts were originals was answered in the affirmative. However, quite frankly, after giving the matter some thought, I doubt this very much. Every textile curator would have a heart attack seeing quilts dating back to the 18th century lying around without temperature and humidity control. ;-) Never the less, the quilts and the bedspread are very beautiful and a must for every textile lover.

The grounds of the museum are delightful  and encourage a walk around whilst pondering how much less peaceful life must have been at the time George Washington was born.

Museum

After dutifully admiring the replica of the Washington Monument you can see in the background above, I returned to my car to continue my travels.

My next stop should have been a lovely quilt shop in Reedville which is located almost at the very tip of the Northern Neck. Unfortunately, research prior to my trip had failed to reveal the fact that this shop is closed on Mondays. From what I could glimpse from outside, “Material Girl” very much justifies a visit and I hope that I will come to Reedville again in the future, preferably of course not on a Sunday or a Monday… ;-)

After this lamentably fruitless detour, I really had to step on it (within the speed limits of course!) to arrive at my next motel in Norfolk, Virginia.

The next day dawned with a beautiful sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay:

Sunrise

The word “highlight” has become quite threadbare from extensive use, but it still comes to mind when I think back to this day. My agenda was based, I have to admit, on my rather too optimistic assessment of the distance I had to cover. I wanted to drive down to North Carolina Outer Banks and see as many of the five lighthouses as possible. Well. I have recently read a quote by Herbert von Karajan, the famous conductor: “If you achieve all your objectives, they were not ambitious enough.” ;-)

But let’s go back to the beginning of the day. I am really grateful to the Wright brothers for their endeavours to prove that men can actually fly. I don’t like boats (excepting paddleboats ;-) and therefore planes are my only means of transport when I have to cross huge expanses of water. So I absolutely had to pay my respects at the Wright Brothers National Memorial:

Brothers Wright

Monument

Plaque

While driving, I realized that I would have to content myself with two lighthouses as I was absolutely determined to reach Cape Hatteras. So I went first to Bodie Island Lighthouse and visited both the shop and the small museum housed in the former lighthouse keepers’ house.

Bodie Island

Despite the scaffolding you see in the picture, Bodie Island Lighthouse is a very nice lighthouse. Most probably, its surroundings are also very attractive, but even in late October, there were far too many mosquitoes around to make hiking at all agreeable. Which was probably a good thing, because there were still quite a few miles to cover to reach Cape Hatteras Lighthouse:

Cape Hatteras

Having driven along beaches for almost the entire day, I was overjoyed finally to have the opportunity to get sand in my sandals, spend some time walking on the beach and gazing out over the Atlantic:

Beach

Beach

Beach

After I had absorbed as much sunshine and sea air as possible, I took a final, farewell look at this very smart and sophisticated lighthouse (diagonal stripes! ;-) and headed north back to Virginia.

Cape Hatteras

The grey clouds that greeted me the next morning foretold what I would face weather-wise  the entire day.

Clouds

During my visit to the Jamestown Settlement, however, I was quite lucky as the clouds kept most of their raindrops.

Jamestown Settlement

In spite of this, I felt compelled to race through the museum at full trot  and didn’t take much time to explore thoroughly.

Indian Settlement

My favourite area in the museum was the American Indian settlement. And I was very impressed by the ships the first settlers used to travel to the New World:

Ships

As I have mentioned before, I don’t like boats. And I SHUDDER at the thought of sailing in one of these boats in calm waters, let alone across the Atlantic…

When I left the museum, it was already pouring with rain. Therefore I decided to proceed to Richmond, my next destination, as quickly as possible and without any more detours.

However, one stop had to remain on the agenda for the day. My good friend Derry, who had lived in Richmond for some years, recommended a quilt shop in Midlothian, a suburb of Richmond.

Quilter's Corner

Quilter’s Corner is a wonderful quilt shop. The shop interior is very clearly arranged and has a lot of light. Despite being full to the brim with fabric, books and notions, you never experience the slightly claustrophobic sensation often felt  in shops with very small rooms.

Since I had a lunch date the next day with Carol Miller, owner of the Quilt University, I spent the morning in the hotel catching up on e-mails and whatever else had to be done. Carol was kind enough to pick me up from the hotel and we had a great chat over sushi and other Japanese delicacies. After lunch we went to another fantastic quilt shop called Quilt Adventures (sorry, no pictures!). If you are in Richmond, you absolutely have to go! You could probably spend a week there and wouldn’t have seen everything. Which is probably a good thing to prevent your credit card from self-combusting.

In the afternoon, I decided to brave the Richmond traffic and visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. At the time of my visit, some magnificent quilts from the Winterthur Museum in Delaware were on display. I found the entrance fee a little excessive, but the quilts appeased me very quickly. In the end, I even bought the book which accompanies the exhibition although it is hardcover and therefore not at all suitable for the limitations of air travel.

VMFA

Before I left Richmond the next day to drive north and back to the outskirts of Washington DC, I visited the Valentine Richmond History Center. This was recommended to me by Pam Stewart, curator at the Loudoun Museum in Leesburg, because of the extensive textile collection the Valentine possesses.

Valentine

Unfortunately, the textile department was closed and I had to content myself with the permanent exhibition. However, the permanent exhibition is very interesting and the house itself and its garden are absolutely beautiful.

Valentine

After a quick, but very tasty lunch provided by the museum’s little cafeteria, I retrieved my car from the parking lot opposite the museum’s entrance and drove north to Leesburg.

Gazebo

Fall Foliage

The next day marked the end of my solo week and the start of QuiltZeitReise 2010.

Before I went to the airport to return the car and welcome the quilting ladies, I made the short trip from Leesburg to Waterford. Waterford is a very picturesque village which used to be quite prosperous before the Civil War, but never recovered from the destruction it suffered during the conflict.

Waterford Mill

Waterford Church


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