My goodness. If I'd known that retirement was going to be full of wonderful outings and delicious food, I wouldn't have waited so long.
Quite some time has passed since my sister and I visited our mother's grave in Winchester, so we made plans to go out there today. After the visit, we'd get lunch then come back to my house. It sounds simple but there is a lot of driving involved; Wendy lives in Herndon which is a 90 minute drive from Fredericksburg, and Winchester is another two hours northwest. Bless my sister's heart -- seven hours of driving, not including the drive to the cemetery.
To get to Winchester from my house you take Route 17 North the entire way. Once you get out of Stafford County there is a lot of farmland, horse pastures, rolling hills -- it's all very scenic and pastoral (that is the second time I've used that word in as many posts). The scenery changes slightly as you approach Warrenton, but soon you are back on a two lane highway peppered with signs for the various wineries in the area as well as signs identifying the very stately homes that sit on top of hills and in the valleys.
About 30 miles outside Winchester you come upon the village of Paris, which is nestled in a little valley near the foot of the Blue Ridge. I always thought it was charming and remote, and of course I love the name. As Wendy and I neared Paris I asked if she wanted to drive through the village since she'd never seen it. A quick left turn later and there we were. It is so tiny and sweet -- difficult to imagine it is so close to Washington DC. One of the gems this village boasts is The Ashby Inn and Restaurant, a place I have always wanted to visit. As we drove past we thought it might be nice to see if they were serving lunch so Wendy parked the car and did some recon. When she returned she was giddy with delight -- it was exactly the kind of place she hoped we would find. Out came the wheelchair, then out came I, and up the walk we went. I was very discouraged when we reached the building because there was a flight of stone steps that had to be navigated. Correction: a stone step. A portable ramp had been put down over most of the steps, leaving just the bottom unramped. We were told not to worry, three strong, able-bodied young men would lift me over this step. Naturally I started to laugh and, when they picked me up, I closed my eyes so I would not see what was happening. I will admit to enjoying the hell out of this experience because I felt like I was floating. I couldn't speak because I was laughing and I laughed even harder when we came upon a second -- and then a third -- set of steps. Each time I closed my eyes and each time I experienced the awesomeness of floating.
After visiting the not-very-handicapped-friendly bathroom, we made our way into the dining area, more like a sun room. The colors were bright and cheerful and the windows looked out onto the garden and a very beautifully manicured Dogwood tree. My sister was in raptures, as was I. We were glad of the intermittent rain because it enhanced the green of the garden and kept the sun room from being too warm.
The menu for brunch was unbelievable. For the first course Wendy got the crab and fennel soup with mussels and I got eggs Benedict. Wendy's soup was so amazingly delicious. I have never had a crab soup like it before and doubt I will again. It is something I could eat every single day without tiring of it. My eggs Benedict was equally as delicious, but this soup was unparalleled.
A group of elderly Southern gentility came into the sun room just as we finished this course. They were discussing the menu and wondered aloud about the soup. Being the nosy buttinsky we all know I am, I offered my opinion and told them they could not go wrong if they ordered it. I overheard the gentleman closest to us say, after he finished, that he wished he had a straw so he could get up every last drop. That was not unlike what Wendy said when she finished, only she wanted to lick the bowl instead.
Course number two brought Wendy chicken and waffles (I know!) and I had the shrimp and ham omelette (today was clearly egg day for me). Once again, both were outrageously tasty but the combination of chicken and waffles was unexpected and totally fabulous. When Wendy offered me a third bite, I politely declined. When she insisted, however, I opened my mouth like a baby bird and inhaled it just as greedily. Shameless.
Dessert consisted of Monocacy Crottin cheese with tangerine, rosemary, and crumble. The sharp cheese with the tangy fruit was mouthwatering.
When it was time to leave the three strongmen came to our aid once again; once again I was rendered speechless because I was laughing so hard as I floated -- eyes closed -- down the stairs.
From there we continued on our way to our mother's grave. Unfortunately she is buried in a spot too far for me to get to on foot and my transport chair is not cut out for cross country hikes. I waited in the car while Wendy deposited two roses in the vase. She stood there for a few moments then came back to the car and off we went. It was sad leaving... Mom was alone so much of her life, and she chose a cemetery so far away from us. Just very sad.
The ride home was quiet because of our visit as well as our full tummies. We detoured through Paris and waved at the Inn, then drove on. When we got back to the house, my sister took charge and got me settled before she went on her way.
This time spent with my sister was important and very meaningful. We talked quite a bit about THINGS and I am relieved to know she understands me. I was impressed with her ability to maneuver me in and out and around, considering she's not had to do so before. My sister is very strong... in many ways.
Well, what's on the schedule for next week? The bar has been raised pretty high. I am accepting any and all invitations...
7 hours ago