It all began on a Friday afternoon. Here are the girls:
We had a loose weekend itinerary. We wanted to be sure we took in some new places and made great memories, and we also wanted to be sure we had time to lounge and relax. The weather cooperated beautifully: sunny and in the late 80’s to early 90’s. Our first order of business was a wine tasting at a local winery.
The fun started with the drive to Old House Vineyards. I lived in Northern Virginia several years ago, but I’ve never seen Virginia like this before. It’s a love affair for me. Since I’m fairly to new to town, I get excited anytime we’re driving in a new direction and taking a way out of the neighborhood that I’ve not yet seen. The road to Old House was stunning. One mile out of the city, we found ourselves surrounded by country life and lush greenery. Old House itself was no disappointment. It looked like this:
Inside, we had a blast! There is nothing more rich than a mahogany tasting room.
And nothing more delicious than a glass of wine poured by someone who knows exactly how to describe it.
Afterward, we took a bottle of wine out to the island.
We liked what we tasted and brought a case of wine back home. It was a lovely and peaceful start to the weekend, but it would soon take a strange and amusing twist. After the winery, we headed to downtown Culpeper–a very small and boutique-y main street. I had heard great things about some local restaurants, but we skipped those and went to a pub that had a wooden deck attached for outdoor sitting and drinking.
I noticed the spot we chose the previous week when my family and I headed downtown for the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. It was daylight then, but I could see strings of twinkle lights and the entrance to the bar. I imagined a lit-up night scene with good music wafting down to the street below. I could practically picture my friends and I at one of the tables.
Cut back to girls’ weekend. We walked into the pub, which was entirely empty at 6:00 pm. The wait staff looked confused by our presence. One very brave waiter approached us to find out what we were doing there. He stood in front of all the empty tables and said, “Can I help you?”
I was the local, so I had to take the initiative. I said, “Do you serve dinner?”
He answered my question with one of his own, “Dinner?” He was so puzzled, and this should have been a red flag. As he stood in front of all of his empty restaurant tables, we could watch him wondering what we might be talking about: You mean, you want to eat here?
The waiter then offered to put us at the closest table. I mean, he saw it right next to him, and again, we could see his thought process: Why, they could sit right here! But, I asked if he could take us outside, like I’d imagined it. My idea pleased him, he was having one a-ha moment after another: We do! We have tables outside! Where you could eat!
Once seated, everything came back to the wait staff as they shuffled around us. Our waiter brought menus, but the main dishes were highly priced and the selection was limited. We finally allowed ourselves the idea that this wasn’t a good place to order dinner, so instead, we decided to stay for a drink and then go somewhere where we could eat and see the Pens game. Dee and I ordered a glass of wine to compliment that which we’d already been drinking, Jodi ordered a dirty martini, and Paula ordered a rum and coke.
The wine came quickly, but the mixed drinks didn’t. Dee and I sipped our wine for about 10 minutes before the first mixed drink showed up: rum and coke. Only, it was a splash of rum and seltzer water they had somehow turned cola-colored, not coke. Five minutes later, when Jodi’s dirty martini came, Paula asked for a replacement rum and coke. Minutes after that, Jodi realized that the dirty martini had a bug in it. The rum and coke came back with a splash of rum and another substitute for cola–Paula’s best guess? Diet Mr. Pibb.
At that point, Paula felt as though she was paying $8 for a virgin Rum and Diet Mr. Pibb, Jodi felt she’d had one too many sips on her buggy martini, and Dee had finished her wine but found a giant crack in her water-glass. When the waiter came back, we explained everything all over again. I said, “Why don’t you comp us for the mixed drinks we didn’t drink and just charge us for the two glasses of wine?” After some discussion inside, the restaurant found this was a reasonable solution and we were ready to go.
Well, we thought we were ready to go, until Jodi called for the waiter to come back. She wanted a shot of tequilla before we left for the next spot. The other two of my friends started fussing, but I was not nearly so subtle. In front of the waiter, and at my friend, I shouted, “NOOOOOOoooooooooo!”
I would give anything to see behind-the-scenes footage from inside the restaurant. The waiter disappeared again for a heavy five minutes. The next time we saw him, he was coming through another entrance with a bottle of tequilla, as if he had just gone out and purchased it. “Almost ready,” he said.
That point in the weekend was one of the most entertaining events of my life. I had tears streaming down my face from all that had happened. Confused service. Bugs in our drinks. Bad mixes. A broken glass. Adjusted tab. 45 minutes of our night. And my friend, after all of it, Oh, do you know what you can get me? Do you know what would just be so great right now? One shot of tequilla, please.
Well, after that we headed to Glory Days, where we were pleased to find a Pittsburgh Steelers banner on the wall and the Pens game on the TV. The bartenders served us no bugs, broken glass, or bad soda mix. Instead, they brought us delicious drinks and great food. Afterward, we headed home to find that my husband had started us a bonfire in the backyard fire pit. We carried on into the night . . .
For Saturday morning, we planned a hike in the Shenandoah Mountains. We left my house fairly early and drove about an hour to get to our trail, the Rose River Loop. It was a pretty relaxed hike and it promised waterfalls and streams on the path.
We took a leisurely pace and found the waterfall within a half an hour.
Right after that, the most bewildering thing happened. We came to a fork in the road. To the left was a post marking a smaller trail.
To the right of this Rose River trail was a much larger, unmarked trail path.
Now, I hardly know how to tell the story of our getting lost. It started right here with the trail marker. We were baffled by this signage and the look of the trail. It was slightly narrow, much different from the trail we had just come down, and the path to the right (the wrong way) looked wide and inviting. There were other people around, and they were following this marker, but we took very little notice of them as we weighed our options. In fact, we thought we’d be adventurous and try this here trail.
Not to say that we weren’t questioning ourselves along the way. In fact, the last thirty minutes of our wrong-way trek were spent arguing over what had happened and rationalizing the choices we’d made. The only reason we stopped going the wrong way is because we came across a dropping–right in the middle of our trail–that looked like something the size of a bear would’ve pooped. At that point, we started to think of all of the other people we came across at the waterfall, and where were they?
We went into the woods at about 11:30 and came out hours later, sweaty, dirty, and with bugs on us. We were starving and didn’t care, so we actually went to Ruby Tuesday’s in our hiking clothes and the lady at the door asked if we were coming from the gym. I wish. And what if we looked like that in regular life, all the time? That comment would’ve been offensive! Honestly, I’ve never come to the dinner table so filthy in my whole life. But because we’d been starving and lost in the woods, it was a life or death situation and Ruby Tuesday’s was our feast of choice.
After that, I was too tired to take any more pictures. We came home, cleaned up, and drank a bucket of margaritas. The end. 🙂