Ken Plum: A Virginia staycation

Taking a break can be good for one’s mental and physical health. If time and resource limitations stand in the way of a traditional vacation, I heartily recommend a staycation or better yet several of them over a period of time. These short breaks from routine activities of life and work can be energizing and invigorating. You save the money of a hotel by sleeping at home with short trips away during the day. And you save time by not traveling a long distance.

ken plumVirginia is one of the best places I know for a staycation. I offer several examples here and will in future columns, but I in no way will exhaust the list of things to see and do. I’ll leave out amusement parks for they are well known. Keep an open mind and approach your day away from your responsibilities–with or without others–with a positive attitude and let yourself be entertained and educated by what is around you.

No reservations are needed and on the day of your staycation do not schedule anything in the evening so you won’t be concerned as to what time you return. If you can pay for a night or two away, consider a bed and breakfast or a small cabin or camp if you are up to it. I have yet to try Airbnb, but it seems like a fine option.

One great example of a staycation is to head south to Jefferson’s home Monticello. It will take about two and half hours, or longer depending on your stops along the way, to get to this wonderful historic site. Leaving a little early in the morning will allow time for periodic stops and a more relaxing trip.

If you’re heading out early you may not be ready on the way down to stop at Smokin Billy’s Bar-B-Q, but note the location of his trailer alongside Route 29 (5282 Lee Highway) before you get to Warrenton for your stop on the way back. If it’s smoking, stop! Hours are 11:00 to 8:00, Thursday through Saturday.

Further on down Route 29 past Warrenton is Moo-Thru–“real ice cream from real dairy farmers.” You will recognize it by the lines of people outside. It will make you forget your worries.

Follow the signs in Charlottesville to get to Monticello, Italian for little mountain, Jefferson’s home that he spent about 40 years building. Even if you do not like history, you will come to respect even more the genius of Thomas Jefferson, architect, builder, philosopher, scientist, farmer, and as he asked to be remembered, “Author of the Declaration of Independence, Statute of Virginia Religious Freedom, and Founder of the University of Virginia.” Learn the critical role of slaves in building and running his estate. Discuss on the way home the contradictions in his statement that “all men are created equal” and his ownership of slaves.

Head home and get some ice cream or bar-b-que or stop at Yoder’s Market on Route 29 for some interesting shopping or eating. It will be a full but restful day. I look forward to going on another staycation with you in the near future.

Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

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