Thursday, November 22, 2012

The great getaway

It used to be an annual event, the Wehrles and the Egelnicks riding together to go to Richmond, Va., for the Capital of the Confederacy Civil War Show.

But life got in the way the past three years and we couldn't make it.

Until this year.

So last Saturday, we hopped in the Egelnick's vehicle for a much-needed getaway to a really neat city.

My, things have changed.

The show itself has gotten smaller. Held in an agricultural building at the Richmond Fairgrounds, near the speedway, there clearly were fewer vendors. That's OK though. We had a bit more elbow room walking up and down the aisles looking at the artifacts. It's kind of like going to a museum.

Even our wives seem to enjoy it — I think. They check out the estate jewelry and mentally calculate whether or not they can afford the rubies and pearls and diamonds and amethysts from 150 years ago.

Occasionally, Jay and I might buy a memento or two for our own personal collections, but not so much anymore. Even though the economy still suffers, prices on Civil War artifacts seem to be going through the ceiling.

We didn't stay at the show very long and we'd hoped to find rooms at our favorite bed and breakfast in the historic Church Hill district, located near the Shockoe Bottom area. But the B&B has since gone out of business.

We ended up staying at a hotel that was playing host to about 100 pre-teen soccer girls, who took great delight in running up and down the hallways deep into the night. Sigh.

Anyway, a few things haven't changed. We went to the River City Diner and ordered our usual — the Rochester Garbage Plate.

The Rochester Garbage Plate. This one was actually from about four years ago.
I know. It sounds horrible. Garbage Plate. But it tastes great. It's a conglom-eration of baked beans, cole slaw, hash browns, potato salad and two grilled specialty hot dogs sliced in half down the middle, all of it slathered in cheddar cheese.

Yes. It is a heart attack on a plate. But, hey. This happens just one day out of the year. My rationale was that maybe a plate of this stuff would actually slap my A-fib back into rhythm.

In truth, the plate is so large that I split it with my wife. I once could eat large helpings of food, but as I've grown older, I just can't seem to handle it anymore.

The next day is usually reserved for our trip to Fredericksburg, about an hour north of Richmond and another center of Civil War interest. We usually spend a little time on the battlefield, a little time in the bookstore, and then walk through the historic downtown area, which is very pedestrian friendly, and do a little shopping.

Kim patiently waits for her ice cream at Carl's.
Inevitably, we stop at Carl's. (See here)

I discovered Carl's after watching a PBS segment on ice cream several years ago. Kim and I tried it on our own and declared it to be a little piece of heaven. We told the Egelnick's about it, and I've also had an opportunity to take my Civil War Round Table there for a treat.

It's soft-serve ice cream, and sometimes people call it frozen custard, although technically (and maybe legally) it's either one or the other because of the number of egg yolks that are used. In any case, it's an exceptional delight that's been around since 1947.

After our foray into Fredericksburg, we head back to Richmond and do a little more shopping in an old commercial neighborhood called Carytown, which is, interestingly enough, located on Cary Street, near the Fan District.

By this time, we are usually hungry again, and this time, we make our way to Fan District staple Strawberry Street Cafe, which, interestingly enough, is located on Strawberry Street. Even though the place has a varied menu, it has a world class chicken pot pie that I can't refuse. I always order it, without fail.

Our stay in Richmond usually lasts something like 50 hours. But it's 50 hours well spent.

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