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Monday, November 16, 2015

A weekend in Staunton, VA


I arrived at the Staunton KOA in Walnuts Hills just before noon on Friday the 13th. Four Shakespeare plays in three days, Yippee! So far on this trip I haven’t had the door of the Scamp facing south, which would be very advantageous this time of the year. In fact both sites had be facing due north. Advantage is sun rises on bedside of Scamp and it sets on tableside. This is a very nice campground. I have easy access to Staunton, which is what I wanted and easy access to road to next destination, the Smokies. After setting camp and taking a shower, I headed to Staunton, easy peasy, 15-20 minute ride. Got reacquainted and on way to the brewery I knew was across from the Black Dog Bike Shop, I found another brewery, that had a parking spot available in front of it. Shenandoah Valley Brewing was across from the railroad station and the Depot, a fun restaurant. I had a flight and took a growler of their Valley Rye IPA. I do love rye beers. There was a hint of smokiness to it. The owner was an old Navy guy who retired here to brew beer. Refreshed, I went to the glass blowing studio and perused their floor stock that was for sale. I walked next door to the brewery and it was closed. They open at 4PM. I didn’t want to wait. Tomorrow they open at 1PM, so I’ll wait till then. I drove home and had a glass of Rye IPA and some Taramosalata on rosemary crackers while sitting outside in the brilliance and warmth of the sun as it set. Then without warning the chill descended and drove me indoors to enjoy the western sky from the cocoon I call home. All in all, the Scamp is very comfortable in these conditions. The hi’s are mid 60’s while the low’s are low 30’s. Again glad I’m going south and out of the mountains. I will be returning back through the mountains in mid December though.
I drove into town about 5PM, little to no traffic. I get into town and onto East Beverley and find a parking spot. I decide to go to the Redbeard Brewing Company, the one I missed earlier and have waited for since I heard it was going to be a brewery, two years ago. The place was packed. It turned out they were introducing a trio of Moriarty beers, all at 10.0% abv, YIKES! I had three small glasses of their normal beers and loved all three. I had a tasty English Brown Ale, A Black Rye IPA, and a sweet potato IPA. I will go back for the Rye and taste the deadly trio. One of them got great reviews from those around me. I left there, reluctantly, and headed to Zynodoa for dinner. I sat at the bar as I had last time I was here. I sat on the corner next to a very lovely couple from Washington and had a house here. Zynodoa was their favorite eatery and they knew everyone. Ironically they always ate the same food, so when the oysters they normally had were replaced by scallops he was flummoxed. I had the duck pate to start and a Covina prepared with local veggies. We had a grand conversation and the time flew. At 7:20 I headed to The Blackfriars Playhouse to enjoy a performance of Antony and Cleopatra. I know the play, but have never seen it performed. The playhouse is magnificent. It is a bit different from the two theaters in England. The stage has a flat back with two big grand wooden doors on either side of a large opening in the middle draped with large velvet curtains. Above, three balconies from which musicians are playing as entertainment and accompaniment for the pre show buffoonery that usually mark a Shakespeare play. A man and a woman on stage and she is trying to clean up his act, his mouth as it were, so he promises to keep it clean and of course she takes over as a bawdy wench. He of course must bite his tongue. This serves as a great segue for them to remind us that we are about to see an adult love story, not a childish churlish romance like Romeo and Juliet, but an adult love story. When the play opens A&C are frolicking in a tame Plato’s retreat environment, with a eunuch fanning the pair as they roll around on a large fluffy rug and lots of pillows speaking of politics as they enjoy each other, sex and politics, strange bedfellows. Around them watching and partaking themselves are aides from both A&C entourages. It is quite the hook to capture the audience. The story we all know all too well unfolds and concludes, as we know it must and will, and always has. The production was first rate and the cast obviously enjoyed itself as they interacted well with the audience. Their wasn’t a groundling area per se, but they did have 6-7 chairs onstage on either side. It was to these audience members the cast interacted. After the play, I came home; I was exhausted so I fell right into bed. I sleep better on the road it seems. I woke twice to my own heater going on, though I was snug as a bug in a rug. I didn’t wake to hear campers leaving. I crawled, not hopped, out of bed, it was 8:30. I made tea and oatmeal, which always warms the camper instantly. I stepped outside, it was very cool, but not as windy, but still windy. I’m in a valley now so there is more protection. The sun is bright and warm in a cloudless sky. I take a walk bundled up. I forgot my scarf, damn!!! I just forgot to pack it. I have to put a scarf in the Scamp and leave it here! I walked by the playground, the pond, to the bathhouse and spoke to one of the owners. He and his wife had worked a KOA in Delaware Water Gap before coming down here to run this one. I knew the area, not the KOA, well since I used to canoe from Milford to the Gap and beyond once to Washington Crossing. I strolled back to my site and noticed the fire of the campers who had just left was still going. I grabbed my shovel, gloves, and fire tongs and went over to collect all the burning and none burned wood in the shovel and brought it back to my pit which was filled with twigs I had gathered. What a treat to have a little fire, because I wasn’t planning on making a fire until Sunday, since I was doing these plays all night. I got my chair and tea and sat facing the fire with my back to the sun, delightful.
Big day today, two plays, a matinee and an evening show. I didn’t plan on coming back between shows so I packed clothes for the evening performance. I started the day at noon at the Shenandoah Brewery and a glass of the Rye to start the day. I had a nice chat with the owner and his wife. A dream comes true for both of them. They have a great brewery in a fabulous location. I strolled the back streets of Staunton and arrived at the Bistro for lunch. Satiated, I ambled to the theater and enjoyed the pre show entertainment and prepared for another viewing of The Winter’s Tale. The staging was fine, Time was hilarious, and Autolycus was brilliant. Having seen Jeremy Irons do this in Stratford in 1986, I have a high bar for this play. The performance was very satisfying. After the show I went to the car for a growler and walked to the Redbeard Brewing Co to get a growler of their Black Rye IPA. I tasted the deadly Moriarty trio of a Jim Beam Aged, Hillcrest Aged, and Beam aged with coffee. All three are out of my league as for taste. Burley would love it. I had good conversation with fellow travelers enjoying a flight and some locals hankering after the deadly trio. I went back to the car to drop off my bounty and to change for the evening.  I found my way to Aioli, a tapas restaurant and sat at the bar. Soon after I arrived the place filled and more than half the folks were going to the theater. I’m glad I got here a bit early so I can eat leisurely. I liked this place when I was here before and it was even better this time. It isn’t easy finding good tapas, but I’m lucky here. I have plenty of time to stroll to the theater and enjoy more of the preshow and the assembly of the audience. Saturday night at The Blackfriars, what an event. Tonight’s show is Henry VI, Part 1.  I saw this as part of four plays, All three parts of Henry VI and Henry VIII, in London a number of years back. This cast had fun with it and all the swordplay and use of entire stage. A beautifully action packed and sensitive play all at the same time. A tricky job well done. Rather than hang in Staunton, I drove home to have a fire and enjoy some good beer calmly. I slept through the night again except for one time when the heater came on. I woke and jumped out of bed at 8:30 to start the tea and make my oatmeal. It is another cloudless sky and warmer day than yesterday.  It’s Sunday morning and the campers are scurrying out and heading home of to next destination. I love sitting in my cabin enjoying tea or a book or the computer and watching the rigs exit and the morning activity that wanes at about mid morning when the camp settles in for some calm before the afternoon influx of new campers.
Two observations: airplanes and railroads. The highways are ubiquitous, thanks Ike.
Wherever I camp I hear the railroad horns over and over and over again.  All through the night as I sit by the fire or lie in bed, I hear the freight train passing through. Also The nighty skies are filled with airplanes, not like at home in Berlin. The airplane traffic makes the night sky different.
I woke at 8:15 very refreshed and ready to head to the Smokies. My last day in Staunton was glorious. I visited the glass blower again and then proceeded to the Depot for brunch before the show. I then stopped across the street at the Shenandoah Valley Brewery for a glass of Valley Rye IPA and a growler of same said beer. I deposited my booty in the car and walked up to the theater. Today’s performance was going to be packed as the bus unloading students from a local high school. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was on stage for today. The perfect way to end this culturally delightful weekend. I love this play for so many reasons, the biggest being the year we performed it at MBHS. There was a good audience and Bottom did not disappoint the demanding crowd. After the show I drove home and spent the night at home, having a salmon and zuke dinner followed by a roaring fire and the Big Broadcast as I enjoyed my Black Rye IPA. Now it’s off to the Smokies.

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