We’re spending time at my brother’s in Virginia, and then heading for the cabin in Maine. Part of the fun of these summer family get-togethers is that we do a variety of things. So allow me to fill you in on some of the more interesting and novel outings we have experienced thus far.
There has cropped up in recent years a wonderful tradition here in Great Falls, Virginia where my brother lives. It started with a handful of “gearheads” deciding they liked getting together to talk about their cars. In the downtown shopping center of Great Falls they began to meet in the parking lot outside of a local eatery early on Saturday mornings to drink coffee, while standing around talking and admiring at each other’s cars. Over the past half-dozen years or so this handful of guys (and gals) and their cars has grown into a car show all its own. The parking lot is now full of cars of every imaginable make and design, mostly from a previous era. Lots of folks come down just to check out the scene. I have written about this in prior articles, but last Saturday was especially cool.
My brother and I arrived about 6:40AM to an already packed gathering of car aficionados and their commensurate selection of choice cars. We went inside Katie’s for a cup of coffee where we met up with John’s son, Josh. We then struck up a conversation with one of the car owners who is a mainstay each Saturday. Bob Shawn is 92 years old and is one of the last of a rare breed of individuals. He is a three-war veteran having served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam as a fighter pilot, starting out with the old Army Air Corps, changed in 1947 to the U.S. Air Force. Each Saturday Bob fires up his old Willeys Army Jeep which he has restored, complete with a mounted .50 caliber machinegun and all, and drives it to Katie’s. He’s small in stature, but oh my, is he full of stories. We sat and chatted with him for well over an hour. One of his stories from WWII was the time he was shot down – by the French! He was chasing a German Messerschmitt in his P51 Mustang while at the same time the French forces on the ground were taking aim on the same plane. Instead, the French gunners shot Bob’s plane out of the air. He crash-landed and spent the next four days drinking brandy with the same French soldiers who shot him down. Since he hadn’t reported back to his command, it was assumed that he was dead, so his wall locker was emptied and his bunk was vacated. There are many more stories from Bob, but it will have to wait for another time. He did say that his brother was also shot down over Belgium, but was picked up by the underground and spent the remainder of the war blowing up German bridges.
On Sunday evening I took Isaura to the Wolf Trap which is an open outdoor stage not far from downtown Washington, D.C. We purchased tickets to attend the final performance of Riverdance in North America. These Irish dancers have been touring the United States for the past sixteen years, performing some 5,500 times. The program was exceptional! Besides the famous Irish straight-bodied perpendicular tap dancing routines usually performed in various precision formations, there were other performers of differing tap dancing styles. One was the stunningly spectacular dancing of the Spanish Flamenco dancer. Now, I was previously stationed in Spain, so I was familiar with this style of dance. But this lady was exceptional! The other dance style was that of two African-American guys who performed street tap with flips and splits, providing a wonderful contrast. When all three forms of dance were going on at the same time it was something to behold.
On Monday Isaura and I drove to Charlottesville, Virginia where we enjoyed a quick lunch at Chick-fil-A, a favorite Southern Fried Chicken restaurant chain in the South (there are some in northern California, but none close to where we live). We then began the 105 mile drive up the Skyline Drive of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western Virginia. The fog decided to roll in about the same time, which restricted our view. But the drive was beautiful despite the fog, which, in actuality, enhanced the experience. This is located in the Shenandoah National Park system. On the drive back to Great Falls last night, Isaura and I stopped for dinner at the Cracker Barrel. Yum! Sure wish they had some of these restaurants in California!
Next stop: Maine and fresh lobster!