Thursday, April 6, 2017


Jonquils are an early harbinger of spring where I live in Arkansas, and as I discovered this year, the same holds true in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I was spending the last full week in March, at The English Inn ( ), shown in the background of this photo.

I was in Charlottesville, as part of a Road Scholar ( ) program called "Friends, Neighbors, Presidents:  The World of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe", designated as Program #2007.  One of the many helpful amenities of this property is the ample, adjacent, and complementary parking for their guests. 

The rooms at The English Inn were comfortable, and supplied everything needed for a multi-night stay---flat-screen television, free WiFi, refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker.

surprisingly, based on the name of the hotel property and its English-looking exterior, the atrium showed the "Union Jack" flag of Great Britain, as well as the "Stars and Stripes" flag of the USA, and the flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

The sunken lobby was welcoming and comfortable, especially since a crackling fire was always aglow in the fireplace!

The hotel is next to a Charlottesville city park, that runs beside a small stream.  The walking path is inviting, but one needs to stay alert to "flying saucers", as the space also functions as a disc golf course. 

Once I was checked into the hotel upon my arrival on the Sunday afternoon starting day, I took off in my car to explore the area on my own.  I followed the numerous signs leading the way to Monticello, former home of President Thomas Jefferson.  Since our Road Scholar program was going to include a visit here later in the week, I just stopped in the Visitor's Center to take a few photos and use the restroom facilities. 

Because it was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, the patio was set up to sell a variety of plants that have their origins in the gardens of Monticello.  Inside the gift shop, one could also purchase seeds from the gardens of Monticello. 

As someone who enjoys hiking, I took the time to check out a park I passed at the base of the mountain, that indicated there was a walking trail.

After a visit to the Monticello gift shop, (where I purchased a souvenir Monticello medallion to hammer into my hickory hiking stick, when I got home), I sat out to explore the trail.

There were dozens of folks enjoying the outdoors at the park, and I was giving thanks to God for providing such a scenic place to get some exercise, and also for the God-given gift of being able to walk!  (For those unable to walk, however, many of the trails in this park are wheel-chair accessible).

When the Road Scholar program got going, one of our speakers was Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Taylor, shown in this photo, holding two of the books she has authored and published. Dr. Taylor was an OUTSTANDING instructor for our program, and it was evident that her 22 year career in museum education and historical research, has enabled her to teach others the historical treasures we can learn, studying the lives of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. 

One of the afternoons of our week long program was left open for participants to explore the area on their own.  I reasoned that since this program was all about U.S. Presidents, it seemed appropriate to investigate the presence of the Trump Winery ( ), which is very close to the former home of  President James Monroe. ( Donald Trump was elected U.S. President in November, 2016, which was AFTER the Trump brand purchased the former Blenheim Winery) .  The gracious hostess at the property told me that with 1,300 acres of breathtaking scenery, and 195 acres of vines, Trump Winery is Virginia's largest vineyard. 

The inviting entrance, includes a front porch, where guests can sit, if desired.  Behind this cozy cottage front, is a spacious covered event center, with gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside. 

Inside the tasting room, one can have a gourmet meal, or simply taste the wines.  The tastings are offered daily, and include a complementary logoed wine glass. 

The drive to the Trump Winery will take you by several other properties that are included on the Charlottesville Wine Trail. 

Besides the historical lectures and home tours included in this Road Scholar program, we were also treated to live performances, by musicians that used the instruments that would have been available at the time of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.

This photo shows Stephen Christoff, who has been a musical performer for Colonial Williamsburg for more than 15 years.  Since 2006, he has performed his one-man show called "Seller of Songs" at the Hennage Theater in Colonial Williamsburg to sell-out audiences and rave reviews.

Stephen's many talents (including playing the saw shown in this photo) have enabled him to be a headline performer for numerous historical festivals and events, as well as Disney's Epcot Center.  Our Road Scholar group, with fewer than 20 participants, had the pleasure of having an intimate time of music and interaction with this gifted and versatile musician.

On a different night, we were able to enjoy a concert by Su Tarr.  Su's musical talents have been obvious from childhood when she won a concerto competition at the age of 9 and played with the Cleveland Symphony.  As an adult, she has played in the Charleston, Huntington, and Richmond Symphonies. 

Su has been a balladeer in Colonial Williamsburg since 1997.  Between her playing, she reminded us that at the time of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, the only music one would have heard would have been that performed by a live musician.  That was a period long before the advent of recorded music, so familiar to people today.  That is why I am using my memories of hers and Stephen's performances as my visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse from Ephesians 5:19, that says, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."

A favorite thing I enjoy when traveling, is doing what the verse above commands, and singing music to the Lord with other Christians at worship services in the cities I am visiting.  This time it was the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville ( ).  I was very thankful for the religious freedom I have, and the opportunity to be a part of their services (as well as this entire Road Scholar program!); it  gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia