Had so much fun heading to the hills, where everything was coated with a magical layer of frost.
I say hills… you could say mountains, specifically the Shenandoah ones, except Skyline Drive (the ermagerd-such-amazing-views route traversing the mountain Chain) was closed. So the hills sort of near Skyline Drive.
A gorgey, if short, walk.
Short cause this (ooh so atmospheric!)
Became this (ooh imminent death!)
A few more parking lot shots…
And it was time for our next destination: a tour of Copper Fox Distillery. Nifty, right?! A hard likker interlude in the middle of a common wine tasting route.
Beautiful old building. I love these old doors (oh gosh I sound like the Instagram parody)
We went in and parked ourselves in a cozy sitting area, next to an oh-so-warm fireplace that the animals enjoyed as well.
Feeling like an elderly Earl, I sat down with Whisky Advocate
and smoked my pipe.
The distillery consists of good ol’ boys making whiskey and rye (teehee- when my sister was little she thought the song went, “And good old boys were drinking whiskey in bed”)
First stop is the grain room, guarded by a knight.
Li’l barley and rye bits hang out drying out.
Then they get smoked in the oven room across the hall. Copper Fox’s claim to fame is that they’re the only distillery in the world that uses fruit wood (from apple and cherry trees) to smoke their whiskey.
Various steps in fermentation. I’m going to be honest here: the tour was cool but our tour guide was sort of a first class d-bag who kept making terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE jokes. Do you want to hear a masturbation-related joke on a distillery tour? No? Me neither.
He was also just sort of vague and incoherent and didn’t truly seem to understand how the process even worked.
So… there are various machines. This is what they look like. Fermentation happens. Distillation happens. Aging in barrels happens. Etc.
They have kind of a nifty bottling conveyor belt contraption. Had to be very particular about how they do the wax seal on the top since Maker’s Mark has their wax seal trademarked (!)
We didn’t get to taste the whiskey, but we sniffed it. We did taste some of the soaking rye berries, pictured (looking sort of hideous) at right. Tasted like a vat of oatmeal!
Homebrew aficionados could take un-aged whiskey and rye spirits home and age them in these adorable mini barrels. Fun!
So concluded our tour.
Now it was about three in the afternoon and neither of us had eaten lunch, so we sat down for a… meal. Of some kind.
Steve and his man friends always go to this one pizza place every time they hike in the Shenandoahs. His eyes light up when he talks about said pizza. So off we went, to Rudy’s Pizza, in Sperryville.
It was… very very large. And very very cheesy.
I’m going to refer people to the common metaphor to describe pizza and another thing (when it’s good it’s really good, and when it’s bad it’s still pretty good) to discuss this pizza. It got the job done but I didn’t need to eat large quantities of it.
Back over the mountains we went to Luray. Specifically, to a lovely spot dating back to 1931, recently gore-jess-ly renovated, The Mimslyn Inn.
I cannot cannot say enough good things about The Mimslyn Inn.
I think you can often sense immediately how you’ll be treated at an establishment at how they treat you at check in. Maybe others can relate to the experience of arriving with a fairly fresh and dewy and youthful face, clutching a Groupon rather than an AmEx, and being treated rubbishly?
Well, such was not the case at this absolutely lovely inn, where the gracious and welcoming staff treated us like total stars the whole time we were there.
Plus, it was totally gorgeous. Welcoming, figuratively and literally warm lobby- the fireplace was fab!- and rooms that were comfortable, clean and well-equipped that still had furniture that reflected the age and character of the building.
Oh and BATHROBES! Every time I put on a hotel bathrobe (yknow, once every five years or so) I feel like Eloise at the Plaza. Initially there was just one, and I asked at the front desk if we could get another (so Steve could get the diva experience too, natch) and our wish was their command.
In general, I have a little bit of a love affair with Luray. Specifically this gem:
Gathering Grounds. The restaurant and coffee shop whose decor and baked goods I’d like to rip out and deposit in my own home. Note that the picture above was taken in daylight yet the pictures below were evening. That’s because on a less-than-18-hour trip to Luray, we went there twice.
So. Cute. Bookshelf ladders are the BEST!
Nice coffee bar with EPIC baked goods selection (how I wish I had the appetite for pie…)
The restaurant apparently used to be a hardware store (actually, all the buildings in town seemed to have some kind of cool history) and all sorts of neat architectural details and fixtures connected to that. Also thought the wine (whiskey?) barrels were a neat touch.
Seriously, if I were asked to describe my ideal home decor, I’d say, “Make my house this”. Cash register, customers, and all. I would happily sell cookies out of my house if my house were this pretty.
We sat at a wonderful cozy nook in the back on the couch with our tea and cookie.
I sort of can’t convey the awesomeness of that soft, buttery, gently spiced, cream-filled oatmeal cookie pie. I just hope all of you get to eat something as delicious some day.
Then we went to the equally awesomely-decorated movie theater (plush seats, random faux Greek statues and neon lights in the lobby; wonderfully campy!).
Annnnd… saw Silver Linings Playbook.
Guys, I cannot even put into words how much I love that movie. We can discuss that later.
In the meantime, we went back to the hotel lobby and enjoyed wine by the fire (note: they have a bar in the lobby that has a great selection of Virginia wines. LOVE.)
Woke up at the crack of dawn the next day. Boyf did not. So I wandered down to the lobby and had a free coffee and muffin (yum!) and the most delightful conversation with an older gentleman who’d been to the same inn in the sixties. He also discussed the potato chip factory (!) a few miles away where they do an annual tour/party in the summer (dude. happening). And traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway by motorcycle. He was basically awesome.
Steve finally awoke (sort of) a few hours later and we made our way down the big hill below the inn for a proper breakfast.
We went once again to the Purple Door, the place we visited last time we were in Luray (by which I mean camping near Luray with inadequate provisions).
My tea arrived in a mini pot, <3
Omelet was aight. Spinach, shrooms, and pepper jack.
Then we wandered around town for a bit. There was the COOLEST antiquey store- I think it was a co-op, with all these little stalls that had a wide variety of things. LOVED this:
The label read: “Old Original Vintage Labels: these vintage labels were removed from old factories mostly located around the town of Luray, Virginia. They date back to the 1930s-40s. They have never been used.”
I want to decorate my entire house with these. LOVE.
Then… time to go back to our favorite cafe!
Split a tomater soup. And Steve ordered some decadent creation involving white chocolate and cranberries.
And then we went for a stroll on Luray’s beautiful greenway! Love love love public works projects like this. Under the train tracks, next to a beautiful creek, all along the town’s edge. It was recently constructed, and was packed with people enjoying the sun. Why can’t all towns do this?!