One could hardly have asked for a more perfect Halloween.
Traditionally at the office, we have a big fall festival, with costumes, jack-o'-lantern carving contests, trick-or-treating, and either a reading or noisemaking of sorts by the ol' dude (see "Night of the Scarecrow" for a bit about last year's racket). This year, the celebration at work was more low-key, but I did read an excerpt from my latest tale, "The Nothing." I was pelted by no rotten fruit or other less-than-desirable paraphernalia, so I consider this a marked success. Then Ms. B. and I hit the road for the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, where our first port of call was Villa Appalaccia, one of our favorite wineries in the area. The wine there is very authentic Italian, and after a decent tasting, we ventured out into the chilly afternoon to share a bottle of Aglianico, one of their best dry reds. A short distance from the main building, there's a walled terrace that resembles the foundation of an old Italian villa, a little desolate-looking amid the barren and still-turning trees. A relentless wind made for a brisk time of it — in fact, I'm told they got snow last night and this morning — but the setting is so perfect for the season, we wouldn't have had it any other way.
From there, we took a little side trip up to the Stonewall Bed & Breakfast, where we have stayed a couple of times (see "Stonewalled" for info on the place and pics), to pay our respects to the proprietor, Mr. Scott Truslow, whom we had got to gotten to know during our visits. This is a beautiful, cozy inn with a couple of remote, rustic cabins out in the woods — we loved the View Cabin, where we spent New Year's a couple of years back — and I can't recommend the place highly enough.
Then it was back down the Parkway to Chateau Morrisette Winery & Restaurant for an excellent dinner. Beef medallions in a wine-mushroom sauce, with potatoes and asparagus for the old man and duck and dumplings for the young lady. Both dishes were perfectly prepared and presented, and our server was first-class all the way. After a less-than-exemplary visit to the winery there some months back, as of last night, we felt they redeemed themselves and then some.
Afterward, we headed to Martinsville to Mum's and, before retiring, watched Oculus, just to cap off an excellent Halloween with a final scare. Not a bad movie — in fact, one of the better creepy films I've seen in quite a long while. Today, a little caching on the way back to Greensboro helped take the sting out of Halloween's passing.
After all these years, still my favorite among favorite holidays, it is. A Happy Post-Hallowine to all my fine friends.
|Spectacular foliage seen from Lovers' Leap on the Blue Ridge Parkway
|Fun but very strange folk, photographed by a courteous — and fearless — stranger at Lovers' Leap
|Villa Appalaccia, seen from the remote terrace
|Rock Castle Gorge, seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Ms. B. and I have ventured into the gorge
a few times — it's among the most excellent, scenic hikes I have ever undertaken.