Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lexington, VA

While we were checking out SVU, we stayed in Lexington, VA. It is a beautiful little town with tons of history and plenty to see.

It was fun to walk down the historic streets of the town and pop in and out of the little stores that lined the paths that have been walked by so many.
We spent some time taking a tour of Stonewall Jackson's home and learning about him. I had heard his name before, but knew nothing about him. You can tell my kids are being raised in the south though because they knew a bit about him before the tour. We had an interesting tour guide (he is a civil war expert, does reenactments, and is an extra in all of the civil war movies like Blue & Gray, North & South, etc.), and at first wondered what we were in for, but he turned out to be wonderful.
We then spent some time walking around the Virginia Military Institute. It is an amazing old campus that serves all of the branches of the military. It was the first state supported military academy, established in 1839. Part of it was burned down during the civil war and had to be rebuilt. The are several pieces of art on the campus that are extremely old, and the chapel is amazing. It reminded me of an older version of the chapel at the Air Force Academy.


We also spent some time driving around the campus of Washington and Lee. It was established in 1782, and endowed by Washington himself. Robert E Lee was the president of the university aft the civil war, and his name was added after his death. It has a very reputable law school, and from what everyone says, the students come from VERY wealthy families. The average household income for the parents of the students is $750,000 a year!!!

On our way out of town we stopped at Natural Bridge. This used to be owned by Thomas Jefferson, and he and George Washington used to spend time here relaxing in the beauty and wonder of it. Washington was a bit of a graffitier and left his initials in the stone.

We walked under the bridge and followed the path about 3/4 of a mile. It was a beautiful walk with plenty of neat things to see along the way such as a cave that they used during the civil war for making weapons and a replication of an Indian village that used to be in the area. At the end of the trail was a beautiful little waterfall. It was a very peaceful, easy walk, and we all really enjoyed it.

Our last stop on the way out of Lexington was the Natural Brigde Caverns. We seem to always enjoy exploring caverns. The colors in this one were mainly oranges and greens, which were beautiful. The cool temperature felt so nice after walking around outside for so long. As Rodney and I walked through it we could not help but reminise about the caving adventure we had taken with the Webb family many years ago in Alabama. It brought back some great memories.

We all had a good laugh when they turned out the lights to show us how pitch black a cave is, and there were Cambria's prize shoes glowing in the dark.

Who would have thought that so much to do could be found in Lexington, VA?!?! The good news is that we only scratched the surface, so if Declan ends up picking SVU we will have plenty more to explore!

Southern Virginia University

We went to visit SVU and meet the soccer coach. It is a beautiful, old campus that has been and is in the process of being restored. And it is small. No I really mean it, it is so small. Less than 800 people small. When we first got there I think both Rodney and I were a little taken aback by how small it actually is. And how old it is. The main classroom building still does not have air conditioning and has the old radiators for heat. They told us that the professors have to go hit on them in the winter when they start making noise. The gym has been converted from an old horse stable. The hang out is a small deli area with a tv and some games about the size of my kitchen/ living room area. The whole big tour we were anticipating lasted about 20 mins and consisted of a few buildings all steps away from each other. Several time Rodney and I just looked at each other like "What is he thinking!" Remarkably though, during that 20 mins we started to like the little school. The people were so nice, the area is so beautiful, the environment so close knit and like a family. We started to agree that we could, in fact, see Declan there. We then met up with the coach and spent about an hour and a half with him. He was a great man and was very welcoming and inviting. Basically in the end he kind of left it like, if Declan chose SVU he could be on the team, the end. He took us to the fields where we met up with a soccer player named Brandon.

Declan, Cambria and Brandon played around on the field for quite awhile. The field is near the top of a mountain surrounded by other mountains. The turf is awesome! The view is spectacular! It was also HOT and HUMID!

After we were done at the fields Brandin took Declan out with a group of college kids to go bridge jumping, where they go to this old bridge and jump off 30 ft into the water below. He had a blast meeting boys and girls, and showing them up by climbing to the top and jumping off.

That night we took Brandon out to eat at a local Italian restaurant, and then went to a yogurt place where we met more students. The more we hung out, the more Rodney and I could see Declan being very happy there. It really had that small, hometown, family feel.

The next morning we met back up with Brandon and some other players at the field and spent the next few hours watching Declan play with them as they scrimmaged a Hispanic group. It was crazy because it was so foggy for the first hour or so that you could hardly see. It was fun to see them play, and they won. Honestly, I think his club team would have beat them, but the level of play has to be Declan's decision.

It was a great little trip. Declan was very happy with how it went. Rodney and I left content to let him make the decision.

I just have to pinch myself every so often to remind myself that all this college thing is really happening and it is not just a dream.....