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July 18, 2011

More books made! The top shelf features books from Treefeathers on the left, and the rest are from one of those big classical literature book kits. The bottom two shelves are all new and handmade. These are not the only books I have made, but are pretty representative of what they look all look like. for the moment I've given up on decorating them and am just covering with papers. I'll make them fancier when I get enough done.
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July 3, 2011

"We should go to the Green Valley Book Fair!"
After two years of saying this, we finally went!  I had been as a teenager with my family, where we always found something to satisfy our reading habits at a fair price.  I certainly wanted to go back!

We made a weekend trip of it, planning out a route, eating places, and other touristy stops.In particular was Luray Caverns and Eidelweiss, a German restaurant in Staunton, VA. 

It was a pretty weekend, if a bit hot.  We took our time getting there, knowing we had no plans until our 7 pm reservation at Eidelweiss.  We stopped for lunch at the West Main Market in Luray, a nice little sandwich shop in an old, old storefront.  It was a pretty little town, and very quiet at the time, so we decided to explore a little bit before moving on.

Up the street was Bank Street Books, so I suggested we pop in there.  It was a used book store, taking up most of a former house.  Nicely organized, very big selection, and . . . owls.  Everywhere.  Enough to have filled a small shop by itself.  There were big owls, little owls, furry owls, wooden owls, pewter owls, cutesy owls, owls that looked like they were going to eat you, overly dramatic owls, and even an owl that made noise when you walked by it.  (the proprietor demonstrated it and quickly turned it off again.)  Ever since I made those owl bags, I have been encountering owls in my shopping trips and excursions.  This was the ultimate.  I was rather surprised to find out the rather mundane name of the shop, instead of, say, "The Owlry" or "Wise Old Owl Used Books."  Although, you'll notice if you visit the web site, I obviously had the right place.  Sadly, the owls were not for sale. 

After the book store (I bought a copy of "Peter and the Starcatchers") we headed over towards Luray Caverns.  We had been warned in the Market/Deli that there was a bluegrass and mountain music festival going on there this weekend, so we decided we would just go and look and see how bad it was.

It was pretty bad.  People parked everywhere, and worst of all, a big crowd congregating outside the building with no shade in sight.  Had I known about the festival, I would have made plans to go to that, but I wasn't prepared to deal with outdoors and big crowds.  We vetoed it and headed out towards Harrisonburg, where we had hotel reservations at the Sleep Inn.

Eventually I noticed the big Hollywood style sign for Endless Caverns.  "We should go there.  Or at least see if it's as crowded."  So we turned off and drove down a nice long country lane, to eventually come up to a nice, half-empty parking lot in front of a sweet little country style building and old style stone covered walkway to one side.  There was one tour left for the day, conducted by a teenager on summer break.  It was a nice tour, over an hour, with very little hoopla or crazy gimmicks, just oohing and aaahing over nature and history.  The cave had been found and explored and toured since 1879, and as part of the tour they showed how they used to give tours, pointing out natural shelves where candles once stood, or chandeliers hung, as well as  Alexander's Ballroom, a large room in the cave that once housed speakeasy parties during Prohibition.  Sadly, we missed the bats, who hung out in the woods during the summer where they could get all the mosquitoes they could eat. 

Of course, right at the very start of the tour, as we're starting down the deep dark staircase, the strap on my owl bag gave way and my bag went tumbling down the stairs.  (I think my bag was jealous that I wanted all those other owls earlier.)  Fortunately, nothing fell out and the bag wasn't damaged, but it was a bit embarrassing.  I lightened the load of the bag and tied the one end up with a knot.  Hopefully this week I'll install the sliding buckle I purchased a few weeks ago for it.

After the cave tour we headed to the Sleep Inn in Harrisonburg.  It was a nice little hotel, best of all with free, easy to use wifi.  We only stayed long enough to drop off our bags and then headed even further south to Staunton.

Eidelweiss was a cute little log cabinny type restaurant.  There was a cat lying flat out on the gravel walkway at the entrance, pretending to be a rug.  He didn't move or care about us at all.  Inside we found an accordionist with a sense of humor, and varying degrees of waitresses, some in standard waiting outfits, some in German frocks.  Our food came very quickly and was pretty typical German fare.

When we left the cat had moved about 3 feet away, still flat out, and flicked the tip of his tail at us in response.  We returned to Harrisonburg and collapsed, full of rich German food and lots of cave walking.

The next morning we checked out, stopped for breakfast at Sheetz, and headed to the book fair.  Yet another nice little country roads, passing cows.  Fortunately, it wasn't very crowded there, so we could park fairly close to the building.  I grabbed my big, currently empty NWF bag and we headed in.  Two hours later we ambled back out.  Only 8 books, but I was struggling with my 'don't buy books you haven't read' stigma.  There were, as usual, lots of books there.  I remembered the layout, except we went through a different door than usual and so everything felt backwards to me.  I felt better once I hit the original entrance and we worked our way back through.  The prices were excellent.  I don't feel paperbacks should cost more than $5, and very few of them were over that.

We stopped for lunch and to pop in an antique mall in Harrisonburg, and then headed back home, taking Skyline Drive.  It's a much better drive in a taller vehicle, but it was nice and leisurely for a Sunday afternoon.  We stopped at a few places in Sperryville, drove past my great-uncle's salvage yard outside of Warrenton, (marked by me suddenly yelling, "Oooh, there's Uncle Arthur's place!"  And then we were past it, and Brian's saying, "the place with the windows?")  We grabbed dinner in Gainesville and just barely beat the thunderstorm home.

It was a nice trip.  There were owls, caves, books, and accordion music.  What more could you ask for?

P.S.  The radio stations down there were much better.  This is not fair.