Just when you thought that the mountain couldn’t look any worse than it already did…
April 16, 2017, 5:37 PM
On Tuesday, April 11, I got together with Elyse and Melissa, and we headed down to Virginia for the day. The plan was to get together with my parents, plus visit Afton Mountain and downtown Staunton.
We left the house at 9:30, and took US 29 down to Charlottesville. First stop was Moe’s Original Bar B Que, where we had lunch with my father. Fun time, and my father seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to finding good barbecue. Every barbecue place that Dad has taken me to has been wonderful, and this was no exception.
From here, we took US 250 across to Afton Mountain. There, we went to the second overlook, i.e. the Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook, to get some views. I tend to avoid Afton Overlook, the first overlook, after being propositioned for sex there one night back in 2005. The second overlook, which is a mile and some change further down the road, tends to attract fewer undesirables. I suppose it’s because it’s further away from civilization than the first one, which is a minute’s drive from the freeway. In any case, the view is awesome:
I also made an unfortunate discovery when it came time to start photographing: dead batteries. I just grabbed my real camera and went that morning, thinking that since I had already charged the batteries after the last use, they ought to be good. Nope – dead. So that forced me over to the phone camera for a little bit, while I used my USB battery to charge up a camera battery. I managed to get enough of a charge on one of the batteries to be operational before we left the mountain, though.
Meanwhile, Melissa got a selfie at the overlook:
Elyse and I got one, too:
From here, we headed over to the cluster of abandoned buildings near Rockfish Gap. First stop there was the row of rooms above the old tourist information center. There, among the other graffiti, we found this:
Pro-Trump graffiti. This is the reminder that I grew up in a very “red” part of Virginia that voted 71.3% for Donald Trump in 2016. For the people who voted for Trump, I just like to ask them, “How’s that working out for you?” After all, Trump ran as the friend of the working class, and has proven time and time again that he is anything but.
We also visited the old tourist information center, which, to our surprise, was now opened up. That looked quite different from the last time that I saw it, i.e. when it was open. Now, it looks exactly as you would expect for a building where the roof has completely deteriorated, leaving it exposed to the elements for much of the past decade:
And it looks exactly as you would expect for a facility that’s been exposed to the elements for the better part of a decade. From the looks of things, the ceiling has completely collapsed, likely due to water intrusion, along with all of the ductwork and insulation. This room was previously dominated by a large topographic model of the area, which was moved to the new location.
We also visited The Inn at Afton, a former Holiday Inn that became independent in the late 1990s. This was the last of the establishments that was still open, but I question how much longer it will hang on. On this visit, we discovered that the lobby and restaurant part of the building are now abandoned, as the “lobby” is now housed inside room 213.
Back side of the sign. Unlike in 2011, when the earlier red sign was destroyed in a windstorm and was subsequently replaced, they are apparently in no hurry to repair the sign again, considering that it’s been in this state for several visits at this point, spanning more than a year’s time.
Every time I see this property, I’m amazed about how much it’s been let to go to crap. Owner Phil Dulaney’s typical response is that he can do what he wants with his property, and that he has plans that he’s working on. I’m not inclined to believe him. At this point, I’m convinced that Phil Dulaney has to die and the property be sold before something happens to revitalize the mountain. It could be so much more, but it’s not, because the owner clearly doesn’t care. I was amazed that half of the only active property, The Inn at Afton, is now abandoned. One would think that, as an active property, that it would be maintained. Instead, rather than repair leaks in the roof, they just locked it up and abandoned it, just like the other nearby properties.
On the way out, we stopped at King’s Gourmet Popcorn, which is a food truck that serves different kinds of popcorn. We bought a “mini” sized bag of caramel corn, and it was quite good. I recommend it if you’re going through that way.
We came down the mountain and into Waynesboro via US 250, which, coincidentally, brought us to a vintage Norge ball that I had been meaning to photograph for some time. This one is at BZ Laundromat, which I assume was once a Norge location. The ball is still intact:
It appears to be in very close to original condition, too. It appears that the only alteration was to paint out the original “NORGE” lettering on the band around the middle. Pretty neat.
From here, we headed across to Staunton. Among other things, we saw the Masonic Building, where Elyse got a movie of the elevator, as well as the vintage restroom on the top floor:
One of the commodes was modern, but the other was vintage. Looks like a regular commode, but oversized:
Then I also got a photo showing the stairs:
We then headed to a nearby music store, where Elyse tested out a guitar:
We then continued down to Staunton Antiques, where they had a piano out on the street, available for playing:
Elyse tickled the ivories for a few minutes, and then we continued on. We eventually made our way past the Wharf district and then to the train station before returning to our car.
From there, we went over to my parents’ house to see Mom, after which we went to Scotto’s in Stuarts Draft. We took her car, and for whatever reason, Mom wanted me to drive her car (go figure). Elyse noticed that I was driving Mom’s car like it was a bus, including roping the wheel. I wonder if it’s because Mom’s car is bigger and heavier than mine? In any case, that amused me. Dinner was lovely, and then after getting back to the house, Elyse, Melissa, and I got into the Soul, and we headed back to Maryland. Not bad for a one-day trip.
Postscript: However, note that I will never go to Scotto's again. I got a nasty case of food poisoning from dinner, and that wrecked my entire Wednesday. But no worries - plenty of other places to eat that won't come back to attack later.