We've been staying just outside Charlottesville, VA since Friday, which coincidentally marked a full week since we've been willfully, gainfully, and intentionally unemployed. At some point my eyes will stop bursting open at 7 AM ready and prepared to be heartbroken at the prospect of another eight hours at work, but today was not that point, and each time I fall blissfully back asleep at 7:05, I'm reminded of what a spectacular life choice we've made and how lucky we are just to be here. I'd love to tell you that there is a clear path to making the "Gap Year" decision at this time in your life, but the reality is, we made a savvy real estate investment almost a decade ago, which is paying off now, allowing us to take a percentage of our profits and travel. There is an alternate path lined with saving (I'd estimate you could do what we're doing after living frugally and saving your excess cash for two years, but I'm not going to pretend to tell you that this is the only way around the world.) that will get you where you want to go, but this is where our path led.
Our time in Charlottesville has been fantastic thus far, and the lifestyle in this part of the world is so refreshing and natural that we are seriously considering locating our home in this small city when we return to the United States. To be more specific, we are leaning just outside Charlottesville and towards Albemarle and Nelson County, which is considered Virginia Wine Country. In the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains and within a stone's throw of the University Of Virginia, a gaggle of breweries, vineyards, and cideries have sprung up in the towns of Crozet and Nellysford. We've spent the past days visiting the best of these places and enjoying the fruits of the grapevines and apple orchards. My personal highlight was enjoying an India Pressed Apples cider at Bold Rock; honestly, if the only ciders you've had are Angry Orchard and Woodchuck, do yourself a favor, sip one of these on a hot day while sitting on the expansive back porch with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. It will change your whole cider outlook.
There is such an air of quiet nature that seems to fill this area that even the flocks of tourists moving between Kings Family Vineyard (try the Crosé, maybe my favorite pink wine I've ever tasted) and Devil's Backbone Brewery (The Jin And Khronic IPA was just the way I like my beer: full of both flavor and alcohol) are small enough to make you feel like you have truly discovered an area of the country which is completely unfettered and untainted. Never did we have to wait more than five minutes for service (except when we made the mistake of trying to have dinner at Devil's Backbone at 7:30 on Saturday night during the Duke-UNC game, and we were just fine having beers at the bar with my Uncle and his lovely wife while we waited), and the feeling of Southern Hospitality permeated through almost every interaction. Honestly, the majority of our weekend was spent sitting in silence as we drove down Rockfish Valley Highway, enjoying the endless fields framed by the rolling mountains (it didn't hurt we got to test drive a TESLA (!!!!) yesterday. It is so choice, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.) Small town details like being invited for drinks at Winding Ridge in Nellysford (every homestead and property seems to be named in this area) or our waitress at brunch having her daughter with her while she served us coffee were the norm during our stay here, and between the robust live music scene just thirty minutes away in Charlottesville and the abundance of wineries and beautiful vistas in Nelson County, we are extremely smitten. They say Virginia is For Lovers, and they're not wrong.