In and around Hooville: a weekend with mom

Carrie comes to visit

I know not too many of you have met my mom, so I’ll give you the need-to-know in just one, all-encompassing sentence.

My mom got her Ph.D. from Princeton, has written two books, speaks seven languages, does not know how many senators our nation has and watches “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “90 Day Fiancé” in her spare time — do not look those up. She is full of contradictions, opinions and stories, and she came to visit me this weekend.

To state the obvious, she isn’t your typical mom — because there’s no such thing as a typical mom — so we didn’t do typical things. Remember when I mentioned Skyline Drive? That didn’t happen. No vineyard or cidery tours. No hiking or tailgates. She didn’t even want to go to the puppy farm. We did things her way, and it turned out to be an adventure in and of itself.

A few weeks before her visit, she called to ask about the itinerary. We’re from Atlanta and we have to snatch opportunities for fall activities whenever possible, so I wasn’t surprised by her first question — “Is there a place to get warm homemade apple cider?”

“Of course, mom, we’re in central Virginia.”

On our way to Carter Mountain we passed sign after sign advertising Monticello, which my mother couldn’t believe was so close. “The real Monticello?” I was asked over and over again.

For those of you who have yet to visit Monticello, it’s a really remarkable place. Perfectly preserved, I felt like I was transported back to the 1820s on Thomas Jefferson’s “little mountain.” My mother was particularly enthralled with the story of Jefferson’s slaves and insisted we take the slavery history tour when she comes back in March. After our detour to get the apple cider, we made our way to the Downtown Mall.

Now this is very important. On Halloween weekend, the Downtown Mall hosts a dog costume contest where hundreds of dogs and their owners come to strut their stuff. My personal favorite, a Pembroke Welsh corgi named Finnegan, won second runner-up in the “prettiest” category as the “King of Fall.” This is all true.

After forcing my college professor mother to sit through the awards ceremony — which was entirely worth it — we had dinner at Ten, a very posh sushi restaurant. I would recommend two of everything on the menu, especially the tempura.

Our next day of adventuring led us to Daedalus Bookshop.

Another thing to know about my mom is that she is a self-described bibliophile, a book lover, a reading enthusiast. Getting her to buy me a new shirt requires some concerted effort, but a book? We’re immediately on our way to Barnes and Noble. However, Atlanta has very few unique used bookstores, so I knew Daedalus would be a treat.

Off the mall on Fourth Street Southeast is this four-story book store with thousands and thousands of used and rare books on every imaginable subject. The rooms weave together in one giant library maze and it’s incredibly easy to get lost, both in the store and in the books. I wandered through the hallways feeling like a wizard would pop out at any second and drag me down some rabbit hole, some Narnia, some parallel universe. Carrie, my mother who flew 500 miles to come see me, found the section relating to her research and asked politely if I could leave her alone for a few hours.

I posted up in Mudhouse to get some work done and retrieved her upon her request.

We came back, saw the Rotunda, explored Grounds and had dinner at Fellini’s. I showed her Feast! — my new favorite C’Ville eatery — and the Charlottesville City Market, where she was amazed at the handmade jewelry. She loved it here and I loved showing her around.

Over and over she told me how life in Charlottesville seems so refined, which makes me wish I took her to Trinity the night before Halloween.

Stay tuned for more adventures around Charlottesville!

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