I confess to being a hopeless nostalgic. Any food, song, or article of clothing triggers a vivid memory from my childhood (which was only a few years ago). I suffered a memory overload when I took a college tour of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus in Downtown Richmond, VA. My nostalgia was so strong that a few weeks later I asked – nay, demanded – that I be taken back to visit my favorite childhood spots. A two hour drive from Suffolk to Richmond merely on a teenager's whimsy – during a school day, no less – was unheard of in my family, but my grades were outstanding the previous semester, so my parents relented and set a date.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Some say it's the journey, not the destination. In my case, the journey was the easy part, because as soon we reached Richmond, we hit traffic. The country road my dad decided to take was backed up by, of all things, a funeral procession, but eventually we made it to our first stop in my stroll down memory lane – Maymont Park. Maymont was once the 100-acre estate of James and Sallie Dooley, but is now a state park with Victorian and Oriental gardens, animal exhibits, and a trail that showcases the natural beauty and diverse geography of the area. My first trip here was made before I was even born; my pregnant mother walked through the gardens, as she and my dad contemplated starting a family. It is the most beautiful place I've ever seen.
After that was a drive through downtown. Richmond has been influential in shaping American history; it played an important role in the American Civil War and is the final resting place of countless American heroes. It also is place where my parents went to college; we never visit downtown without my dad showing me his old stomping grounds and arguing the benefits of joining a fraternity. Another thing that makes Richmond unique is its diversity not only in culture, but in landscape. I found the stark contrast between bustling metropolis and rustic country appealing. Things that normally don't coincide blended together beautifully.
The last stop was Pony Pasture Rapids, a place on the shore of the James River. There are large rocks along the rapids that you can jump and climb, some just a misstep from oblivion. I am generally a calm person and don't usually take risks, but as I ventured out among the rocks, something came over me. My cautiousness faded away, and I was a kid again. It was as if all my childhood memories had come full circle. "Time really flies", I thought as I drove home that night, "but I'm okay with that now".
The journey may be more important than the destination, but few people know that within the destination there's another journey. At my destination/journey I had closure with my memories, made new ones, learned about my family, and discovered something within myself that I didn't know was there. Journeys like that are worth more than anything, and I can't wait until the next one!
Places I Visited:
Maymont Park: The best place in the world! My world, anyway.
Carytown Burgers: Delightful old-town atmosphere and really good food!
Pony Pasture Rapids: An adventure for the whole family! Warning: you might get wet.
Famous Dave's: A chain of BBQ restaurants. If you ever see one of these, go to it. Thank me later.
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