Wednesday, April 14, 2010
From Island to Farm Country!
Well, here I am, in Culpeper, Virginia. No longer an "islandgirl," hence the change in my blog.
I've been here one week now and I'm still learning my way around.
Culpeper is a charming, small, semi-rural town surrounded by farms and rolling green hills.
And trees - lots and lots of trees!
One thing Culpeper does not have - and neither does this whole region of Virginia - is skyscrapers. Very few buildings are taller than the treetops!
What is most noticeable are the vast open spaces between homes and business areas. On our way to the market, we pass open fields, some with cows grazing.
I don't do cows. I do cheeseburgers! Live cows don't belong standing there chewing alongside the road on the way to Target!
The town is also becoming a tech center, so there are boutiques and bistros and shops much like the ones Old Town Pasadena had, before the big chains moved in and the higher rents pushed the small businesses out that had drawn all the attention in the first place.
Culpeper has two live theater groups and - a writers group! I'll be checking them out in the next couple of days.
We live at Southridge, a condo development of white clapboard buildings that look like farmhouses scattered amid lush green lawn and flower beds. The apartments are very pretty and comfortable, with nice layouts, dishwashers, a/c and in-unit washer/dryers - all for $800/month!
Across a little road from our complex is a small pond, where a gaggle of Canada geese hangs out. And when I first arrived last week, the cherry trees were in full bloom. They're greening up now, and losing their blossoms. But for a little while, they were spectacular!
We are very close to James Madison Highway, which is the main route into town, but you can't see it or hear it. The whole area is very quiet: no traffic noise, no screeching brakes, no horns honking, etc. And no smog.
Coming from Catalina Island with no Target or Walmart at all, it's a bit of a shock to come here and find each one big enough to park a passenger jet inside! These stores have everything.
There is a little red and green trolley that stops just a 3 minute walk from our apartment and takes me into town. It stops at the hospital, the senior center, Target, Walmart and the market.
It costs 50 cents for a round trip - and, on Mondays, seniors (55+) ride for free!
Having ridden the trolley twice now, I've discovered that the drivers and the passengers all know each other, so the ride is full of friendly conversations, catching up on each other's news.
When they found out that I was from SoCal, everyone wanted to know what brought me to Culpeper and how I like it. And I do like it!
A small, semi-rural town in Virgina might seem like a far cry from Catalina Island - and in many ways, it is. But Avalon is a small town, too. And I'm used living in a not always convenient environment. I miss Catalina Island/Avalon geographically - the ocean, the beauty of the Island and I miss my friends there. But I do not miss the crippling political situation that costs the Island its unique identity and robs it of any creativity. I agree with the theory in Avalon that the writing is on the wall - and it was better to leave now, when it was my choice.
The idea of my moving to Virginia first came up last September when I visited for Brooke's birthday. It was actually Eddie's idea - did I mention that Eddie has dain bramage?! Brooke chimed in, but I laughed it off. At the time, I hadn't seriously considered moving off the Island, let alone clear across the country! But as time wore on, the changing political climate in Avalon accelerated, the usual off season slow down in business was made far worse by the bad economy and severe computer problems at the store I managed all came together in a perfect storm of stress, a flu that knocked me flat for weeks (despite a flu shot) sleep deprivation and malaise that started me thinking maybe moving to Virginia wasn't such a bad idea.
Then Brooke played her trump card. She and Eddie, due to get married this September, will be starting a family in the next few years. Did I really want to be a whole continent away from my grandchild? No. I didn't. And if I waited to make this move, it might be much more difficult and inconvenient than it was right now. Or maybe even impossible.
So here I am, surrounded by something new and unfamiliar around every turn.
And history! Eight US presidents were born in Virginia: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor and Wilson. And Custer's horse was shot out from under him right at the spot where the Visitors Center is now - so they say.
Virginia is about half way between New York and Florida, so these places are now more accessible - and some great road trips are in the future!
So for those of you who think that I went mental and moved to the far side of the moon - y'all just have to come visit and see for yourself how beautiful, peaceful and interesting a place this is!