You’ve heard of Christmas in July? This is July during Christmas. I’m taking advantage of some free time to update my photo files and catch up on the Monthly wrap-ups.
June just sort of slid into July mid-week.
The last week of June/first week of July was Vacation Bible School week at the Anglican Church we’ve been visiting since Easter. The Daughter had fun helping out with that. After she finished up on Friday, we picked up the rental car and headed to Middle Ridge Farm for a quiet Independence Day in the Blue Ridge. The next day we got an early start on our drive to Kentucky to visit #1 Son at his job site in Harlan County, KY with Appalachia Service Project.
Right before we left Hampton Roads, Virginia’s tourism department posted a list of 18 Virginia BBQ Joints for those who “travel with their taste buds.” Mr Garner is a BBQ fan, and the idea of traveling with his taste buds appealed to him, so he bookmarked a few that were on our projected route. Sunday, we stopped in Christiansburg, VA for lunch at Due South Pit Cooked BBQ. It’s a small place, that looks a little messy but smells great. We placed our order and grabbed a seat. We got nervous when a scantily clad waitress delivered food to a couple at a table near us, I mean, it was Sunday after all. But shortly afterwards we were reassured when our fully dressed waiter brought our order and it was truly delicious! Not only was the barbecue good and tender and smoky, but all of the sides were tasty too. We have often stopped at Pierce’s in Williamsburg, and the sides are bland french fries or bland baked beans or bland cole slaw. Due South’s sides were considerably better.
After lunch we got back on the road to Harlan. Route 81 through Western Virginia and Kentucky makes for a nice drive. The highway sits up on the ridge so the sky looms big and beautiful and blue. The hills and fields are a rich rolling verdant green. Traffic was good, and since we were actually a little early we took a side trip to Natural Tunnel State Park before heading to our mountain-top lodging at Pine Mountain State Resort Park.
We got an early start on Monday to get to Harlan County and #1 Son’s ASP site in time to ride along with him. #1 Son took us on a tour of the homes for which his center was coordinating repairs, and introduced us to the families, and to the church volunteer teams working that week. Even knowing what to expect, we were still a little shocked by the abject poverty and incredible depression in the area, but we were impressed by the work being done by the ASP volunteers. If you’re curious there are photos on the ASP Harlan County Facebook Page. After confirming everyone had what they needed at the work sites, #1 Son punched out for his day off and we headed back to the lodge.
We spent the evening and next day watching Food Network and playing board games and swimming in the pool. It seems that we were one of the few families at the lodge so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There aren’t an abundance of eateries in the area, so we dined at the restaurant in the lodge where every table offers a gorgeous view of the mountains. Before we knew it, it was time to drive #1 Son back to the ASP Center. We checked out of the lodge the next day, and headed in leisurely fashion for Middle Ridge Farm. We stopped at the Wilderness Road State Park on a lark and happened upon a fantastic reconstruction of Martin’s Station, a frontier fort settlement of 1775 Virginia. My homeschool mom’s heart was thrilled at the timing, since we will be studying this period in the Fall.
After our Kentucky trip, July was slow and easy. We finished up our last 2 weeks of school, in a somewhat relaxed fashion. We hit beach day with our AHG friends once a week. The Daughter had a few social occasions with friends. Mr. Garner and I resumed our walks in the cool of the morning. I started looking ahead to The Daughter’s Year 9 books and schedules, and in my spare time read The Anglican Way: A Guidebook by Thomas McKenzie and Beyond Bells and Smells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy by Mark Galli. We have been visiting an Anglican Church affiliated with PEAR-USA and the ACNA (Anglican Church of North America) and are interested in learning more about it.
The month ended with another trip to Kentucky – yep – to retrieve our son!
A few photos: