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Holiday Party Dec 3

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FALL FOLIAGE TOUR IN ALBEMARLE COUNTY

This segment of our 2006 Fall Foliage tour began in Charlottesville at the Basil Mediterranean Bistro owned by Shenandoah PCA member Raif Antar, went through the University of Virginia, took Old Lynchburg Road south to the historic Plank Road, and followed Plank Road from the old toll house in South Garden through Batesville to the Afton Mountain Vineyards.

The actual driving time is about 90 minutes, but plan on most of an afternoon if you want have lunch at the Basil Mediterranean Bistro and finish with a wine tasting. The foliage color is best during the second half of October, but this trip is good on any sunny day. You may not be able to drive through the UVa campus (instructions 2 and 3) on weekdays when classes are in session. Afton Mountain Vineyards is open most days from 10 AM to 6 PM but is closed Tuesdays.

Click on any photo to enlarge it

1. After lunch at the Basil Mediterranean Bistro, 109 14th Street NW, Charlottesville [mile 0.0], drive south (downhill) on 14th Street NW to the stoplight under the big black railroad bridge and turn right onto University Avenue.
2. Stay in the left lane while passing the University of Virginia Rotunda [mile 0.3] on your left. Jefferson designed the Rotunda using the Roman pantheon as a model. The original Rotunda was built between 1822 and 1827. Go straight 50 yards past the Rugby Road stoplight and take the first sharp left, onto McCormick Road. During weekdays when the University is in session, do not make this turn, but continue straight and turn left onto Aldermann Road at the second traffic light, and skip to step 4 below.
3. Pass Edgar Allen Poe's room [mile 0.5] number 13. Note the historical sign and room with a glass door) on the left. The serpentine brick walls and student housing are from Jefferson's original "academical village." These single-story buildings, "the Ranges," now house UVa honor students.
4. Turn left at the stoplight onto Alderman Road [mile 1.1], pass Scott Stadium on the left, continue straight through the four-way stop (Alderman Road becomes Maury Avenue). Continue on Maury Avenue through the stoplight (Maury Avenue becomes Jefferson Park Avenue). On the right corner after the stoplight, note Durty Nelly's Pub—Wayside Deli [mile 1.7] owned by member Gary Hagar and partner.
5. Turn right after Fry's Spring Beach Club onto Old Lynchburg Road [mile 2.2]. Continue straight through the four-way stop.  
6. Pass Azalea Park on the left [mile 2.9].  
7. Turn right at the stop sign [mile 3.5] to stay on Old Lynchburg Road. This divided highway turns into a curvy country road. Enjoy the ride but watch for bicyclists. At the stop sign cross Red Hill Road (Route 708) [mile 9.8]. Mount Olivet United Methodist Church is on the right past the intersection. Continue on Old Lynchburg Road past Walnut Creek Park on the left.  
8. Turn right onto Plank Road (Route 712) at the 1820 Toll Gate House [mile 12.9]. The Plank Road, formerly called the Staunton–James River Turnpike, gave Shenandoah Valley farmers and merchants access to markets in Richmond via the river port in Scottsville. Parts of the road were actually made of planks. The Toll Gate House later become an orphanage, then Garland's Store, and now is the home of a member of the Dave Matthews Band.
9. Note the South Garden Baptist Church on the right. Pass through North Garden, go under the railroad bridge. Bear left onto Route 692 [mile 16.4]; this is still Plank Road. Notice Meadowbrook Farm (ca 1725) on the left and two log structures past the farm entrance.  
10. Notice the North Garden Ruritan Club and Post Office on the left. Turn right into the Crossroad Country Store [mile 17.3]. This store, established in 1820, is a good place to get gas, buy drinks and munchies (e.g., homemade fudge), use the restrooms, and regroup.
11. Zero your odometer. Turn right out of the parking lot [mile 0.0] onto Plank Road (Route 692). At the stop sign, carefully cross the divided highway Monacan Trail Road (Route 29). Continue on Plank Road (Route 692). The Inn at the Crossroads Bed and Breakfast (ca 1820) on the right [mile 0.1] was originally a tavern.
12. Pass large orchards on the right. Turn left onto Stillhouse Creek Road (Route 693) [mile 4.3]. Pass between orchards on both sides.  
13. Turn right onto Burnt Mountain Road (Route 693) [mile 6.2]. Notice the old Greek Revival house after the turn. Turn right onto Craig's Store Road (Route 635) [mile 7.5].
14. Notice the Gothic-style Castlebrook estate on the right [mile 9.5] and then the antebellum white Greek Revival mansion on the left.
15. Turn left onto Plank Road (Route 692) at Page's Store [mile 9.6], established 1913. As you drive through Batesville, notice the brick Batesville United Methodist Church (est. 1913) [mile 9.7] and the two-story log cabin on the right [mile 9.9]. Batesville was another toll stop on the Plank Road.  
16. Pass Moon House (aka Layman House) [mile 9.9] and its old corn crib on the right. This 19th century building was once a tavern and stagecoach stop. Its distinctive muted-pink bricks were made locally.
17. Pass a 19th century Queen Anne style farmhouse on the left [mile 10.8].
18. Pass the 1769 Bellevue estate on the left [mile 11.5]. Pass two log cabins on the right [mile 11.7]. Pass Oakleigh estate on the right. This Victorian home was built by heirs of the Maxwell House coffee fortune. Pass Wavertree Hall and Equestrian Center on the left.  
19. Turn right onto Ortman Road (Route 691) [mile 12.8]. The extensive stone walls [mile 13.8+] were built in the early 1900s by Robert Green, a black craftsman. Notice the pink estate houses just before the Casa Maria gate [mile 14.2] on the left.
20. Turn left onto Rockfish Gap Turnpike (Route 250) [mile 14.4]. This turnpike was completed in the late 1820s at the request of Charlottesville merchants whose businesses were bypassed by the Plank Road. Notice Ramsey estate on the right and other mansions and churches. Enjoy climbing Afton Mountain.  
21. Turn left onto Afton Mountain Road (Route 6 East) [mile 19.2]. Turn right onto Mountain Road (Route 631) [mile 20.8].  
22. Turn left onto Vineyard Lane at the entrance of Afton Mountain Vineyards [mile 22.0]. Go to the winery building for a tour and wine tasting.
 
23. Exit instructions: From the vineyard, turn right onto Mountain Road (Route 631) [mile 0.0]. Turn left onto Afton Mountain Road (Route 6) [mile 1.2]. Turn left onto Rockfish Gap Turnpike (Route 250 West) [mile 2.8] and follow signs to Interstate 64. Pass under the stone bridge and turn left at the blinking light [mile 4.3] onto the ramp for Interstate 64 (both east and west). This is Exit 99.

Acknowledgements:

Most of the historical information is based on "Country Roads Albemarle County, Virginia Self-guided Driving Tours" by Susan DeAlba (Rockbridge Publishing Co., Natural Bridge Station, VA), copyright 1993. We also thank Margaret O'Bryant of the Albemarle–Charlottesville Historical Society for her assistance.

This tour was prepared by Jim Condon and Sherry Westfall. We frequently enjoy driving our 1999 Porsche 996 on the scenic, winding roads of Albemarle County and learning bits of history of the people and places of times gone by. We hope you enjoyed this tour as much as we did putting it together.