Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Folks Sure are Friendly in These Parts

Barely back two days from vacation and I headed out again.

I've been missing the ocean anyway, so I was more than happy to go to the river today.

I just didn't expect so much stranger love.

With my WRIR cooler packed with hydration, I gathered up some CDs (Richard Hawley's "Lady's Bridge," Grimes' "Visions," Richmanian Ramblers "World, Sister World" and Mat Kearney's "City of Black and White") for the drive and headed east.

My destination was Kinsale, a tiny Northern Neck town on the Yeocomico River, to talk to a man who's been in the oyster business since 1966.

Arriving at the complex, a man in a golf cart approached me presuming I was lost, but I told him who I was there to see.

A huge smile erupted on his face. "Come on, baby," he grinned, putting his golf cart in gear, "I'll show you."

Inside, the receptionist called the boss and said there was a "young lady" here to see him.

You talking about me?

After a satisfying interview with a man who loves what he does, I got back on the road and before long saw a sign for Vault Fields Winery.

Mid-afternoon grape? Why not?

So I made the turn, winding my way through sunny cornfields, curious about a wine I knew a few Richmond restaurants are now carrying.

But today being Tuesday and all meant no dice.The tasting room is only open Thursdays through Sundays.

Back on the road again.

Coming through Tappahannock, I decided to stop at Parr's Drive-in, two blocks off the riverfront, for ice cream.

Parr's is a throwback: concrete floors, 25-cent gumball machines and a gray-haired guy behind the counter making corny jokes.

Seeing me looking at my choices, he cracked, "One of each?"

I finally decided on a dip-top cone, anticipating it even more when I heard they had chocolate/vanilla swirl soft serve.

Let's just say it had been a while since I'd had a zebra cone.

The guy asked if I wanted small or medium and I told him I'd have a medium, even if it meant I was going to hell in a hand basket after a week of trashy beach eating.

"I won't tell anyone" he said conspiratorially and then winked at me.

My total came to $3.04 ("Just give me three dollars," he said, but I dug out four pennies anyway) and I took my towering treat out to my car to enjoy.

With all the windows down, I enjoyed the 80-degree breeze blowing in from the river while I watched a woman contently sitting on a porch swing on a nearby white house.

Seems like just a few days ago I was sitting on a porch swing overlooking the ocean. Ah, well.

A car pulled up next to me and a guy got out and went in, glancing over at me.

He soon came back out with stuff in his hands, which he put in his car before going back in.

This time he returned with a dip-top cone in hand and looked right at me.

I raised my cone in salute and he did the same.

"Nice idea!" he said, smiling and nodding at me, apparently giving me credit for his decision to dip along with me.

No problem, I told him as he got in his car to leave.

Aw, shucks. Just spreading the gospel of stopping to smell the roses.

Nice idea, if you ask me.

But what do I know? I had chocolate all over my chin.

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