Are We There Yet?

views from the booth header v2

Greetings from The Booth!

Welcome to the so-called “dog days” of Summer. Traditionally, that would be August, but close enough, with sweltering August-like temps this week. It’s somewhat of a down time for sports, with the MLB All-Star break coming to an end, and pro and college football not quite on the forefront. Yes there is golf’s final major of the season, the Open Championship, and Wimbledon, but those don’t quite have the impact of a college football Saturday. Anyway, with this dead spot on the sports landscape, and a week off for me already underway, I thought I’d reflect on that American tradition known as the vacation road trip.

The movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” really hits home for me, and for so many, because it takes us back. Like Clark and his clan, most of have memories of piling into the family station wagon (nowadays the minivan or SUV), and headed to various destinations, whether the beach, the mountains, or elsewhere. In my childhood, our mode of transport was the Vista Cruiser, which was much like the Griswolds’ Family Truckster.

I guess time tends to smooth out the rough spots because I have mostly fond memories about those trips, and I’m sure they weren’t always smooth. We usually set out early on those vacations, somewhere around 4am. Being a morning person now, I like to hit the road early but if I was really honest, I probably hated being yanked from a deep sleep and thrown onto a vehicle filled with luggage and other groggy siblings.

Most of our destinations were various beaches–Myrtle a few times, which took us down I-95. It was along that particular Interstate highway where thousands, if not millions, were lured to the legendary South of The Border, just south of the North-South Carolina line. If you’re not familiar with that iconic “tourist trap on steroids,” Google it. The signs with clever sayings (“Pedro’s Weather Forecast, Chili Today, Hot Tamale”) started about 700 miles away from South Of The Border, and by the time you were about 50 miles away, you were hooked. Imagine the shock and awe of pulling into South Of The Border, only to find nothing but mega-fireworks stores, a hotel, some eateries, and other various ways to lose all your money before you got to the beach. It was an early lesson in hype versus reality.

The memories all run together as the years go by, but there was always the sunburn, seafood, and miniature golf. Our beach of choice in recent years has been Chincoteague, although our last visit there was in 2017. Yes, the mosquitoes are as big as 747s, but there’s nothing like ice cream from Mister Whippy’s, a seafood feast from Steamer’s, running the wildlife loop, and of course, the occasional glimpse of the wild ponies. I can’t wait to get back!

These days, though, whet I really enjoy is getting out on the open road, knowing a clear mountain lake or the sand and surf is just a great car ride away. As I get older, I suppose I cherish the journey as much as the destination. Especially, when there’s no one in the back seat asking “are we there yet?”

Until next time from The Booth..I am off on Vaycay!




West Oaks hosts Winter Heat Chili Cook Off

West Oaks Farm Market is hosting their 2nd annual Winter Heat Chili Cook Off.

The Chili sampling goes from 11 am to 4 pm with awards announced at 5 pm.

The event will also feature live music from local acoustic musicians like Wright Live, Zac Townsend, Brad Harden, and Krissy and Beck.

The cook off also benefits the Blue Ridge Hospice Kaleidoscope Project which provides free grief counseling to children.

The winner with the best bowl of chili will secure a spot at the World Championship Chili Cookoff in September at Myrtle Beach.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.