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Return to Syria - Virginia

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I can't say I've followed a traditional path in life. Getting married by a certain age, having children, living in a house with a white picket fence - none of these ideas ever took root in my mind or made the list of life goals. Instead, I've always been concerned with discovery. Visually, mentally and, most important, geographically. There's one exception where tradition has a firm hold on my life, and it relates to family. Since childhood, my family has celebrated certain holidays and events in the same manner. I've already shown you some examples like Thanksgiving and our annual Christmas tree cutting. Today, I'll tell you about Syria, Virginia, a place we visit each April to celebrate a remarkable human being.

1. The center of the celebration is Uncle Junior, who was born on April 7, 1932. We travel to the mountains of Syria each year to celebrate his birthday. He's the one relative who has never changed. Always looking the same since I was a kid - striking silver hair, completely calm personality and the kindest eyes. I've never seen him get upset once. Almost all of his brothers died of heart attacks in their late 40's but he somehow inherited the long life gene. He married my mom's oldest sister, and is now widowed after she passed away a few years ago. He stays active by going to a local seniors' club a few times a week. There senior citizens socialize, play games like pool, cards, and go on day trips to local destinations. Do you have similar clubs for older people in Russia?

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2. The central figure in Syria is the Graves' family. They own almost all of the farmland in the small town and operate a restaurant/lodge where visitors gather for large home made feasts. The menu changes each weekend, but they always serve the same salad. Greens covered with bacon bits, deviled eggs and mustard dressing.

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3. On this day we had a lot of heavy salads. Similar to Russian salads, drenched in mayonnaise. Here, coleslaw and pasta salad. Servers bring out various dishes and it's all you can eat. Anytime you want more of an item, they deliver another plate of it. Cost for lunch is $10.99 USD. In addition, there's always at least one meat dish, a lot of fresh vegetables and a dessert. Btw, if you want to know how to make coleslaw read this post. I taught my Russian friend how to make it during his holiday stay, along with meat chili.

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4. In this area, there's no cellphone reception so you must occupy your time in other ways. After lunch, I took a drive around to view the local farmland. This is the main attraction of the area, a short drive from Washington, DC yet a completely different world.

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5. Syria is home to many equestrian enthusiasts and people travel here for competitions and to ride the serene trails. I rode a horse only once in my life, as a youngster in California.

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6. I always hop on the tractor for the free hay ride.

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7. Dogs welcome! And I guess cats too, but I've never seen one on the hay ride. I doubt they could withstand the bumpy ride without going crazy.

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8. Fellow passengers.

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9. Hay ride trail is not for the weak of heart. Very bumpy ride on remote dirt roads. Russian style. :)

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10. I love these winding farm roads!

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11. We passed many animals on the route, but here some dirty, vile pigs. Aggressive, mean animals! However, they are so tasty. Americans will eat bacon on almost anything, and we even had a local "Bacon Festival" in the DC area for the first time this year. Very popular food in the States.

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12. A lot of natural streams on the route. Nature enthusiasts always pleased while exploring the area.

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13. Some of the dirt roads have modern lights for better night views. Otherwise, complete blackness in these areas in the evening time.

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14. I don't know why, but I always find these barrels of hay aesthetically pleasing. I remember taking a lot of photos of them during my Eastern European journey. I still have some reports from that trip, waiting to be cooked. Sorry, I've been very lazy and unorganized with reports recently.

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15. Vintage firetruck parked on the farm. Not sure from what era?

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16. Old gas pump, common scene in rural America.

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17. Vine and weed covered fence.

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18. After the hay ride, I took a walk on the main road and passed this jeep full of dogs! Cool company for the day. :) I love them so and wish I could own one, but it's forbidden in my apartment complex.

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19. Local yard. In general, this is a poor area with most people working hard labor or farm jobs. Yet, the homes are still well maintained and cared for.

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20. These local rednecks in their white pick-up truck stopped me while I was walking down the street to wish me a pleasant day and warn me to be careful of traffic and cars. Nice guys.


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21. Fishing is one of the main activities in the area, all occurring here at the local pond where only trout can be caught.

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22. Local fisherman in camouflage. Popular attire in this region.

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23. Nearby stream, with no fish.

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24. Extreme camouflage, including the crazy hat. This volunteer helps with fishing questions, equipment, and licenses.

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25. Worst part about a catch is removing the hook! Always feels barbaric to me.

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26. It's possible to rent secluded cabins in the region, but they're very expensive. The Graves' family charges per person, rather than per unit. This is unusual for America, where hotels and cabins are typically a set price regardless of the number of people. On average, it's about $90 per person/per day to stay in this area. Too expensive for the quality of the accommodations.

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27. Abandoned barn near the cabins.

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28. Outside the farm area, the roads here are fun to drive. Lots of roller coaster hills!

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29. Serpentine twists also.

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30. The main advantage of Syria is to escape from the chaos of urban life. Peace and tranquility in farmland, with no mobile or Internet access in most areas. Forces you to disconnect, focus on your surroundings and have a human conversation for more than a minute.

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What do you think? Do you like to visit areas like this, or would you be completely bored? I think the true heart and soul of America lies in small towns like Syria. Those who only visit New York City or other metropolises are missing out on the essence of my country.

Comments

( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
ypolozov
Apr. 28th, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
Funny name, I was confused with this Syria for a while))
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:22 am (UTC)
You know there are a lot of sister cities in America - we even have a Paris, Virginia. However, "Syria" isn't as appealing. :) This place with its running streams and woods reminds me very much of our beloved New Hampshire!
(no subject) - g_kar - Apr. 28th, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 11:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ypolozov - Apr. 28th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
qui11
Apr. 28th, 2014 02:53 am (UTC)
I'd visit the area in case i've got a distinct plan to follow, like, to talk to some people wanting to share some specific life experience or to watch some natural phenomtna.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:24 am (UTC)
Syria is the perfect place to star gaze or view meteor showers in complete darkness. Next time I go I'll try to speak with the Graves' family, who owns most of the farmland in the area. Would be interesting to learn more about their farm and write a report about it.
(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:24 am (UTC)
My pleasure!
ankol1
Apr. 28th, 2014 04:12 am (UTC)
Syria is true Russian style))
sergechel
Apr. 28th, 2014 05:14 am (UTC)
excluding the roads )
(no subject) - ankol1 - Apr. 28th, 2014 09:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 11:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 11:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 11:25 am (UTC) - Expand
andrey_kaminsky
Apr. 28th, 2014 06:02 am (UTC)
Hi! I have great news for you!) Perhaps you're worried that falsely harmless symbol of peace turned out as "fuck the US!" symbol... Unpleasant situation, of course:( But now you can wear this symbol without patriotic discomfort. Why? Because one of your most loyal readers Vladimir Putin signed a decree that the former "peace" symbol assign the new "Fuck Ukraine!"
meaning. Problem solved!) He's cute, isn't he?! (And the second meaning "I like to smoke something" still retain official status!)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:27 am (UTC)
Well, the second meaning - "smoking something" - is okay but not the first. Actually, I was very concerned with that odd statement about the peace sign meaning "Fuck America." Never heard this. I would never describe Putin as cute. :)) But his new, young girlfriend is quite attractive.
(no subject) - andrey_kaminsky - Apr. 28th, 2014 11:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - andrey_kaminsky - Apr. 28th, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
old_perduccio
Apr. 28th, 2014 06:50 am (UTC)
What a beautiful place. I never thought that Virginia is hilly
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:29 am (UTC)
Sure, we have the Blue Ridge Mountains here and Shenandoah National Park which is in a mountainous region. That's why I like living here. Mountains, ocean, big city, small towns, all a short drive away. Btw, my parents almost named me Shenandoah, but at the last minute switched it to Shannon. Thank God! :))
(no subject) - old_perduccio - Apr. 28th, 2014 11:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - old_perduccio - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - old_perduccio - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
real_marsel
Apr. 28th, 2014 10:24 am (UTC)
I like hey too.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:30 am (UTC)
Hay always photographs nicely and I like to play in it. We have a slang expression in English "roll in the hay," which is code name for sex. So you can say "let's have a roll in the hay." Have you heard the expression?
(no subject) - real_marsel - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - real_marsel - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 01:07 pm (UTC)
Come visit us in Virginia! It's a beautiful State. You are living in Azerbaijan? Is it safe for an American woman to travel alone there?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2014 01:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
phd_paul_lector
Apr. 28th, 2014 02:35 pm (UTC)
How do they devil an egg? :)

..it's interesting how the place is NOT like Syria. Perhaps you know that St.Petersburg (the one in Russia) is often referred to as "Northern Palmyra". When in the original Palmyra (aka Tadmor) - that's ruins in the sandy desert - I wondered why they gave that nickname to the Russian city, it is absolutely different...
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 02:41 pm (UTC)
Here's a better image of a deviled egg:

 photo egg_zpse3c48e0f.jpg

Very popular food in America, served at a lot of summer cookouts and holiday events. I don't like them. It's basically a hard boiled egg, with the yolk removed. The yolk is then mixed with mayo, mustard and then placed back in the egg, topped with paprika spice. They are served cold. Very easy to make, and people love them. Just not me. :)
(no subject) - phd_paul_lector - Apr. 28th, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
yarowind
Apr. 28th, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC)

Wonderful place!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 06:46 pm (UTC)
A lot of relaxation here. We can all use more of that!
mybathroom
Apr. 29th, 2014 08:27 am (UTC)
I liked this post a lot! Nice photo, beautiful scenery and great story!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 01:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks! There are lots of forests and secluded paths for you to walk in here. You would like it!
qi_tronic
Apr. 29th, 2014 11:44 am (UTC)
Well, Virginia is a land of contrasts :)

(Istanbul is a city of contrasts: en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Diamond_Arm )

But in Soviet Union sometimes there was even more striking contrast despite the equality claims.

Last Sunday we were at a Taekwondo competition in Protvino.

en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Protvino

This nice and modern town was built in '60s for physicists.
But nearby lie derelict villages :)
Such science towns in USSR always looked like spots of Utopia in the middle of nowhere.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 01:12 pm (UTC)
A town built specifically for physicists? Never heard of such a thing. Yes, here in Virginia we have great contrasts in scenery. I think it's the best thing about America - the diverse landscapes from State to State.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 29th, 2014 01:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 29th, 2014 01:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 29th, 2014 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 29th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
skvorets1989
Apr. 29th, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
Do you have similar clubs for older people in Russia?

Communist Party.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 01:13 pm (UTC)
In modern day Russia, it seems older people are not so active. I rarely saw them out at restaurants or other social activities during any of my visits.
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - Apr. 29th, 2014 01:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 29th, 2014 01:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - Apr. 29th, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 29th, 2014 02:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - Apr. 29th, 2014 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 29th, 2014 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - Apr. 29th, 2014 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
circassiaprince
Apr. 29th, 2014 10:08 pm (UTC)
Country roads, take me home
To the place where I belong:
West Virginia, mountain momma,
Take me home, country roads.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 11:27 pm (UTC)
Great song! Have you traveled in Virginia? Long way from Texas.
(no subject) - circassiaprince - Apr. 29th, 2014 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
anna_sollanna
May. 16th, 2014 01:19 pm (UTC)
You know, after reading this post I've realized why you have been so upset seeing abandoned Russian villages. Your rural area is so peaceful, and neat, and friendly! Even farm roads look well-attended!
And photo 29 is my favorite! So cozy rural place!
But I can't image how people can live without any cellphone reception. :)))
peacetraveler22
May. 16th, 2014 04:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love this place! It's true, even in poor, rural areas homes in America are usually maintained well. There are exceptions, of course, but it's rare to see a run down shack or dilapidated house even in remote areas. So, you understand now why I was in shock driving from Moscow to St. Petersburg and seeing all those sunken homes almost the entire drive. Re photo 29, I love these serpentine roads. So fun to drive!
( 60 comments — Leave a comment )

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