Mark and I were invited to an open house at The Wildlife Center of Virginia this Saturday and decided to make a weekend out of it. The Wildlife Center is in Waynesboro, which is not terribly far from Charlottesville, which I’ve always wanted to explore. We got to see their hospital facility and then meet their non-releasable, resident animals. We weren’t allowed to see any of the patients, of which they see between two and three thousand a year. But it was cool to see where my parents’ money goes (Mark requests a donation to this place from my parents in lieu of Christmas gifts each year).
I thought this kestrel was just adorable!
Many of the other people at the open house were eagle fans. In addition to several other eagle patients, the center is raising several eaglets from the Norfolk Botanical Garden that were orphaned when their mother was tragically killed by an airplane, and most of the visitors have been watching them grow on the center’s eagle cam. We weren’t able to see these eagles, but we did see a couple of non-releasable eagles, such as this guy.
They also have a lot of owls. You might as well know now that I am totally fascinated by owls.
After visiting the Wildlife Center, we drove about 40 minutes east to a town (if you can call it that) called Schuyler, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where out in the middle of nowhere (we had absolutely no cell phone coverage at all) there is a most exciting establishment: a completely vegan bed & breakfast! The White Pig is a B&B and animal sanctuary, specifically for potbellied pigs. It’s a beautiful restored farmhouse:
The innkeeper, Dina, and her husband raise pigs they have rescued. I wish we had stayed two nights instead of one because we did not manage to find time to explore the farm or even see the pigs: we’re definitely going to have to go back. We DID see numerous non-living pigs. My friend Pig was right at home!
It’s a very interesting – and very wonderful – feeling to be staying in a place, especially one so remote, where everything is vegan, including the toiletries. There is even a “no meat on the premises” policy! I don’t generally feel unwelcome when I stay in a “normal” hotel or inn, but let me tell you, I felt damn welcome here! The back of the house:
An old barn next to the house:
Smark being silly:
After settling into the White Pig, Mark and I drove about half an hour into Charlottesville, looking for dinner. We found Lemongrass, a cute little Vietnamese/Thai place near the University of Virginia that had vegan meals noted on the menu. I noticed that some of the things marked vegetarian but not vegan were almost definitely really vegan as well, and in fact, asked about the tofu summer rolls, which fell into that category. Our waitress said I was right that the menu was sometimes wrong about the vegan items and checked with the kitchen to verify the summer rolls were also vegan.
I had the Orange-Tamarind Tofu, which was really good.
Mark had the Cashew Seitan. Let me tell you how Mark felt about the cashew seitan. None of the meals marked vegan were also marked spicy (although as I said, I believe several, if not all, of the vegetarian dishes may really be vegan), so when we ordered I asked them to bring us the selection of “hot stuff” you usually find at Thai restaurants, so we could spice them up. They didn’t remember to bring the hot stuff out, but Mark – the boy who will literally pour an entire bottle of Tabasco sauce over just about anything I serve him, and I cook fairly spicy to begin with – informed me the cashew seitan was so delicious it didn’t need hot sauce. I couldn’t refrain from stealing half of it from him, either.
Later that night we stopped by Whole Foods (I can’t decide if the Charlottesville store is bigger than my local store in Fairfax, or vice versa, but it’s pretty huge) and picked up some Sheese and crackers, which we ate sitting on the porch of the White Pig, drinking the vegan red wine and eating the vegan chocolates we’d been left, and gaping at the stars, which we don’t ordinarily get to see unobstructed by city and suburban lights.
The next morning we went down for breakfast and found two yogurt granola parfaits waiting for us, which I forgot to take a picture of, but which were delicious. Then it was time for blueberry pancakes, which Mark informed me were better than my pancakes. They were. The only time I ever cook breakfast is when Fortinbras is over and demands that I make him pancakes (he can be a bit demanding). So starting what promised to be a long day with a perfectly cooked homemade breakfast was delicious and wonderful. It was also so weird to be able to eat breakfast food while out! So weird that at first Mark avoided buttering his pancakes because we’re so used to just assuming we can’t do that. I had to remind him we could eat everything!
I also ordered box lunches from the innkeeper for us, which I didn’t photograph. They included “chicken” salad sandwiches, which Mark didn’t love because he’s not a fan of mayonnaise, but which I thought were really good. We packed up the car, including the lunches, and were off to Monticello, home of our third president and a prominent founding father, Thomas Jefferson. I’ve always wanted to see Monticello and it lived up to my expectations. Although it was sweltering (95 degrees!), it was just lovely. We had some time before the tour, which I had booked earlier, and stopped into the cafe, where they serve food made with produce grown in Jefferson’s garden, and I was shocked to find a vegan wrap available, although I didn’t buy it since we had our box lunches. I tell you, I barely feel weird any more as a vegan! The world is beginning to find me normal!
Not much else really has to do with veganism or even animals in the rest of this post, but I’ll share a few photos because Monticello is simply breathtaking, and well, it is Independence Day!
The house itself:
We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the house, but the kitchen is not actually in the house (!), so I can show you that:
Part of Jefferson’s beloved garden – he was a huge fan of vegetables and in fact introduced several of them to our country:
I’m telling you, it is ridiculously pretty:
I had never seen a blooming artichoke before:
A random view from the grounds:
We had a really great weekend. I highly recommend that any of you in the DC metro area make a weekend trip to the White Pig, and if you haven’t seen it (and even if you have), Monticello. In fact, any of you who plan to visit DC from other areas may want to consider including this as a side trip. Charlottesville and Monticello are just over two hours from DC, as is the White Pig. After a few days battling crowds, traffic, and the general unpleasantness that is DC, believe me, you will cherish a night or two in a serene setting, especially one that’s all-vegan!