Funny thing about spontaneity – you have to leave space for it. It’s difficult to pick up and go when you’re busy all the time.
I doubt I’m alone in my tendency to occupy every moment of the day. With good stuff, important stuff, but the stuff adds up and before I know it a month’s gone by and I haven’t done anything cool.
So my friend Tessa and I occasionally plan to leave space for doing cool things together. Spontaneously.
Home of the Smithfield ham, and a repository for peanuts and dairy farming, Smithfield, Virginia, is a quiet little place with bits of charm tucked throughout. Specifically the Porcine Parade – a series of eight painted pigs celebrating Smithfield history.
We bunked at Smithfield Station, a beautiful and comfortable hotel with a view of the lake and a delicious buffet brunch.
Walking around downtown Smithfield is an exercise in cute. From the quirky juxtaposition of architectural styles to the sweet people running the shops, it’s a treat for a quiet weekend. The Smithfield Store fed us ham biscuits and provided a variety of Virginia-themed treats to stock up for later. I got a slab of uncut bacon and some unique varieties of toffee.
It wasn’t exactly the tourist season when we went, so things were a bit silent. But we had a blast gadding about the tiny downtown area – a couple of streets with shops and an art gallery.
We visited the Smithfield museum and learned all about the World’s Oldest Ham (it’s 111 years old… and it has the wrinkles to prove it), as well as the making of the largest ham biscuit ever. It was enormous.
All you’d ever want to know about curing techniques (and being two foodies, we want to know a lot), and a good amount about peanuts. And a replica of an old timey general store, featuring a penny game and lots of badly acted voice recordings depicting pioneer days in southern Virginia.
Or maybe they weren’t badly acted. Maybe people really sound like that 200 years ago.
I guess we’ll never know.
Being so close to Surry, we skipped down to Bacon’s Castle – which I confess to secretly hoping would be an elaborate pork tower, but in reality is a big house. A big house built by a colonial planter, which was at one time commandeered by the uprisen Nathaniel Bacon in 1675.
One last stop at Fort Henry in Virginia Beach – to take a gander at the lighthouse. The historic one is out of operation, but there’s another newer one right next to it. We had some trouble finding it, but the guard at the wrong entrance we went to first was very kind and redirected us.
All around, a fine weekend. Let’s plan to spontaneously go somewhere else cool.