Sometimes you find a place that just speaks to you, that feels like finding the comfy blanket you forgot you had as a child tucked away in an unexpected place. Crozet, Virginia and the surrounding area feels like that place for us. Our hearts just sing as we drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains, past fields with craggy borders that remind us of England, with the feeling of history electric in the air around us.
Our cousin, Kevin, lives in one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen within a day’s drive from our front door. Innisfree Village is an amazing, self-declared life-sharing community for adults with disabilities. Tim’s made more trips to this remarkable place than I have, but every time I come, I feel my insides nearly burst from the beauty that surrounds this community. The views are incredible from nearly every window at Innisfree, and I think this is the closest I’ll ever come to seeing Utopia.
Crozet is the side door to Charlottesville, but it’s mostly unspoiled by city life. If you’re looking for a Wal-mart, Crozet doesn’t offer that. But, if you’re looking for unique eateries, wineries and breweries a plenty, and beautiful surrounds for ultimate zen, Crozet has more than enough to offer.
Driving past the backroad small markets with old men sitting on the porch on Saturday mornings, smoking their cigarettes and talking politics, we felt like we’d stepped through a portal into a kinder, slower time. This is a place where neighbors help their neighbors corral errant cattle escaped from the field, a place where the waitress in the local diner greets patrons by their first names and asks about mothers and friends, a place where community centers have doors wide open on a Saturday morning, ready for the community to actually gather—all things we witnessed on a single twenty-minute drive in Crozet.
Crozet’s neighbor, Charlottesville, is rich with history and a sense of place. Charlottesville is just the sort of college town you’d expect to find on Thomas Jefferson’s front doorstep–refined and genteel. The recent press and events in Charlottesville were clearly the result of outside forces—we found a warm, welcoming vibe as we walked down Main Street just down from the UVA campus. Restaurants with patios were beginning to fill, joggers bounced down the street, and everyone we passed smiled.
History is everywhere around you in this part of the state, and I found myself wanting to urge Tim to stop the car on so many occasions so I could have a closer look at houses and buildings that screamed early America. I found myself dreaming of what it would be like to live in one of the saltbox, colonial, or Victorian houses we passed in lovely valleys or tucked into hillsides. (Tim’s thoughts aimed higher—he asked what I would say if someone offered Jefferson’s Monticello as a new residence for us. Haha!)
We’re thoroughly charmed by Charlottesville and Crozet, and we look forward to more visits and more exploration of this beautiful place for years to come. Next trip we’ll visit more historical landmarks, experience the regional wine (sounds like it might rival Napa!), and enjoy more excellent cuisine. Whatever we see or do, we know we’ll enjoy just relaxing in this sweet part of the country, nestled in the mountains wrapped around us like the blanket we forgot we loved.