Lately I’ve been asked by people I don’t really know what’s the most interesting thing  I’ve learned about Richmond while writing the Insiders’ Guide to the aforementioned city. Of course, my first answer is that I already knew everything, but that’s not exactly the truth. I do want you to pay my publisher the big bucks to find out most of what I learned, so in advance of the Sept. 1st  publication, let me share not so much what I learned about Richmond as what I learned about me. Totally worth the price.

First, I learned that I need to get out more. In the 18 years I’ve lived in Richmond, I have cooked too many dull dinners and eaten too many leftover lunches at home. There are too damned many fabulous restaurants that I still haven’t eaten at even though I picked up the pace a bit these last four months. When I do go out, I tend to go to the same few places. I need to insist that we mix it up to hit the more than 140 restaurants I included in the durned book. 

Second, I learned again that I am a bad mother. That’s one lesson I learn over and over. Why did I never take my children to Drewry’s Bluff when they were younger? I drove past the sign on I-95 dozens of times on the way to and fro soccer games. I wondered about it. I just never took them there. (I blame the damned soccer games. Screwed up many an otherwise pleasant weekend.) Yes, Drewry’s Bluff is a Civil War site, but that doesn’t make it dull or  make you or me a weirdo for being fond of it. It’s a great little winding walk in the woods to a beautiful overlook high above the James River. And there’s a cannon there–suitable for climbing on. Besides learning a bit about the first battle of the war near Richmond, you’ll learn about slaves who escaped from Shirley Plantation to join Union naval forces. It’s possible I learned that last bit somewhere else on my journeys, but unlike a certain governor, most anyone visiting Civil War sites in the area will realize that the Civil War is about more than the Confederacy.  McDonnell and his crew are making Richmond look like the Confederacy of Dunces.  

I'm sparing you the shot of me straddling the cannon....

But back to me–I also never took my children to the Metro Richmond Zoo. It was kind of lame back in the days of their youth, and expensive, especially to someone used to the National Zoo like I was, but still. Mistake. Mea culpa.  Nothing like writing a guidebook to make you feel inadequate and nothing like having an idiot governor to make you feel superior and sad.