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Some weeks lend themselves to getting out and about and appreciating the spring thing. This is not one of them, so I will cheat and throw in photos from a week or two ago when the Cherry Blossoms were in full swing down on Brown’s Island.

Pink Island

The weekday I was wandering around on Brown’s Island and Belle Isle I ran into at least 3 people I knew out taking in the spring splendor in the middle of the day. Playing hookey, perhaps. We couldn’t have picked a better place to do it though in my defense, I was working on a new and exciting route for Real Richmond, my food tours (& more) biz.  I even ran into a gal who had been on the previous week’s food tour of Shockoe Slip. She was there with her Goochland Elementary School’s 4th graders, taking in the Civil War museums at Tredegar and she told me that because our tour had taken her to TJ’s Capitol, she’d asked the bus driver on her school field trip to take the class there for a class picture. Hope they return for the full-fledged visit soon.

Old stuff is cool.

One of the flaws of the very worthwhile Tredegar area is that there is no place to buy snacks or lunch there. There’s space for a small cafe and perhaps one day it will appear, but until then, you will have to be resourceful like I am and either pack your own chocolate chip cookies or do what I won’t tell you you can do because I’m about to launch a new Real Richmond product that will be really fun but I can’t tell you what it involves quite yet. That is mean. Oh well. I’m really very nice and generous on our actual tours–but they’re only 2.5 hours, so that explains that. There are tickets available for this Saturday’s 2-4:30 p.m. tour of The Wards–April 2nd. If you email me at mentioning this blog post, you’ll get a two-for one deal, while supplies last.

A couple of Saturdays ago, my husband, some friends, and I  hiked James River Park’s trails from Westover Hills on the south side across the river to the North Bank trail and back across the Belle Isle bridges to our Forest Hill Park starting point. In a stroke of brilliance, we decided to meet our friends at the South of the James Farmers’ Market at 8 a.m. Fortified with chocolate chip cookies from , honey crisp apples (from one of the vendors) that tasted like apples are supposed to taste and haven’t tasted in years, and enough trail mix that I had made to sustain us for months, we set off. I was tempted to bring some pies along, but that would have gotten messy. (We are the only people I know who go to farmers’ markets to buy cookies and pies and pizza dough, just like gramma used to grow on the old family farm.)

First we poked around the Forest Hill Park Lake renovations, which are lovely. Walk the paved paths if you’re feeling lazy or go off-road as we did to feel like you are in the mountains.

In the city, I swear

Then we snuck onto the Buttermilk Trail and proceeded clockwise, over hill and dale to see some of the beautiful stone work, wooden bridges, and landscaping that volunteers put in. The stairway looks like a classic CCC project, but was completed just last year. Then we crossed the Boulevard Bridge and took in the views up and down the river.  If only the Huguenot Bridge were as pleasant to be on. Sigh.

we were tempted to jump aboard....

As we walked by Maymont, we spied one of the bears hanging out in the sun, which was warming us all up quite nicely and wondered why Maymont doesn’t open up a gate to connect the trail to the park during the day. Perhaps they don’t want the plentiful mountain bikers from the trail zooming in. I wasn’t too crazy about seeing them either, especially when one nearly sent me down a ravine. A happier sight, above a steep ramp, we saw city Parks and Rec Trail Manager, Nathan Burrell, and several volunteers from MORE improving the trail. I didn’t feel too guilty walking by as I had put in some serious hours at Pony Pasture with the Friends of James River Park this summer. At that point, the trail followed Kansas St. a few blocks before heading back down into the woods at the Texas Beach entrance. The North Bank trail continued below Mt. Cavalry, Riverview, and Hollywood cemeteries and came out near the pedestrian bridge onto Belle Isle (and bathrooms at Tredegar).

Back on the southside, where we belong, at the 22nd Street stairway crossing the railroad tracks, we came upon a geology class from John Tyler CC. I should have signed up on the spot since I needed more info along the way other than what my information-gathering told me: some damned big rocks–Falls of the James and all that.  I did see the place where farmers stored their buttermilk, hence the trail’s name. That was enough information for me.  We were wiped out by the time we got back to our car, but in a good, happy, we spent our time better than most people did kind of way. Which was as good as it got, because later that afternoon Ed and I did what everyone else does Saturdays, shopped for an appliance for hours on end, so I guess we wound up no better than anybody else, just more tired.

I’m back!