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Running this new food tour biz around town, Real Richmond,  has been lots of work and lots of fun. But until this moment, our tag line–food tours & more–has been less than accurate.  Food tours of Shockoe Slip, Shockoe Bottom/Church Hill, VCU/Fan, Carytown/Museum District, and The Wards are all well and good (and they sure are good), but where’s the more?

I’m working on it.  I’ll be sure to let you know when I put tickets on sale for my newest tour: Secret Basements of Stratford Hills–not to be confused with Cramped Closets of Westover Hills or Real Housewives of Stratford Hills. Just give me time. You’ll see the hoarders, the varmints, the occasional pinball machine, and lots of things I threw in the van as we were emptying my mother’s house in Maryland. You’ll hear stories of sewer line back-ups, burst pipes, and bat attacks–perfect for Halloween. To add a little history, we’ll dine on Paw-Paw fruit (in season–just as George Washington did), meander by that purty river and see who is grilling what illegally (and ask them to share or we’ll call the cops), and investigate the canned goods stockpiled in crazy people’s basements. Trust me, we won’t have to walk far. In the summer we could easily make it a beer crawl–just along Riverside Drive.   Sounds like a great tour. Scary thing is I bet some people will want tickets….

So here is my mea culpa for the surprisingly few yet still annoying mistakes that are my fault in the mostly fabulous guidebook about Richmond I wrote, Insiders\’ Guide to Richmond.  (Whether you agree or disagree with the inclusion of such-and-such restaurant or the omission of some dance club I file somewhere else where I won’t be able to find it when I might need it. )

It became eminently clear to me as soon as it was too late for me to do anything about it that I should have put Richmond Free Press as an Alternative Weekly in the Vital Statistics. It’s unfortunate that being brain dead goes hand-in-hand with writing a guidebook. Occasionally when I wanted to go on auto-pilot I would turn to the Globe Pequot title the editors wanted me to follow–Houston–which should have told us all that we have a problem–and so I put in one alternative paper just like that author did. Dumb. Insensitive. Stupid. Doesn’t make me happy that I didn’t see that faux pas.

NEXT… I refer on occasion to the Forest Hill neighborhood as Westover Hills and I know those Forest Hill folks care. I got it right sometimes, but sometimes my brain just checked out. Most outsiders don’t care a whit about the distinction–if there’s a hill, they’re away–but I do know better and should have caught myself being dopey. 

Lastly?  I, in the guise of getting up to the minute updates on Maggie L. Walker’s year of birth–long reported as 1867, but due to the sleuthing of Elvatrice Belsches now incontrovertibly proven as 1864, I sloppily wrote that Walker was born a slave. No, she was born free, in the time of slavery.  UGH–for me not for her!  Similarly, I wrote that her mother was a slave–well she had been, but wasn’t at the time of Maggie’s birth.  Bums me out to get that wrong. I will shout the real deal from the tops of my tours though.

I do not like making mistakes. I was raised Catholic enough that you see my confession here. My penance isn’t writing this; it’s knowing I should have done better and didn’t.  I can take some comfort knowing that the list of the mistakes the publisher almost made that I caught and fixed is much, much longer (and included titling the book Indianapolis rather than Richmond).  Of course, it’s possible there are other errors that snuck on in.  I’d say let me know–but do I really want to know?

I swear I thought of this topic on our last vacation, before the guy broke his ankle badly, tore the ligaments and dislocated the bejeezus out of everything. I had a whole series of articles planned–perhaps even books–Best Cities My Husband Won’t Go To, Best Art Galleries He Won’t Visit, etc. I’d write Best Sofas for Watching World Cup and the Tour de France, but there’s only one–in fact–only one spot on one sofa that rates the highest marks.

I have actual sympathy for his current state, I really do. I have absolute faith that he will return to fine bike-riding form. I also know that he will still think the following bike ride is nuts. 

I like to head west in Westover Hills and Woodland Heights along Riverside Drive to sneak into Manchester and go where it looks like no one should go–past Legend Brewing through the old warehouse and factory district on bumpy roads with the occasional old railroad track to cross and then cut across Hull Street and go north, close to Caravati\’s, the architectural salvage mecca, taking any number of  numbered streets to Maury St. where the oil storage tanks live. Go left through the desolate landscape where it looks like human beings have no business and continue up and over more railroad tracks under I-95 past the city’s sewage treatment plant and swing left into Ancarrow’s Landing and Manchester Docks. It’s exciting riding through what should be a movie set hoping you don’t get a flat tire on the torn up roads. I like a city with some grit to it. If you prefer fake stuff, go to Hilton Head, SC where the gas stations are concealed behind frippery.

Boaters and fisherfolk know Ancarrow’s Landing, and those who have done the somber and moving Richmond Slave Trail walk (which you can do 8:30 p.m. July 24th in a guided, torchlit walk led by Ralph White. Cost is $5. Call(804) 646-8911 to register), but most people never make it to this spot along the river.  It’s real Richmond. More about the Slave Trail in my next post.  At any rate, head back the way you came or take a right on Hull St. and head over the Mayo Bridge into Shockoe Slip and Bottom.  Empty on Sunday mornings.  Head west to the Manchester Bridge or further west to the Lee or Boulevard bridges–all depends if you want to be north or south for most of the return. It’s a more peaceful ride on a weekend than is necessarily good for a city that should have more people doing things downtown, but take the open road when you can get it.

I’m back!