I have lived and traveled through many parts of the United States during my lifetime. I have backpacked with friends in Costa Rica and Peru and have even made the long trip to Melbourne, Australia. Every place I have been I have brought back stories to my grandfather, Joseph Hosaflook.
He would listen to every story and always had the same response: “I don’t know why you want to go to all those places. There is no place like Virginia. It is the best state to live in!” I would roll my eyes and always reply, “Yes Granddad!”
Since moving back to Virginia four years ago I have begun to realize just how much I missed living in Virginia. My grandfather grew up in Augusta County, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Growing up we would visit family in the Valley and of course there were annual family reunions. Going back now as an adult, and as a researcher, I see the wealth of history and beauty in the Valley. This also extends to the other areas of Virginia I have been exploring.
Today I left home to head off to Richmond for the National Genealogical Society’s 2014 annual conference. Instead of heading down I-95 for a dull ride, and the inevitable traffic that always seems to appear between Woodbridge and Fredericksburg, I set my GPS to avoid highways and tolls. I then followed the voice as it told me where to turn.
The voice took me out Route 29 through Bull Run Regional Park then down to Culpeper. I then turned onto Route 552, Zachary Taylor Hwy, by Lake Anna to Route 33 and finally W. Broad Street into Richmond. The trip took about an hour longer than I-95 (assuming the traffic did not form today) but it was so worth it.
The drive took me through several small towns, past old churches and cemeteries, battlefields and other historical landmarks. All these places marked for a visit in the future. All these places missed if I had taken the fast route, via the highway.
The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to inspire me both in my own family’s research and through research I do for others. Sometimes you have to take a detour to see what you have been missing. The drive today is the beginning of a week of discovering more about my home state while engaging with fellow genealogists from all over the world. This will be a great week indeed!
And yes Granddad, there is no place quite like Virginia!