Al Alborn

Al Alborn

COVID-19 numbers are going up.  The cautious and high risk folks self-quarantine.  They stay at home to avoid exposure.  That can cause COVID-19 fatigue.  

I suggest a really great treatment – go for a drive!  Take the back roads. 

In the interest of efficiency, Prince William County has engineered traffic routes around the county’s history and beauty. You can hop on the Prince William Parkway or Route 234 and quickly zip from Interstate 66 to Interstate 95 in either direction. That gets you where you want to go quickly; however, you speed past the most interesting and beautiful parts of the county.

To beat the fatigue, I decided to get in my car and look around the county for a bit.  Some people drive to Shenandoah National Park or other scenic areas for a peek at fall colors and interesting attractions.  There are plenty of both here in Prince William.  If you need a little help knowing which road to enjoy, check out the 40 miles of Virginia Scenic Byways in the county.  You can find a list of these byways on the Prince William Conservation Alliance’s website.

I have driven all of them.  This day, I decided to enjoy Bristow Road between Joplin Road (Route 619) and Route 28. 

The fall colors were beautiful!  The county’s backroads are a walk through its history.  I stopped at the Brentsville Courthouse to take a look around.  It was established in 1822 and was the county seat for a while.  The old county jail built at the same time is a short 30 yards away.  Both are worth a peek at how things used to be. 

If you wander to the back of the parking lot, you will find the Haislip-Hill Farm House.  It demonstrates how average people lived in the 19th century.  Gardeners might be interested in its side garden.  A self-guided nature trail starts behind the house.  It’s worth your time.  Grab a brochure at the information kiosk that explains the points of interest.  Pack a lunch or a snack.  I enjoyed a cup of coffee at the picnic area at the end of the nature trail.

From there, I drove down Brentsville Road and took Route 28 to Vint Hill Road.  This takes you deeper into the Rural Crescent. 

The pastures and cornfields remind me of my Iowa farm heritage.  I always enjoy the country stores on the back roads.  Mayhugh’s Store #1 is at the intersection of Vint Hill and Greenwich Roads.  I recommend the ham sliders located by the cash register. 

I drove on to Vint Hill Farms, just inside Fauquier County, for a look around.  The farm has changed a lot in its transition from a military base to a commercial property.  If you visit on a weekend, I recommend stopping at the Cold War Museum and looking around at the artifacts that helped us win that war.  You’ll find the Covert Cafe across from the museum.  I am always on the lookout for a good Cuban sandwich.  The cafe served up one of the best Cubans I have had in a long time.  Recommend!

This drive refreshed my soul and satisfied my appetite.  I started the drive pondering ideas for my next column, and ended it writing this column in my head along the way.  Ferris Bueller was right, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Al Alborn is a political and social activist in Prince William County. His column appears every other week.  You can learn more about Al at www.alborn.net

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