Friday, July 19, 2013

Day Trip to Harrisonburg

A couple of weeks ago Spencer had a day-long orientation at JMU, which is about 2 hours from our home.  We thought of having him ride up with a friend, but then decided that it would be fun to tagalong with him, so we could finally see JMU for ourselves and explore Harrisonburg as well!

I did a little research before leaving, so I had a handy dandy list of places to go, restaurants to visit,  and things to do.  Since his orientation started early, we ended up driving to Harrisonburg the night before and using our hotel reward points to stay for the night.  We woke up bright and early (hours earlier than Spence's normal summer wake-up time) and dropped him off at campus.

JMU campus is nestled right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is actually quite a lovely campus.
photo source: 

Our first order of business after dropping him off was heading to the Edith Johnson Carrier Arboretum, which is part of JMU campus.   

It was a lovely place laced with walking trails and garden "rooms".  We strolled around, enjoying nature,  for almost 2 hours.  Their favorites were the duck pond...

and the rock labyrinth,

which kept them active and busy for over 20 minutes as they ran the course over and over again.

Next we headed to the on-campus bookstore, so we could outfit our family in some JMU Duke gear.  It was there in the bookstore that I became keenly aware that while  JMU is a beautiful campus filled with friendly people, it is no BYU.  I had to avert the kids' eyes away from some of the garbage they sold there.  

Next we tried to go to the on-campus mineral museum.  Too bad the website neglected to mention one minor detail:  

Oh well.  Off to lunch we went next.  We read rave reviews of this place called Grilled Cheese Mania that intrigued us.  I was a little surprised when we pulled up to the listed address to discover that it's literally a food truck with a permanent address.  Smallness of it notwithstanding, the sandwiches were tasty...

and the kids enjoyed trying out their famous limeade.  

After lunch we drove about 7 miles outside of Harrisonburg to a working lavender farm (White Oaks Lavender Farm).  We were all quite excited about taking a tour and walking through the fields.  

Too bad that the second we pulled into the parking lot was the very second that it started pouring rain.  

Although the rain was very heavy, we still tried to enjoy it the best we could by taking pictures out of the car window...

and venturing out a little....

so we could go into the lavender gift shop.    We had high hopes that the rain would pass while we were in the gift shop and that we would eventually be able to take the tour, but no such luck.   On the bright side, Ellie is enamored with the lavender seed necklace she bought there and it reminds her that we want to go back there again soon.

After the bust trip to the lavender farm (and the bust trip to the mineral museum) I was starting to run low on my list of things to do and I was getting worried how we'd fill the time until Spence was done.  

It was time to formulate a Plan B.  

What's a Plan B without a stop for a treat? We went to a place called Bruster's which had the biggest selection of ice cream I'd ever seen in my life.  

The cones were as big as the selection and we took our time savoring their creamy deliciousness, while I pondered what on earth we were going to do next.  

I left the ice cream store not having a clue where I was driving to.

Just as I was about to resignedly drive back to campus to see what we could discover there, when lo and behold, right across the street from the ice cream store was my salvation!

It was Sylvia's Pet Store!  And what a fun pet store it was!

We spent the next hour-and-a-half holding puppies, petting rabbits, trying to get the birds to talk to us, watching the fish, picking out a dog toy for Rocky, laughing at the owner's dog chase the owner's pet ferret around the store, and in general having a fun, relaxing time together!

It would never have made my list of things to do in Harrisonburg, but it was the absolute perfect way to end the rainy day.

Right as we finished up at the pet store, was right when Spence called to say he was done.   It was perfect. 

Now I have a question to pose to any  JMU alum or JMU parents that happen to be reading this: 

What are your favorite Harrisonburg places to visit?  Are there any fun traditions we should be a part of?  Which restaurants do you love?  Any other helpful advice for some soon-to-be Harrisonburg/JMU frequenters?  


1 comment:

R said...

Way to make the best of what could have been a disappointing day. Imagine the farm and rock museum would have been fun but now they are something to look forward to seeing next time.

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