I apologize for the late posting of this article. I needed help getting the photos from my email to the post.
A few weeks ago, we drove to a little town called Harrisonburg, in the Shenandoah Valley and spent the night in a hotel five minutes from James Madison University. My oldest daughter, Stephanie, had auditions for All-State Band. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and got ready, took her to breakfast, (that story I should include in another post-cops, Shoney’s shut down, robbery, going to The Waffle House and being served breakfast by women with no teeth), and had her at the school by 7:30. She was third in line to audition and was done within an hour. We hung out in Harrisonburg for a few hours until the results were posted. My husband took her to the school while her sister and I went shopping at their teeny-tiny mall. She called me all excited and said, “Mom, I’m the
second best tenor sax player in the state of Virginia!”
This past Thursday, Steph drove with her band director and some other kids to Charlottesville for a two-day intense set of power rehearsals with VERY qualified directors for the two bands and the orchestra. Steph was in the 1st band and sent us texts about how excited she was for us to hear her play. We were excited, too. This was not going to be your typical high school band concert. This was the best kids in the state and a lot of these kids want to major in music.
So, Saturday, we woke up early again and drove to Charlottesville for the concert. We decided to make a day of it and hang out in Charlottesville, since the other two times we had been there, we saw Thomas Jefferson’s house, Monticello, and that was it. Monticello is definitely beautiful, though, if you have not seen it; it is two and a half hours south of the Washington, D.C. area.
Anyway, sorry; just had to throw that in. The concert was at Charlottesville High School and it was amazing. The second band played first and I was so impressed, I could not wait to hear Steph’s band. The director held several degrees in music and was fascinating to watch. I found myself wanting to go back to my high school days and sit in this guy’s band just for one day. I would have hung on this guy’s every word and loved playing in his band. One thing he did was when he came out on stage , he tuned them by having the first chair clarinet play a note and having the kids sing the note before they matched the pitch.
When the first band played next, warming up on stage, just as the last band had done, but without the director. These kids did not need the director to help them tune. 🙂 The first chair clarinet stood up and played the tuning note and everyone played it, tuning themselves. The director was an older man, with 39 years of directing experience. He was pretty spry for an older guy and VERY energetic. He was interesting to watch, as well. The music was beautiful! I videotaped it but it came out shaky, so I hesitate to post it; however, in six weeks, we should be getting the DVD in the mail that we bought. Not sure how that could work, though.
Afterward, Steph was exhausted from such an intense two days and kind of sad it was over. She said she learned more than she expected to learn and even looked at music differently than she had. She had loved the director and learned a lot of from him. She even learned a lot from the first chair tenor sax player. He beat her by about 15 points and she said he DEFINITELY deserved first chair. He gave her pointers and helped her out a bit.
And now for the fun. We went to a coffee shop called Para Coffee and got Steph a very big cup of coffee before going around the town. I had heard of the place by finding an article through my tag surfer. It is a husband and wife who do the blog and the husband owns Para Coffee in Charlottesville. I mentioned to them that we would be in town and would stop by. She responded that they would be out of town but we could come by. Bummer. Who would have thought Icould find it through wordpress? 🙂
The place was longer than I expected it to be, with several tables and chairs-almost all taken. We drank our beverages there, so they were served in large cups and saucers the same color as the building. Pretty. I had a hot chocolate and thought I could taste a hint of mint in it. Whether mint was in it or not, it was good.
We drove around downtown, trying to find something to do but there was not much, so my husband suggested we go to eat somewhere and he had mapped out a place unbeknownst to me. The restaurant was called The Melting Pot and it was a fondue place. I had never been to a fondue restaurant, neither had the kids, so it was kind of fun to try it.
Turned out, one needs a reservation and obviously, we did not, so they offered us a place at the bar. We decided to take it. They promised us the full fondue effect and we received it with a smile. The manager explained the menu to us, since one can do it several ways. We chose to do the four course meal with cheese, salad, meat and chocolate. One can choose a type of cheese and have bread and apples to dip into it. We went with the cheddar, so yummy. Kenny, the bartender mixed it up for us. He was basically our waiter for the evening.
The manager checked in on us several times when he was not making drinks carried on pleasant conversation. After the salads, he explained how the meat was going to work. We could have a separate plate of vegetables along with the vegetables that came with the meats. Terry, my husband and Anna chose a land and sea mix, with chicken and various seafood. One can also choose the type of fondue sauce to go with the main course. We went with the bouillon and it was so tasty. In this case, one cannot blame the chef if it is burned or does not turn out right because you do the cooking. It took about one to two minutes to cook the meat and vegetables, and Kenny told us that it takes about five hours to burn the food-so you cannot burn it-unless you stay there five hours.
And finally, dessert! The Melting Pot had several different choices as far as what kind of chocolate and if one wanted it mixed with what. Our youngest daughter, Anna, fell in love with the milk chocolate and peanut butter mixture and we decided to go with that. Man, was it good! It came with Rice Krispy treats, oreo-covered marshmallows, graham cracker crust-covered marshmallows, strawberries, bananas and brownie bites. We went through it pretty quickly-heaven!