Day 21 – Maymont Park – Richmond, Virginia

Today we left the base and embarked on an adventure to Richmond to visit Maymont Park based on the recommendation of the nice lady with the German accent behind the reception desk at our exceptionally nice abode.

I programmed our destination into my phone’s GPS, plugged it into the car, and away we went on I-95 North. It was a quick trip because Richmond is only about 29 miles from Fort Lee. Since Columbus Day is apparently a holiday for most folks in Virginia there was very little traffic on the freeway. That was true for the side streets in town that we had to traverse at the insistence of Veronica, our GPS expert. It’s actually SIRI, not Veronica. I was just trying to trick you.

Richmond has some very narrow streets that I’m sure haven’t been widened since they were primarily used for horses and buggys. With the only available parking is on the street for most of the housing we saw, like this, the situation doesn’t get any better. There actually are individual houses around, and we saw some, but row houses like those in this photo are all over the place. These are actually separate homes with about a 5-6 foot space between them, but on first look they appear to be joined at the hip. There are others that are obviously newer, made of brick, that I would call town homes because they are physically joined. I didn’t take a photo of any of those because I didn’t want to. That, and my phone/camera was connected to the car for the GPS. That’s why I didn’t want to.img_9853

Getting to the park took us directly through the heart of VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University). At least that’s what it seemed like because we were surround by buildings with the VCU logo on them for a mile or so through town. If those were indeed university buildings, I’d hate to have to make it from one class to another across that campus. Maybe they have some sort of underground delivery system for students.

Once we got to the park the first thing we discovered was that the welcome center wasn’t welcoming anyone because it’s not open on Monday. So we followed what looked like a group of Richmond natives down a walk that led waaaay down into a valley on this 100 acre estate.

At the bottom Diane stopped to rest her knees, which hurt all the time, and she was in need of a restroom. Fortunately, Dave was just about to pass us and he was dressed, to me, like someone who might work on the estate. I know his name was Dave because I asked and told me. Before that, however, I asked him if he knew where a restroom might be. He did, of course, because he volunteers his time at the park working in Raptor Valley where the birds live. He said he was heading that way and to follow him. Naturally that led to a conversation about where we were from. When he discovered that we were from out West, he slowed his pace to match ours and gave us a comprehensive history of the Maymont property and its original owners, the Dooley’s. What a guy!


Dave said James Dooley made his millions in a variety of enterprises, including the railroad industry, and built this incredible mansion on a hill in Richmond. When he and his wife died they had no family so left the property to the city of Richmond. Unfortunately, the property didn’t come with money to maintain it. That required a group of wealthy Richmond folks to step up and begin a program for that reason. The result is beautiful Maymont Park that includes the mansion and all of it’s grounds. It’s worth a trip. Oh! and it’s free.

Diane and I wandered around the winding paths and stairways to the tune of between 4-5 miles, depending on whose fitbit you want to believe. Mine came up with 3.97 miles but Diane’s was 5. My fitbit also said that I climbed up and down 15 floors of stairs. That one is absolutely true, I’m pretty sure. We did some ticking up and down hills. Diane’s knees will never be the same after today.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Wal-Mart* super center a little south of Fort Lee to get some required items, then stopped for a Pizza Hut dinner at the facility on base. When we got to the room I was a little shaky because I hadn’t had anything to eat for approximately 6 hours. As a newly crowned diabetic I could feel the need for food and confirmed it when I checked my BS level. It was 73.

The pizza was good and we demolished the entire thing, each eating half. That’s significant for Diane because she normally can only eat 3 pieces.

Now we’re settled in for the night and I need to stop because Monday Night Football is about to start. Since Cam Newton is out with a concussion for the Carolina Panthers our home town boy, Derek Anderson, will be in at quarterback. They are playing Tampa Bay with Jamis Winston at QB. It would be fun to see Derek beat them.

I will terminate this with some photos from today’s trip.

This is a terrific little stone bridge at the bottom of the trail, just before we met Dave.


Wandering through the Japanese Garden.

img_9896 img_9899 img_9900 img_9903

At the to, near the mansion, we found a large stone barn that has huge bird houses for dormers.img_9909-1

More out buildings with a really pretty fountain.


A comprehensive view of the estate buildings. This was taken from a wicker chair tied to 3 large weather balloons. It’s secured to the ground with a very long rope, thank God. It was still a little breezy up there, but it provided a terrific view of the James River and the estate. Those descriptive words just magically showed up when I imported the photo.img_9922

This is the last shot I took as the handlers were hauling me out of the sky.


Inside is the freakishly weird Swan Bed in Mrs. Dooley’s bedroom. I’m guessing this feature of her choice in bedroom furniture was a large factor in their childless marriage. I mean, really? img_9926

The kitchen is huge and finely attired. Looks very functional.


The living room is very ornate. Lots of wood that needs lots of pledge to keep it looking like it does.


Outside Diane walks through the arches where the Dooley’s, and guests would access the home from their carriages without getting wet, in case it was raining.


That’s Diane standing at the top of the steps on the front porch. She thought it was pretty nice, but that it should be screened in. Still, pretty classy.


On the way out, pondering the best route back to our car, Diane stops to consider how long it would take me to mow all that yard. It’s massive.


Lastly, here’s a pretty nice looking tree standing all alone so it could flourish in all directions.img_9941



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