James Madison and Me

Weekend before last weekend was the best weekend.


Bret and I wanted to take a Labor Day weekend road trip, we just didn’t know where to go. I wanted the beach – any beach – but Wrightsville and Myrtle Beach are the closest and they are still 5+  hours away. Bret wanted to go to Knobels and Hershey Park with his friends in PA. That is about 8 hours away. Nothing seemed ideal and we couldn’t decide, and then we learned that it was JMU’s opening football game, and instantly, the decision was made.IMG_20160903_234345

I’m loving this stage in life where Bret and I can make last minute plans and hit the road with a couple of bags and just enjoy a whole unplanned weekend. To be fair, you usually can’t plan a JMU football weekend on a whim. EVERY hotel was sold out, and the stadium nearly was, too, but we were able to find a room at an inn downtown and we snagged 4 remaining seats together and everything just worked out so perfectly. Here’s a recap of the best weekend ever:


  • 3pm, Left work! Bret had the car packed so we could hit the road as soon as I finished work. He really is the best.
  • 7pm, Arrived in Harrisonburg and checked in to the Stonewall Jackson Inn. Their innkeeper greeted us and gave us a tour including the beautiful garden patio where we’d have breakfast, where to find the hot tea and free soda, and then she showed us our room.
  • 8pm, We walked to dinner at Union Station. We have lots of good memories from this restaurant and it’s also the place that catered our wedding so it’s always nostalgic to be back.
  • 9pm, We visited Ruby’s Aracade with Bret’s friend, Ed. This new Harrisonburg gem is a bar with pool tables, a bowling alley, ping pong, and it was super new and clean. It felt like “Taylor Down Under” for adults and I was just so happy to be back in Harrisonburg. Bret and Ed played pool and I drank beer and texted my Harrisonburg friends about meeting up the next day.
  • 10pm, We went out for dessert, and then walked back to the inn, watched the cops break up a college party across the street, and then of course Bret grabbed a free soda on his way in.


And that was only Friday! I was so glad we settled on a JMU weekend. I felt so relaxed and so happy.


  • 8am, We walked down to the breakfast patio for a fantastic breakfast: fresh juice, coffee, a yogurt parfait, eggs benedict. It was such a relaxing way to kick off the day.
  • 9am, We walked downtown, I got a text from a Harrisonburg friend who spotted me walking down the street and I really felt like I was home. We walked to campus, took pictures, printed our football tickets, and then made our way to the Farmer’s Market where we met up with my friend, Adrienne.
  • 11am, We had lunch at Earth and Tea cafe with Adrienne. I loved catching up with her!
  • 12pm, We walked into an art store and chatted with the owner who was also a JMU grad. She talked about how she moved back to Harrisonburg and at that moment every bone in my body wanted to move back, too.
  • 2pm, After relaxing for a while at the inn, we made our way back to campus where we went to PC Dukes for lunch and visited our friend, Ed, at his tailgate on Godwin Field.
  • 4pm, We went to the game with my SNACK TIME CO FOUNDER who is basically my favorite person to JMU with. The game was perfect. We left at halftime and walked all the way downtown for Klein’s for ice cream before Brandi and Sean had to leave. I am always sad to say goodbye to this friend, but I wasn’t tooo sad because I knew I’d see her a week later 🙂

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  • 10pm, We walked back to the game for post-game, Bret got to do band fraternity things with his band friends, and I just thought it was awesome that I was allowed to stand on the football field. Then we walked around campus. I got to see D-hub (temporary D-hall replacement) and we walked the path that I used to walk from my freshman dorm to the quad. It made me feel oddly emotional and so grateful for this life.

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  • 8am, We had another wonderful breakfast at the inn. French toast! Then we packed up our things and checked out. Our plan was to leisurely leave town, hit up the Green Valley Bookfair and drive back to Boone mid-morning, late-afternoon. This is what we did instead…
  • 9am, We went out for coffee at Greenberry’s. This is the place where I used to visit before work on all of my summer jobs at JMU. It’s across the street from where I used to fence. It’s just another JMU place that feels like home. And they have great coffee.
  • 10am, We were going to go to the Outpost, but it was closed. We were going to the Green Valley Book Fair but it wasn’t open yet, either. I thought our only option was to go back to Boone and this made me very sad. So. Bret drove us back to JMU!
  • 10:30am, We went for a walk in Purcell Park!
  • 11:30am, We had lunch at the new Dave’s******
  • 1:00pm, We visited the Outpost and bought some JMU souvenirs.
  • 1:30pm, We got to go to the Green Valley Book Fair when they opened and I’m so glad we did. I found a few things, and Bret got SO MANY art books that we heavily, heavily discounted. And THEN we drove back to Boone and I didn’t cry this time.

A note on Dave’s******
It’s hard for me to accept that Dave’s Taverna – the way I knew it – is a thing of the past. The new location is good and their homemade chips are better. Our server was so sweet, too. He asked if we were familiar with the old downtown location, that he had heard about it, and it made me want to shout: YES I’M FAMILIAR. That place is where I lived. It’s where I had a heart-to-heart with my incredible Shorts staff before Kris graduated and we all went our separate ways. That’s where I met so many friends after school and work for happy hour for YEARS. That’s where my favorite feminist mentor/professor bought me a beer after graduation. That’s where I watched Teagan’s band play in grad school. That’s where I went to LUNCH on slow days at my summer jobs. That’s where my relatively sober grad school friends were refused service because we were wearing princess crowns and looked like we had been bar hopping. I just have so many memories in this place. To this kid, they were ancient memories. From 2007-2011. Before he was even in high school. And I get that. If someone from the class of ’99 showed up when I was in college, I would have thought they were old, too. It just made me wish I could time travel for a few minutes.

Knowing that I can’t go back there and see it exist exactly how it was for so many years makes me emotional. And I know I’m going to be hit with waves of that same feeling over and over as things continue to change. Things never stay the same. I’m just glad we were able to grab on to these moments enjoy them before they, too, pass.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-9-13-40-amI loved seeing so many familiar faces, but mostly, I loved hanging out with this guy. I’m so grateful that even though our paths didn’t cross until 2010, we both have fond memories of JMU. We both have friends there. It feels like home to both of us.

We walked well over 10 miles on Saturday, and we did that because we both just felt like being on campus, and then wandering downtown, and then getting lunch with friends, and then walking from the game, to Klein’s and back. And we were happy the whole time. Until we had to leave.

Leaving Harrisonburg is never easy for me, but I think I’ve made that abundantly clear.

Part of me really hopes that we end up back at JMU. I can visualize myself living there and working there and going to yoga there and being really happy. A larger part of me feels like I need to keep JMU at a distance because I know that I could create new memories there, but I kind of don’t want them to overwrite my student experience. I think of the phrase ‘You can’t go home again’ …I just know it won’t be the same if I live there and see it every day.


All I know right now is this: I’ll be back again for another visit soon!

P.S. You can read about another wonderful JMU weekend here.

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