As I write this post, I just received a text “What’s your plan this week?” The short answer is…no plan. I will certainly admit that there is a great deal of planning involved with traveling around the country in your Sentra for a year, but it is the days that I leave unplanned that make me thankful I have this opportunity. Think back to the last trip you took and consider all the planning that went in to it. Now imagine being on a new trip roughly once every two weeks. Each weekend is a chance to experience something new. The planning has to take a back seat on occasion…and you have to just live by the seat of your pants. That is how I learned the story of the Bedford Boys.
The travel time from Raleigh to Charlottesville is about 3 and a half hours. This is the shortest route. If you have been following along with my journey so far, you already know that I certainly wasn’t going to take the shortest route. Traveling on a Saturday with nothing else planned, I wanted to make the most of it. It turned out to be one of the most unexpectedly exciting trips I have experienced on the journey thus far. It wasn’t until a few days before the weekend that I even knew where I was staying on that Saturday night, so planning the trip was out of the question.
Friday night I came up with a general idea of where I wanted to go. I needed to arrive at a decent hour, but the rest was up to me. I decided I would head up to Roanoke for an early lunch before cutting over to the Blue Ridge Parkway and possibly finding a short hike to do in the afternoon. The George Washington and Jefferson National Forest was near Roanoke, so that could also be an option. This was the first plan idea at least. Around Danville (in the car already), I decided to cut out Roanoke all together. I decided to head straight for the Blue Ridge Parkway and find a place to eat along the way. This would maximize my time on the Parkway which I decided was my new goal. The second plan idea for the day.
Well aware that I had to get the lunch before making it to the Parkway (limited options after), I knew it was going to be an early one. I decided on Bedford, VA. This was on the way and not too far from one of the entrances to the Parkway. Looking up the best local places to eat in Bedford, I landed on a restaurant located in an old train station. Perfect stop to experience the local food. I almost missed out on the 3 types of free rolls with a new butter that they serve. You have to ask…and I did not. Eventually the manager came over after she saw me taking pictures and reading the story on the back of the menu. She brought over the 3 rolls and the day’s butter. It was excellent.
On the way to the restaurant, I had seen a sign for the National D-Day Memorial. The back of the menu had more information on D-Day and the war. This was the first I heard about the Bedford Boys. The town of Bedford suffered the most casualties per capita in the country on D-Day with 20 men killed that day. Most were killed in Company A as part of the group that stormed Omaha beach in the first wave. As I headed to the bathroom, I heard one of the other locals refer to the Bedford Boys. Plans were about to change.
I veered off course to the National D-Day Memorial and ended up on an hour tour with a very knowledgeable guide. The number of interesting tidbits he shared were well worth the trip. Although interested in the memorial as a whole, my questions all centered on the Bedford Boys. It was unbelievable to see the respect this town had for the sacrifice of some of their own so many years ago.
As for the memorial, the location could not be better with the mountains in the background. The memorial is very well thought out and put together. I did my own exploring afterwards and spent some time in the museum. I knew the hike in the afternoon likely wouldn’t happen, but that was fine as my time was well spent at the Memorial. I still finished my drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway (a great experience in its own right) and ended up in Charlottesville in time to watch the UVA game with some true Virginia fans.
Next time you are preparing for a road trip…consider leaving some time to veer off the path if something catches your eye. You never know where you might end up, and it could end up being even better than what you had “planned.” And of course, If you happen to find yourself on a trip through the area, I would recommend stopping in Bedford, VA and hearing the story of the Bedford Boys.