Buena Vista, VA

Buena Vista, VA exists in a sneakily beautiful area of the U.S. with a sneaky habit of bastardizing pronunciations in a manner that shouts: AMERICA!

We arrived at a first-come, first-served camping area in the town of Buena Vista, which is pronounced Bunna Vih-sta, and were greeted by Billy Bean, the director of Guy’s Jam, a BlueGrass gathering that just happened to be taking place when we pulled into Glen Maury Park camping area. He coaxed me into this golf cart, shuttled me around an open field lined with posts offering varying amounts of electricity and/or water, suggested a spot behind the fence of a baseball field, and promised us a week of banjo picking glory.

When Jake checked in to the park’s office, the clerk charged us for a few nights at the park and then declared an inability to pronounce his name (Chafik = Sha-feek).

Later, while doing some banking over in the town of Lexington (pronounced lex-ing-ton, whew!), our banker gave us a verbal tour of the town names in the area. My favorite adulteration from that conversation was Buchanan, which is apparently pronounced buck-an-an if you’re a local.

As we began to get a grasp on the dialect of the area, we found we were really enjoying living at a Bluegrass jam in an open field. We were tucked into a corner of the field which gave us a bit of space all week. And while there were a few moments of trepidation when the local girl’s softball team showed up for practice one afternoon, Dyna made it through our first few days unscathed and unirked.

And then the weekend happened.

The clerk from the Glen Maury office rolled up to Dyna in her car mid-afternoon on Thursday and asked us to move the Jeep so a local lady could squeeze a trailer between us and our neighbor. Before returning to her office, she reminded us that she couldn’t pronounce our last name (in the case we were curious that she’d learned, apparently?) This was all fine, being that the field was being used for a festival that weekend, and things were starting to fill up a bit. But then… the woman showed up with TWO trailers to squeeze into the very not big enough for two trailers space. They had to run their power cords under Dyna and share our power pedestal, which was weird. They let us know that they weren’t at the park for the festival at all – just for a weekend of family camping. Family camping crammed between us and our van camper neighbor. And apparently in this area of Virginia families are LARGE and they all come to visit you when you’re camping. They also enjoy playing country music very loudly to drown out the live bluegrass that everyone else is jamming to. Things were… awkward.

Thankfully, we regained space on Sunday afternoon, and for the remainder of our stay we enjoyed space, peace, solitude, and a few morning fog shows.

While at Glen Maury we were also treated with a full moon that rose over the mountains. We partook in runs along the dike. We viewed sunsets on walks up the hill.

We also used the area as a launching point to visit Roanoke for a day, hiking up the AT to McAfee Knob. It was a busy little jaunt, popular with day hikers and even some families with kids. It was gorgeous. We treated ourselves to a walk around downtown Roanoke with a bag of kettle corn, and then ended our visit with burgers at Farmburguesa

I spent a Sunday morning running through trails in cow pastures from Beuna Vista to Lexington, where Jake met me for coffee, a visit to the only Confederate hero of the Civil War, Traveller the horse (who broke General Lee’s hand), and a ride back to Dyna. Then we met Heidi and Charlie (Jake’s family) for a drive through an animal park and a really tasty dinner of German food.

Before we rolled out of town, we took the Jeep up some forest roads to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway. We snagged some views from the parkway of Dyna down below, which was weirdly thrilling.

We’re headed to Winchester, VA for a few days as we head North for the summer season, but will take the lessons we learned in Buena Vista on how to Americanize any and all town names with us as we go.