A morning get-away to Culpeper

Sometimes, you just have to get away. Go on an adventure. Leave your everyday responsibilities behind.

Even if that adventure ends at 2 p.m., when the newsroom beckons.

This week, Robyn and I were both feeling the pressures from everything around us. It was time for an escape.

Culpeper is just a tad less than an hour away on Route 3, a straight shot with little traffic usually. I’d only been once, to sit in a courthouse for a few hours, but had always heard that the small town was full of great finds.

The day began and ended at Knakals Bakery, with donuts for breakfast and treats to take home. While the service isn’t great (the women behind the counter seemed particularly rude), the donuts were fresh and hit the spot, fitting in with our day of splurges. A dozen donuts disappeared off the calorie counter literally within seconds from Robyn setting them down. Hungry reporters and editors swarmed to the white box Wednesday afternoon; I hadn’t even made it into the building by the time they were gone. Guess we should have picked up two! But my favorite purchase from Knakals, in business since 1935, was the cinnamon raisin sticky rolls. Not cloyingly sweet, but incredibly tender, I could probably eat these for a midmorning snack everyday if allowed. Perhaps it was smart to split the six rolls with Robyn.

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Unlike downtown Fredericksburg, where it seems every other store downtown sells antiques, Culpeper’s East Davis Street in downtown had some amazing finds. Take Green Roost, a unique gift shop that bills itself as selling kind-to-the-earth products. Had my wallet felt a little thicker, I could have easily filled up a few shopping bags here. Reusable lunch bags, a beautiful motivating card and monthly produce artwork completed my purchase. The owner said she loves traveling around to find her products, across the country and at trade shows. “We aimed to prove to the community that you could make socially-conscious choices in your gift buying, and not sacrifice style or quality,” they say on their website. I think they’ve succeeded, as it was my favorite among the half-dozen we visited, including other gift shops, a combination used book store and antique shop, and a jewelry store.

Experiences like this were just what we needed. With too much going on, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s important. For me, that’s enjoying a friend’s company, indulging in a few gifts for myself, letting my mind and body relax, and eating freshly prepared foods. Some of those things get forgotten in the day-to-day duties of dog-walking, dishes and daily news coverage. But a break can make even your regular activities feel special again.

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An early lunch at Culpeper Cheese Company completed our morning adventure. Crusty, flavorful grilled cheese are not to miss. Both grilled on large slices of good bread, the Sumptuous Spain had manchego, red peppers and an olive tapenade, while Robyn’s Fire in the House featured smoked bruder basil, pepperjack cheese and a local pepper jelly. She even picked up the two cheeses and jelly to recreate the sandwich on her own panini maker. Specialty cheeses, craft beers and hand-picked wines made for a fun store and cafe that’d be enjoyable any afternoon.

Back at home and at work, everything was OK again. Sure, we both still had lots of thoughts and daydreams and questions to keep our minds occupied. But, those could mix and mingle a little more easily, a little bit more relaxed. A morning get-away melted away the worries.

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Find more to do in Culpeper on the county’s tourism website. Next time, we’re planning to visit some wineries as well.

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