With the days growing shorter, my recent county collecting trip through West Virginia and Virginia is likely the last of 2013. Over the three-day Columbus Day weekend, I mailed 50 postcards from county seats and county equivalents (independent cities in Virginia).
Before this weekend, I had collected 22 of the 55 counties in West Virginia (mostly in the western part of the state). This trip included 4 more on the way east and 9 on the return trip. In Virginia, I had only collected the two counties at the far western tip of the state. While I still have about a dozen counties in northern Virginia, and a large swath of the south and western portion of the state, I did visit a wide stretch of counties from Highland and Rockingham counties in the west all the way to the cities of Hampton and Newport News in the east. I also got as far north as Stafford county, only 50 miles south of Washington, D.C.
My two nights on the road were spent in the Richmond area, the first at the Marriott Richmond West, and the second at the SpringHill Suites Richmond Virginia Center. Looking back, I should have skipped the SpringHill Suites and booked two nights at the Marriott. While the Marriott was nothing spectacular, it was clean and comfortable with a friendly staff. It was also near a huge number of shops and restaurants. The SpringHill Suites had multiple issues. My air conditioner leaked condensation all over the carpet and I could hear conversations from the adjacent room until 2:00am. The room was not much larger than a typical Fairfield Inn, though it did have the normal sofa, desk and mini kitchen area common to the brand. I barely saw the hotel staff. While I love SpringHill Suites, I would not stay at this property again and would not recommend it.
I didn’t do much sightseeing, as I spent about 12 hours each day on the road. I enjoyed the scenery around Shenandoah National Park and the area in West Virginia near Seneca Rocks. I drove past Monticello and saw all manner of signs for Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields and sites, but did not stop. I did wander around Yorktown for a short time, but due to the Government shutdown, some National Park facilities were closed. I also saw parts of Williamsburg, mostly poking my head into a few shops. Having arrived late in the day, I did not have time to explore. With rain a constant threat throughout the weekend, being in the car was actually preferable to getting wet. I would like to go back to Yorktown and Williamsburg, as well as see more of Richmond and the area around Hampton Roads. I will need to visit Norfolk and Virginia Beach at some point, so perhaps I’ll have the opportunity.
My postcard collection now stands at 795, 618 of which are from the last 24 months when I really got serious about this unusual hobby. Adding the other 528 counties that I visited before I began collecting postcards, I have now been in about 42% (by number not by area) of all the counties in the United States mostly in the Midwest, Southwest, and west coast.
Here is my map to date. For reference, dark blue are counties where I have received my postcards and are considered “collected.” Green counties are ones where I have visited the county seat, but not yet collected a postcard and cyan is for counties I have been through, but not been in the county seat. My diagonal trek through Virginia is easy to spot on the map.
I’m already looking forward to trips in 2014. I will be attending a conference in Minneapolis in June, so I know I will be collecting some counties there. I also plan on being in Arlington, Virginia in early November, so I’ll visit a few more there as well. Beyond that, I have no firm plans. I may try to finish the 29 counties in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan or knock out the rest of Illinois and Indiana. I suspect I will take at least one trip farther away (Colorado, Utah, Texas or Florida are all possibilities) to add to my tally. Next on tap is a trip to England (unrelated to my county collecting). I won’t blog about it here, but look for a photo album on MRI when I get back.