Miles Traveled: 387; Current Location: New Market, VA

If it’s true that West Virginia is “almost Heaven” as John Denver claims, I have to then assume that Virginia must serve as its entryway.  Everything that I have seen of Virginia, which accumulates to hours worth of footage, is absolutely beautiful.  Although I have now driven alongside a generous number of trees through many states, Virginia just seems greener somehow.  It seems brighter.

Ever since I entered Arizona more than three weeks ago, I have held onto the theory that each state pays special attention to the conditions of its roads closest to the border.  Every time that I have driven into a new state, I think to myself, “wow ___ has great roads.”  Inevitably, the shipshape surface fades away, allowing the following state to step up and take the crown.  This pattern of road deterioration held true throughout each state’s change-off until today.  Virginia’s roads seem to be meticulously cared for throughout.  They are “border-paved” everywhere, and some of the medians even feature sponsored landscaping, contributing to the state’s already highly desirable aesthetics.

To top it off, Virginia beats South Carolina for cheapest gas that I’ve found, and in addition to the state’s natural beauty, it also has some of the weirdest manmade structures and objects that I’ve encountered on the trip.  Seriously, really odd stuff.

Obviously I suspected that there was a gem to be found within Foamhenge, and it lived up to its promise.  Touted as the “most exact” replica of Stonehenge that there is, I still really didn’t have any idea what to expect. After all, I’ve never even been to England.  I have, however, seen European Vacation, so I did have some preliminary concept of the structure, and if Foamhenge is any indication, which I assume it is as “the most exact replica,” I think I’ve seen enough of the natural wonder for my lifetime.

I don’t want to confuse you here though.  I love Foamhenge.  I love it because some guy (Mark Cline) took it upon himself to carve this thing out of styrofoam and post a sign next to it, threatening that he’s hiding in the bushes so if you hurt the structure, he’ll hurt your car.  I love it because it took him six weeks to recreate a structure of which the completion originally spanned 1500 years.  I love it because it’s in the middle of nowhere, Virginia, and there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to its existence.  I love it because there is a giant sorcerer sitting on one of the “stones,” something that I can only assume doesn’t have a counterpart at the real Stonehenge.  I love it because only in America could someone put several blocks of styrofoam in the middle of a field and in turn actually attract visitors.  It only makes sense that like Kevin Costner, he must have heard that special voice too.  Foamhenge is tangible proof that “if you build it, they will come.”

On the other side of the coin though, if this thing truly does represent Stonehenge, I think that Stonehenge might be one of the greatest rackets of our time.  Or more appropriately, one of the greatest rackets of all time. I now understand why Chevy Chase knocked it down.  Yes, I suppose it’s intriguing given the mystery of its existence, but if I find myself in need of a good mystery, I think I’ll take a Nancy Drew book to Natural Bridge, Virginia and relax under the shade of Foamhenge instead.  This way, when I finally do make it to England, I can spend more time downing pints at a local pub.  I plan to visit Big Ben and London Bridge replicas before my trip across the pond as well, all in the interest of maximizing my free time when I’m actually there.

For Stonehenge’s sake though, the one thing that I hope Foamhenge has that it doesn’t is the massive swarm of tiny black insects avidly protecting the property.  I almost wonder if Mark Cline purposely harvested these bugs near his precious creation in order to ward off an over-abundance of onlookers.  Prior to arriving at the site, I had stopped off at the Natural Bridge gift shop (avoiding Natural Bridge itself due to its $28.00 admission fee) and had gotten a huge “red, white, and blue vanilla” ice cream cone.  Unfortunately, while eating the ice cream at Foamhenge, I inadvertently gulped down a mouthful of gnats instead.  Gross.  If you do go to Foamhenge (which I’m really not sure why you wouldn’t), either invest in a full beekeeper suit or don’t plan to get out of the car.

In addition to the presence of the great Foamhenge, this area of Virginia also highlights several other interesting structures.  For instance, I’ve seen more than one giant dinosaur.  I know what you’re thinking, “who among us hasn’t seen a giant dinosaur on the side of the road?”  I know.  But, when was the last time you saw the statue of a person riding dinosaur-back on the side of the road?  Although I didn’t perform an investigation into the greater meaning of these depictions, I am led to assume that their existence serves as an illustration of the religious belief that dinosaurs and humans once roamed the earth hand-in-hand.  Knock it if you want, but Hanna-Barbera made a lot of money on the same concept.  So roadside Virginia, I say keep on.  Let your dreams soar.

Although each state that I have visited has shown me its amazing strengths, I have to concede that based on this trip alone, as of now, I am most impressed with Virginia.  I try not to think of the states as competing entities because I like to think that they all work together in order to form my favorite country, but I have to admit that I’m particularly struck by the beauty and upkeep shown here.  Obviously the London Company felt the same way in 1607 when they settled in Jamestown, so although I don’t typically like to base my opinions off of the actions of others, I suppose I should have known.

Tomorrow I will continue to explore Virginia before heading off to Washington DC.  I can’t believe that I’m already in the last week of my travels, but I am so grateful to have had this experience.  I certainly do love America!  I hope you all have a fantastic week!