Closed on July 4th to ride the rails

the 611

Photo: John Mueller via Flickr.

I just wanted to send a heads up to the Staunton dining world that AVA will be closed on July Fourth. Not that that many people elect to go out to dinner that day, what with the profusion of picnics, cookouts, and other outdoor fun. Still, I thought I should let my customers and blog readers know that we’ll be shuttered that day.

But it’s not only for the reason that not many folks go out that I’ll be closed. It’s actually to do something super special with my own family.

The 611

My parents, siblings, and I are taking a train trip on the 611 in the glass observation car on Independence Day and I wouldn’t miss out on it for the world. The train, a Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Passenger Locomotive which is, “known affectionately as the Spirit of Roanoke,” is the only one left of its kind.

My lovable dad, Will Harris, is President of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and was on the Fire Up 611! Committee which helped to support the 611 restoration project. He’s truly proud of that work and we’re very proud of him for being part of it!

These tough old steam engines were built in Roanoke back in the day for speed and also to be able to power steeper rail climbs. That this amazing engine is here in Virginia, just down in Roanoke, is wonderful for the area and our state.

Though all rides are currently sold out, there will be more opportunities in the future for people to ride this historic treasure between either Roanoke and Lynchburg or Roanoke and Redford and you should definitely avail yourself of this chance to ride the way folks did in the past. It’s a great thing to do with kids, too.

So I’m sure you’ll forgive me for not pouring wine and presiding over the AVA dining room this Saturday — like a hobo I’ll be out riding the rails. Well, I guess in the glass observation car I won’t exactly be a hobo. In fact I think I’ll feel more like a really lucky lady. And I can’t wait! (Thanks, Dad!)

Happy Independence Day to you and yours. Be safe, have fun, and God Bless America, land that I love!

— Mary Beth Harris, Proprietress, AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar