As we drove through Fauquier, Prince William, and Loudon County stately horse farms lined both sides of the road for the last half of a two and a half hour drive to AAES. This part of Northern Virginia seems to be at least trying to preserve its agricultural heritage. No doubt the region has changed significantly over the decades, but the hills, the green, the trees, the farms remain. Roadside stands selling cinnamon roasted nuts and barbecue and mom-and-pop greenhouses far outnumbered the usual signs of sprawl and unplanned growth.
The temperature about reached one hundred degrees – a tad early for us in Virginia – but with the constant breeze the day felt just right. Texas Fred, the Zydeco Cowboy, a syndicated radio host came out, and we got to talk a little bit about the cool things he’s doing: parades with the Zydeco Cowboyz and Cowgirlz, lectures on zydeco and the history of black cowboys, and school visits.
I signed copies of Chancey for kids and their parents. There were pony rides, too! Late in the afternoon, we all sat down under a tree, and I read a couple of chapters of Chancey while the barn dogs wandered around looking for a good place to flop.
The people of AAES were spectacular in their hospitality and kindness. It is always a pleasure to visit with folks who really love horses. The best part of the day, though, came at the very end when a young rider handed me two carrots to take home to Albert. Here he is the next day, anticipating the treat that awaits: