Friday, November 27, 2009

Straight Razor Shave

My grown son has recently become fascinated by the idea of straight razor shaving. He has researched the tools, watched how-to videos, and begun saving for a high quality straight razor kit. The only thing missing is that he had never actually had a straight razor shave. To me, the idea of investing in pricey straight razor equipment without ever having had the shave was a bit like buying golf clubs without ever having been golfing. So while he was home for Thanksgiving vacation, I decided to treat him to a straight razor shave in a traditional barber shop.

Now Fredericksburg is a historic town with many old timey barber shops. But when I started to call around, I had a hard time finding someone who offered the service. I kept getting the same one does that anymore. Not even the guy who’s been in business for 65 years. And searching the internet didn’t yield anything promising, until I came across an old forum in which someone mentioned a straight razor shave at a place near the mall. A little more searching turned up a gem of a place, “Village Square Barber & Hair” in the Village Square shopping center across from Costco.

So this afternoon, I accompanied my son to check it out. I could really see the appeal of this place. Men were getting classic haircuts, and everyone was treated to a soothing neck massage by the pretty young women who staffed the place. While there were a couple of women in the waiting area, and one holding a squirmy toddler for his first haircut, all the customers were men. Men’s magazines in the waiting area, and football on the wall-mounted TVs. My son got the full treatment he was looking for: hot steamy towel to soften the beard, an expert shave, a massage of after-shave, and a dusting of powder. All for $11. It was (literally) the closest shave of his life, and when he was done, his skin felt like it did before he hit puberty. While I’m sure there will be a straight razor in his future, at least now he understands the deft, experienced hand it takes to do it right. So this will give him something to shoot for while he’s hacking up his face.

And the point of this blog post is simply that when someone googles “Where can I get a straight razor shave in Fredericksburg?,” the answer will be here waiting for them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

River Hike

The fall weather has been perfect for some hiking, and in recent weeks, we’ve explored a couple of paths along the Rapphannock River. If you start from the small parking area across from the canoe rental place at the bottom of the Fall Hill Ave. hill, there is a wide trail that leads along the river heading west. My kind of hiking—easy. Plus lots of scenic views of the river. You pass the site of the now-demolished Embrey Dam and eventually wind your way under the I-95 river crossing to...voila!...the site of the old quarry swimming hole. I used to hear stories from the locals about swimming here, but never knew precisely where it was. Tales (exaggerated?) of teenage exploits that included jumping off the quarry’s high cliff walls into the small lake were legendary. To get to the quarry swimming hole, you pass a lot of “no trespassing” signs, but my understanding is that as long as you are just quietly walking the trail, you’ll be okay. Swimming at the quarry (oldtimers’ stories notwithstanding) can be dangerous (a UMW student drowned a few years ago), and is strictly verboten.

Site of the old Embrey Dam, with marker naming this section of the river the "John W. Warner Rapids" (because politicians can't get enough recognition).

Nice wide path for easy hiking.

I-95 bridge.

Another quarry view.