A Clement Weather Day at SML

I’m a big believer in “clement weather days”.  It only makes sense.  If there are a few days each year when the weather is just so bad that we get a day off, there should also be a day or two each year that are just too nice to work.  I’m not a church-goer and this just seems like a really nice tip of the hat to the Great Engineer.  A way to say “Thank you, God, for this day”.

We have a true fall here. This time of year we have spurts of summer where daytime temps can climb up into the upper eighties with nighttime temps in the sixties.  But now we also get days that do good to get into the seventies with nighttime temps in the fifties.  There are more “open window” days right now that not.  As I write this, what was Hurricane Nate is churning its way up the Blue Ridge Mountains and it is gray and drizzly – the mountains are holding the heavy rain to the west.  This past Friday was a perfect “clement weather day”.

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The iconic Harbor Town Miniature Golf course at Bridgewater

We took full advantage of it by heading up to the Smith Mountain Lake area.  We got there just as Moosie’s opened at 11:00 and walked around for a little while before lunch.  Mango’s an open air grill and bar with a live music venue doesn’t open until noon.

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Mango’s on a Friday morning before opening

Our plan had been to make it up to Beford to see the D-Day Memorial about twenty minutes away but it was such a beautiful day and we were enjoying Bridgewater Plaza so much, we didn’t want to get back in the car.

After lunching at Moosie’s, browsing through all of the shops, and feeding the fish, we took a walk down the boardwalk past Bridgewater Pointe,  a condominium that sits next to the plaza.

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Bridgewater Pointe Condos

I’d never noticed the boardwalk before so this was new for us.   The sun was shining and warm and there was a refreshing, cool breeze off of the water.  Boat slips whispered and creaked and moaned a little in the water.

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The boardwalk goes far beyond the condos

As you reach the point where the boardwalk bends, you can see the mountain in the distance. It is just far enough away that the camera doesn’t really pick it up.  It seems larger in real life.

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Mountains are just barely visible

A wary crane watched us pass and I wished that I had a long distance lens.

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A wary crane

But I didn’t.  We just enjoyed our view.

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Just a beautiful day at the lake
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Just a beautiful day at the lake

The boardwalk ends at the bridge that stretches over Smith Mountain Lake on its way to Moneta. It looks like they are doing some work there building either an extension to the current condos or additional parking.  There is a pad site for sale for another condo project.  I hope that we’ll still be able to walk on the boardwalk after this site is finished being “built out”.

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More condos to come?

There was no visible boat traffic as we walked down to the end of the boardwalk but that didn’t last long.  As soon as we turned around to start back there were easily half a dozen boats appearing all at the same time.  It truly was a beautiful day and a great day for the lake.

This is near the end of the season.  The bartender at Mango’s said that they would close for the season by the end of the month.  They’ll reopen sometime next March, when spring has returned as well.

For more information about this destination, please check out the following links:

 

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Could ‘Factory Man’ Still be a Catalyst for Eco-tourism?

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Tom Hanks will produce ‘Factory Man’ mini-series for HBO – Roanoke Times (09/16/2014)

Only about half of the business books that I have started, I have also finished. Books about business can be the driest fare around but, luckily, Factory Man is one of the good ones.  Beth Macy, a Roanoke journalist, did an amazing job relating the history and ultimate effective extinction of the furniture industry in this area.  It goes a long way towards explaining why we have so much infrastructure here without the obvious foot traffic to sustain it.  That seems to be leveling off, though population numbers are still continuing to decline.

Everyone here was abuzz when Tom Hanks bought up the rights to Factory Man for an HBO mini-series; however, that was three years ago and the project still shows as “in production” on imdb. It is unclear as whether the bulk of filming, should it ever get started, would be here (in Bassett) or in Galax, or a little of both. We still have our fingers crossed.

Today, Bassett is a little community on the river waiting to be rediscovered.  The Smith River does not run through it as much as the town itself is wrapped around its banks.

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There is a burgeoning interest in kayaking the Smith River. There are also trout in the Smith.  Smith River Outfitters has been running excursions down the river and Hamlet Vineyards has created some events for combining a trip to the vineyards with a trip on the water.  Papa’s Pizzeria is a restaurant on a picturesque road in Bassett that has a great outdoor patio right on the Smith.  It has the unique position to cater to river traffic.  All they would need would be a a little kayak parking and a path up from the river.  With elbow grease and luck,  it could really be an enhancement that could cause a noticeable increase in eco-tourism in the area.  Property values there, in my opinion, are still undervalued (see MLS). This could just be my experience with development in Texas talking but, if and when the ball ever does get rolling for Bassett to emerge as a river excursion destination, it is poised to gain momentum quickly.

I realize that that is a big “if” … that there are quite a few “ifs” in there, actually.  But I do still have my fingers crossed that this project will bring people in to see Bassett.  All it will take is the right person to see it.

Another Roger Carroll Mural and the Great Goblin Gallop 5K

While looking up information on muralist Roger Carroll, I found a link to an archived WDBJ 7 article about how he had also painted murals at Druid Hills Elementary School. I immediately recalled a mural that I saw there when I ran in the 2014 Great Goblin Gallop 5K.  The article said that “he tried to make the indoors appear like they’re outdoors.  The theory behind that is if the children feel less confined, feel good about where they’re at, they’ll just naturally do better.”

Druid Hills is the name of one of the neighborhoods in Martinsville that, along with its neighboring community of Forest Park is known for relatively pricier homes surrounding a private community lake called Lake Lanier.  The annual Great Goblin Gallop is put on by Henry County Parks and the run really is beautiful.  Continue reading “Another Roger Carroll Mural and the Great Goblin Gallop 5K”

Murals at Spencer Penn Center

One of the nice things about living on the west side of Henry County is that it is very close to the Spencer Penn Center.  The Spencer Penn Center was an area school until sometime around 2004 when it was slated to be closed and was instead converted into a community center by local residents and alumni.

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The Spencer Penn Center

It really is a beautiful place with a baseball field out back, a paved walking trail, a “wild” walking trail, pretty gardens, lots of arts and exercise classes and a library.

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The Garden in front of Spencer Penn Center

There’s even a little free library out back by the playground and the baseball bleachers.

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Free Little Library, Playground and Bleachers at Spencer Penn

The walking path runs around the Mary Jordan Ball Field and is a good, level path.  This is a safe area where anyone can walk without fear and the quiet country surroundings mean that you are more likely to hear birdsong than cars.

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The Mary Jordan Ball Field

I’ve already blogged about the Charles & Rose Hylton Library there, though I didn’t mention that it has a active reading program for kids.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

And something else that rarely gets mentioned is their collection of beautiful murals.  Per Mary Jordan, Director of Spencer Penn, the murals are the work of Mt. Airy muralist Roger Carroll. The longest stretch of murals is a chronological storyboard that begins shortly before the office and ends at the end of the hallway just outside the auditorium.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

Light conditions in the hallway are not optimal for photography, so I’ve brightened these photos considerably.

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Hallway Mural and Spencer Penn

If there is a trick to getting better photos in a hallway with light constraints, I’m all ears.  I wouldn’t mind taking these photos over and over until I do them some justice.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

I don’t remember what was on the walls of the schools that I attended.  I grew up in Texas and I’m fairly certain that we just had single color brandings of our football team’s logo.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

The history does end at the Civil War but, in fairness to Spencer Penn, the wall space ends there too.  I love the idea of the murals and I wonder what pieces of our history would have been selected if there had been room for more.  The Spanish American War, maybe.  Henry Ford, almost undoubtedly.  The moon landing. Would they have nodded to the tobacco industry? The textile or furniture industry? Which wars … WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf Storm, Iraq? Which people? Martin Luther King, Jr. is an easy choice.  What about Jonas Salk? The Suffragettes? Hemingway and the Lost Generation? It’s fascinating to me to think about. What and who contributes to the definition of “American” after 1864?

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

But there is one mural at Spencer Penn that is my absolute favorite. The mural below of Spencer Penn “back in the day” is in what they call Alumni Hall.  Mary tells me that this is from a photo in the 1940 school annual.  The school kids and cars were possibly added. There is a lot of love in this painting and you can feel it. This is a big mural – maybe, say, eight feet tall or more.

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Gymnasium Mural at Spencer Penn

Spencer Penn is a vital community center and I hope that you give it a visit, even if it is just to their website.  There is always a membership drive on and they can always use funds.

For more information, please see the following links:

 

A Little Love for the Charles & Rose Hylton Library

I love the local Spencer Penn Center.  There’s a lot there to love but one of my favorite parts is the Charles & Rose Hylton Library.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

I have a card at all of the local libraries but this one is my favorite.  I discovered Karen White’s “The Sound of Glass” here.  I also got started on Carol Miller’s Moonshine Mystery series here, reading “An Old-Fashioned Murder: A Moonshine Mystery“.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

The thing to note about Carole Miller’s Moonshine Mystery series is that they are set here locally.  Moonshine is still a big thing around here but that’s another post for another time. I had just finished the first book in the series, “Murder and Moonshine“, over the weekend and decided to pop over to Spencer Penn to see if I could pick up “A Nip of Murder“, the second one in the series and the only one I have left to read. (They read fine out of order).

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

As I understand it, the library got its start with donations from local residents (and still actively receives a lot of donations).  That translates into a lot more Debbie Macomber novels than dusty classics which, to me, is a good thing.  (Nothing against the classics but there’s nothing wrong with exploring new novels either). These are books people have read because they wanted to rather than because they thought that they ought to, so there are a lot of good choices for fun reads.  The span of genres is pretty impressive too.

As it turned out, I got distracted by another book that’s been on my “to-read” list for awhile and completely forgot about the book that I was looking for.  “The Alice Network” is a historical novel about a female spy ring in WWI that was released this past June.

So I’ll have to wait to finish the Moonshine Murder series.  But I swear that I’ll read it next. (Full disclosure: That might not be true.  Anne Mott Davidson’s “Tough Cookie” has been flitting around my desk, under my desk, or near my desk for a week demanding to be read. )

P.S. There is usually a cart outside the door of the library with used books for sale.  I almost always browse the cart with the result that I have, at about any given time, a stack of books to read.  Paperbacks are fifty cents a piece. Hard backs are a dollar.

P.S.S. I also buy used books from Amazon with my Amazon points.  And those books will generally end up on the cart I mentioned above after I’ve read them.

P.S.S.S. There is also an adorable book store, Books & Crannies, in Uptown Martinsville that we try to visit occasionally because we want to support local businesses too and, well, it’s a bookstore.

My point is that that cart in front on the library is very active and I’m not the only reader around here that donates, buys, and checks out books on a regular basis. If you’re local, you should check it out.  And go inside and sign the visitor’s log.  You might leave with a new favorite author.

Are we friends on GoodReads?

my read shelf:
Beth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

my to-read shelf:
Beth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (to-read shelf)

A Steam Engine in Roanoke

When we moved here in 2014, we didn’t know anything about Roanoke to speak of.  When, in 2015, there was a lot of hooplah about the return of a steam engine from Spencer, North Carolina, we didn’t know why it was a big deal and didn’t know to ask.  The news reported that people waited beside the tracks along the route, hoping to get a video, even though the time that it would pass was kept a secret. We did think that that was odd, but we were busy and weren’t paying attention.

The local hockey team is called the Rail Yard Dawgs. Up until recently, the oldest craft brewery in Roanoke was the Roanoke Railhouse.   There are ads on television for the the popular local Roanoke restaurant called  The Great 611 Steak House.  At some point, you would think that we’d start asking questions, right?  Continue reading “A Steam Engine in Roanoke”