It’s Spring Again. Maybe.

The average temperatures for this area in April should be mid 70’s in the daytime and mid 40’s at night.  Talk is that, this year, we’ve been paying for having a warm February and winter has made several encore performances.  Still, it officially became spring on March 20th this year and the local festival season is starting to gear up.

There is exciting stuff going on over at the Fieldale Recreation Center (check their Facebook page for updates) and they had a bingo & Pampered Chef fundraiser this past weekend.  Martinsville Bulletin made an excellent write-up in this April 5th article, “Construction Starts on Bassett, Fieldale Renovation Projects“.

This coming weekend is the annual Pig Cookin’ Contest and Craft Fair at Spencer Penn.  Come Friday night to see the cooking and listen to live bluegrass.  Then come back on Saturday to shop the vendors, see the classic cars, and maybe play some cow-patty bingo.

In getting my camera ready, I realized that I never posted about our last festival for 2017.  It was a new one for us … the “What the Hay Festival” in nearby Mayodan, North Carolina.

We shop in Mayodan quite a bit because it is very close (around 20 minutes), there’s not a lot of traffic (it’s amazing how relative that gets), and their Food Lion has had one of the better craft beer selections around (it’s the closest place to get DuClaw).  Big round bales of hay started popping up all over town decorated as all kinds of creatures in the weeks leading up to the festival. They did an excellent job with those.

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There were decorative hay bales all over town before the festival

Mayodan has essentially a one-light intersection downtown but downtowns don’t have to be big to have an ambience.  Mayodan has a particularly pretty downtown with old brick buildings on all four corners.  On the day of the festival, they closed the road that ran through it and set up just a humdinger of a small town festival.

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Entering the festival grounds

In the center of the intersection, they set up a soundstage and people brought chairs to sit and listen to the music. The little shop that you can see on the left in the photo below is the Mayodan Arts Center. It’s sells a variety of arts and crafts made by local people – pottery, painted glassware, photographs, bookmarks, stationery, and more.  We ended up getting a few Christmas gifts from them and definitely plan to go back.

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Live Music in the Intersection

They had a full midway set up for the kids and vendors in tents filled in any space that was left on the streets. Mother got her flu shot at one tent.

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It was a great little festival.  We also discovered Charlie’s Soap Outlet Store & Cedar Mountain Country Store nestled in the shops along one side of the road. As the name implies, they have Charlie’s Soap but they also have all kinds of knick-knacks for the home and seasonal decorations.  If you talk to the shop owners, they’ll open up a second building with metal yard art/sculptures.  We are fans.

In short, we loved the festival and we love Mayodan.  There’s a lot to see there, I think, and I want to go back when it gets warmer and just spend some time looking around. Perhaps I can find more remembrances like this monument to Mayodan veterans. The engraving on this monument says, “This WWI mortar was originally dedicated to Mayodan veterans of that war. It was rededictated to all Mayodan veterans November 11, 2001”.

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This WWI Mortar is dedicated to all Mayodan veterans

So, I’m already planning to spend an afternoon in Mayodan sometime when it gets warm (if that ever happens again).  What other unique finds should I look for? Any great boutiques?

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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:

 

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”

Feeding the Fish at Bridgewater Plaza

I say so often that someplace is “about an hour away” from Henry County that someone is bound to eventually get suspicious.  It’s true though.  Within an hour from here in pretty much any direction, there is something really cool to see or do.  Smith Mountain Lake, and specifically Bridgewater Plaza in Moneta, is one of these cool destinations.

Incidentally, this is also the lake where Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss filmed the 1991 comedy, “What About Bob?”.

Continue reading “Feeding the Fish at Bridgewater Plaza”

Most Photographed Mabry Mill

If you are sitting at a desk in Dallas looking up photos of the Blue Ridge Parkway, there’s a good chance that the majority of the photos that you are seeing are from the North Carolina stretch.  I don’t know if they just do a better job of Internet marketing or what the deal is there but there is one site along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway that is touted as the most photographed. That is Mabry Mill.  It’s about an hour from Henry County, maybe a little less, just north of where the Parkway passes Meadows of Dan.  Part of the National Parks System, Mabry Mill is a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and local fare.  The Mabry Mill Restaurant is lauded for its  sweet potato, blueberry, and apple pancakes made from buckwheat and corn meal ground at the mill.  Continue reading “Most Photographed Mabry Mill”

A Monument to Booker T. Washington

Virginia has been in the news this year for a violent alt-right rally centered around a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville.  Public opinion is mixed about how to respond. In fact, public opinion is mixed about exactly what is or what are the problem(s) that need to be addressed.  We have yet to be able to have a responsible dialog as thoughtful adults. Maybe we’ll get there. I hope so.

I don’t have an opinion on the statues so I am not going to offer one.  I do have an observation, however.  In the rural areas of Virginia, there are precious few monuments to anything other than the Civil War and that seems like an oddity to me.  Roanoke is not so bad.  It’s got some great monuments – like the firefighter monument at the Museum of Transportation and the monument to fallen officers in front of the police station.  Greensboro has the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park commemorating the Revolutionary War.  When you get into rural Virginia, however, there are pretty much only Civil War monuments.  It’s as if there have been no notable people or events in the past 150 years, although I am absolutely sure that that is not true.

One notable exception to this is the Booker T. Washington National Monument about an hour north of Henry County on the way to Smith Mountain Lake.  Continue reading “A Monument to Booker T. Washington”