A Rainy Morning in Downtown Madison, NC

This post is really about pictures.

Downtown Madison

I was at the 2021 Dan River Boat Race wearing a cardigan over shorts and a sleeveless top (it was supposed to be 80 degrees) when I got to thinking about the fru-fru coffees they sell at The Mad Bean in downtown Madison.

Beverage Menu at The Mad Bean

They also offer hot breakfasts or you can get a premade croissant or apple fritter.

Wrapped Pastries

Down by the train tracks, they have a beautiful building with a commemorative clock. I love the bricked up arches. I assume that those were windows back in the day. I have no idea what this building was.

The Madison Town Clock

The plaque reads:

The Madison Town Clock


A memorial to the men who served and died in World War I

Jim Vaughn, The American Legion and local citizens contributed to the purchase of the clock. The purpose of the clock was to serve as a local war memorial for those who served in the Great War. The clock is a rare number two striking clock with still operates by winding.

The Commemorative Plaque

The clock rang as I was standing there.

The Clock Face

Right next door to the Madison Town Clock is the American Legion. I think that this is an anti-aircraft gun.

An Anti-Aircraft Gun?

There is a beautiful old depot just across the street. Just as old rail trails are being turned into hiking/biking trails, old depots are being fixed up in some small towns and turned into tourist attractions. (We have one up in Bassett but I haven’t seen it open).

Historic Depot

But this historic depot is not empty. It is home to the GIA Distillery. Open on Fridays and Saturdays in the afternoons and early evenings. I’m not a huge fan of whiskey but it wouldn’t kill me to stop in and see what they offer.

GIA Distillery

My husband and I used to be very good about getting down to Madison to see new businesses. We loved Southern Spirits, an old fashioned downhome restaurant with fun specialty drinks to go with dinner. If there is such a thing as an American pub, Southern Spirits is it.

Southern Spirits

And now there’s another new place … Wine Nox. Check out their Facebook Page. It looks like they have a wonderful sitting area in the back and live music?

Wine Nox

Madison is just a pretty place. Even the local recycler’s building is beautiful on a rainy morning in August.

Just a Pretty Building

Great Outdoor Provisions Has Kayaks

I still haven’t made it to Bob’s Up The Creek Outfitters in Moneta (VA) yet so it may be premature to say that Great Outdoor Provisions Company is my favorite local outfitter. But I could go out on a limb…

And, another thing, I am not so sure about this “kayak shortage”.

Great Outdoors has kayaks and they don’t look especially picked over. It’s not about price either. They have the FeelFree Move kayak available at $549. I don’t know if I like sit-on-tops but, if I do, this is pretty and half the price of a Dagger Katana. So, if I am going to be in love with each new kayak I see and the prices are going to vary wildly, how do I pick my “forever kayak”? What is it that I actually want?

So, here’s what I like about going to an outfitter. They know kayaks. The salesman I spoke to was a fan of Jackson kayaks. He explained that for what I am wanting a kayak for – lakes and rivers with less than class 2 rapids – the Dagger Katana is not a good fit. He explained that there are kayaks made for the sea, kayaks made for whitewater, and kayaks made for flatwater. He suggested two kayaks to look at. Both are pricey (but still less than the Katana):

The LiquidLogic Remix says that it “excels in whitewater yet carries speed across flat, calm lakes”.

The Venture Flex says that it allows you to “explore canals, take short coastal trips, enjoy a tranquil day on the lake, or float along gentle rivers”.

I may be completely off of the Dagger now. It’s an elite kayak but I feel embarrassed by my basic kayak when next to a LiquidLogic kayak, even if they are made for two entirely different things. LiquidLogic stands out as a top brand around here. It’s like having a Trapper Keeper when I was in 8th grade. Sure, a regular binder would do but a Trapper Keeper was just better for some reason.

I do not want to thrill seek and bang my head against rocks. A crazy whitewater experience is not on my “to do” list. But I can’t shake the envy/respect I am getting for the LiquidLogic line. Now that I know that they make a crossover, I have something else to think about.

And so I get to the other great thing about Great Outdoors.

They share a parking lot with World of Beers.

World of Beers is a regular restaurant with an extraordinary line up of beers. They have a nice indoors seating area, a great bar, and a beautiful large outdoors patio. Apparently, the latest thing is to not have a physical menu. Instead you scan the QR code and it is supposed to show up on your phone. Supposed to. When that didn’t work for me, my waitress dug out a paper beer menu.

This is just the BEER menu.

This is just the BEER menu. I had a Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat. It must be pretty popular because I’ve even seen it up here in Martinsville.

It was too hot of a day to try the Deep River Waffles & Syzurp. A North Carolina brown ale, 6.0 ABV, “A brown ale with added spices, syrup, and malts that would remind you of your favorite brekkie. Waffles, syrup, bacon, coffee … and more”. I will be going back as soon as there is the slightest chill in the air.

Actually, I just looked up the Deep River Brewing Company in Clayton, NC and it might be a fun trip to go straight to the source…

Not to bore anyone with food photos but, when you order a salad, do you have preconceived notions of what it should look like before it gets to you? Because the picture below is of the Wobb Cobb salad. Definitely unique. It tasted great so no complaints here. Just a little in awe.

A Wobb Cobb

Next step is to learn to move my kayak from point A to point B, by myself. I got a Rhino Rack for my car but have since learned that I have to put at least $300 more into it to be able to carry a kayak. This already costs more than my current kayak.

Plus, it whistles. It’s like having a giant flute tied to the top of my car. On good days, I’ve compared the sound to those Himalayan singing bowls. On bad days, it reminds me of the sound of a British ambulance I’ve heard on tv shows.

Instead of doubling down and buying J racks, I have backed up, accepted that I wasted a good chunk of change and, hoping not to waste more, ordered something cheaper.

I hope this works.

Wish me luck.

The Last Hurrah for 2020

Life in Martinsville-Henry County right now is pretty sedate. It is for me anyhow. I intended to keep on trying to get out at least a little despite the virus but thought better of it and am now just waiting for spring. The 6th Annual Wine by the River Festival back in late October turned out to be my last hurrah for 2020, though I didn’t know it at the time.

This is a festival that is held on the banks of the Smith River at the Smith River Sports Complex. In any normal year, I would highly recommend it. Even during this epidemic, though, they did a very good job at providing an enjoyable outdoor event that was as safe as they could make it. That said, the maskless woman in line behind me bumped into me twice. So much for social distancing.

Wine By The River Festival 2020

I doubt that it was really dangerous in any way, even with the woman with no personal space behind me. I think that, in normal years, there are more wine vendors. This year, there were only a handful and the wait in line was around twenty minutes, more or less. The woman behind me had complained that she would lose her buzz in the time that it took to stand in line for a refill. I just squinted and tried to tune her out.

The Rebec Vineyard Tasting Table

Still, she did have a halfway valid point because it was a good little wait and, thanks to her, less than enjoyable. I watched the people ahead of me and realized that the idea is to buy a bottle of wine in addition to the glass that they fill. Then you can go back to your chair or blanket, listen to the live music and enjoy the afternoon without returning to the line.

Live Music

There were other sights to be seen – like a camel. While this seemed really random, my guess is that he or she was visiting from the local Infinity Acres Ranch. I’m really going to have make a point to visit there this spring.

A Camel at the Wine by the River Festival

And there were other vendors selling treats like key lime pie (Treedah’s Treats), bath salts (SoapsByJera), Scentsy (Lisa Joyce) and lots and lots more. There was also a food truck with a covered sitting/dining area.

2020 – The year we stayed home

Another exciting place to see this coming spring, Scuffle Hill Brewing was also there giving out free tastes of their various brews. Scuffle Hill, when it opens, will be the first craft brewery in Collinsville and the second in Henry County. Oh, to visit a brewery again! Hang in there guys.

Scuffle Hill Brewing is Coming Soon

I was really pleased with the Wine by the River Festival. Despite this being a heck of year for any events, they pulled it off and I can see how this will be a must-not-miss event in normal years. Tips for future years: take a corkscrew and a little collapsible table would be really nice.

So much of my time now is filled with thinking about what I will do later. I’m sure that it’s the same for everyone. Thanks to this event, I do have a bottle of Rebec wine to share with my circle of friends when we can get together again. That will be nice.

2021 is going to have a heck of time living up to what I’ve imagined it to be.