A Quest

I am on a quest. I would like to get a kayak. Maybe.

I anticipate that this will be a long quest. There will be many obstacles. Like no means to transport a kayak. Some weird shortage of kayaks in 2021. Many obstacles. Some might be real.

I also anticipate that there will be distractions. If today is any indication, wow. Just wow. A ton of distractions.

I also may not ultimately get a kayak. This might just be a quest to find a kayak.

If you are okay with this, please continue. I just felt that I should warn you.

I have been watching YouTube videos that review different kayaks and explain what different kayaks are for. None of what I have seen in the videos has been helpful so far because, as it turns out, there’s a kayak shortage in 2021.

Rural King, which is sort like a version of Walmart catering to people with livestock and/or farms, usually has kayaks lining their parking lot. Not this year. I asked one of the employees and she said that she didn’t think that she’d seen any at all this year.

So I decided to head to Dunham’s Sporting Goods and see if they have any. The quest has begun.

Distraction 1 – The Farmers’ Market

On my way to Dunham’s I pass by the Farmers’ Market in Uptown Martinsville. They generally have someone selling coffee there so I thought I’d stop by there first.

Uptown Martinsville’s Farmers’ Market

Henry’s Coffee whipped me up an Americana as we chatted about Keurig’s and lattes and cappuccinos. He wouldn’t let me give him money for the coffee so please consider going to Henry’s Fresh Roast (http://henrysfreshroast.com/index.php/shop/) and buying some of their coffee. It is good, strong coffee (seriously).

Henry’s Fresh Roast at the Farmers’ Market

So, I was there. I had my coffee. I might as well look around. This is how distractions happen. What fun would I have had if I went straight to Dunham’s? There were several nice vegetable vendors but it was the flowers that caught my eye.

Black Eyed Susans at the Farmers’ Market

Coffee and flowers in hand, I decided to head on to Dunham’s to look at their kayaks.

Distraction 2 – Downtown Murals

As I was leaving, I noticed the pretty mural in the parking lot. Had it always been there? I don’t know. I have a poor memory. Maybe. It sort of looks like it’s been there for awhile.

Mural in the Farmers’ Market Parking Lot

I had just passed another mural on my way in and could have sworn that was new. So I drove around the block and parked in a different parking lot so I could look at that mural.

Mural on Main Street

The mural on Main Street is signed CHILL and dated 2018. So, it’s not really new. I’ve just not been paying attention.

I started to get even more distracted by the old courthouse downtown and I snapped one more shot before I remembered that I was supposed to be headed to Dunham’s.

Was there always a placard here?

Dunham’s Has Kayaks

I think that Dunham’s is aware that there is a kayak shortage and they are working it.

Dunham’s Ad

And they do have quite a few kayaks. They really are not kidding.

Dunham’s Has Kayaks

They do have a lot of kayaks but they primarily, right this very minute, have one kind of kayak – Sun Dolphin. This is probably a great kayak and, under $300, a great buy, but I wanted to look at least a few different kinds.

It looks like they have another section that is pretty picked over. I want to know more about this section but I suspect it is for people who want use their kayak to go fishing. Hard to tell right now, with all the empty slots.

Here they have a Pelican Ultimate 100 NXT Sit On kayak, which starts at $329.99 and an Old Town Dirigo 12 foot Angler kayak, currently $699.

I just want to know more …

Distraction 3 – Wasena Tap Room

I had heard recently that the Roanoke River (in Roanoke) had been voted the 3rd best urban river. Surely, if it’s 3rd best, there are people up there selling kayaks, right? So I go to Roanoke. Right around lunch time.

Wasena City Tap Room & Grill Patio

I picked Wasena City Tap Room & Grill because (a) I already know it’s good (b) it has a great selection of beer and (c) it is NEXT DOOR to the first outfitter that showed up on my Google.

Plus it’s just cool

So I had my beer, ate my lunch and watched all the people pass by. This is a very busy spot.

Victory Golden Monkey is a Wheat Beer from Pennsylvania

Roanoke Mountain Adventures Rents Kayaks

There was a long line at Roanoke Mountain Adventures but it moved quickly. Roanoke Mountain Adventures does not sell kayaks. They rent kayaks. And tubes. And bikes. And they are very, very popular. You book online and show up and they shuttle you to where you will start and let you go.

They do sell a lot of gear. They also have something else that is pretty sought after – used bikes at great prices. I ended up buying mine on the Internet and paying the local bike shop to put it together for me. If I hadn’t already done that, this woman’s Schwinn with the basket would have come home with me today.

A Woman’s Schwinn With a Basket for $250

I spoke with the owner (he was manning the floor, not stuck in an office somewhere) and he said that he didn’t know of an outfitter in Roanoke that was selling kayaks right now but that I should check out Bob’s Up The Creek Outfitters in Moneta. Okay. Smith Mountain Lake is having Pirate Days next weekend and there’s a pancakes with pirates event not far from Bob’s. This is an awesome suggestion.

As for renting kayaks from Roanoke Mountain Adventures, I’ve checked out the online booking system on his website and I’ve got to admit that this is pretty slick: https://www.roanokemountainadventures.com/. Go to the website and click on “Kayak”. This will give you a popup window. In the upper right, there’s a “Select Date” link. A calendar will pop up. If there are no open slots on a day, it will say “Sold Out”. They don’t have trips on Sundays or Wednesdays. When you select a date, another window pops up and tells you what times outings are scheduled and how many spots are left in each outing. So, for example, right now, there are 38 spots left in the outing going out next Saturday at 9 and there are 26 spots left in the outing going out at 1.

This is a must-try.

Distraction 4 – The Green Goat

Distraction 4 should have been Wasena Park but there was a misunderstanding between my phone and … well, spacetime. It turned out that the road I was on dead-ended and Google suggested a U-turn which pretty much put me in The Green Goat‘s parking lot. It was too intriguing. I had to go look.

The Goat

This is a lovely restaurant with a good beer selection and it serves fried raviolis. I had fried raviolis once in St. Louis, where they were adamant that they were a St. Louis “thing”. I’m curious. Is there more to this story? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m willing to go back again to try them. They do brunch.

And, apparently, campfires

This area seems to have gotten so much busier and popular since the last time I was here (probably 2016). The history on their menu explains a bit of why. The building that The Green Goat is in had been empty since The Flood of 1985 (google that and Roanoke and the capital letters will make sense). Apparently, this area has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity. It really is a lovely area and the surrounding residential area is full of well maintained historic homes. Go Wasena! You Rock!

Distraction 5 – Wasena Park

I did eventually find Wasena Park. It was ridiculously close by. It was also not the park I was looking for. It turns out that my husband and I used to go to Smith Park but I must have just decided it was called Wasena Park because of the Wasena City Tap Room. So, that counts as a bonus to me that I found something that I wasn’t actually looking for.

Biking and Running Trail Over Roanoke River at Wasena Park

From the other side, you can see that there is a trail where kayaks have been put in and taken out of the river here.

You can see the take-out/put-in trail on the right side, opposite bank.

The river is beautiful and the bike path was still busy with walkers and bikers but it was growing hot.

Roanoke River

My bike was in the car but I walked a little of the path – enough to see that there are interesting art installations along the path that I could look for – but I thought that there had been enough for today. It was too hot and this looked like something to start in the morning rather than early afternoon.

Rigsby the Raccoon, 2020 Sculpture

The Quest Will Continue

So the next step appears to be Bob’s Up The Creek Outfitters. Possible distractions might include miniature golf or even the D-Day memorial. There may be pirates. I haven’t completely ruled out going back into Roanoke. And then there’s an outfitter in Eden that has a rack that would fit on my car without me having to get the dealer involved. That could be huge.

Who knows?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and an extraordinarily happy New Year.

In response to Covid, the church I attend erected an outdoor tree of lights this year for the first time. It was lit on December 6th, shortly after 6 PM.

From my community to yours, merry Christmas and – truly – may God bless us, every one.

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.