Here, There, Everywhere – Beer

Neither of us remember there being craft beer festivals back in Dallas. There had to be some. Surely, right?

Here, however, we have been to four craft beer festivals in just the past couple of years.  Each one has had its pros and cons but, wow, a craft beer festival.  That’s right up there with an ice cream festival.

The BallPark Beer Festival – Hooker Field, Martinsville

We went to the first (annual) BallPark Beer Festival at Hooker Field in Martinsville in May of 2015. It was great.  They had several tents and multiple brewers in each tent. Instead of kegs, each brewer had vats of different brews iced down.  I thought that this was great because normally each brewer only brings two to four kegs. By having the bottles, they were able to have more different kinds of beers. The glasses were the size of juice glasses and one perk to standing on grass is that you could easily pour out anything you didn’t like or didn’t want.

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The Kings of Belmont played and it was a great scene. We wished that we had brought chairs to sit on the lawn and listen to the band.

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We missed it this year but that’s just because it fell off of our radar.  Next year, I’ll remember to keep an eye out for it in JULY.

Brewsterwalk – Uptown Martinsville

Then there was Brewsterwalk in October (also 2015) held in the old downtown area known as Uptown.  Brewsterwalk is kind of a play on words because there is a huge annual multi-day concert here called Roosterwalk.  It’s kind of a big deal.

Attendance was capped at 600 tickets, so it was a little bigger than the BallPark’s Beer Fest that had been capped at 400.   There were food trucks and a sitting area just to the right of the stage, so that worked really well.

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This was where we discovered Raven’s Roost Porter by Parkway Brewing.   And look at that glass! It’s a full-sized pint glass.  We love those glasses.  We also still love Raven’s Roost.  We believe that the local Food Lion (on Greensboro Road) is keeping it in stock just for us.  So we buy it.  A lot.

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We heard a couple of bands, the Chris Duarte Group and Wild Ponies, but left before the finale band, Junto, came on. The bands were awesome.  But we are a music area, right?  I guess you have to expect greatness when it comes to the music around here.

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Wild Ponies at 2015 Brewsterwalk

 

MicroFestivus Premiere Craft Beer Festival – Roanoke

We’ve actually made it to MicroFestivus twice now and we are learning how to do this properly.  For instance, this year we rented a hotel room within walking distance to the festival. How’s that for an idea?!

The first time it rained.

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Lost in Roanoke in the Rain

MicroFestivus was supposed to be held in Elmwood Park but, due to the rain, it got moved into the parking garage adjacent to Elmwood Park.  We found it.  We had our list of brewers and brews that we especially wanted to find and we set off.  Our big discovery in 2014 was Southern Tier’s Creme Brulee Stout. We do buy that occasionally when we see it in a craft beer store but it really is a little on the dessert side for a beer.

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It continued to rain.  There was a band set up on a soundstage but I honestly don’t remember them playing.  It was wet and kind of cruddy.  The beer festival was inside the garage, so you wound around the levels and that worked out really well.

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The food trucks were outside of the garage and the way to them was covered by white tents.

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Fast forward to 2016.  We missed 2015 MicroFestivus for some reason. This year, however, this year we were ready.  There are rain clouds.  The festival this year is a street festival. We have a hotel room.

We have a hotel room in Hotel Roanoke.  Let me tell you, THIS is the way to “do” downtown Roanoke.  Honestly, we will be staying here again. This is the prettiest hotel that I’ve ever seen and it has this wonderful “vibe”.  The closest that I’ve ever experienced was the Hotel Del in San Diego.  It’s old world but … almost other world.

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The festival went off without a hitch. (Which is really good because the area it was in flooded two days later).  Our discovery this year?   South Street Brewery’s Ice Cream Porter.

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Or Hardywood’s Raspberry Stout. I’m not sure.  I guess it’s going to depend on who gets their bottles out to the stores. They were both stand outs.

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It did not rain but it was hot. The festival entrance was on Campbell Avenue and ran two blocks up 1st Street to end at food trucks.  Both Kirk Avenue and Church Avenue, which cross 1st Street, were closed and had beer tents running a block to two blocks along their sidewalks.

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It was crowded but I have photos that make it look thronged and others that make it look like a Sunday afternoon church bazaar.

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Roanoke is a craft beer destination even without the festival. Check out these local breweries when you can (and these probably aren’t all of them):

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Band at Roanoke’s 2016 MicroFestivus

The Heat Index Hold

It’s been difficult to get up and moving lately with the summertime temps.  I used to enjoy running a 5K here and there but I’m the only one in the household that really enjoys that and, with Mother’s move, there just hasn’t been time.  And then there was this humid summer.

I just got a reminder in my email about the 3rd annual Stop, Drop, and Run 5K in Stuart coming up on September 10th and the 2016 Harvest Moon 5K & 10 K in Martinsville on September 16th.  Now I’m sitting here looking at pictures from past races and thinking, can I be ready by then? I’m so out of shape and its so hard to get going with the humidity and heat the way it has been recently.  It’s been practically tropical in southern Virginia this summer.

I’d love to run the Harvest Moon run in Martinsville because it is on the Dick & Willie Trail, a rail trail that runs all the way through town.   I started (but did not finish) the Martinsville half marathon training  in the winter of 2015 but I still haven’t been on the trail when it is all leafed out because every single person I’ve talked to has said that I shouldn’t go alone. In other words, I need a male escort.  I didn’t run the Harvest Moon in 2014 because I couldn’t finish a 10K in under an hour and it starts at 7PM.  This year they are offering a 5K and, if I can be fit enough to do that, it might just be the best of all possible worlds for me.

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2014 Harvest Moon 10K in Martinsville

Martinsville has a pretty active and close-knit running community.  Check out Miles In Martinsville for a list of events, training programs, and volunteer opportunities.  There are a lot of good runners with incredible patience willing to mentor the slower runners (like me).  There is also a Facebook Group called MHC Inspire that allows local runners (and mountain bikers, etc) to keep up with and encourage each other.  There is a group that meets on the Dick & Willie Trail by El Parral Restaurant every Sunday morning (I’m told) and runs six miles.  I haven’t gotten that fit yet.

All in all, though, the running community is pretty much just as vibrant here in the Martinsville-Henry County area as it was in McKinney, TX.

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2013 Cadillac Pizza Pub Runners – McKinney, TX

I was worried when I moved here about running in Virginia.  Friends teased me about all the hills.  Although I did eventually stop running, it wasn’t because of the hills. In fact, I’ve seen some of the most beautiful countryside here by running through it and no two races are exactly the same. The first race I ran in Stuart, The Strawberry Festival 5K,  was fairly easy.  The Caring Soles 10K in Stuart kicked me (if fact they sent someone out to make sure that I was okay).

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2014 Stop, Drop, and Run in Stuart, VA

Woolwine, which is an exceptionally hilly place, has probably one of the nicest runs in the area, the Covered Bridge Festival 5K, every June.

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2014 Covered Bridge Run – Woolwine, VA

Woolwine is worth two photos.  Absolutely gorgeous.

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2014 Covered Bridge Run  – Woolwine, VA

The Rebels 5K race in Critz (pronounced with a hard I) led me to find the Reynolds Homestead just a few miles north, if that far.

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2014 Rebel 5K – Critz, VA

Even the Peach Festival 5K in Meadows of Dan was not bad at all and they are at the foot of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  One guy even did it with a stroller.

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2014 Peach Festival 5K – Meadows of Dan, VA

There is also  Run With the Cows 5K on the Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail down in Reidsville, NC on September 25th that I’d like to do.  That’s three races in September.

If I do manage to get out there and get back to running, I have a separate Facebook page for pictures I’ve taken at races, Runs With Camera.  There’s an album for each race I’ve taken my camera on.  Most are in the Dallas area but, hopefully, I’ll get at least a few more from Virginia.

Classic Car Crazy

I would love to see the numbers on how many classic cars there are in this area in relation to the number of living souls.  It seems that there is a classic car show at nearly every event, plus events called “Cruise Ins” that are just classic car shows on their own.  We had classic cars in Dallas but I just never noticed this level of enthusiasm there.  (I did once get a ride in a Model T, but that was a fluke).

The first big car show I saw here was at the 2015 Pig Cooking Contest at the Spencer Penn Centre. On Friday night, they have the actual cook off.  On Saturday, vendors are crammed all throughout the restored school house and spill out on the lawn and there is a car show out back.

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My husband loves the old trucks.

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He could spend hours looking at them.

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I’m a sucker for the old Fairlanes.

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The entire back parking lot was filled with classics and I thought that it was a big show.

After the Pig Cooking Contest, we headed over to Fieldale, which has a heritage festival annually on the same day.  There is an antique store there, Fieldale Antiques, that may be one of the prettiest buildings you’ll ever see.  Well, maybe the prettiest gas station. But, seriously, it is worth the trip just to see it.  It isn’t listed on TripAdvisor and it doesn’t have a web page.  You’ll just have to take a leap of faith.  They don’t have a lot of stock, or didn’t when we went.  In fact, it seemed more like odd items of local significance stored for another day.  In an esoteric way, it’s what you would get if you had an art gallery of antiques.  Very odd. Very eclectic. You’ll want to combine it with some other sightseeing to justify a trip of any length, but … do.

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Later that year, we went to the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Virginia.  A word about the scale of this festival:  the closest thing I can compare it to is the Dallas State Fair without the buildings or the midway.  The festival is phenomenal and completely redefined what is a “big” car show. It was a veritable sea of cars.

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The cars were lined up in row after row after row.  There must have been acres of cars.

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Some were in pristine condition.

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Others, not so much.

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We even found the same model my husband’s aunt used to drive when it was new.

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I couldn’t pick a favorite.

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I’m not sure what some of them were.

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Of course, my husband liked the trucks.

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I think that I like anything with fins.

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Whatever you like, I’ll bet it will be at the Folklife Festival.  So far, it seems to be the “granddaddy” of car shows around here.  This fascination with classic cars may be yet another reason that this is just an excellent area in which to retire.  A classic car enthusiast could follow classic cars here the way a live music junkie could follow music in Austin.

I’ll have to add that to my list.

Roanoke: Market Center

Roanoke is a city that is beautiful in the rain. A little under an hour north of Henry County, Roanoke is a great place to get away from rural life and take in something more “cosmopolitan”, a quick pint at a craft brewery  (there are several), or just to grab lunch while letting the hustle and bustle of a real city remind you that you are still part of the human race.

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Every morning, we watch news from Roanoke and we thought that it was high time to take Mother in to see Market Center. We’ve only been once before and were so impressed with Fork in the Market that we went there again.  The food was predictably good but the craft beer selection was poor this time.  Last time we were able to get  S’mores porter (by DuClaw, I think?).  This time, their only porter was Nitro Vanilla by Breckinridge which is a good porter but they were out. Still, the food was good and the sidewalk seating is great.

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From the Fork in the Market sidewalk seating, you look out at a seafood restaurant, Billy’s, and the Taubman Museum.  People walk by and a steady stream of traffic makes for great people-watching.

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Fork in the Market is one of several restaurants in a building called The City Market. While this is a beautiful building on the outside, the inside is basically a food court with access to all (or at least some) of the restaurants that are also accessible from the outside.  The perk to City Market is easy access to clean restrooms and a series of beautiful mosaics at each doorway.

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I made a point to get a shot of each of the mosaics. A history of the mosaics – 2,000 pounds of ceramic tilework by artist Cheryl Foster – is available on the City Market website.

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I wish that there was more information about each mosaic but even the building’s website gives only a cursory explanation of their commission. Were these real personalities connected to the building? I don’t know.

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The colors are fantastic and there is so much detail.

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The toothless, banjo-playing boy with his dog, in particular, could use an explanatory placard.  This is an area rich in musical heritage but the mosaic, without more information, seems more like a caricature than a tribute.

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Market Center is a shopping district across the street from City Market and next to Center in the Square.  It is not synonymous with Center in the Square, which you will gather if you read the management responses to reviews on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is a global outfit not based in the U.S. and it has a real problem with listing districts like Market Center that don’t have an identifiable individual address.

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Market Center is a lively area that hosts a farmers’ market on Saturdays and has a long line of shops and open-air vendors along the street.

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Our big “find” this trip was ChocolatePaper.  My husband called it a “random stuff” store when we walked in but then smiled like a cat with a canary when he went far enough back to find the chocolate counter.  I had picked up a bag of Nancy’s Candy Company’s chocolate covered cookie dough balls (Nancy’s is a Meadows of Dan outfit) until I found the counter of truffles and chocolate covered delicacies.

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The sandwich board outside says that they keep the inside temperature at 66 degrees for the chocolate.  I can’t recommend a better way to beat the heat this summer than ChocolatePaper.

Fall Creek Falls, North Carolina

Here in Henry County, we are very close (about 3 miles, depending on where you are standing) from the North Carolina border. In fact, when I head to the Ridgeway library, I actually cross the border into North Carolina and back into Virginia on my way.

Ever since we moved here, a neighbor who became a very close friend has been telling us that we had to go check out the waterfall on DeShazo Road.   From what he was saying, I was picturing a smaller stream with an abandoned falling-down mill and an arduous hike but I really couldn’t have been more wrong.

The falls are quite pretty.  Like so many things around here, I find a larger version by the same name in another state. There is a Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee.  These are not those falls.  These falls are actually part of the Mayo River State Park, a new park in North Carolina. Per Wikipedia, the Mayo River State Park owns over two thousand acres along the Mayo River corridor but  the current park only has trails along about 400 acres of it down near the town of Mayodan.

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The only access to the waterfall is along DeShazo Road, where a trailhead prevents access by ATVs with pylons across the entrance.  People park alongside the road to make the short hike down to the falls.  When we visited shortly after a rain, we passed two gentlemen coming up from the falls as we were entering and a lady out walking her dog coming in as we were leaving.

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The trail is clearly marked and mostly level until you actually get to the falls.  There was no litter.  The trail floor is natural earth so it probably has the potential to be muddy although it is the type of soil that is abundant here and drains well.

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It is a very short hike to the waterfall.  I’m guessing it is about a quarter of a mile. Some people say that you can see the footings of an old mill at the top of the waterfall.  For me, it is hard to distinguish stone footings from natural rocks.  We felt that the channel in the foreground of the picture below might be intentionally carved by human hands but there is no way to be sure.

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The only bit of the trail that was difficult at all was the bit going down to the base of the falls.  There were two paths – one dangerously close to the edge of a drop off and another maybe twelve feet away that was pretty steep.  We did this trail before Mother had a walking stick and she was wearing open toed sandals.  Even at that, she didn’t have much trouble with it, only requiring a gentle push up the hill as we were leaving.

I am hoping that there will eventually be trails leading from the Mayo State River Park up to the falls but it will be a good hike, distance-wise. In the meantime, the falls are reasonably accessible and quite beautiful.

The Gravely Preserve

Mother has always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail.  At seventy, and after two years of little to no activity, the move to Virginia has reawakened her desire to get on the Trail.  We aren’t that far from it and the section through Virginia is supposed to be one of the most accessible, according to her.  She’s found a section hike that is just under five miles, round trip, within a short drive and it looks like this is something that is going to have to at least be attempted. No one just dives into the Appalachian Trail though so we’ll have to work up to it.

There is no shortage of local trails to take in first while we are building up muscles (maybe?) and stamina.  Before the unseasonably warm temperatures drove us indoors to hide, we went to the Gravely Nature Preserver in Ridgeway.  It’s a 75-acre preserve with a variety of trails that wind through the thickly wooded land.

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The trail is easy, without a lot of ups and downs until you get to the end, where you go downhill at a pretty decent grade. It’s not treacherous at all but it’s worth going down it instead of up.

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There are multiple trails to walk in the preserve, all of them starting off of the main trail loop, the Cliff Jones trail, and there are a few points of interest along the way.  The Cliff Jones Trail is only about a mile long and is entirely shaded.  About midway along the trail, there is the Burgess Family Cemetery.

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It is a reasonably large family cemetery but the tombstones are in fairly bad shape, many having fallen over and beginning to crumble.  There is a lot of deadwood along the whole trail, leaving a question about how well the trail is maintained or if the focus is just on the natural state of unkempt woodland.  It was still worth the visit.

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The trail itself is well marked and clear of debris.  There was almost no litter.  One of the side trails, the Rhododendron Trail, is supposed to lead through a “tunnel” of the woodland shrubs which flower in May.  We didn’t attempt that trail on this excursion because it was marked as moderately difficult and the rhododendron had long stopped flowering by the time we were there.  It is something that, along with the Burgess home site trail, we hope to catch next spring.

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The Gravely Preserve is off of the beaten track and there is little chance that a tourist is going to stumble across it accidentally.  It is a nice attraction for the town of Ridgeway though and I hope that more people do make the effort to check it out.