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.

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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”

The Silverbell Trail – A Walk Through Martinsville

I had started this year hoping to really get in some local hikes but, as they say, the best laid plans oft go astray.  I did succeed in finding a fantastic local hiking group connected to the Reynolds Homestead, The Homestead Hikers, and joined them on their inaugural hike for the 2017 year – The Silverbell Trail.

The Silverbell Trail is a short boardwalk trail that joins the Uptown Connection Trail in Martinsville just off of the Dick & Willie Rail Trail and ends, somewhat abruptly, at Church Street, across the street from the YMCA. Even in January, when all of the leaves are on the ground and a coat is required, this is a beautiful trail.   Continue reading “The Silverbell Trail – A Walk Through Martinsville”

Brewsterwalk 2017

Another summer has rolled past in southern Virginia and fall festivals have begun to seep into our calendar.  If the 2017 Brewsterwalk Craft Beer Festival can serve as an omen for our upcoming fall festivities, we are in phenomenal shape for a great pre-Christmas season. Continue reading “Brewsterwalk 2017”

Martinsville’s Harvest Moon

The main reason why I’ve never run the Martinsville Harvest Moon race before now was that it was a 10K that started at 7PM and I have never been able to complete a 10K in under an hour.  I was afraid I would end up a lone straggler limping along the Dick and Willie Trail after dark.  According to Athlinks, my best time ever was 1 hour and 9 minutes (when I was in good shape). This year they added a 5K and a virtual race.  The 5K meant that I could expect to finish before sunset so I couldn’t resist the chance to see the Dick and Willie  Rail Trail.

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The Dick & Willie Trail near the Uptown Connection Trail

The race actually starts  on the Uptown Connection Trail and goes down .6 miles to join with the Dick & Willie.  Mother and I got there early and had time to walk from the start of the race down to see the intersection with the actual Dick & Willie Rail Trail and back.

There are interesting things to see along the way on this part of the trail.  DeShazo’s Silo has a placard along the Uptown Connection Trail explaining how, although it is called a silo, it was actually an incinerator for the DeShazo Lumber Company which closed in 1971.

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DeShazo’s Silo – Actually an Incinerator for DeShazo Lumber Company

The Uptown Connection Trail intersects with the Silverbell Trail  just before meeting up with the actual Dick & Willie Trail. The Silverbell Trail is a short trail, half a mile, but we didn’t have time to see it and the artwork that is supposed to be along the way.  That would have to wait for another day.

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The Silverbell Trail Meets Up With The Uptown Connection Trail

At the end of the Uptown Connection Trail, you can continue onto the Dick & Willie Trail but we turned around and headed back to get ready for the race.

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Where The Uptown Connection Trail Meets The Dick & Willie Rail Trail

I usually carry a small point and click with me when I run but I knew that light conditions would be too poor for that so I took a couple of pictures before the race with my phone.

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Harvest Moon Runners Milling Around Before The Race

Weather was perfect.  They had two beer selections, Coors Light and something from Devil’s Backbone, and music played on a PA system.

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Harvest Moon Runners Milling Around Before The Start of the Race

When it was time for the race, they brought out a map to be sure that the 5K’ers and 10K’ers, who would start at the same time, understood which way to go for their particular race.

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Receiving Race Instructions at the Harvest Moon Run

The path was easy for the 5K.  They had a water station where the Uptown Connection Trail met the Dick & Willie Trail that would point people in the right direction at the right time and there was a volunteer at a cone that was the 5K turnaround that made sure that we all turned when we were supposed to (the 10K’ers had higher number bibs).

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The Finish Line

I finished before the sun set and then caught this blurry shot a little while later of a runner crossing the finish line.  They had an event photographer at the finish to take everyone’s photo. His photos are posted on the Miles In Martinsville Facebook Page.

It was a good race and I would highly recommend it if you are considering running it in a future year.  The Dick & Willie Trail is beautiful and fun to run with some company like this. For more information on The Dick & Willie Trail, check out “Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing The Commonwealth”.

If you like small town races with local flavor, the next one coming up is the Run With The Cows 5K at the Chinqua-Penn Walking Trail in Reidsville, NC. Unlike most 5K’s, this one is on a Sunday afternoon.  While this is down in North Carolina, the history of the property there has some regional roots.

 

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