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.

harvest09
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.

harvest081
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.

harvest10
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.

harvest08
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.

harvest04
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.

harvest06
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.

harvest02
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).

harvear01
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.

 

Advertisements

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.

IMG_20150418_192319618_HDR

 

IMG_20150418_181539670

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.

IMG_20150418_191118362

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.

IMG_20151010_142355135_HDR

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.

BrewFest 028

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.

BrewFest 031
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.

CAM00215
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.

CAM00222

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.

CAM00220
The food trucks were outside of the garage and the way to them was covered by white tents.

Festivus 004

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.

MicroFestivus 004

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.

MicroFestivus 009

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.

MicroFestivus 013

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.

IMG_0512

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

MicroFestivus 021

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):

MicroFestivus 034
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.

Harvest Moon 010
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.

Pub Runners
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).

Stop Drop and Run 033
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.

Covered B ridge 033
2014 Covered Bridge Run – Woolwine, VA

Woolwine is worth two photos.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Covered B ridge 010
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.

Rebels 5K 053
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.

Peach Festival 015
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.

Martinsville’s Lake Lanier

Nestled in between the neighborhoods of Forest Park and Druid Hills in Martinsville is a small but beautiful private lake called Lake Lanier.  It’s not the Lake Lanier.  That’s in Georgia.  But it is Martinsville’s Lake Lanier.

Each year around Halloween, Henry County Parks and Recreation holds the annual Goblin Gallop 5K around the lake, ending up at the old Druid Hills school house where volunteers provide congratulations, smiles, and fresh pumpkin pie.

Great Goblin Gallop 033

It’s a beautiful run and I took these photos when I ran it in 2015.  The leaves had changed colors and were falling but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. When a breeze would come up, a flurry of golden leaves would fall and swirl around the runners’ feet as they went by.

Great Goblin Gallop 040

Big, stately homes peek up all around Lake Lanier.  It’s one of those neighborhoods that is just so pretty that I don’t think that we’ve had an out-of-town guest that we haven’t taken on a drive through the Forest Park neighborhood just to look at the houses and it’s always fun to get them to guess what the ones for sale are going for.  If they are from one of the larger metropolitan areas (most of our guests are from the Dallas area), they are simply flabbergasted at the prices. In Dallas, these would easily be million dollar homes.  Heck, in McKinney , a Dallas suburb, they’d be million dollar homes.  In Dallas proper, they would be astronomical.

Great Goblin Gallop 045

Here’s a map from Zillow.com that shows a sampling of things for sale in the Forest Park neighborhood.  It’s important to know that Zillow is not tied directly to the multiple listing service for this area, so it may not reflect the most current status of a listing or even the current active agents.  If you want real-time information on the local real estate market, you should look at the  local listing board, the Martinsville, Henry & Patrick Counties Association of Realtors site.  What Zillow does well though is let you see where they are in relation to, say, Lake Lanier (the bit of blue there by Root Trail).

forest park

I am not an active real estate agent though I did get a license and try when I first got here.  I don’t have a license any more though and I don’t have anything to do with the real estate market (though I do have some friends who happen to be absolutely excellent Realtors).

Point being, I don’t have any vested interest in it.  I just love to see people’s expressions when they say “that is only that much?”  So, if you’ve got some time to burn and love to look at houses, pop over to the Martinsville, Henry & Patrick Counties Association of Realtors site and do a search on Forest Park (location/subdivision).  You will more than likely be amazed.

 

Moving to Martinsville-Henry County

Hopefully, this post answers the question of “why?” and “why here?”

It is my hope to share some glimpses of our area here and there. Primarily, this blog is a creative release for me but it would also be nice for someone to sing some praises for this area. It deserves it.

We moved to Henry County in the spring of 2014 from McKinney, Texas.  Now, I loved McKinney and I still love McKinney but it had just become too popular.  It was voted the best place in the country to live in 2014 by Money Magazine. I could walk from my home in the Historic District and pass by the McKinney Equine Patrol out on patrol or Happy Trails Carriage Rides out with a load of tourists on my way to the downtown square where there were shops and restaurants and wine bars surrounding the old courthouse that had become a performing arts center.  What’s not to love?

People here all seemed mystified as to why would leave Texas to move to Henry County.  They didn’t even know how wonderful McKinney was (is).  There is just a pervading sense of “anywhere’s a better place to be” here.  While McKinney was wonderful, Henry County (and the independent city of Martinsville that sits in the middle of it) has a great deal to offer.  Somehow, a lot of the locals just don’t see it.

In fact, we are both amazed that this whole area seems to have been entirely overlooked despite some extremely obvious advantages:

  • All Four Seasons, including a leaf change – Texas is just incredibly hot.  We got out before the weather truly became what I call “biblical” -floods washing away trains, cattle, and roads followed by droughts that make the black clay crack and shift.  The climate here is perfect for anyone who wants all four seasons and the winters are not significantly different from Texas except that, where Texas gets ice, Virginia gets snow (at least, most of the time).  Summers are hot by Virginian standards but it seems rare that it breaks 100 degrees while that is fairly common in Texas during the latter half of the summer (from August into October).
  • Economy – this may seem counterintuitive to the locals but the same economy that’s been devastated by NAFTA means that everything is cheaper … much cheaper.  Real estate, groceries, restaurants …  In our experience (with certain exceptions), the cost of living in Martinsville-Henry County seems to be about half of what it was in Dallas.  Granted, there aren’t any jobs to speak of but if you are on a fixed income or a telecommuter, this is great.
  • Proximity to “Big City” Life – There really has been no sacrifice in terms of stores and culture.  Martinsville has a good museum that is connected in some way to the Smithsonian.  The Piedmont Arts Center has constant art exhibitions.  The Patrick Henry Community College has an active performing troupe that offers several musicals throughout the year and there is live music everywhere. The Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount (Franklin County), about thirty minutes north brings in big name entertainers to an intimate setting (Amos Lee, Keb Mo, Colin Hay, just to name the ones that I’ve been interested in).  Roanoke, sometimes called “Festival City” because they have something going on every single weekend, is only about an hour north.  Greensboro, NC, is only about 30 minutes to the south.  Danville, our immediate neighbor to the east has a lot of the chain stores for shopping and going out, plus an active river walk restoration project.
  • Jobs are not that far away – If you have a degree and the wherewithal to commute, the lack of local jobs is not a problem.  Greensboro and Roanoke are both large(ish) cities and there are plenty of jobs available.  Of course, as more and more people are being able to telecommute, work can be as close as rolling out of bed; making for the perfect combination … life in a sleepy hamlet of friendly people and outstanding beauty while not having to worry about how to make the car payment. If your entire life goal is to amass as much money as possible, this may not be the place for you.  If you are looking for a good quality of life, this just may be ideal
  • Healthcare – Since we’ve moved my mother to Henry County in 2016, I’ve had to acknowledge the whole healthcare concern.  So far, we have had a little trouble finding a GP but I haven’t truly made a concerted effort.  We may need to drive down to Greensboro which would be annoying but it would also give us an excuse to get some shopping and sightseeing in occasionally. However, the big picture stuff is covered.  Martinsville has a hospital and I’ve heard good things about it.  More importantly, there are two fantastic hospitals not far away, just in case the worst happens.  Wake Forest Baptist, about an hour away, and Duke University Medical Center, about two hours away, are both highly ranked on the list of best hospitals in the US (for cancer).  Wake Forest is ranked #17 in 2016  and Duke ranks #27.  UNC, at #32, isn’t far either. This is actually a trade-up for Mother as the local leading hospital in Dallas, UT Southwestern, ranks at #50.

Hopefully, this post answers the question of “why?” and “why here?”

It is my hope to share some glimpses of our area here and there.  Primarily, this blog is a creative release for me but it would also be nice for someone to sing some praises for this area. It deserves it.