If you are sitting at a desk in Dallas looking up photos of the Blue Ridge Parkway, there’s a good chance that the majority of the photos that you are seeing are from the North Carolina stretch. I don’t know if they just do a better job of Internet marketing or what the deal is there but there is one site along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway that is touted as the most photographed. That is Mabry Mill. It’s about an hour from Henry County, maybe a little less, just north of where the Parkway passes Meadows of Dan. Part of the National Parks System, Mabry Mill is a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and local fare. The Mabry Mill Restaurant is lauded for its sweet potato, blueberry, and apple pancakes made from buckwheat and corn meal ground at the mill. Continue reading “Most Photographed Mabry Mill”
Virginia has been in the news this year for a violent alt-right rally centered around a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. Public opinion is mixed about how to respond. In fact, public opinion is mixed about exactly what is or what are the problem(s) that need to be addressed. We have yet to be able to have a responsible dialog as thoughtful adults. Maybe we’ll get there. I hope so.
I don’t have an opinion on the statues so I am not going to offer one. I do have an observation, however. In the rural areas of Virginia, there are precious few monuments to anything other than the Civil War and that seems like an oddity to me. Roanoke is not so bad. It’s got some great monuments – like the firefighter monument at the Museum of Transportation and the monument to fallen officers in front of the police station. Greensboro has the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park commemorating the Revolutionary War. When you get into rural Virginia, however, there are pretty much only Civil War monuments. It’s as if there have been no notable people or events in the past 150 years, although I am absolutely sure that that is not true.
One notable exception to this is the Booker T. Washington National Monument about an hour north of Henry County on the way to Smith Mountain Lake. Continue reading “A Monument to Booker T. Washington”
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”
I am fascinated by the Gilded Age. The termed was coined in the 1920’s (credited to Mark Twain) and refers to a period from 1870 to 1900 when a few Americans made obscene fortunes and competed with each other in the ostentatious display of their wealth. They thought that they were building monuments for all time in the elaborate homes that they built, quite often copying country estates in Europe. Instead, they built albatrosses that succeeding generations simply could not afford to maintain. While most of the mansions that I’ve read about were built (and often subsequently torn down) in New York or Newport, RI, at least one – the Biltmore – was actually built not far from here in Asheville, North Carolina. Continue reading “A Little Gilded Age Tobacco Money”
Some of the prettiest pictures I have of Virginia in the fall are from the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Virginia.
These are photos that I took last year when the leaves were at their peak. They are a little bit behind schedule this year and I’m afraid that I’ll miss this year’s festival so it’s been on my mind the last couple of days. Continue reading “The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum”
We don’t go to a lot places in the evening because we have chickens. If you don’t have chickens, you probably would never think of this but just about everything else in the world wants to eat them. In order to protect them from nighttime predators, you have to lock the coop up behind them after they go in to roost. If you are a chicken owner, that means that you absolutely must be home by dark.
The Rogues were scheduled to play in a street dance fundraiser for the renovation of the Fieldale Recreation Center last Saturday evening, so we thought that we’d go catch a few songs and check out the Textile Heritage Trail. We caught the full act of the warm up group, Heart Strings, before we had to go and we had a great time.
This was one of many fundraisers to help revitalize the Fieldale Recreation Center. Fieldale is a jewel of city, well, a town, in Henry County. Like everything else here, it has struggled in the post-NAFTA economy and seems to have been all but forgotten, lost in time. This, despite the fact that there is a Smith River access within walking distance of the downtown, plus the Fieldale Walking Trail that runs along the river, the Textile Heritage Loop Trail, and a beautiful city park. It really is an incredible destination to an outsider. Fieldcrest towels were made here, once upon a time.
In a larger economy, a developer would have swooped in and claimed the small but quaint downtown area for their own. It is a small oval-shaped commercial district with early twentieth century brick storefronts, anchored now by the Fieldale Cafe and a beautifully restored Shell station that is actually an antiques store. Given the river access for kayaking and trout fishing, it would seem like an outfitter would do well here. The Virginia Home Inn consistently gets great reviews on TripAdvisor. Reviews of the Fieldale Cafe call it “the ultimate local diner” and a “hidden gem”. Obviously, Fieldale is not wholly undiscovered.
We went a little early because Mother had not yet seen the Textile Heritage Trail that is nestled next to the City Park, across the street from the Smith River. I had taken some photos of it back in 2014 but I wanted a chance to snap some more shots of it.
The trail is short, only about a quarter of a mile, but features a variety of walking surfaces. It starts and ends as a crushed rock trail, it has some bare earth lengths along the way, and there is a raised boardwalk in the middle.
Much of the trail winds. It makes for some gorgeous shots. It is almost all shaded, with dappled light changing every potential shot as clouds and leaves above shift with the breeze.
There are placards all along the trail that explain the history of the textile industry in Martinsville and Henry County, so the trail can be as educational as you want it to be. Even without the placards, it is a truly beautiful trail.
I uploaded several of my shots to Instagram and have been pleased that they have been popular there (@lifeinmhc). I couldn’t decide between two boardwalk shots and all of the filters in Instagram are just outstanding with the trail photos.
Our walk and the concert that Saturday were both fun but now I’m more anxious for fall than ever. I also want to go back to Fieldale in particular to get more shots. Fieldale Walking Trail is just across the street from this one and meanders along the river. I can just imagine shots of the Smith in the fall colors.
Where do you go for fall colors?