Archive for the ‘Travel in Virginia’ Category

Sweeping Landscapes and Barns En Route

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Brochure Arts CntrThere are things happening in the small town of Clifton Forge, Virginia.  I didn’t realize how many things.

My friend and I stopped there because it’s only 45 minutes from “home” and we heard the little town was morphing into something special.

We stopped right in the center of town to begin our visit at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center.  Taking in the regular storefront facade.  I was thinking, “Ah well.  Just another ho-hum artsy craftsy place. But let’s take a look.”

What surprises were inside!

Quilt at Art Cntr

Handmade Honeysuckle Basket Centerpiece

Handmade Honeysuckle Centerpiece Really Made of Honeysuckle!

Art Cntr Display

Look! Look! Look!

After talking to the friendly volunteers in the Arts Center and marvelling at all the locally made treasures, we realized there was not enough time.  Clifton Forge is becoming a true art center.

First there is exciting rennovation going on at the Masonic Theatre (just down the street from the artsy craftsy place).  Work is in progress to create the most modern facility for theater, music, and community events.  There was mention of a sophisticated Art School too which is already populated with students from around the world..

And we noticed enticing shops – like a grand looking antique store and a hardware store that is supposed to be fabulous.  Now I know “fabulous” is a strange word for a hardware store but we were told not to miss it.  This particular place is so unique it even has a section devoted exclusively to WOMEN!

And of course, Clifton Forge was once a booming railroad town for over 100 years until the 1960’s.   I have to return there to visit the Railroad Museum where visitors can go through a 1940’s vintage train!

There are several restaurants, including Michel’s of authentic French cuisine, and the Club Car (where we had lunch) featuring the freshest of fresh everything.  I have to go back just to try the restaurants!

The sad thing is we simply did not have enough time to cover the charming town of Clifton Forge.

And as I put together this blog post, I realize there is not enough time to tell you all about it either because if we had just two more hours we would still be in the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center browsing buying.PinWheel Quilt Art Cntr

Horse Eye View


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Pond Fountain 2

You bird lovers out there probably already knew the answer to the question in yesterday’s post about  Ridgely Historic Gardens. 

That ghostly hanging thing was a clump of sheep’s wool!Wool for Birds'NestsBest

Songbirds love this well-insulating, all-weather fiber that’s ideal for their nests and there for the pickin’!

Ridgely Gardens is a historic two-acre mountainside property overlooking the town of Clifton Forge in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.  This week my friend, Norma, and I had a private tour with Donald Roberts, the current owner and gardener!

View from gardenThe Roberts believe gardens are to be shared and welcome visitors, including groups, garden clubs, and folks like Norma and me, who are just curious.

These beautiful gardens were first started in 1902, professionally landscaped in 1932, and now the original detailed plans and blueprints are on display.Aerial of upper pond--2012

Donald Roberts Owner

Donald Roberts – Ridgely Historic Gardens

Mr. Roberts cleared, managed, maintained and stuck closely to the original plans and plantings which included a boxwood maze, a large variety of heirloom plants and extensive Depression era stonework.  Fishponds, fountains, a stone pagoda, a greenhouse, a sunken stone hothouse, and a gardener’s cabin are other features of this remarkable place.

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Wool for Birds'NestsBest

This week my friend Norma and I were privileged to be taken on a private tour of Ridgely Historic Gardens, an amazing walk backward in time through a mountainside property in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.

There was a slightly ominous, ghostly apparation hanging in the garden that prompted my first question.  “What is THAT?” I asked and was surprised and delighted at the answer.

Can YOU guess what that is?

Answer to come in my next post about Ridgely Gardens and the fascinating little town of Clifton Forge.


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A Shiny Old ChevyThere is always a sense of the past as you walk down Main Street in Lexington, Virginia.  Parts of the sidewalks are still paved with the original carved bricks and wherever you look there are restored old buildings and signs of times long ago.

Then why is it always so surprising when I come across an old car parked right there on Main?

And why do I feel I am in a time machine?

Isn’t this the most gorgeous shiny Chevy?  I am not sure of the year but I know it was “before my time.”

It is being used to advertise a local Bed and Breakfast (502 Main Street)) and if the B&B is as beautiful as the Chevrolet, I would highly recommend it.

Advertising a B&B



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Mackenzie - HiSchlGrad 2015This week Bill and I drove to Leesburg, Virginia – more specifically, Purcellville, Virginia.  The morning we left was crisp, clear and lovely and although the drive was a bit harrowing with trucks, trucks and more trucks, we arrived at our destination intact and ready for action.

Our objective was to attend another graduation, this time for youngest grandgirl, Mackenzie (affectionately called  “Mack or Macky May”).  And it was her high school graduation.

Graduation Day came in with periods of rain and drizzle so we were relegated to the auditorium.  Horrors!  It was complete with air conditioning, plush seating, and close up views of the speakers and of the ceremony, all on a big screen!  Everybody clapped and screamed at the right moments even though the graduates were physically in the gymnasium down the hall and couldn’t hear us at all.

Although our grandgirls are all exceedingly beautiful (having accumulated my genes of course), I thought Macky looked especially stunning, not only in her gorgeous white dress and platform heels, but in her happiness and obvious joy at the whole event.

The Graduate

The Graduate

So it is off to college in the Fall for Macky May and we all know she will do well.

Macky and Boyfriend, Noah

Macky and Boyfriend, Noah


With Proud Papa

With Proud Papa

Mackenzie Good One

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Lone Star Tree

My favorite tree stands upon a hill all alone,

impressive in all seasons.

Isn’t she elegant?

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Are the ads for faraway places calling to you?  Do you need to escape the mundane?  Is the Winter getting you down?

Go Shopping Somewhere New!

Last week was fun!  My friend and I went shopping.  Ho Hum!  Everybody knows that shopping is “therapy,” but what about the thrill of FOOD shopping?

Admittedly, grocery stores are not exactly visits to paradise but when you live (like I do) in extreme suburbia (extremely close to being rural) and in a place that can be described as “no man’s land,” you too might find big city grocery stores to be a bit alluring.

And even if you already live in a big city, escaping to the inner sanctum of a truly caring market can be at least transporting.  It will get you out of the house and “blow the stink off,” as my good old Dad used to say.

Monticello en.wikipedia.org

Home of Thomas Jefferson Charlottesville, Virginia en.wikipedia.org

Have a Regular Plan of Escape.

I escape by going on a once-a-month “outing” with a good friend.  A lot of the excitement is  in the planning and planning should be part of any program designed to accomplish successful escape.

For January’s a pre-planned monthly outing, my pal and I drove an hour to Charlottesville, Virginia.  The time en route let us catch up on our lives and any local gossip missed since the last outing.  Charlottesville is a pretty big city.   The University of Virginia is  there and Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, to say nothing of a plethora of shopping opportunities.  There is a Downtown Mall where no cars are allowed and most dedicated shoppers probably start there but we stuck to the outskirts of town this time.

Charlottesville Dowtown Mall en.wikipedia.com

Charlottesville Dowtown Mall

First, Get it Out of your System.  Try On Beautiful Clothes! 

We started at Chico’s where the sizes in chic ladies’ apparel are tagged as 0’s, 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, and lately  in added point-5 increments like 2.5, 3.5, and I hope “on up.”  I’m not sure how high they go but I want to be mentally prepared after this winter of more malingering than moving. And I just love those little low size numbers that help me hone latent skills in the art of self deception.

I must say I admired my own restraint and actually did not walk out of Chico’s with anything but vague yearnings.

Lesson Learned:  Stick with Food as a Destination!

Bodossign PhotoNext stop was BoDo’s – a very busy, happily beloved shop where people load up on plenty of New York style bagels.  My friend buys enough to freeze (conceivably to avoid future starvation) and I planned to buy enough to guarantee a Size 4 at Chico’s by next month’s outing!    I joined the masses and ordered 2 whole wheat (my nod to healthful eating), 2 onion, and 2 sesame.  Now I wish I had more and not just from fear of starvation.  They are absolutely delicious and it’s not bathing suit season yet after all.

The point is, I did not have to travel all the way to New York to get the real thing in bagels and the flavors are still lingering a week later.  This was my first clue that food shopping can transport a person to faraway places and create the illusion of a true escape.

Bodo’s Bagels is a trio of Charlottesville bagel shops serving “authentic New York water bagels” and has been a perennial winner of the C-Ville Weekly’s “Best of C-Ville” awards and was named by the magazine as Charlottesville’s “king of bagels.”  *Photo by Adam Sowers

 Now Keep Moving!  Go Beyond Bagels!

Beyond Bodo’s we hit Whole Foods and if you haven’t been there, it’s equivalent to a faraway land of  dreams.  We don’t have a Whole Foods where we live so I was entranced with all the produce in brilliant Technicolor.  There are cheeses of all conceivable kinds, sizes and flavors, the freshest looking fish and meats, the most heavenly bakery and everything you can imagine in between!  Would that I could live in a corner of Whole Foods!  I settled for a luscious looking apple pie (for Bill of course) and three loaves of bread; two Sour Dough and one Rye.

You might call this a “carbohydrate outing” since now I had

3 loaves of bread, 6 bagels and an apple pie!

Apples are healthful you know.  So are grains.  I am beyond happy!


Finally:  Be Sure to Head to Joe’s!

Please, we are not advocating an illicit affair!  Across the road from Whole Foods my friend and I visited Trader Joe’s.  That’s a market, not a man! We don’t have a Trader Joe’s where we live either.  I have not figured out TJ’s yet but someone described it as “the way old-timey markets used to look and feel.”  And someone else said, “They have such different things.”   Maybe the latter friend was thinking of Two Buck Chuck (which may have gone up like everything else) – a sort of cheap wine that I hear is pretty good. I did find some lovely goat cheese and a bottle of sub-lingual B-Vitamins my son advised will provide energy.  And I certainly need the energy to recuperate from all that shopping and inner-mind travelling.

And there you have it!

If you really do want to add spice to life, try shopping, but not just any shopping.

Try FOOD shopping somewhere new.

You will feel happy too and you will return home with the odd sense that you have been far away on an exotic vacation. 

You will even have the extra weight and caloric souvenirs to prove it.

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“I have received many remarkable nature photographs over the years,

but this photo of a nesting Falcon is perhaps the most remarkable nature

shot that I have ever seen.

 I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  

Nature is truly breathtaking!

 I’ve sent this to most of my older friends.

The younger ones probably have never seen a Falcon and wouldn’t recognize one.”


Actually, this photograph and note came to me in an email.

The original source is  unknown but thank you Steve for passing it on.

And you’re right, I didn’t recognize the falcon.

Does that mean I’m in the “younger” category?  Ha!




Falcon in a Tree

Photographer: Unknown


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Best Waiting

Do stop and look.

This is Virginia’s countryside

with swooping vistas,

far and wide, and

farms and fields and long horizons,

rolling hills and sparkling skies.

Do stop and look.

This is Virginia’s countryside.

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