2018: Here We Go!

Hello from Southwest Virginia!  And a belated Happy New Year to all of you!

2018 is starting out much like the last few months of 2017 ended:  full of travel.  We are just 8 days in and I’ve already spent both weekends on the road, including New Years Eve in Washington DC and Alexandria, Virginia.

Despite the subfreezing temperatures, we spent several hours of the weekend out of doors.  We visited National Harbor, a multi-use waterfront development on the Potomac River in Maryland.  With temperatures hovering around 20 degrees during the day, we did not take the opportunity to ride the Capital Wheel, but it made for a great photo subject.

It was a beautiful evening!

Someday, in warmer weather, we’ll come back for a ride,

Later that night, we went to the National Mall to see the National Christmas Tree and the 57 trees that surround it, one representing each US State and Territory.  With the wind whipping about, it felt colder than 17 degrees and these next images were taken with my cell phone, held by my shaking, freezing cold hands.

The National Tree

The Virginia Tree with the Washington Monument in the background.

Selfies are a challenge when one of you is 6’4 and one of you is 5’0.

On NYE, we counted down to midnight on the Alexandria, Virginia waterfront.   The subfreezing temps kept some folks at home, but the atmosphere was festive and there were still hundreds to celebrate with.

(More cellphone photography)

Check out that frozen water!

Happy New Year!

Unlike 2017, the beginning of this year is filled with hope.

Last year: devastation.  This year: motivation to continue the resistance!

 I am ready!

City Lights / Holiday Lights

Recent travels took me to Virginia’s Capital City.  It is always a special treat to go to Richmond during the holidays.  Many of the businesses add white lights to the outside of their buildings and the city scape just glows.

In addition, the James Center creates a reindeer forest each year and I felt like (and acted like) a child as I walked through.  I didn’t have a tripod with me, but sure had fun trying to capture the magic.  My son and I used to go every year when we lived in Richmond years ago, and the place brings me great joy.

If you are a lover of Christmas lights, you need to stop through Richmond during the holidays.  You will not be disappointed!

Virginia Women’s Monument

During my visit to Richmond a couple weeks ago, I was able to attend the Groundbreaking for the Virginia Women’s Monument. I’d attended an event several months prior and learned about this amazing project, and immediately started doing my part (my very, very small part) in helping to get the word out about it.

In 2010, the General Assembly established the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission to “recommend an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia”.

“Voices from the Garden is the first monument of its kind in the nation recognizing the full range of women’s contributions.  Voices takes the form of an oval shaped garden that encompasses twelve bronze statues of significant women from different centuries, backgrounds, and areas of the state.  The statues will be surrounded by a glass panel, etched with names of other noteworthy Virginia women”.

It was a bright, beautiful December morning, and I was glad that I arrived early as the seats filled in quickly and it was soon standing room only.

  One of the attendees was Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818 – 1907).  The actress (I wrote down her name, but regrettably I lost the slip of paper) portraying Elizabeth stayed in character during the ceremony and shared some of her story.

A slave who bought her freedom, Elizabeth became Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidant during the White House years.

She established the Contraband Relief Association, which provided support for recently freed slaves and wounded soldiers, and she wrote a book called “Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House: Memoirs of an African-American Seamstress”.

Governor McAuliffe, long a champion of this project was present as was Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of the Administration and a chief fundraiser for the project.

After the ceremony, many people picked up a shovel and took the opportunity to be captured in a photo.  Of course, I had to as well!

The inspirational woman on the right, in response to my comment about how I didn’t really break the ground said “oh yes you did.  We ALL did, and we still are”.

How right she is!

Fundraising still needs to be done.  Please follow this link if you’d like to contribute to the Virginia Women’s Monument.

Tamarack Trees

 I’ve been on the road alot lately, and had the chance to spend a short time on the campus of Willam and Mary Law School in Williamsburg.  While my friend did some research in the law library, I wandered around outside with my camera.  Of course.

The first thing I saw when I walked out of the door was this stunning sculpture of John Marshall and George Wythe.

And the front was as captivating as the back.

As I turned around, I was struck by the beauty of the campus.

It was early in December yet I still found what looked like spring.

Then I saw the Tamarack Trees off in the distance.  Their gorgeous needles were almost glowing.

Though the tamarack tree resembles other evergreens, it is actually a deciduous conifer, meaning that it sheds it’s needles every fall.

Research in the library was over so I took one last shot before getting back on the road.

4 Wheelin’ it to Barney’s Wall

Typically when my friend Karen organizes a hike, it is the walking in the woods and the view at the end that provides the memories.

Barney’s Wall provided that, for sure, but getting there was the adventure!  We all piled into my truck and hit the road for the trailhead.  And what a road it was!

What was initially a lovely ride through the trees,

turned into a challenge for my 4 Wheel Drive skills.

We made sure our seatbelts were locked in place and the windows up.

I took my time and drove carefully … until we saw these huge puddles.

I mean, what fun is a puddle if you can’t make a big splash?

What a fun mess!

After a bit of searching (see Karen’s post for the story) we found the trailhead.

And what a beautiful trail it was!

We’d not gone far when we learned that it was the 1st Day of Rifle Season.  You’d think that the sound of gunfire in the distance would have cued us in, but it was not until we saw hunters coming towards us that we realized the significance of the day.

We perservered and it was not long until we received our reward.

The drop off was severe and soon enough we were scrambling around on the ledge.

As always, we were thrilled with the view, and with the comraderie and friendship.

Sometimes the hike is long. Sometimes not so much.  No matter the length of the walk, the memories will last a lifetime.

Mini-Vacation: Atlanta and Maggie Valley

After the almost single minded focus on the November election with it’s exciting conclusion, it was time for a getaway.

First stop: Atlanta and a quick visit with Andrew and Jon.

And Tela and Wilson, too.

We attended the Virginia Tech / Georgia Tech football game (my team lost …) but we also enjoyed site seeing, a little shopping (a very little), and lots of good food and drink.  Surprisingly, I didn’t take many photos, but I was pretty happy with the few shots that I did take.

After leaving Georgia, I hit the road for Maggie Valley.  Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the town is situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

We enjoyed visiting the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum

and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

It was wonderful to have unplanned time to explore without a specific agenda,

and to enjoy the beauty of nature’s gifts.

Happiness!