One of the most photographed sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway is Mabry Mill, a 1910 watermill run by the National Park Service and located at milepost 176.2. In addition to the Mill, there is a short trail around the mill which connects historical exhibits about life in rural Virginia. This day though … the tree stole the show!
Category Archives: Appalachia
24 Hours in Bristol
Covid-19 Update: Since I picked back up on blogging, I’ve been sharing brief updates about our travels. Rest assured, we are taking precautions. Wearing masks, eating outdoors or take out (or in empty restaurants), and hand sanitizing.
We are doing our part to keep ourselves and therefore, others, safe!
Bristol Virginia and Bristol Tennessee are two cities that share more than a name. They share a Main Street! State Street, which runs through the middle of these two cities is the official state line, and the iconic sign shown below is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bristol, Viriginia was officially designated the Birthplace of Country Music by the U.S. Congress in 1998, and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, attracts 75,000 visitors per year.
Bristol, Tennessee is the home of the Bristol Motor Speedway, a place that hosts a fantastic holiday light show which runs for 8 weeks throughout the holiday season. Part of the proceeds from the lightshow support the Speedway Children’s Charities.
Recently, Greg and I spent 24 hours in Bristol … both Bristols!
We stayed at The Bristol Hotel, a “Virginia remix of a Tennessee Classic” built in 1925 and recently renovated into a gorgeous boutique hotel.
We enjoyed cocktail hour on the rooftop bar, enjoying the views of the city and of the Appalachian Mountains.
After that, we spent a couple hours winding our way through the lightshow at the Motor Speedway. What fun!
Brunch at Vivian’s Table the next morning offered delicious food and fun photography.
It was a quick, but super fun getaway in the middle of this busy holiday season.
I truly hope that you are finding some moments of happy during these difficult days.
Stay Safe! Wear a Mask!
Morning on the River
Just a couple hours on the water.
That’s all it takes to make me breath deeply and smile big. It’s similar to how I feel on the bike.
Karen encouraged me to set aside the chores for the morning and get out on the river.
We are so fortunate to live on the New River, and can be on the water within 20 minutes of leaving our homes. The New River is 360 mi (515 km) long and flows through the states of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The part that runs through my little city has just a few Class 1 rapids, but it is often as smooth as glass, offering stunning reflections.
We saw lots of Great Blue Herons, and the fish were jumping right up out of the water.
The roots of this tree reveal evidence of the rise and fall of the water.
When floating this part of the river, you pass under 3 bridges. The modern day train trestle, the remains of the historic bridge, and in the distance, the new Memorial Bridge.
I’ve posted images of this trestle in the past. You may remember it.
Despite the risk, it’s hard not to pull out the camera when floating the river. I keep the camera in a Scuba bag so as to protect it in case the kayak tips over, but even still, I’m always taking a chance when pulling it out of the water safe bag.
It was a perfect morning, and I feel such gratitude for natural wonders and dear friends.
As you read this scheduled post I am enjoying the annual Girls of August (GOA) get together. You may remembering me telling you about the women that I attended graduate school with over 20 yrs ago. The Girls Of August have been spending the first week of August together for over 20 years, and it is one of the highlights of the year for all of us.
See you when I get back!
New River Trail: Hiwassee Trestle
The New River Trail is a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way. The rail corridor was donated to the state of Virginia by Norfolk Southern Corporation in 1986, and by summer 1987, the trail’s first four miles were opened.
The park parallels the scenic and historic New River for 39 miles and passes through four counties and the city of Galax. The trail’s gentle slope makes it great for visitors of all ages to hike, bike and ride horseback.
The trail has two tunnels, three major bridges, and nearly 30 smaller bridges and trestles. These photos, taken one after the other as I moved closer to the center of the bridge, are of the Hiwassee Bridge which is 951 feet in length.
The bridge allows all users to cross over the gorgeous New River.
Multiple access points to the New River Trail make it one of the most popular eco-tourism destinations in Southwest Virginia. If you are ever in my neck of the woods, I’d love to take you there. My great friend and fellow blogger Karen, from The Unassuming Hiker, can also show you around. She and her husband section hiked all 57 miles.
Much of the text of this post was taken from the Department of Conservation and Recreation website, linked above.
Iron Heart Winery
Instead of attending to the ever present “to do” list, I sent a last minute text to my friend Amy and visited a new winery.
Iron Heart Winery may be new, but the land it sits on is definitely not. “Nestled in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains in Allisonia, Va., the charming family-owned winery is located in an Industrial Revolution-era farm dating back to the 19th century, providing a rustic and modern atmosphere for visitors to its historic grounds” (Savora.com)
Since we only had a couple hours, I didn’t spend as much time learning the history of this farm and winery as I would have liked. It was hard to miss this blast furnace which was once used to convert iron ore to more usable types of iron. The winery website, much to my delight, is full of the history of the farm and the surrounding community. These folks aren’t wine lovers who decided to open a winery, rather a family who wanted to preserve the land. ❤
“In 2010 the winery started planting vineyards and established their Farm Stay, where you can rent cabins on the property for a lovely weekend getaway. After years of perfecting their grapes for distribution, Iron Heart finally opened the winery to the public in 2017. Currently they are producing Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Rosé, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Chambourcin wine styles” (Savor.com)
We were greeted by Rosie, and then entered the tasting room, which is converted from an original corncrib.
The family built this gorgeous stone fire place, and I look forward to sitting by the fire this coming fall and winter.
All the labels celebrate the strength of women in the fashion of Rosie the Riveter, and all of the models were family members or friends.
How can you not love that?!
The day was perfect with bright sunshine, almost too bright for photography, and a steady breeze. We enjoyed the patio, and playing fetch with Rosie,
Then we took our glasses and walked around the property.
Before we left, Adam, the owner, took us into the wine making room (I’m sure that is NOT what it is really called) and offered us a taste from the cask. What a treat! The man is working full time in his “real” job and more than full time in this job / hobby, yet he could not have been more interesting, inviting, and generous with his time.
What a fun, impromptu afternoon.
The ‘to do” list remains, but I have no regrets.
For more about the history of the farm, check visit this link from my friend Brooke Wood, reporter from the Southwest Times.
The Original Tiny House
My contribution to Monochromia this week. Joe gave this image the perfect title, which I changed from the original title. This log cabin is part of the Wilderness Road Museum in Newbern, Virginia. The museum and surrounding cabins were closed when I road by last Sunday afternoon, but I believe the cabin was built in the early 1800s.
What does the title have to do with the photo?
Not a darn thing!
Instead, it’s referring to the fact that Joe had to remind me to post this week. And i’m sliding under the wire with 90 minutes to spare!
Mailboxes and Fences
It’s a Mystery
Sometimes all I need is a short ride to clear the brain and lift the spirits. That’s surely no mystery. The mystery comes at the end of this post. Keep on scrolling down, my friends!
I walk in the door, drop the purse, lunch bag, and lap top. Grab the helmet, wallet, and camera, and hit the road.
I typically choose back roads for the scenery, the farms and barns, and the old houses. Yesterday I also added a 20 minute run along a highway. Ahhhh …. the famed wind in the face therapy.
So where’s the mystery?
I stopped to photograph this decrepit home at the intersection of two country roads.
As I wandered around the house, I specifically thought of Mike from Mike’s Look at Life. How would he portray this house?
Mike has a skill with B&W that I do not have and he might have presented the image differently. But I share it this way for a reason. Look what is revealed when I put the image back into color.
A bright shiny door knob and a new propane tank. Hmmm … what do you think goes on in this old place?
(Be sure to check out Mike’s blog … for the photography AND for the comment section!)
Pizza House Jam
Southwest Virginia is home to The Crooked Road, a 333 mile stretch along scenic roadways where traditional and heritage music can be heard. “The variety of music is amazing … old time string bands, a cappella gospel, blues, 300 year old ballads, and bluegrass” (myswva.org).
Music can be heard in Major Venues such as the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, and the Floyd Country Store in Floyd. In addition to these Major Venues, there are over 60 Affiliated Venues, places where traditional music can be found, often in weekly jam sessions, where anyone with a song or instrument is welcome to join in. Radford is home to the Radford Fiddle and Banjo Jam which was started by Ralph Berrier in 2000 and is currently located in the River City Grill (Photo Credit: Photography Intern).
An offshoot of the Fiddle Jam is held in the Pizza House, a locally owned business since 1971.
While not an Affiliated Venue of The Crooked Road, the Pizza House Jam is a place where local musicians gather to play and sing.
While I can join in on singing a few of the songs, I have no talent with a musical instrument.
The music fills the room, the folks watching tap their feet or sing along, and the faces of the musicians reflect the joy of the evening.
And that is what music is all about.
Grayson Highlands Getaway
Grayson County, located in the Blue Ridge Highlands of Southwest Virginia, was the location of this past weekend’s gathering of the BGs, a group of women who meet a few times a year to celebrate birthdays and friendship.
We enjoy delicious food and drink, take walks, read books, play games, and sometimes do a little crafting.
All this, plus plenty of time for talk, is typically done in a cabin or farmhouse in a rural part of Virginia.
We worried about this little one – he seemed so sluggish – but maybe he was just enjoying being able to catch some rays on a 50 degree day.
We surely enjoyed our time in the sun.
Cheers! Spring is coming!