Our Version of a First Day Hike

First Day Hikes is an initiative of America’s State Parks, and hikes are offered, with waived entrance fees in state parks across the country. To be honest, I thought that this was just a Virginia thing, but all over the US folks are encouraged to “take a hike to inspire those New Year resolutions that are centered on getting or keeping fit”. Virginia has 41 State Parks, yet Greg and I have only visited 11. We have work to do!

We didn’t make it out to our local Claytor Lake State Park on New Years Day, but we did take our version of a First Day Hike. It was more an “Urban Walk” on Main Street and across Memorial Bridge over The New River but even still, it was great to be outside.

While I mourn for the Earth when it is 70°F in January, we definitely enjoyed the breeze as we walked over Memorial Bridge, enjoying the views.

Walking along Main Street offered views of historic architecture as well, while the clouds added much to the scenery.

Perhaps next year, we will do an official First Day Hike, but our Urban Walk was a great start to 2022.


Local Art

As I ramp back up to posting, I’ll start with a few photos from along the road … this from Culpepper, Va.

Riding on Sundays

Sunday rides are my therapy!


My campaign manager and I have carved out 6 hours in the week for time on the bike and time with friends.  While the rest of the week is devoted to work and the campaign, those 6 hours on Sunday are for ME!  This ride was extra special because my friends and I were celebrating my birthday.

Dave led us through Craig County, VA on our most recent ride, and as we traveled along those curvy mountain roads, I was wishing I had a go-pro on my helmet so I could share the beauty of this county.  We stopped at Fenwick Mines, the site of a 19th Century iron mining site.


Offering a wheelchair accessible trail that winds through woods and across wetlands, Fenwick Mines is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.


The reflections on this overcast day kept me shooting.


The water was so still that the blue sky, breaking through the clouds, was visible in this reflection.



We rode on to Tizzone, a new wood-fired kitchen and wine bar, owned by a friend.

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We enjoyed the Charcuterie and Cheese Platter, and I followed it with a Wood-Fired Smoked‎ Gouda and fig spread on Ciabatta bread.  Accompanied by a Raven’s Roost Baltic Porter, it was a delicious birthday meal. The extensive wine and beer list will require a return visit with a DD.

We left Tizzone and headed out to Parkway Brewing, a 2 year old brewery with “Fresh Beers, Artfully Crafted in the Heart of the Blue Ridge”.


Riding a bike significantly limits the intake of alcohol for me (obviously) but learning the history of the places we visit and listening to local music always provides great entertainment.


Another Roadside Attraction is a “husband and wife duo from Roanoke who perform mostly original songs on a myriad of eclectic instruments: from the Mexican guitarron, to a variety of ukuleles, to the haunting musical saw, and a homemade recycled percussion setup”.  Can you see that Jordan is playing the musical saw in this image?  Be sure to check out the link.  Another Roadside Attraction travels the length of the US and will be heading to Mexico later in the year.


Sunday Riding: a great way to celebrate a birthday!  I walked in the door and the downpour began, as did the campaign phone calls.  I’m already counting down to next Sunday!

Wine and Roses

Our local wine and beer shop, Barrel Caves Wines, devotes one evening every month to women. The Divas gather for wine and tapas and friendship, and my camera is alway ready to capture the fun.

Kathy makes sure that the flowers are fresh,


the food delicious,


and the wine chosen just for us.



This particular night offered an extra treat. As we walked out the door, feeling relaxed after another great evening, we were treated to this gorgeous sunset.


Not a bad way to support local business!


No Whining!

We’ve got a new wine and craft beer shop in our small community!

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Barrel Cave Wines is a welcome addition to the locally owned business community in the New River Valley.


Thank you Kathy Jordan and Bill Zuti for opening such a fun gathering place!


It sure is fun supporting locally owned businesses 🙂


The Merc

The Draper Mercantile is a lovingly restored, 125 year old building in Southwest Virginia.  It currently serves as a place to hear local music, enjoy a fine meal, and as a showplace for regional arts and crafts.  The Merc has been providing goods and services to Pulaski County and the surrounding communities for over a century and according to the website “visitors could purchase just about anything”.


A receipt found in a desk by the current owners summarizes an eclectic purchase: sugar, burial clothes, salmon, lemons, and a coffin.  At various times, The Merc has housed a barber shop, a blacksmith, the post office, and a dress shop. In the spring the farmers brought in their lambs to sell and in the fall their hogs, turkey, potatoes etc., which went towards settling their accounts (drapermerc.com).

One evening last week, I met my friend Amy on the upstairs porch and enjoyed a glass of wine in a beautiful setting.


Some would have used photoshop to rid the images of powerlines.  Despite the fact that I don’t have photoshop, I think that the powerlines add historic accuracy to The Merc and the community of Draper.

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If you’re ever in the area, check it out!!

Charleston: Delicious!

After just 48 hours in Charleston, I had gained 5 pounds!  Thank goodness I got some exercise riding the bicycle.

Some of you know that I live in a small town and the choice of restaurants, yummy though they are, is limited.  So one of the reasons I love to travel is the opportunity to explore new restaurants, especially independent and locally owned restaurants, and new foods.

As I was getting closer to Charleston, Andrew asked if I had eaten.  Was he kidding?  I was waiting to savor the food of Charleston! Almost as soon as I got into town, we headed to a place called Five Loaves Cafe.


The food did not disappoint!  The Tomato & Mozzarella Salad with roasted sweet peppers & asparagus over mixed greens was delicious and the Ultimate BLT Sandwich with smoked bacon, cheddar, thick sliced tomatoes, sweet basil mayo, lettuce & onion was even better!

Andrew had to work that evening, so I spent some time where he works, a restaurant called Taco Boy.  I was completely distracted by the cold beer and amazing guacamole and am afraid I didn’t come away with any decent photos.  The photo gallery on the restaurant’s website however includes lots of pictures of food, drink, and the wonderful decorations.  Much of the artwork and furniture are reclaimed or recycled, and the place has a true feel of Mexico.  (Of course, I’m guessing about that because I’ve never been to Mexico).  I do however encourage you to check out Taco Boy if you are ever in Charleston … the Grilled Fish Taco and the Tempura Shrimp Taco were delicious!


(this photo is from the Taco Boy website)

The next day, we enjoyed an amazing brunch at The Grocery.

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I started with a yummy cocktail called the Negroceri, made from Bombay Sapphire Gin, Aperol, Sweet Vermouth, and Grapefruit Bitters.  I loved that the coaster was made from a menu and the drink was perfect for me – not at all sweet!

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I enjoyed the Sausage and Egg Sandwich  – a Ginger-Sage Sausage, Scrambled Egg, Cheddar, English Muffin, with ‘Dijonnaisse’ and my son had the Hangtown Fry – Fried Oysters and Green Tomatoes, Farm Egg Frittata with Bacon and Toast.

Another thing I love about Charleston restaurants, besides the tasty food, is that most of them are in spaces that are reclaimed / retrofitted.  The decorations and artwork are unique, eclectic and beautiful.



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Even the takeout was amazing!  Basil Thai Restaurant offered me the yummiest Masaman ever (which I can’t get in my little city).

When Andrew moved to Charleston, I never really thought that FOOD would be one of the benefits of having him live there.  I can’t wait to check out more restaurants on my next visit!

Veggie Cart

When walking out of Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen http://www.lucky32.com/cary.htm  in Cary, NC this past Sunday, I couldn’t help but notice this veggie cart.






Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, under the direction of Chef Jay Pierce, prides itself on serving “southern foodways and locally-sourced food”.  Little did I know when I ordered the Black Bean Cakes that they are considered a restaurant tradition.  So Yummy!  (I didn’t take a photo, but if you check out the website you’ll see one).

I don’t know the name of this leafy green vegetable but aren’t the colors gorgeous?  Perhaps one of you gardeners out there can tell me what it is …