Hiking Buffalo Mountain

Thank goodness for friends who encourage you to add fun to the calendar, and Karen, from The Unassuming Hiker makes sure that we do.

A couple years ago, Karen started a hiking club for women of all ages and hiking abilities, and while the group often ventures out during the week, Karen makes sure to plan a weekend hike several times yearly for those not retired.   In addition, she schedules the date for those hikes several weeks in advance so that we make sure to set aside the time.

“Buffalo Mountain is one of the most significant natural areas in Virginia.  The combination of high-elevation (3,971 feet), wind-exposed openings at the summit, and magnesium rich soils make it unlike any place else in the Commonwealth”.

Karen suggested that we arrive early knowing that it would not be long before the trail became crowded.  The image below is the parking area that morning.  By the time we left a few hours later, the place was packed with cars jockeying for position in what few parking spaces were available.

It was a gorgeous fall day and the hike to the summit, while up hill the entire way, was only a mile.   What an incredible view!

The 4 of us have hiked together before and the comraderie, the combination of silence and talk, and the excitement of being outdoors is a great fit.

Being on top of a mountain is exhilarating and I scrambled around the rocks like a child, at one point losing my lens cap over the ledge.

Beth sent me these images and I’m sharing them because they reveal the feeling of being on top of the world.

The shale and rock were beautiful and while this image doesn’t show it well, the flecks of color glittered in the sunshine.

Climate change has affected the color of the leaves this year, but the beauty remains.

All in all, a wonderful day on Buffalo Mountain.

Please visit Karen’s blog post about our day and read about the kind folks we met along the way.

Ride: Bent Mountain

It’s fall but it still feels like summer, the earth still rotates on it’s axis, despite the political and weather related turmoil, and I am still posting on WP, even if not as much as in the past.  Election Day is in just 16 days, and with so much on the line here in Virginia, it’s hard to think of anything else.  My home is being used as base of operations for several candidates, and there’s lots going on.

In a nice change of pace, I’ve been home for the last two weekends, and I’m happy to report that I’ve spent some time on the bike, and a little time hiking in the mountains.   Mornings have been quiet and misty and lovely.

It doesn’t take long for the mist to burn away, revealing perfect ride days.  The leaves are changing and they fall down around us as we ride.  The many curves of our Southwest Virginia roads make for challenging and incredibly fun riding and the views are breathtaking.  And then there are the bridges.

We love to explore the detail of the old bridges that we come upon, and always hope to find the plaque that reveals the date that the bridge was built

 

It was less than a 200 mile day, but it was a much needed distraction from the woes of the world.

After enjoying a delicious lunch and a cold beer, we headed back to reality.

Riding Through Civil War History

My weekend ride continued on Sunday morning and the route that I chose took me through Appomattox Courthouse.

You will most likely recognize the name Appomattox as the site of Lee’s surrender, effectively ending the Civil War.

It was quiet that morning, and all I heard were the birds singing and the leaves rustling in the breeze.

I could not help but think about the 620,000 souls who died during that terrible time when our country was so divided.

The peace that morning was such a contrast to the violence that was seen in those fields.

A solemn walk through this small confederate cemetery revealed the story of a soldier who joined the army on day one of the war, April 12th, 1861, and after serving for 1,458 days, was killed on the last day of the war, April 9, 1865.

Standing there that day, I could not help but think about how divided our nation is now, and how desperately we need a leader who will unite us.

Somehow we must learn the lessons of past tragedy and move beyond the divisiveness.

Riding ‘Round Virginia

While it can be a challenge to be away from home for several weekends in a row, the benefits include the opportunity to visit with family and friends.  Two weeks ago I was in Williamsburg celebrating my mother’s birthday.  Last weekend, for a mix of meetings and fun, I rode the bike from Blacksburg to Fredericksburg to King George to Richmond and back home.  The weather was bright and beautiful and I enjoyed 600 miles of happy!

My meeting was in  Fredericksburg, an historic town that I had not visited in decades.  Sadly,  I wasn’t able to do much exploring since I arrived late on Friday and had to be in meetings first thing the next morning. I did stay in a hotel that I now hear is haunted, although I saw no sign of ghosts.  The Inn at Old Silk Mill was built in the 1930s and was one of the largest motor lodges on the east coast.

The Silk Mill was built in 1889 and was a factory that employed over 200 women. The women spun silk that was imported from Italy to go around spools for sewing. Originally the C.W Tholtz Throwing Company, The Mill has been recently renovated to host weddings and events.

All the meeting attendees were able to attend Senator Mark Warner‘s annual BBQ.  Located in King George, Senator Warner’s home is located right on the Rappahanock River.

The Senator, and Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, and current candidate for Governor, Ralph Northam, and Attorney General Mark Herring stood in line for hours greeting the many hundreds of people in attendance.

What a wonderful way to say thanks to the many people who have worked to keep Virginia blue.

Next post: Riding Through Civil War History

College Gameday in Blacksburg

While it wasn’t the first time that College Gameday had been to Blacksburg, the crew had not been to Virginia Tech since 2011, when they came to bring a sense of normalcy back to a vulnerable community after the tragedy of April 16th.  Saturday’s visit to Virginia Tech was the 6th appearance in Blacksburg, and the 10th featuring Virginia Tech.

Thousands of fans lined up early to be a part of the excitment, and even though our team did not win the day, we had an absolute blast!

Co-host Rece Davis commented that “this place has been special in the history of College Gameday, and it’s also been special, I think, in the evolution and growth of college football in general on ESPN”.

Virginia Tech’s famous Hokie Stone made for the perfect backdrop.

Davis continued “I think a lot of the Virginia Tech brand was built by the willingness to play on Thursday night. This is a place that I think is unique and special to both our show and to our coverage of the sport as a whole.

One of the hallmarks of Gameday are the signs, and I thought I’d share just a few that I saw.  They may not make much sense if you are not a VT or Clemson fan but perhaps you’ll appreciate the creativity.

Gobblers – a reference to our mascot

Dabo Swinney is the Clemson Head Coach

Bud Foster is Virginia Tech’s beloved Defensive Coordinator and Associate Head Coach

Howard’s Rock is touched by every Clemson player as they take the field; Hokie Stone is traditional to Virgina Tech

Kirk Herbstreit is a long time co-host of College Gameday

Enter Sandman by Metallica is the song played as the team takes the field.  Check out this link to get a feel for the joyful insanity that reigns in Lane Stadium on game day.  Seriously! Check it out!

Despite the loss, it was a great day in Blacksburg.

Proud to be a Hokie!

Go Hokies!

Birthday at The Winery

What better way to celebrate my mother’s birthday than at the Williamsburg Winery.

My parents live in Williamsburg, Virginia, a place that many people visit for the shopping.

I visit for family.  And history.  And the food and wine, of course.

We started with a visit to the tasting room where Calvin, the young but knowledgeable wine steward, not only introduced the wines but offered the history behind the labels and names.

This bottle of Acte 12 of 1619 was named after the Act that was passed by the 1619 House of Burgesses requiring all male households in Virginia to grow ten vines of the imported vinifera grapes from Europe.

How’s that for encouraging the growth of the wine industry in the new country?

How fortunate am I to have such incredible parents?

Once done with our tasting, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Gabriel Archer Tavern.

Gabriel Archer was one of the first settlers to set foot on land near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in late April 1607, moving on to Jamestown in August that same year.

We were having so much fun that I barely pulled out the camera, and the images in this post are a mix of camera and phone.

I wish I’d had more time to shoot the scene,

but really, I was just glad to have been able to spend the day with my parents and celebrate my mother.

Happy Birthday, Mom!