The Ultimate in Social Distancing

One weekend this past March, while we were all still adjusting to the “new normal” of CoVid19, it was warm enough to ride.

 We decided that time on the motorcycle was the ultimate way to be socially distant.

Typically we ride 100 miles or so before stopping for lunch at a local pub.  In light of the times, we all packed our lunch and enjoyed each other’s company from a distance at a roadside picnic area.

Then we headed back out on the beautiful back roads of Southwest Virginia.  See those splat marks on the windsheild?

I guess it was the warm weather that had so many bugs out and about.

We rode through several rural counties, along too many back roads to count, and the wind in our faces helped us to put aside the worries of the day.

I can’t wait for more rides like this one!

Peace! and Stay Well, my friends

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.

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.

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” (

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” (

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!

View original post

Mailboxes and Fences

When on the way home from an early Saturday morning meeting, I could not help myself.  I had to pull over.

Just a few minutes drive from my home, this Southwest Virginia view is enhanced by old mailboxes and fencelines.

I’m slowly, ever so slowly catching up.  Be back soon!

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” (


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.

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While not an Affiliated Venue of The Crooked Road, the Pizza House Jam is a place where local musicians gather to play and sing.

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While I can join in on singing a few of the songs, I have no talent with a musical instrument.

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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.

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And that is what music is all about.

The Shot Tower

After traveling toward home from Raleigh NC in 3 hours of driving rain, I was glad to see the clouds finally part.   In the distance, visible from the interstate was Shot Tower Historical State Park, located in Wythe County, Virginia.  Even though I’d driven by it many times, I’d never visited and decided it was time.

Overlooking the New River, The Shot Tower was built more than 150 years ago to make ammunition for the firearms of the early settlers.

Doesn’t it figure that the park was closed for roof repairs!




Disappointment was brief however because right there at the intersection of Shot Tower Rd and Pauley-Flatwood Road, were several old farm buildings that begged attention from my camera.









Though the rain had stopped, the mists over the mountains created a beautiful backdrop.



Farmhouses and Barns in Fifteen Degree Weather

Despite the 15 degree weather, the day dawned beautifully and I spent a couple hours outside shooting the local scenery.  One thing I learned?  I need to get gloves that protect my fingers in sub freezing temperatures!

This old farmhouse sits right along side the road and I pass it on the way home each evening.  I loved the shadows on the side of the house.








I pass this farm on the way to work each morning and in order to take pictures, I have to get on the highway and pull over just off the exit ramp.  As usual, I wonder what the folks driving by think as I climb over the guard rail and wander around in the weeds.





Along the Crooked Road: The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival

The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.

An idea that started in 2003, the 300 mile route now includes ten counties, three cities, ten towns, five regional planning districts, four state agencies, two tourism organizations, and a large number of music venues.

The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum is a  major venue along The Crooked Road and hosts the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival.

The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival has been an annual event for almost 40 years and is held on the campus of Ferrum College every fall  For various reasons, even though I have lived in the Appalachian Region for over 15 years, I was a first timer this year.

The Appalachian Region, as defined in ARC’s authorizing legislation, is a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi.  Forty two percent of the area is rural, compared with twenty percent of the national population


The folks who have long lived in Southwest Virginia are used to hearing the assumptions, misconceptions and distortions of life in Appalachia.  Geographic isolation from more populated areas and poverty have led to the persistence of some of the stereotypes.  Despite progress, Appalachia still does not enjoy the same economic vitality as the rest of the nation.  According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the region still battles economic distress, with concentrated areas of poverty, unemployment, poor access to healthcare, and educational disparities.  But oh the beauty …


The region is rich in heritage and tradition and the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival celebrates it.  Coordinated by The Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, “the festival features artisans, foods, and activities not found at typical craft shows, fairs, and festivals”

I encourage you to check out the links in this blog to learn more about the heritage, music and beauty of the region and if you’ve never visited this neck of the woods, I encourage you to do so.  I think you’ll like what you see!

It was quite the rainy morning, forcing me to change my plan to ride the bike.  Of course, the rain was gone only twenty minutes down the road, and I did not see a drop the rest of the day.

Shooting Creek Road, which runs through the counties of Floyd and Franklin in Virginia,would have been a blast to ride on the bike!  The road twists down through the mountain, crosses over the creek a few times, and not surprisingly, I found myself stopping frequently to take pictures (most of the previous pictures were taken along Shooting Creek Road).

By the time I got there, the grounds of Ferrum College and the Ferrum 1800 living history farm museum on both sides of State Route 40, were filled with spectators and participants – musicians, moonshiners, craftspeople, cooks, motorheads, mule jumpers, horse pullers, coon dog racers, antique tractor buffs, and old-time gamers.



There was so much to see and even though I stayed for more than 5 hours, I somehow missed the Mule Jumping (but did get to see the Sheep Herding).  I wandered through the antique engine and tractor area,


watched molasses, apple butter and moonshine being made,



yarn was dyed using natural ingredients,


cornmeal was ground,


and crafters were hard at work.




Children played while musicians prepared to perform.



Judging by the crowds, some of the most popular events are those that include the Coon Dogs.  I couldn’t get near enough to watch the dogs “treeing” the ‘coon, but I was able to photograph them as they waited their turn.



It was standing room only around the lake as folks prepared to watch the coon dog races.  The dogs are enticed by the smell of the racoon and when the doors are opened, the dogs leap into the water and give chase.



Quite exciting!

Music is a big part of the Folklife Festival and features Bluegrass, Old Time, Gospel and Rockabilly performances on 3 different stages. One of the main reasons that I came to the festival was to hear my friends perform as the Dr. Pepper All Stars.  Their show is a re-creation of a portion of a 1940s radio show featuring Roy Hall and the Blue Ridge Entertainers.  The radio band played popular hillbilly tunes of the day and host “Cousin Irving” Sharp promoted Dr Pepper like it was snake oil.  The Dr. Pepper All Stars also perform as The Java Brothers and gather with others at the Monday night Fiddle Jam at Radford’s River City Grill, an affiliated partner of The Crooked Road.


My friend, Ralph Berrier, Jr, in addition to heading up the Dr. Pepper All Stars, has written a book about Clayton and Saford Hall, his grandfather and great uncle.  If Trouble Don’t Kill Me tells the story of a “vanishing yet exalted southern culture, and shares the devastating consequences of war, allowing the reader to experience the mountain voices that not only influenced the history of  music but that also shaped the landscape of America”.  The book is sold at various venues along The Crooked Road and is available for purchase on line as well (If Trouble Don’t Kill Me: A Family’s Story of Brotherhood, War and Bluegrass, 2010,

It was a full, fun day in Ferrum and even though I could have taken a quicker and much straighter route home, I chose to wind my way back up the mountain, enjoying the colors of fall and the beauty of  this beautiful region that I call home.