Ahhh. November in Virginia with leaves on the ground and the return of the winter woods.
Ahhh. November in Virginia with leaves on the ground and the return of the winter woods.
Word began circulating on Facebook Tuesday as Shenandoah Valley residents posted about Ku Klux Klan recruitment flyers showing up on vehicles up and down the Valley. In Waynesboro, Mt. Crawford, Staunton, Broadway, Winchester, and on Mary Baldwin University’s campus, the paper circulars were found tucked under windshield wipers.
The 336 area is North Carolina and includes the north-central, mainly Triad Piedmont, region of the state, as well as the northern foothills and mountain regions. I didn’t call it but a Facebook commenter reported that it went to a recorded message. A search online found this video from 2014 of a phone recording at that number.
The Winchester Star wrote earlier this month that the same thing happened in their city on Halloween. In Leesburg, as reported by WTOP, KKK literature was stuffed into baggies along with candy and left in yards on Halloween. Other localities have reported the same.
This morning The Recorder, the news source for Bath and Highland counties, posted on Facebook that they had received the flyer in the mail and had heard of readers finding them tossed out in baggies with birdseed. They were asking if others had received the recruitment circulars.
Seeing the hate-filled words is a reminder of the tiki torch march/alt-right rally in Charlottesville in August, just a few months ago, when a young woman was run down and killed by an alt-right march participant.
Just this week Rick Sincere posted a movie review of “Charlottesville: Our Streets” that premiered over the weekend at the Virginia Film Festival. The movie documents the violence that occurred in Charlottesville on that weekend just a few months ago, the clashes between alt-right members and other groups, and the tragic turn it took.
Cross-posted at Bearing Drift
Shenandoah Mountain / Confederate Breastworks Overlook on Rt. 250 along the Augusta County/Highland County line looks over the Appalachian Mountains in Highland.
What happened to Bobby Fitzgerald on that fateful day in November of 2012?
Traveling west from Staunton along Rt. 250 as it climbs up and over Shenandoah Mountain, I cannot help wondering what happened to Robert “Bobby” Fitzgerald, the Staunton hiker who went missing in that isolated part of western Virginia on November 11, 2012, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Searches have turned up nothing. Some wonder about foul play. Others have questioned whether he fell into the steep ravines.
Sherando Lake | Augusta County, Va.
There’s something extremely rewarding about roaming the back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains during the color season of autumn so two weeks ago I picked up friend Barb one day when the temperature was in the low 70s and ladybugs were swarming and leaves seemed to shimmer in the sunshine. Here are photos of our trek through our corner of Virginia where there is so much to love.
Old Howardsville Turnpike | George Washington National Forest | Blue Ridge Mountains |Augusta County, Va.
“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care” … oops, wrong holiday! Just kidding!
We were ready for our little neighborhood goblins by lunch time with front porch and walk swept of fallen leaves, and pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, gourds, and mums decorating the steps and porch.
5:40pm: For years I have blogged Halloween so tonight is no different. And for all my readiness, I was caught off-guard when our first neighbor kids came by — four of them, all girls, dressed as a scarecrow — really liked that mouth! — and a giraffe, a cat, and a witch. They were heading to the church festival after making the rounds of the neighborhood and, as their mom and I stood out front and talked, the girls thanked me for their candy and wandered up the driveway. Treats for all!
6:18: Darkness is settling in and, as I went outside to take photos of the lights and jack-o-lanterns, neighbors came walking down the street, pushing a stroller with their little one while the four-year-old walked alongside his parents. They called out across the yard, “Happy Halloween!” I turned to see who it was, I laughed and told them I would know who it was by the dog! They have a huge dog that is recognizable to everyone, and she was walking with them. After stopping at the neighbor’s to get her to join them, they walked across to get treats at our house.
All were dressed for the night in a theme — dad as a red dragon, mom as a princess, and the boys as knights.
As the dragon, the princess, the two knights, and Luna the dog headed back up the street, our neighbor came on in to visit for a while … and while she was here we had no trick-or-treaters. Slow year.
7:45: As we walked outside as our neighbor was leaving — it’s mild at 46 degrees — we could hear coyotes running on the ridge behind the house, howling and yipping as they chased down something. It was eerie on Halloween … sounded like werewolves in the dark night. Spooky!
8:10pm: Two more little goblins, our last of the evening, dressed as a SWAT team guy and a Special Ops guy. They were little, maybe seven and nine, and very polite. Treats for all!
This is about as late as we’ve had them in the past so not sure we will get anyone else. Total: eight trick or treaters for 2017.
This is Mr. Candy Corn standing at my front door ready to go to Richmond. But first a little background….
In the autumn of 2016 my sister Lori spied this little fella at Blue Ribbon Nursery in Broadway as he stood amongst the fall and Halloween wreaths and décor. He was cute and she like him but we ended up leaving him behind.
Fast forward to autumn 2017. Lori hasn’t been able to come up to the Shenandoah Valley to chase autumn like we did last year so my friend Barb and I went traipsing through the countryside in September, buying chrysanthemums, pumpkins, gourds, and other autumn décor.
When we walked into Blue Ribbon, there was Mr. Candy Corn, again standing amongst the holiday decorations. I excitedly said hello to him and told Barb about Lori’s attachment last year. As I wandered through the aisles looking at the holiday goodies, my eyes kept seeking out Mr. Candy Corn.
And that’s how he went home with me. I just had to get him for Lori, and so he rode back to Staunton with Barb and me, sitting on the back seat like a proper Candy Corn, excitedly watching the view out the window.
When my sister, her husband, and daughter Emily went to New York City for a week in early September, I loaded Mr. Candy Corn in the car to take him to his new forever home.
Here he was at my front door ready to go!
He paused on the steps for me to take pictures …
Mr. Mitchell and I woke Thursday, grabbed the picnic basket, cooler, and our jackets, and headed to the southern section of Skyline Drive. The mountains were calling! I love October and leaf season, and look forward to it every year.
The mountains had been calling for a while but a busy autumn had delayed our annual trek to Shenandoah National Park to see the leaves. With heavy rain in the forecast for Sunday, we wanted to do some leaf peeping before precipitation and wind hit, sending leaves to the ground and leaving behind bare trees.
As we drove up I-64 to Afton from the Shenandoah Valley, leaf color was definitely in the process and had occurred since the weekend just four days earlier when it was still green.
Skyline Drive, South Entrance Station
There were five cars ahead of us in line waiting at the entrance station. Our son and his wife were on the Drive last weekend and counted 16 cars ahead of them so this was a short wait, not to mention we usually try to avoid weekends in October.
The $25 daily fee (that is good for seven days) is in danger of being almost tripled with a proposal by the National Park Service to raise the entrance fee to $70. If enacted, it would also affect 16 other National Parks, the most popular ones in the system, possibly putting the parks out of the price range of many who would no longer be able to afford enjoy America’s playground. There is a 30-day comment period now through November 23, 2017, to share your opinion about the proposed fee increase (link to comment is here). I already wrote to let them know I was against it.
Hikers were at Beagle Gap where the color was not yet at peak.
Leaves, berries, vistas, flora and fauna … the following are photos (iPhone and Nikon) of the day. We picnicked at Loft Mountain Campground where we have spent many years as a family tent camping and hiking. It was in the 40s and cold with a wind … perfect for an autumn day.
Khizr Khan of Charlottesville was responding to the controversy surrounding Donald Trump and America’s Gold Star families and, while he may not speak for all of them, his remarks were: “Dignity and restraint.”
Dignity and restraint … that, he said, was what was missing from Trump’s ongoing back-and-forth with fallen hero La David Johnson’s family.
“Tracy has helped improve the lives of many in his District over the years.” –Augusta County resident
Augusta County Supervisor Tracy Pyles stood comfortably at the front of the Deerfield fire station’s meeting room at his Tuesday night town hall in the far western reaches of Pastures District. It’s an area he knows well. Growing up in the scenic beauty of the Deerfield Valley, he was a child of the generation allowed to roam freely, climb trees, explore creeks, scramble the mountain slopes, and spend hours away from parents’ watchful eyes.
Within that district is the tiny unincorporated area known as Deerfield, elevation 1739 feet, located approximately 45 minutes west of Staunton, in a picturesque valley on the western side of Elliott’s Knob, the highest point in Augusta County. It peaks out at an elevation of 4463 feet atop the North Mountain range.
To know the area is to know the man.
Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!
In 1987, October 3rd was a Saturday, and just as it does every year, today has opened a flood gate of memories that take me back to thirty years.
It had been warm in Iredell County, NC, that fall — typical for our western Carolina location — but a cold front was expected to pass through on Friday night, October 2, that would significantly cool down our area located at the Brushy Mountains, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even though I was nine months pregnant, we were preparing to attend the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival on Saturday just as we did every year, located thirty minutes up the road in North Wilkesboro.
The expected cold front came through that Friday night, and Saturday was overcast and cool but instead of attending the festival, we began the day with the newest member of our little family. Katy. Three-year-old Matt was at the hospital with us, sleeping on my bed and watching Saturday morning cartoons as he waited to find out if he had a baby brother or sister.
We had two names picked out: Katelyn for a girl, and Andrew for a boy. We got our Katelyn and her dad promptly wrote “Katy” on the name card located in her nursery bassinet.
Toes in the James River, RVA.
My sweet Mary Baldwin College girl.
From that day on, our family was complete. Katy and Matt formed a sibling friendship that continues to this day. Ever the big brother, he was helpful with her from the beginning, and she gravitated to him before she could walk. Homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade, she graduated from Mary Baldwin with honors, and then married in a beautiful ceremony overlooking the mountains of western Virginia, bringing a young man into our family who was loved not just by her but by us.
Today my fun-loving child is a bubbly, organized, and adventuresome young woman who loves the beach and hiking and baking and flowers and autumn, and sheep and cats … and so much more.
She is definitely my traveling child, perhaps best captured by one of her favorite quotes from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Today we celebrate the day a little bundle of love entered our lives and we were blessed with a little girl named Katy. Love you, Katy Bee!
“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.” -Winnie the Pooh
At Duffs’ maple barn during Highland County Maple Festival. The tourism magazine asked to use my pic of Katy and Colin listening to the sugaring process.
It’s autumn in western Virginia.
Voted as one of America’s Top 20 Main Streets by Travel and Leisure magazine, the central Shenandoah Valley city of Staunton was also recently named one of the 20 Best Small Towns in America by Smithsonian magazine. Known as the Queen City, Staunton was founded in 1747 and was named for Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife of Virginia’s Governor William Gooch.
With views east toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and west toward the Appalachians, Staunton is an historic slice of Virginia that offers restored Victorian homes, cozy downtown shops, and small-town atmosphere.
There are many things to do during leaf season that peaks in October so here are some places and events you may find interesting. Enjoy!
A great way to get around downtown, Staunton’s two trolleys are inexpensive — 25 cents — and pick up and discharge passengers at stops located throughout the city. Check here for parking around Staunton. More information can be found at the Visitors Center on New Street.
2. Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
This unique hands-on outdoor museum in Staunton brings the past alive with costumed interpreters and farm animals that can be seen along a two-mile trail that connects the English, Irish, German, and African farms with the New World’s American homesteads. They tell the story of America’s settlement. Picnic tables on the grounds.
– Octoberfest – Oct. 7: Enjoy a traditional Oktoberfest celebration at the German farm with music, children’s activities, self-guided tours of this hands-on museum, and your favorite brew.
3. Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market
Voted one of the best farmers markets in Virginia, the Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market offers fresh, locally grown produce, flowers, herbs, eggs, fruits, meats, and more from the convenience of the Wharf parking lot in downtown Staunton. Free parking. Open Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon.
4. King’s Gourmet Popcorn at Afton Mountain
It’s not just an October thing but if you have a snack attack while around Afton, be sure to stop by King’s Gourmet Popcorn and say hello to Ron King. He has kettle and caramel corn, and many other flavors along with pork rinds, hotdogs, cold beverages, coffee, and more. Umbrella-covered picnic tables provide a respite during a day of sightseeing. Located at the top of Afton Mountain on Rt. 250 where I-64, Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Appalachian Trail all cross. Look for the bright yellow food truck.
5. Hands & Harvest Festival in Highland County
October 6-8. While enjoying the spectacular autumn colors and crisp mountain air, drive an hour west of Staunton to Highland County for their Hands & Harvest Festival. This event grows bigger every year. Visit area sugar camps for apple butter and cider making, BBQ and other food, pumpkin carving, wagon rides, farmers market, and entertainment. A complete list of activities and locations throughout the county is available at the website.
6. Myers Pumpkin Farm
Myers Pumpkin Farm offers pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, chrysanthemums, and other seasonal decorations at reasonable prices. There is a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and corn maze to round out the farm experience. Myers Farm is located east of Harrisonburg off Rt. 33.
7. Fall Foliage Festival Art Show
The weekend of October 14-15 will see the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival Art Show take over the streets of downtown Waynesboro as they are turned into an outdoor art gallery. More than 200 booths of fine arts and fine crafts will line Main Street and Wayne Avenue featuring artists from all over the country. It has been named one of the top shows in the East with paintings of all kinds, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, and more.
8. Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival
October 20-22. At the peak of fall leaf season for the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains, the Fall Foliage Bike Festival based out of Staunton will be held the third weekend in October. Enjoy warm days and cool nights riding the back roads through scenic vistas of rural beauty.
9. Blackfriars Theater
The Blackfriars Theater was built in downtown Staunton in 2001, the world’s only exact replica of William Shakespeare’s indoor theater, and is home to the American Shakespeare Center. What a great place to catch a play, tour the facility, or get involved in their camps for young and old alike. Check their website for current plays and activities.
10. Staunton’s Ghostly Evening Tours
What better way to see the architecture of historic downtown Staunton than with the Ghosts of Staunton Tour? Spooky historical tours of the Depot train station, Mary Baldwin College, and other downtown buildings. If you are looking for something different and unusual, this is the tour for you. Reservations strongly recommended.
11. Shenandoah National Park
Nature’s calling! Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains east of Staunton, Shenandoah National Park offers 200,000 acres of wilderness, campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, horseback riding, lodges, and visitor centers along the 100-mile-long Skyline Drive. Big Meadows Lodge and Skyland Resort and several campgrounds provide overnight accommodations. Escape to the quiet beauty of the mountains.
12. Humpback Rock Farm Visitor Center, Picnic, and Hike
A mountain homestead much like the ones from the nineteenth century, Humpback Rock Farm is located at Milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Afton and I-64. Costumed interpreters and musicians are on hand weekends throughout the fall to answer questions and demonstrate crafts from a bygone era. Farm animals, a working garden, mountain music, and more round out the experience. Visitor Center and picnic tables are available on the site. Hike to the top of Humpback Rock, grill out in the picnic area, or go back in time at the farm.
13. Dayton Farmers Market
A favorite with visitors and locals alike, the Dayton Farmers Market is located on Rt. 42 about 30 minutes northwest of Staunton. Featuring the “best big soft pretzels on the East Coast,” it also has a restaurant as well as a variety of shops offering goods plus fresh produce with apples and pumpkins. Outside is a hitching post for the Old Order Mennonites to park their horse and buggies when they stop by to do a little shopping of their own.
14. Green Valley Book Fair
Open September 30-October 23, the Green Valley Book Fair offers hundreds of thousands of books at up to 90% off retail price that include classics, children’s, political, novels, fiction, history, health and self-help, religion, science, sports, cookbooks, home and garden, crafts, art, reference, computer, nature, and outdoors. Convenient free parking, no admission charge. Located in Mt. Crawford 20 minutes north of Staunton, it’s a bookworm’s paradise.
15. Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale
The Mennonite Relief Sale is September 29-30 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds located on Rt. 11 south of Harrisonburg. Each year, thousands of volunteers come together to raise money at Relief Sales for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) for the relief of suffering in the world. Entertainment, quilts, crafts, food, baked goods, antiques, silent auction, live auction, farmers market.
16. Nichols Apple Barn
Located in Middleburg, Nichols Apple Barn offers a wide range of apples right at the orchard. Walk in the barn, get a bag or box, and start picking out your favorites straight from the wooden apple crates a few steps away from the orchard where Staymans and other juicy varities grow.
17. Paugh’s Orchard Roadside Stand
Located in a curve along Rt. 42 in Shenandoah County, Paugh’s Orchard offers an explosion of fall goodies including many varieties of apples, pumpkins, mums; mini pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn for decorating; jars of jams and jellies and other goodies. See Autumn afternoon road trip to apple country and Apple season in Shenandoah County, Va. They are closed on Saturdays.
18. Massanutten Fall Festival
The annual Massanutten Fall Festival will be held on October 14 with chairlift rides, arts and crafts, food vendors, beer garden, wine tasting, kids activities, entertainment, and more. Takes place at the scenic Massanutten Ski Resort east of Harrisonburg.
19. Dayton Days Autumn Celebration
One of the largest craft and food festivals of the fall, this year will be the 38th annual Dayton Days Autumn Festival has celebrated the arrival of autumn since 1980 by closing the small historic downtown area to all but foot traffic. Thousands of visitors enjoy crafts, live music, entertainment, exhibits, arts, children’s games, and food food food. If you’ve never been, you’ve missed a fantastic day. Dayton is located smack in the middle of Old Order Mennonite country.
20. Lots of Eats
There are plenty of places to grab great eats in the Valley. Here are a few: Depot Grille, Byers Street Bistro, Split Banana, Shenandoah Pizza, Clock Tower, Kline’s, Green Leaf Grille, Wright’s Drive-In, Mill Street Grill, Emilio’s, and Sorrel’s in Staunton’s Stonewall Jackson Hotel.
Friend Barb and I took Tuesday to chase autumn and spend time together enjoying the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where we both live. Besides the fun of back roads and stunning mountain vistas that we both enjoy, we found all kinds of fall décor for our houses.
Our first stop was Myers Pumpkins just east of Harrisonburg, a family-run farm that provides already-picked pumpkins and gourds, chrysanthemums, pick-your-own pumpkin patch, corn maze, and corn stalks ready for decorating. This was a new place for me that Barb introduced to me, and they were well stocked.
It hardly seems like five years have passed since that sunshine-filled September day when we gathered for the wedding of our daughter at House Mountain Inn west of Lexington in a beautiful setting among the western Virginia mountains. They sealed their vows with a kiss as seen from this “Mom Cam” … photo taken by mother-of-the-bride from the front row during the ceremony. What? You thought I was going to leave my camera behind? LOL.
Spontaneous chants roared from the crowd of rescue workers on September 14, 2001, three days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, as President George W. Bush stood at Ground Zero and, with bullhorn in hand, said the words that were heard around the world:
President Bush: Thank you all. I want you all to know — it can’t go any louder (referring to the bullhorn) — I want you all to know that America today is on bended knee, in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn. The nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens.
Rescue Worker: I can’t hear you!
President Bush: I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
Rescue Workers: (Roar from the crowd) USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
President Bush: The nation sends its love and compassion …
Rescue Worker: God bless America!
President Bush: … to everybody who is here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for making the nation proud, and may God bless America.
Rescue Workers: (Chanting) USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
It was a moment that uplifted the nation and brought American solidarity. May we never forget.
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