Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
October 10, 2017
“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.
It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley and the fall flowers are blooming in these days before cold weather descends. A sure sign of autumn is when the mums begin blooming, and mine are popping out all over the place.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13
The heroes of United Flight 93 were ordinary Americans who reacted in extraordinary times. On a hijacked airplane heading toward Washington, D.C., possibly targeting the White House or the Capitol building, and with the knowledge of what had already occurred that morning with the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, passengers took matters into their own hands.
Ordinary citizens became heroes in their attempt to overtake the Muslum terrorists who had pirated the plane, and crashed it into the countryside of southwestern Pennsylvania.
I have written before of my special connection to Flight 93. My sister, a member of the George W. Bush administration, was at work in the White House that day. If Flight 93 had hit Washington as had happened in New York City and Arlington’s Pentagon, our family could have been one of the many mourning a lost one.
On the tenth anniversary of that tragic day, the crash site outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, was formally dedicated as a permanent reminder of the courage and spirit of the Flight 93 heroes. President George W. Bush, in office only nine months when 9/11 happened, unexpectedly became a wartime president that day with a determination to protect the American people. He and Mrs. Bush attended the 2011 commemorative events, met with the families, and took part in the ceremony.
Forty extraordinary Americans … my family will forever be grateful to the men and women of Flight 93 and their families for the heroism and sacrifice made that day.
Flight 93 had heroes on board….
Todd Beamer – “Let’s roll!”
The 32-year-old Oracle Corp. account manager from Cranbury, N.J., was believed to have helped lead a passenger attack on Flight 93 hijackers that prevented the jet from reaching its target, possibly the White House. Beamer spoke to a GTE operator on the plane’s phone. His final words — “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll!” — have become a rallying cry for the war against terrorism. Beamer and his wife, Lisa, had two sons. His daughter, Morgan, was born in January of 2002. Beamer played baseball and basketball in college and loved coaching youth sports. President Bush, in an address to the nation, praised Beamer as “an exceptional man.” Today, the Todd M. Beamer Foundation aims to help kids deal with trauma and learn how to make choices.
Thomas E. Burnett Jr.
Burnett called his wife, Deena, to tell her about the Flight 93 hijacking and said he and other passengers were “going to do something about it.” Burnett, 38, of San Ramon, Calif., was senior vice president and chief operating officer of Thoratec Corp., a medical research and development company. His wife and three daughters moved to Arkansas afterwards to be closer to her parents. The new Thomas Burnett Family Foundation plans to provide endowments for children’s bereavement camps and leadership scholarships at selected universities.
Glick called his wife, Lyz, after terrorists took over Flight 93. She patched the call to a 911 dispatcher, who told Glick about earlier attacks in New York. Glick told his wife some passengers had taken a vote, and “We’re going to rush the hijackers.” Glick, 31, of West Milford, N.J., had been a collegiate judo champion at the University of Rochester. His older sister, Jennifer, is president of Jeremy’s Heroes foundation which is devoted to helping people build character through sports. The foundation has supplied sneakers to kids in Chicago and paid for 20 children in Washington to attend a soccer camp.
LynnRMitchell.com remembers … may we
9:45 a.m. The World Trade Center had been attacked an hour earlier when airplanes hijacked by terrorists flew into both towers … Pan Am Flight 77 had flown into the Pentagon … and now United Flight 93 was being followed on radar flying toward Washington, D.C. No one was aware of the struggle going on inside that aircraft as passengers, aware of the earlier terrorism attacks, vowed to storm the cockpit and avoid whatever disaster the terrorist pilots had in mind.
The White House was evacuated at 9:45. Employees were urgently directed by Secret Service to leave the building and, as the evacuation was under way, it was stepped up as shouts told them to get away from the White House and Old Executive Office Building as fast as they could. Women took off their shoes and ran in their stocking feet out the White House grounds and onto the street and down the sidewalk. One of them was my sister.
Flight 93 would go down at 10:06 a.m. taking the brave souls with it who prevented further national tragedy.
LynnRMitchell.com remembers … may we never forget the herorism of those on Flight 93.
9:37 a.m. Pilots and crew on American Airlines Flight 77 are overpowered as terrorists hijack the plane and fly it into the Pentagon. All 64 people on board were killed including the five hijackers and six crew, as well as 125 people who were at work in the building.
LynnRMitchell.com remembers … may we never forget.
8:46 a.m. It began with first one tower followed by the second of the World Trade Center hit by commercial airliners. America was under attack.
After pilots and crew members of American Airlines Flight 11 were overpowered by terrorists, the plane crashed into the North Tower. It was the first terrorist act of what would become the worst attacks ever on American soil, a day that would continue to see strikes on our nation three more times as the morning unfolded.
LynnRMitchell.com remembers 9/11 … may we never forget!
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