I never did have much traffic on this blog, and I was surprised that it still had a trickle of visitors after I stopped posting in mid April. There was a drop-off, of course, but apparently some people still stumbled across it. I am resuming posting, but on a different topic and a different schedule. I stopped posting because I abandoned freelance writing. There just wasn’t any money in it for me as my income continued to decline even though I was sending queries. I am retired and not dependent upon writing for a living so it no longer was worth the effort, time, and expense I devoted to it.
So now I will share some of my travel experiences on a monthly basis (rather than the 10-day schedule before.) I also am no longer traveling to Europe and only making short trips in the US, usually just a few days within the region. That is less expensive, but it still provides the opportunity to “get away” more regularly and offers the opportunity for a change of pace. In August some friends and I drove up to southwestern Virginia, and a report of that trip follows. I made a wine-tasting trip in September and plan a trip in October to see the fall leaves change color in the mountains. I’m scheduled to go to DC in Nov. and Richmond in Dec. so I have several short trips already all lined up. I was in Fort Lauderdale in February and Richmond in April, but those are too old to write about since I’ve forgotten the details and don’t keep a journal.
So come along for the ride.
A Summer Weekend Getaway
Raleigh is fortunate to be only a few hours drive from the coast or the mountains. In August to escape the heat we drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway in southwestern Virginia. It was still hot there but not as humid. We took the interstates going up and a more circuitous route coming home.
I’ve traveled parts of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia since I was a child but had never visited the campus of Virginia Tech at Blacksburg. The sprawling 650-acre campus features limestone buildings in the traditional style with acres of trees, lawns, and ponds to soften their features. Unfortunately acres of black asphalt parking lots also cover the campus so cars are a prominent feature. But the buildings are not stacked on top of each other as they are in many more crowded campuses.
One other unique features of the campus is the 18th Century Smithfield Plantation that is home to three successive generations of Virginia Governors of the Preston clan. The house contains many of the original furnishings that were returned after Preservation Virginia restored it in the 1960s. The white frame exterior does not belie the interior size that is laid out in an L-shape with a porch across the back. The home is surrounded by a working farm of VA Tech so it appears that little as changed through the centuries except for the hidden air-conditioning.
We returned to the modern world in a striking new, high-ceilinged restaurant of wood, stone, and glass overlooking the New River in Radford, home of Radford University. Their terrace overlooks the college and the town with a pastoral view. We ended the day with a twilight tour of the private homes along the ridge of Ingles Mountain, which unfortunately does not provide any public access to that view.
About 25 miles to the east along Va. Hwy 8 lay the small town of Floyd that has undergone a renaissance in recent years and become a hub for country music festivals. The new Hotel Floyd sits at the center of a new park, office mall, shops & condos along with two old general stores and the Bank of Floyd, which I was surprised to learn is a public corporation listed on the NASDAC stock exchange. The small country inn of 22 rooms is decorated with furnishings and art works from local artisans and features unique double-door entries for cold winter protection. This is not a ski area so I imagine they don’t get many winter visitors. The traditional small town Blue Ridge cafe is still the gathering place of locals and suffers southern cooking at reasonable prices
For such as short trip there was time to sample only a couple of sites directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The large fieldstone winery at the Chateau Morrisette also features a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the valley below and the Alleghany Mountains to the west. It was the only cool spot we found on the entire trip. Just a few miles to the south we toured the 1911 Mabry Mill and outbuildings to see mountain life in the age before electricity. We made the unfortunate decision to return from the parkway down to Hwy 8 to cross the mountains, and it was a long winding road of about 90 miles before we reached Winston-Salem, NC and got back on the interstate.
It was a short, 3-day, 2-night excursion that seemed a world away from the hub-bub of the Triangle. (See my photos at My travel photos.)