Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mini-Vacation to Norfolk Virginia


Staying at our friend's farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia has been like a vacation. But then came another opportunity for a mini vacation as we accepted the invitation of one of our friends. They have a house in downtown Norfolk which was going to be empty for four nights.  It has been a while since we visited the city so we were anxious to see it again as it is a very vibrant, walkable city and the RV is happily snuggled in at the farm so off we went..


Norfolk, known for its mermaids, is a long 4 hour drive from the farm but is really a nice scenic drive through the rolling hills. We stopped to pick up some groceries before driving into town and once we got settled we immediately headed out for a walk to reacquaint ourselves with the city.


Our friend's house is near the Chrysler Museum and is just a short walk to the center of town. We pretty much walked all over town each and every day we were there. The downtown area has tons of bars and restaurants as well as a large mall. This makes walking in the city fun while at the same time we got plenty of exercise.


The harbor walk reflects the city's naval presence and the Armed Forces Memorial with the plaques of letters written by our military men to their loved ones is an emotional experience for sure. Also docked here is the magnificent USS Wisconsin. The Waterside District is where we spent most of our evenings as there was a lively bar we enjoyed right in the middle of all the action.


Best of all on Friday our daughter made the two hour drive up from Raleigh and spent two nights with us. A coup considering we weren’t sure when we would see her again. When life opens doors leading to opportunities, by all means we try to jump through every one of them we can.


While in Norfolk we did visit the Chrysler Art Museum as well as the General Douglas MacArthur museum. Both museums were interesting and a great stop on hot days. We ate out on several occasions taking full advantage of Sharon’s app on her phone called Retail Me Not which led us to several buy-one-get-one-free opportunities. Anytime we can save a few bucks we are always pretty happy as it allows us more entertainment dollars to spend elsewhere.


We really had a blast spending four nights in Norfolk but it was time to return back to the farm. We drove a longer route back so we could take in part of the Skyline Drive as well as making a stop for happy hour at one of our favorite Virginia Breweries – Blue Mountain Brewery. A few hours later we were back at the farm looking back out over the Shenandoah Valley…. Boy we are so lucky to have met such wonderful people during our travels on our Road of Retirement…

NOTE: We plan to stay here in the Shenandoah Valley until the end of the month and then move on northwards.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chilling (or is it Sweating) in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


There are two places we love to stop at every other year when we return to the east coast. The first is a stop in North Carolina to visit our daughter Katie. Just north of Katie’s home is the second stop which is at our friend's farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.


We spent a month at the farm last year to house sit for them and this year we are just enjoying our stay for a few weeks. Our visit this year is later in the summer than at past visits and as such it is a lot hotter and drier than we remember. Nevertheless it is still a very beautiful place to sit back and relax.


Each morning Sharon and I have breakfast and lounge around a bit before heading outside for our morning walk. We walk down the hillside into the Shenandoah Valley until we cross the Shenandoah River. From there we can check on the two rental properties our friend has on his farm and address any issues that may need our attention. The mountains on the east side of the farm remain vibrant and green Sharon often refers to them as looking like fresh broccoli.


We have been treated to several interesting sightings during our walks. We observed several deer along with some young newborn fawns by their sides. We also saw a bald eagle soaring about the valley on a couple of our walks. The coolest critter we saw was a ground hog swimming across the Shenandoah River.


Another great sighting occurred one morning as we were crossing the small bridge over the Shenandoah River. As we looked to our left there in the middle of the water was a doe standing “knee” deep in the river. What made this interesting was that she was gorging herself on the freshwater grasses growing in the river. We stayed and watched her eat for about 10-15 minutes. She wasn’t the least bit worried about us as we were apparently perceived to be of no danger.


Each day at the farm ends with another fabulous view of the valley below and the changing natural lighting creating different palettes of green. Happy hour then a great home cooked dinner on the back deck while looking our over the luscious Shenandoah Valley is a great way to spend our time.  We never tire of the beautiful expanse of mountain and valley scenery.


NOTE: We will stay here in the Shenandoah Valley until the end of the month and then move on northward.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sometimes you have to go with the flow…


Our two night stay in Martinsville, VA was over it was time to move on but i sure am going to miss this scenic spot we had on the Smith River. It was nice being able to go right behind our RV and try my luck at a little trout fishing. I didn’t catch anything but sure had fun trying!

Our next planned stop was Harrisonburg, VA. Notice I said planned and “was”… When we pulled into the Rockingham Fairgrounds just south of Harrisonburg we were greeted with all theimage gates closed. No one answered the office phone and there was no way to leave a message nor was there any emergency contact information. We had contacted the park on a previous workday but due to miscommunication between Sharon and I we didn’t send in our preregistration papers to ensure someone would be there to let us in. Combine that with the fact the last time we stayed here we simply parked in a site and paid later…Oh well....

Anyhow since we weren’t going to be able to stay in Harrisonburg we called our friend from Toms Brook Virginia to see if it was okay to show up three days early at their farm in the Shenandoah Valley. They are not at the farm but said, Sure, come on up” and so we continued north another 60 or so miles to the farm.

imageWe have house sat for them here before and will do so again until the end of the month. We love staying at their farm outside of Toms Brook Virginia and look forward to this extended stay. We will do a few things around the farm to repay our most kind benefactors for their generosity in letting stay at their farm.

Our first day at the farm we unloaded the food from our fridge so we would have something to eat during our stay. We also did the owners a favor and took all the trash from their two rental units to the dump. Otherwise we spent the last few days ogling out the picture windows at the views of the Shenandoah River, the Shenandoah Valley and rolling mountains on the other side of the river. Fantastic!

Yes, our life is rough on the Road of Retirement…

NOTE: We will stay here in the Shenandoah Valley until the end of the month and then move on northwards.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scenic Loop Drive to Floyd Country Store Jam via the Blue Ridge Parkway…


Our last day North Carolina finally arrived. We added one more night in Moncure because Katie wanted to spend one last night with us. Although we didn’t have time to do much we did immensely enjoy each others company that evening. We played a few games of cornhole with our West Virginia neighbor, Dave then enjoyed barbacoa, cheesy potatoes and pinto beans Katie brought for our dinner. It was a wonderful dinner and a fun time with Katie.  The next morning Katie left for work and we packed up the rig for our trek north.


We hit the road around 10:30 am and made the leisurely drive into the state of Virginia where we stopped in Martinsville. We had a great site on the banks of the Smith River at Indian Heritage RV Park. We are only here two nights but if I had done my homework we would have stayed longer and made a kayak run down the river. Our site is adjacent to a boat/kayak put in spot just below the Smith River dam.


We had time to run to the local grocery store and stock up a bit before enjoying happy hour at the rear of our site while gazing out on the Smith River. We saw several groups of kayakers put in while we were enjoying the sound of the water rushing by. It was nice to take in some pretty scenery after sitting a month in Moncure with not much to look at there.


While looking for things to do in this area I found out about Floyd Virginia  which hosts a lot of bluegrass jam sessions. Seeing several occurring during our stay we opted to drive over and check out the jam at the Floyd Country Store. All the other events were in the evening and since we were 50 miles away we decided the afternoon jam session was the best one to attend.

To make it more interesting we plotted out a 100 mile driving loop that would take us to Floyd as well as allow us to explore some more of Virginia we haven’t seen before. Included in this loop would be several miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

DSCN9039DSCN9028The drive over was very enjoyable as the “spring green” was still lingering in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Temperatures were in the 70’s as well which offered a nice respite to the heat we have been in lately. Once on the Blue Ridge Parkway we spotted the Mabry Mill with a small trail which took us through an old time town complete with park interpreters doing things such as black smithing, looming rugs and making baskets. What a treat it was to stumble upon this unplanned excursion.


Floyd is a tourist town and one that has little to offer us except for the music scene. We found parking and made our way over to the Floyd Country Store. The stage is in the rear of the store and we sat and listed to a solo guitar act playing mostly folk music. He was okay but I had hoped to see some bluegrass.

We found out the musicians each play for an hour so we wandered around town and visited the Floyd farmer’s market while waiting for the next set of musicians. The next act turned out to be two gentlemen strumming guitars. The first two songs were blues and they were pretty good but the next two were a Beatles tune and a song made famous by Willie Nelson and since they pretty much butchered them we left.


The drive back was not as nice as the drive up but since we were back early we stopped in Martinsville for a round of disc golf. The course we played was short but had a lot of elevation shots making it challenging. We had a blast playing this short course and finally headed back home.

NOTE: We will add one extra day here then head north to Martinsville, VA for a couple of nights before moving to Harrisonburg, VA where we plan to stay at the Rockingham Fairgrounds there.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wrapping Up Our North Carolina Stay…


As our time is wrapping up on our month long stay in Moncure, NC we spent our last weekend staying at Katie and Brook’s place in Raleigh NC. We planned to pack in as much fun as we could before we take off.


Prior to staying with Katie and during her work week we went to Pinehurst NC for one last visit. We simply love this charming community and the park called Reservoir Park which is not only a very beautiful woodland  surrounded lake it is also home to one of our favorite disc golf courses.We got an early start that Thursday morning and pulled into Reservoir Park for a round of disc golf. The woodlands here are managed via controlled burning and as such the woodlands are park like with little middle story growth creating many views of the lake below. We really enjoyed playing this exceptionally scenic course.


Afterward we took a hike partially around the lake to take in the greens of the vegetation contrasting with the blues of the water and sky. We watched several groups of geese and ducks frolicing around their resting grounds. After our hike we drove over to Kenny's Restaurant for a hearty phily cheese steak. This was just as good as it was nearly 6 years ago when we first identified it as a road treat.


As the weekend came we drove north to Raleigh to meet up with Katie and Brooks at their place. We decided to use a Groupon for happy hour and we ended up at the Durty Bull Brewing Company. They specialize in barrel-aged and sour beers as well as many other unconventional brews. We found the beers not all that appealing so we went over to the nearby Ponysaurus Brewing Company. This place had much better beers, better energy and nice outdoor seating.


The next day we wanted to go see the Durham Bulls (a minor league baseball team) play. Tickets in the shaded area were sold out so we decided to do dinner and drinks at the Bull Durham Beer Company. The beauty of eating there is that their outside patio is inside the Durham Bulls Stadium so we could watch the game as well. This turned out to be a great call as their were intermittent rain showers during the game and we remained mostly dry while also enjoying some awesome steak nachos in the restaurant. The order was huge and more than enough for Katie, Sharon and I to share.  What a delicious road treat for sure.


The rest of the weekend was spent shopping for plants that Brooks and Katie wanted for their place.  In the search we were once again able to visit the State Farmer's Market which is large and impressive.  We also made a trip to Lowe's finding some nice deals on patio furniture, larger plants, pots and soil.  What fun it was for us to help them.  This month in NC has been very enjoyable but I am ready to get moving again.  After all, it is what we do!. 


NOTE: We will add one extra day here then head north to Martinsville, VA for a couple of nights before moving to Harrisonburg, VA where we plan to stay at the Rockingham Fairgrounds there.