a saturday outing to middleburg & three fox vineyards

Saturday, December 10: On this beautiful Saturday, Mike and I take a drive out to historic Middleburg, Virginia, a small town in Loudoun County Virginia that had 632 residents at the 2000 census.  I imagine it’s larger than that now.  It’s a week after Middleburg’s annual Christmas parade, held the first Saturday in December, so we’re hoping to see the town decked out for the holidays.

street lamp Christmas decor
street lamp Christmas decor

Leven Powell, American Revolutionary War Lieutenant Colonel and Virginia statesman, purchased the land for the town at $2.50/acre in 1763 from Joseph Chinn, a first cousin of George Washington.  He established the town in 1787.  First called “Chinn’s Crossroads,” it was later called Powell Town, until Leven Powell decided he didn’t want the town named for him.  The name was changed to Middleburgh, and later, simply Middleburg because of its location midway between the port of Alexandria and Winchester, Virginia on the Ashby Gap trading route (now Route 50) (Wikipedia: Middleburg, ,Virginia).

The Middleburg Historic District, comprising the 19th-century center of town, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After the turn of the century, the town – sitting in the midst of rolling hills, pastures, stone fences and stately homes – became a popular destination for fox-hunting and steeple-chasing, earning it a reputation as the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital” and attracting visitors from all over the country, including President John F. Kennedy (Visit Middleburg).  Today, celebrities such as Robert Duvall and Tom Selleck can sometimes be spotted here.

Middleburg is the home of the National Sporting Library & Museum, founded in 1954, which highlights the rich tradition of country pursuits. Angling, horsemanship, shooting, steeplechasing, fox-hunting, flat racing, polo, coaching and wildlife are among the subjects one can explore in the organization’s general stacks, rare book holdings, archives and art collection (Visit Middleburg).

We arrive in the town just at lunchtime, so our first order of business is to eat lunch at the The Federal Street Cafe, where I enjoy a Po’ Boy and Mike has The Left Coast, a roast turkey sandwich with creamy avocado, roasted red peppers, provolone, and spring greens served on seven grain bread.

We stroll out to Washington Street, the main street through the town, and find our first church.  When Emmanuel Episcopal Church was consecrated in 1843, it seated only 40 people.  It was enlarged in 1976 to seat 70 and then was remodeled in 1976 to accommodate a smaller organ.  It now seats 115 parishioners.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

We then walk down the street to do some window shopping.

The oldest building in town, the The Red Fox Inn & Tavern, was originally established in 1728 by Joseph Chinn as Chinn’s Ordinary and is billed as the oldest continually operated inn in the U.S.

Notables who have stayed at The Red Fox Inn include President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Ambassador Pamela Harriman, Elizabeth Taylor and the local Virginian and U.S. Senator John Warner, Joan Woodward, Paul Newman and Tom Cruise, according to the Inn’s website.

The Red Fox Inn
The Red Fox Inn

We also find the Red Horse Tavern, which seems to be in no way related to the Red Fox.

The Red Fox Inn
The Red Horse Tavern
Scruffy's Ice Cream & Coffee Parlor
Scruffy’s Ice Cream & Coffee Parlor
Santa's offerings
Santa’s offerings

Though we didn’t eat at The Upper Crust Bakery today, we’ve eaten here many times in the past.  They have, or used to have, the best ham salad croissant sandwiches ever!

The Upper Crust Bakery
The Upper Crust Bakery

Highcliffe Clothiers is an “old school” haberdashery for both men and women.

Highcliffe
Highcliffe

Middleburg United Methodist Church is a historic town church, built in 1856.

Middleburg United Methodist Church
Middleburg United Methodist Church
Middleburg United Methodist Church
Middleburg United Methodist Church

The cute shop, Middleburg Common Grounds, is one of the town’s most festively decorated establishments.

After walking up and down the main street, we decide it’s time to move on. On the way back to the car, we find this hair design place with straw angels in the window.

Hair Design
Hair Design

As we drive back toward I-66, we pass through the town of Delaplane, where we happen upon a sign for Three Fox Vineyards, a winery sitting on 50 rolling acres.  We simply must stop here for a wine tasting.

Three Fox Vineyards
Three Fox Vineyards

Holli and John Todhunter opened the vineyard in 2002.  The couple were drawn to Italy and Southern France to learn about the different types of wine.  They planted a number of grapes on 15 acres of the property: Italian varietals Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Pinot Grigio, as well as Viognier, the main white wine grape of the Rhone Valley. On the estate, they also grow Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Chardonnay, and Chambourcin are sourced from area growers, according to the website.

Three Fox Vineyards
Three Fox Vineyards

We can see the three foxes at the entryway.  Picnic tables and wrought iron tables dot the landscape — down by the creek, among the vines, on a hillside — but today is not a day for sitting outside.  The winery has a heated tented area where we enjoy a glass of wine after we finish our wine tasting and buy three bottles of wine (the tasting fee is waived if you buy three bottles).

Three Fox Vineyards
Three Fox Vineyards

We also buy some cheese and crackers because I can never drink wine on an empty stomach.  No matter that we just had lunch a short while ago!

Before leaving, I use the facilities at Three Fox Vineyards.  Here, I find the most festively decorated porta-potty I’ve ever seen.  It’s even heated. 🙂

Inside the porta-potty
Inside the porta-potty

Though it’s only 3:30 in the afternoon, it’s true that “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere!”

I’m pretty lazy after returning home.  I just can’t drink in the middle of the day!

the august cocktail hour: sultry days & sunflowers {escape to iceland tomorrow!}

Friday, August 12:  Welcome to my almost-finished house for our final happy hour of summer! This is our last time to mingle before I head off to Iceland tomorrow.  Come right in, get comfortable and I’ll mix you up a drink.  I’m sorry to say I haven’t graduated from my Moscow Mules (vodka, lime juice and ginger beer); I’ve been quite content to drink these since our last cocktail hour.  I imbibed on some strawberry daiquiris when I visited my sister in Maryland this month.  If you’d like one of those, I’d be happy to whip one up, or I can offer wine, beer, or even some soda or seltzer water with lime if you prefer a non-alcoholic beverage.

It’s been the most hot and humid summer imaginable, so I think we’ll just sit on our new counter stools at the bar. They finally arrived after our last happy hour. 🙂  It’s nice and cool inside, so it will be much more pleasant.  I’m sad to admit that we’ve hardly been able to use the screened-in porch because it’s been over 90 degrees and very humid every day.

Our counter stools are in!
Our counter stools are in!

Tell me about your summer. Have you been on vacation or explored new areas close to home?  Have you indulged in any daydreams? Have you changed jobs or gone into retirement?  Have you seen any good movies or read any page-turners? Have you tried out any new restaurants or cooked anything wonderful at home?  How’s your garden?  Have you had any special family gatherings?

summer flowers
summer flowers

I’ve been to a couple of movies, some wonderful, and others not so Absolutely Fabulous. My favorite was the intense and moving Dheepan, about an ex-Tamil fighter who cobbles together a makeshift family to escape his war-torn Sri Lanka.  He becomes a refugee in France. His “wife” and “daughter” are strangers to him and to each other, but they must pretend to be a family in order to get papers to leave.  He ends up in France working as caretaker for a rough property where a lot of criminal activity is taking place.  He doesn’t want any part of it, so he keeps his head down and tries to avoid being noticed.  The movie shows what it’s like for a refugee family to arrive in a new country without knowledge of language or customs, and to be cast into difficult, and even terrifying, situations.  I think it should be required watching, especially for certain people who want to close borders and build walls, those who would prefer to ignore the suffering of others.  This kind of sentiment is running rampant in the U.S. these days, and I find it appalling, heartless, and sickening.

I went to see Absolutely Fabulous and though it was funny in parts, I found myself getting annoyed by its overall silliness.  Actually, the only reason I went to see it was because I had met Joanna Lumley in Oman in 2012, and I wanted to see her again. 🙂 (absolutely fabulous: a surprise encounter with patsy stone)

At home, on Netflix, we finally watched the cute movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, partly filmed in Iceland.  I always enjoy watching movies and reading books that take place in our holiday destination.  The movie was quite charming, and really got me psyched for our trip.

We also saw the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith as accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu.  He uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.  Though I don’t often enjoy movies about sports, I found this exceptionally well done as it depicted the relentless attacks on him by the NFL, a powerful organization.  I’m always for the underdog!

On the last weekend in July, Mike went with his high school friends to Ohio, so I took the opportunity to visit Sarah and Alex in Richmond.  Sarah moved into a new apartment at the beginning of June and I hadn’t been able to see it yet, so after we met for lunch at Mom’s Siam, we went straight to her house to check it out.  She hasn’t gotten it fully furnished or together yet, but she’s slowly getting settled.

Mom's Siam
Mom’s Siam

Alex and Ariana met Sarah and I for dinner at The Black Sheep, mainly because I had a craving for their marvelous chicken and dumplings.  We had a great time.  Alex looked quite handsome with a new haircut given to him by Ariana. 🙂

Alex, Sarah, me and Ariana at the Black Sheep in Richmond
Alex, Sarah, me and Ariana at the Black Sheep in Richmond

By the way, we found out our prodigal son Adam is now in Maui.  We knew his retreat in British Columbia ended on July 11, and we assumed he was still in Vancouver until we got a call from him on Tuesday, July 19, telling us he had bought a one-way ticket to Maui on July 12.  He’d been there a week already and was working on a banana plantation for a room and fruit.  When he called, he had just started working at a hostel four hours a day in exchange for a room. He eats food from the free shelf, where visitors leave behind food. He’s always believed in living in a world without money, and I guess he’s doing just that, sort of!  I don’t understand it and never will, but he’s got to live life according to his principles and I have to say I admire him in some ways.  On the other hand, I know he has credit card debt, so he’s not fiscally responsible nor is he actually living without money!

Thank goodness, he’s been good about calling us once a week to let us know what’s going on.  He seems very happy and says he wishes he had gone to Hawaii back in October when he first thought of going.  I wish he had; he would have saved us and himself a lot of money and heartbreak.  Who knows what will become of him, but I’m happy that for the time being he seems at peace and is actually working, even if not for money.  This past Tuesday night, he called to tell us he is starting to work for a ceramic artist helping to sell his very expensive ceramics; he gets an hourly wage and some commission on any sales.  Slowly, slowly.  I’m trying hard to have no expectations and to continue to send love his way.

On Friday morning, Sarah and I went for a hike on the Buttermilk Trail along the James River.  The trail was quite muddy as it had rained overnight.  We then went shopping at Target, where I bought her some new bedding, a hair dryer, and bath towels, all of which she needed and was thrilled to have. We also had lunch together.

Later that afternoon, I drove an hour south and visited with my dad and stepmother in Yorktown.  We had dinner together and chatted until I went up to bed to read my book, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  I hardly slept all night because I was near the end and couldn’t put it down.   My lack of sleep made it hard to get off to an early start, as I planned, to drive to Salisbury, Maryland to visit my sister Joan on Saturday morning.

Here’s my review of State of Wonder on Goodreads: I loved this book about Dr. Marina Singh’s journey into the Amazon jungle to find her former professor, Dr. Annick Swenson, as well as to find answers to the questions surrounding the death of her colleague, Dr. Anders Eckman. They all work for Vogel, a pharmaceutical company in Minnesota, and Marina has worked with Anders for 7 years in a small lab. Forty-two-year-old Marina is involved in a kind of secret relationship with 60-year-old Mr. Fox, the CEO of Vogel, who is not a doctor but an administrator. She calls him Mr. Fox, which speaks to the type of arm’s-length relationship they have. Mr. Fox sends Marina to look for Dr. Swenson because her research to develop a drug in the Amazon is taking too long and Vogel is getting impatient with her lack of communication about her progress. Dr. Swenson is doing research on how the Lakashi women can bear children even into their 70s. Marina’s other mission is to find out what happened to Anders and to possibly recover his body to send back to Minnesota.

Of course, I love any kind of story that takes place in exotic locales, with characters I can understand. This is an adventure and awakening story, a kind of journey into the “heart of darkness;” I found it immensely compelling and I love Ann Patchett’s writing.

I’m now reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, which I’m enjoying, as well as a book my sister recommended by Dan Harris of Good Morning America: 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works.  I’m also making my way slowly through The Mathews Men by Bill Geroux; though it’s well-written and interesting, my books of choice are not normally non-fiction.

In Salisbury, we sat out at Joanie’s pool bar, where my brother-in-law Steve served us up some mixed drinks.  My nephew Seth and his girlfriend, Julia, hung out with us too.  It was fun to visit with my sister and to hang out by her pool on Sunday too. 🙂

me, my sister Joan and my nephew's girlfriend
me, my sister Joan and Julia

On August 4, after a number of failed attempts to meet in May and June, I finally met with a lady who runs a wine touring company.  She asked if I’d like to try out being a tour guide for her company.  I agreed to give it a try on Saturday, August 6.  I went with tour-guide Jim, who showed me the ropes; we took a group of ten 30-something ladies on a bachelorette tour of 3 wineries.  Our first stop was Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, where the owner warmly welcomes guests into the main tasting room in the living room of her c.1820 house.

Zephaniah Vineyard's tasting room
Zephaniah Vineyard’s tasting room

Next we stopped at Stone Tower Winery, set on 306 acres atop Hogback Mountain.  This is a large more commercial enterprise, and though beautiful, was not as appealing to me as the other two more intimate wineries.

Stone Tower Winery
Stone Tower Winery
pond at Stone Tower Winery
pond at Stone Tower Winery
vineyards at Stone Tower Winery
vineyards at Stone Tower Winery

The tasting room was quite chilly, so we ate lunch in a cavernous and only a little-less-chilly room with live music.  We couldn’t easily sit outside as it was hot, humid and spitting rain sporadically.  The young ladies seemed to be having a wonderful time.  This venue is much less homey than the other two, although the setting is lovely.

Our last stop was The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards, a family owned and operated winery housed in a refurbished dairy farm. The restored hundred and six-year-old stone and wood bank barn has been transformed into a tasting room, surrounded by eleven acres of rolling hills and woods.

The Barns at Hamilton Station
The Barns at Hamilton Station
The Barns at Hamilton Station
The Barns at Hamilton Station

The tour was fun and the owner has booked me for two tours in September.  It’s very occasional work, she has told me, which is fine by me.:-)

This week, we’re having our entire basement painted.  It hasn’t been painted since we bought the house in 1994 and it was sorely in need of refurbishing. Our boys grew up hanging out with their friends down there, and you can only imagine what disrepair it was in. There were several holes punched in the wall from some wild activities.  As soon as we return from Iceland, the whole basement will also be re-carpeted, and with a new sectional we just had delivered, it will become Mike’s “man-cave.” I’ve gently nudged him out of the living room, where I have my desk and computer.  Now we’ll both have space to work and not be crowded together into one corner of the living room. 🙂

The house projects never seem to end!  It seems they have been going on all year, but I guess it’s to be expected after so many years of neglect.

Several weeks ago, I received my refurbished Canon Rebel back from Canon USA Inc. and I hadn’t had time to try it out.  I’ve needed to decide which camera to take to Iceland, my Canon or my trusty old Olympus.  Wednesday, I finally took the Canon out to Burnside Farms, where the sunflowers are now in bloom.  I didn’t take my Olympus, because I’ve already taken sunflower pictures with it in the past at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area: an afternoon with light-crazed sunflowers.  Below are all the pictures I took with the Canon.  I’d love to know your opinion.  It seems to me that the pictures are sharper than they were before, but too many of them were overexposed and I had to adjust them in post-processing.  Any hints from the photographers out there?  I’d love to hear advice.

Below this batch of Canon pictures are pictures taken with my iPhone 6s.  Which do you think are better?  I think I’ve pretty much decided to leave my Canon at home and take my much-used and dependable Olympus to Iceland.

sunflowers CANON
sunflowers CANON
sunflowers CANON
sunflowers CANON
sunflowers CANON
sunflowers CANON

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

Here are the photos taken with the iPhone.

Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)
Sunflowers at Burnside Farms (iPhone 6s)

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

It’s pretty sad when iPhone pictures are better than a camera for which I paid $400, as well as another $300 for a telephoto lens. 😦

Thanks so much for dropping by for cocktail hour.  It was sure great to see you all again.  I really haven’t had a very exciting or interesting month, but I hope to have more adventurous things to report when I return from Iceland.  I hope you’ll share what you’ve been up to.  I may not be able to answer you until after August 25.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!  I’m so ready for fall and cooler weather. 🙂

a drive through northern virginia to shepherdstown, west virginia

Saturday, November 14: This morning, Mike and I are driving through Loudoun County and the quaint Village of Waterford, Virginia and making our way to Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  It’s our anniversary weekend.  Legally, it’s our 27th, as we got married on November 13, 1988.  But Mike, who has a great sense of humor about the whole thing, says it’s really only 20 years as we have to account for our 7-year separation, initiated by me.

a stone house in Waterford, Virginia
a stone house in Loudoun County, Virginia

So, it’s been many years since we celebrated an anniversary.  Last year I was in China, although before I left for China, we decided to give it a go again.  We separated in 2007 and got back together in 2014.  I argue that Mike has been married 27 years because he’s always been there for me, while I, on the other hand have only been married 20 years, as I considered myself a free spirit during that time.  Truth be told, I think he enjoyed his time being a free spirit too, but that’s another story.

barn in Loudoun County
barn in Loudoun County

The separation really wasn’t about Mike at all, to be honest.  It’s one of those cliché things about me having a mid-life crisis, needing to find myself, blah blah blah.  Actually, as much pain as I caused to my family, I really needed that time to find my adventurous and independent self.  I regret any heartbreak I caused, but I can never regret finding the sense of wonder, adventure, independence and confidence that those seven years gave me.  It will be the subject of a book I hope to write one of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later.  I do have some stories to tell. 🙂

a horse comes to visit
a horse comes to visit

Anyway, thank goodness Mike is forgiving and that he has a sense of humor.  I doubt many men would forgive and move on as he has done.  I cherish him for that, and for being by my side even when I wasn’t by his.  Marriage is a strange thing all around, and people make of it what they will.  Everyone’s is different and no one can understand other people’s relationships, no matter how much they observe from the outside.  I try to never judge other people’s relationships, as they’re complicated and rich and often messy things. I know many people, even some of my “closest friends” do judge, but I’m not concerned with their judgments.  I’m beyond all that.

So, today, we are driving.  Mike had the idea to come to this corner where three states meet: Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.  I have been on many drives through Loudoun County and it’s a beautiful part of our state, with rolling farmland, horse farms, old barns, and small towns with general stores.

Mike and a horse friend
Mike and a horse friend

I love driving through horse country because I’ve always been a horse-lover, ever since I was a little girl. We stop at a horse farm along the road to take some pictures, and the horses, happy for some human company, come over for a friendly visit.  I think they’re hoping for food, but alas, we have none and the owners probably wouldn’t appreciate us feeding them anyway.

friendly horse in Loudoun County
friendly horse in Loudoun County
another horse comes to visit
another horse comes to visit

Looking away from the horse farm, you can see what most of the countryside looks like in the western part of northern Virginia.

Loudoun County farmland
Loudoun County farmland

Outside of the little town of Waterford, we see some cows in a pasture.  One of them is making his way through the creek.

cows outside of Waterford, Virginia
cows outside of Waterford, Virginia
Waterford, VA
Waterford, VA

In town, we see some log cabins and the Presbyterian Church.

Presbyterian Church in Waterford
Presbyterian Church in Waterford
Log cabin in Waterford, VA
Log cabin in Waterford, VA
another log cabin
another log cabin

Once we leave the town, we pass through more farmland, this time with some sheep and llamas.

farm on the water from Waterford to Shepherdstown, West Virginia
farm on the way from Waterford to Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Llamas and sheep
Llamas and sheep

After our leisurely drive, we arrive in Shepherdstown, where we first come upon Elmwood Cemetery.  On the plaque at the entrance to the cemetery, the history is told:  On Wednesday, September 17, 1862, twelve-year-old Mary Bedinger, asleep at her home Poplar Grove outside Shepherdstown, was awakened by the roar of canons.  Confederate and Union forces in position near Sharpsburg, Maryland, just across the Potomac River, were desperately trying to dislodge one another.  The bloodiest day in American history had begun.  Soon a seemingly endless stream of wounded men flowed into dozens of buildings in and around Shepherdstown that were pressed into service as hospitals.  Unfortunately, not all of the wounded men would survive.

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

The Southern Soldiers’ Memorial Association of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was organized in 1867 to acquire a burial site for Confederate soldiers who died during and after the battle.  In 1868, the association purchased a lot … adjacent to the Methodist Cemetery.  A total of 114 men, many unknown, are interred here from other initial burial sites.  The cemetery was dedicated on Confederate Memorial Day, June 5, 1869, and a monument to the dead was dedicated the next year.  The Confederate Soldiers regimental monument erected in 1935 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the State of West Virginia lists the names of 535 Jefferson County men who served in the Confederate army.  in addition to the men buried in the Confederate cemetery, about 125 Confederate veterans are buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

Mary Bedinger Mitchell wrote, about that bloodiest day in the Civil War, “On Thursday [September 18] … they continued to arrive until the town [Shepherdstown] was quite unable to hold any more disabled and suffering.  They filled every building  and overflowed into the country round, into farmhouses, corn cribs, and cabins. … There were six churches, and they were all full; the Odd Fellows’ Hall, the Freemasons’, the little Town Council room, the barn-like place known as the Drill Room, all the private houses after their capacity, the shops and empty buildings, the school-houses … and yet the cry was for more room.”

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

The history of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle in Antietam is all around us, and after we explore some of Shepherdstown, our plan is to explore some of Antietam.  Little do we know at this point that the battlefield is so huge it will take us hours and hours to explore just a portion of it.

Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery

We arrive in Shepherdstown too early for lunch, so we take a walk around the streets of the small town, ducking into spots that look inviting, like Four Seasons Books.

Four Seasons Books
Four Seasons Books

Here we chat with the bookseller about places to see in West Virginia, and she tells us to explore Babcock State Park and Beckley, West Virginia.  Those places are quite some distance from here, so we take note of her recommendations for another trip.

Inside Four Seasons Books
Inside Four Seasons Books

We walk up and down the charming streets.  It’s actually quite a cold and blustery day, but at least the sun is shining and skies are blue.

Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia
church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia

We stroll past The Press Room, one of Shepherdstown’s recommended eating establishments.  We don’t know at the time, but we will be eating here tonight for a special anniversary dinner. We’re actually going to be staying at a bed & breakfast in another town close by, Sharpsburg, Maryland, no more than 15 minutes by car, The Jacob Rohrbach Inn.

The Press Room
The Press Room
pajamas
pajamas
Mellow Moods Cafe and Juice Bar
Mellow Moods Cafe and Juice Bar
our town is so small that we can't afford a town drunk so we all take turns!
our town is so small that we can’t afford a town drunk so we all take turns!

I like how the Public Library sits in the median strip between two one-way streets.

Public Library
Public Library
Public LIbrary
Public Library

Shepherdstown is home to Shepherd University.  Shepherd State Teachers College was “established in 1872 as a branch of State normal school system. It was an outgrowth of the old Shepherd College.  This is the site of early settlement made by Thomas Shepherd who built a fort here during Indian days.”

Shepherd State Teachers College
Shepherd State Teachers College

We see an old bank that’s been converted into a Mexican restaurant, Mi Degollado Mexican Restaurant.  It turns out we end up eating lunch here on Sunday before we leave the area.

Mi Degollado Mexican Restaurant
Mi Degollado Mexican Restaurant

We discover small community gardens and some overgrown, derelict buildings.

a garden in town
a garden in town
overgrown
overgrown
overwhelming nature
overwhelming nature

After walking up and down the streets of Shepherdstown, it’s finally lunchtime and we head to the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery where we eat their special grilled cheese sandwiches and vegetable chipotle chili.

Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery
Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery

Then we drive to the Rumsey Monument, completed in 1915 and dedicated to inventor James Rumsey, born in 1743.  He built water mills and, later, “two of the earliest steamboats, designed the first true water turbine and envisioned the entire field of power hydraulics.  He was America’s first engineer,” according to The Rumseian Society, which was “founded in 1788 to develop Rumsey’s inventions.  It was disbanded at his death, but was recreated in 1903 to build the Rumsey Monument.”

The Rumsey Monument
The Rumsey Monument

Though the monument today is pretty scraggly and deserted, it does offer a nice view of the Potomac River and the railroad bridge.

The Potomac River
The Potomac River
railroad over the Potomac River
railroad over the Potomac River

After our brief visit to this little park, we head to Antietam National Battlefield, home to the bloodiest one day battle in American history.  On that fateful day of September 17, 1862, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat.

an afternoon at doukénie winery

Saturday, May 24:  This afternoon is gorgeous, so we drive out west into the country to taste some wines at Doukénie Winery, a family operation in Virginia’s Wine Country in Loudoun County.  The Bazaco family traces their success back to a 14 year-old Greek girl who in 1919 boarded a boat for the journey to America.

Welcome to Doukénie Winery
Welcome to Doukénie Winery
Silo at Doukénie Winery
Silo at Doukénie Winery

In 1981, the land at the foot of Short Hill Mountains was being farmed for corn, hay and cattle. The mid-eighties were an exciting time in the viticulture business in Virginia and the Bazacos decided to plant their first vineyard in 1986. The winemaking business came later as the winery itself was constructed in 1995. In many ways, this activity takes the family full circle as the young Greek girl who was boarding the boat was leaving her farm where her father, a local sheriff, also was a winemaker.

Me at Doukénie Winery
Me at Doukénie Winery

We taste the wines and then buy a bottle, which we share out on the patio under an umbrella, accompanied by cheese and crackers.  We have a lovely view of a small pond, some farmland and cows.  After having our wine we wander along a path beside the pond.  A relaxing afternoon all around.

Mike, Adam and Alex
Mike, Adam and Alex
the vineyards
the vineyards
vineyards and pretty clouds
vineyards and pretty clouds
Silo and picnic tables at Doukénie Winery
Silo and picnic tables at Doukénie Winery
the pond
the pond
the view over the pond
the view over the pond
a lone cow
a lone cow
Doukénie Winery
Doukénie Winery
Silo & pond at Doukénie Winery
Silo & pond at Doukénie Winery
farmland at Doukénie Winery
farmland at Doukénie Winery
fence to infinity
fence to infinity
pond and pretty clouds at Doukénie Winery
pond and pretty clouds at Doukénie Winery
fence
fence
fence on the grounds of Doukénie Winery
fence on the grounds of Doukénie Winery
a lone cow on the farm
a lone cow on the farm
ducks on the pond
ducks on the pond

on a whim: tickled pink by antiques in lucketts

Saturday, September 21:  On this rainy Saturday, I am driving through Lucketts, Virginia on my way back from a road trip through Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, when I am surprised to see a pink silo with black polka dots.  I immediately think of Marianne’s CBBH Photo Challenge: Pink.  Lucketts is home to a number of antiques stores, one of which I featured in my post: the old lucketts store near leesburg.  I decide to pop in to this one, On A Whim, to check it out.  I find so much cuteness here, I’m tickled pink!

On A Whim, with its pink and black polka-dotted silo
On A Whim, with its pink and black polka-dotted silo
a metal bed pretty (& rusty) in pink
a metal bed pretty (& rusty) in pink
near the road at On A Whim
near the road at On A Whim
the entrance to On A Whim
the entrance to On A Whim
pink bicycle
pink bicycle
another pink bicycle flanking the entrance
another pink bicycle flanking the entrance
pink formalwear
pink formal wear
mannequin in pink
mannequin in pink
pink flowers
pink hats and flowers
another mannequin in pink
another mannequin in pink
pinkish gloves
pinkish gloves

Now everything in this store isn’t pink, and there are quite a few other cute displays, which you can see by clicking on any of the pictures in the gallery below.

Right before I leave here, I come across a globe.  I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’d like to go for a holiday next year, or where I’d go if I were to teach abroad again.  I decide to spin the globe and see where my finger lands.  It lands in China.  It’s funny because I’ve often thought that if I were to teach abroad again, I’d go to China.  But I don’t really want to go there for a holiday next summer as it’s too far away.  I’d rather stay close to the Americas.  I spin the globe again.  Again, my finger lands in China.  Hmmm.  Is this a sign of things to come?

My finger lands on China two times in a row.  What does this mean?
My finger lands on China two times in a row. What does this mean?

As part of Marianne’s CBBH photo challenge, I’m supposed to add links to two blogs I’ve visited and commented on in the last month.  So here we go, sharing the “blog love.”

I first have to introduce being mrscarmichael: I love her way with words and her quick wit.  She has described herself as “just another mannequin,” and seeing these mannequins makes me think of her immediately.  She describes herself on her blog:  Mrs Carmichael is opinionated, quick to judge and occasionally impatient. She also changes her mind. … Her dislikes include math, weakness, a tardy nature and chardonnay.  Mrs Carmichael has a number of very good friends and a few people who don’t like her as much as they should. On balance she quite likes herself, enjoys her own company and sometimes makes herself laugh.  She makes me laugh too!

I’d also like to introduce Jude of Postcards from around the world… and Travel Words, who describes herself as a person filled with wanderlust.  She posts her travel diaries and photos, which are wonderful indeed.  We share a love of Portugal, and have visited many of the same places I visited this summer.

weekly photo challenge: one shot, two ways

Sunday, August 11: The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is One Shot, Two Ways.

Cheri Lucas of WordPress writes: This week, photographer Jeff Sinon talked about his process of finding the best shot. Before taking a picture, he studies his scene — looking at a shot horizontally (as a landscape) and vertically (as a portrait). With this honed, critical eye, he decides what orientation works best for his photograph.

For this challenge, capture two images — a horizontal and a vertical version — of the same scene or subject. There are no concrete “rules” here, but a) it should be evident that both shots are of the same place/location or person/thing, and b) your photographs should ideally have been taken during the same shoot.

Here are several attempts at one shot, two ways.  These pictures were taken yesterday at The Old Luckett’s Store near Leesburg, Virginia.  The Old Luckett’s store has its own blog: The Old Luckett’s Store.  The store has been around for 17 years this August.

This is a hallway full of vintage windows.  Click on any of the images to get a full-sized mini-slideshow.

Here’s another set.  This room features old stained glass or beveled glass windows.

This set was taken in one of the many rooms in Old Luckett’s Store.  I like the slanted ceiling in this room.

The last time I visited this store, probably 7-8 years ago, it had a bit of charm, but most of its merchandise was simply junk.  Now the owners have elevated the store to a new level, what they call “vintage hip,” or what I’ve heard others call “shabby chic.”  I love how there’s a Buddha in the midst of American kitsch.

leesburg: a farm market, fabbioli cellars and temple hall farm park

Saturday, August 10:  When I leave Old Luckett’s Store, I head down the road and make a stop at Heider’s Country Store & Farm Market, where I buy some nice plump peaches, some fat juicy tomatoes, some fresh bi-color corn on the cob, and, since those apple pies look so good, I buy one of those too.

Heider's Country Store & Farm Market
Heider’s Country Store & Farm Market
peaches
peaches
baskets of peaches
baskets of peaches
red tomatoes
red tomatoes
yellow tomatoes
yellow tomatoes
corn
corn
plants
plants

I love the way the sky looks today.

at Heider's Country Store & Farm Market
at Heider’s Country Store & Farm Market

I decide to make a stop at one of the wineries along the way, so I drive down Limestone School Road to Fabbioli Cellars.  People are sitting outside at tables drinking wine in happy camaraderie.  I wander into the building and a lady, picture blonde California chic, accosts me and in a fake-friendly manner asks if she can help me.  I say, no thanks, I just came in to check out the winery.  She says, “Well, we have a tasting of 6 wines and 6 bites for $15.  Miss so-and-so here can help you when you’re ready.”

I’m thinking that I just ate that sautéed kale sandwich at Luckett’s and I’m not really hungry so I don’t think I want to pay $15 since it includes 6 bites.  I don’t want any bites, I just want a few sips of wine.  So I say, I think I’ll just wander around and look at what you’ve got.

As I’m looking at the wine bottles, the cheapest of which is a raspberry Merlot for $22, a little steep for my wallet, the Cali-chic lady comes over to me and in an overenthusiastic voice says, “I just LOVE solitary travelers!”

Traveler?  Am I a traveler?  After all, I’ve probably been a Virginian longer than she’s been alive and I don’t think you’d call me, on this little day outing, a “traveler.”  And anyway, why should she point out so loudly and obnoxiously that I’m solitary?  Why single me out as someone who’s alone?  I don’t get it.  I’m immediately taken aback and say, “I travel alone a lot.  I just spent a month in Spain and Portugal traveling by myself.”  Now that’s “traveling,” not this little day outing to Leesburg, Virginia, only about 40 miles from my house.

Now I’m quite proud of myself that I’m able to travel alone, and I don’t find it weird at all because I’ve done it so much.  Actually, I often prefer traveling alone. But so many people in the world feel sorry for a person traveling alone. They assume a solitary traveler has no friends or family or anyone at all in their lives.  Or maybe they know there is no way they themselves could ever travel alone and maybe they’re just a little threatened by someone who’s independent enough to do it.  Who knows what it is, but believe me, I get plenty of weird reactions when I’m in my “solitary traveling” mode.

A bit of reverse culture shock?

With that, I decide I’ve had enough of this place.  I head outside, where I’d rather be anyway, and take some pictures of the sky and the wispy clouds and the fields of grapevines.

fields of grapevines at Fabbioli Cellars
fields of grapevines at Fabbioli Cellars
fields outside Fabbioli Cellars
fields outside Fabbioli Cellars
at Fabbioli Cellars
at Fabbioli Cellars

I drive back down Limestone School Road and pull off at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park, where I take some pictures of the sky again with the cornfields in the foreground, because I don’t want to miss the 4:50 showing of The Way Way Back at Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax.

Cornfields at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park
Cornfields at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park
Cornfields at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park
Cornfields at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park

So I head back down Limestone School Road and back down Route 15 and the Dulles Greenway and then all the way to Fairfax just in time for the quirky independent movie from the same studio who made Little Miss Sunshine and Juno.  Oh it’s so nice to be back in the U.S. where I can see good movies again. 🙂

Limestone School Road, from whence I came
Limestone School Road, whence I came
Limestone School Road, going forward to Fairfax
Limestone School Road, going forward to Fairfax