Friday, May 18, 2012

Out for a Ride: Monacan Park, Woodruff’s Café & Pie Shop, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Shenandoah National Park

Sometimes you just have to get out of the house.  That’s what I did with my family last Saturday.  It was a gorgeous day so we grabbed our cameras and went for a ride.  We aimed at heading to Shenandoah National Park but weren’t tied to any particular schedule since it was 3 pm by the time we got going.  Here’s what we did and saw along the way. 



We headed north out of Lynchburg, VA on Route 29, drove through Madison Heights, and turned left on 130.  Along 130 in Elon you will find signs pointing you left toward Monacan Park.  The park, located in Amherst County, is named after the Indian tribe that once roamed the area.  It is set along the banks of the James River in a beautiful and peaceful setting.  There is a boat ramp, picnic pavilion, play area for kids, restrooms, and plenty of places to park a chair by the river and do some fishing.  We saw lots of fish activity on the surface of the water and heard a splash from a particularly large one.  Sadly the people I spoke with said nothing was biting that day. 

 
After leaving Monacan Park, we headed West on 130 and made a quick stop at Woodruff’s Café and Pie Shop (3297 Elon Rd., Monroe, VA).  The shop is located in a store from days gone by and is run by Angela Scott who offers a lunch menu of sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, and devilled eggs.  The real draws though are her delicious pies and turnovers.  Particular favorites for our family are the sweet potato turnovers, the coconut cream pie, and the buttermilk pie!





Pie in hand we continued West on 130 and took a right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The parkway is 469 miles of roadway connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  There are plenty of scenic overlooks, places to picnic or camp,  hiking trails, and more.  Along the way, we made many stops for photo ops, the restroom, and to eat our pie.







(Okay, I admit I was a little too fascinated with the patterns and texture made by the growth on these trees!)












After many stops, we finally reached the entrance to Shenandoah National Park at Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro a little after 7 pm.  We drove into the park a ways and took just a few pictures before we realized it was getting late and we were all hungry.  So after a quick meal in Waynesboro, we headed home, tired, but pleased with the day! 




Saturday, May 12, 2012

Seaman's Orchard: Strawberry Fields Forever

Spring is here and it’s time to pick strawberries.  But where are you going to go in Central Virginia to do that?  There are numerous places but I’ve found one that I really like in Nelson County, Virginia.  It is Seaman’s Orchard. 

Seaman’s Orchard has been family run for over 73 years.  In addition to strawberries, they also grow pumpkins, apples, cherries, and next year will also have blueberries.  You can pick your own strawberries or call ahead and they will have some picked for you.  The farm is located between Amherst and Lovingston and the drive there is lovely. 

View on the way to the orchard!
You can check out their website at www.seamansorchard.com for more information on what is in and when.  Next month, it should be cherries!  So, take a trip over to the orchard and tell them Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com sent you!

P.S. Check out my post ("Strawberry Dreams for the Budget Conscious") on my other blog at www.southernfriedandtiedup.blogspot.com for ideas on what to do with all of those beautiful strawberries!


Friday, May 11, 2012

What, no posts?

Hello, friends!  I know it’s been a while.  No, I didn’t fall off the proverbial map but maybe, the proverbial horse.  You see, I just experienced what we all experience every now and then…a too busy life with too many things to juggle.  For more on this, please check out my blog at www.southernfriedandtiedup.blogspot.com .  However, please know that this blog (www.explorevirginia.blogspot.com) is back open for business and a post regarding a great new fried chicken joint will follow soon!! -- Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chincoteague & Assateague: Where the Ponies Run Free

It’s mid-January and we’re all getting a little tired of contending with cold, blustery weather.  Dreams of summer vacation dance in our heads and we all wonder, where will I go this year?  Well, look no further than Chincoteague and Assateague! 

Chincoteague and Assateague are islands off the coast of Virginia, or more specifically, the Eastern Shore.  The Eastern Shore is a peninsula that dips down from Maryland and is part of the state of Virginia.  Along the upper eastern side of the peninsula, you will find Chincoteague and the beginnings of Assateague.  I say the beginnings because Assateague actually extends into Maryland and covers 48,000 acres with 37 miles of pristine beach.  On the Virginia side of Assateague you will find the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. 

Some of you may be thinking, wasn’t there a book called Misty of Chincoteague?  And you would be correct.  The book, written by Marguerite Henry, was set on the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague and tells the story of the Beebe family and their efforts to raise a filly born to a wild horse.  And that is what people come for--to see the wild ponies!

Wild ponies have roamed freely on the beaches and in the pine forests and salt marshes of Assateague since the 1600’s and are a major draw to the area even today.  But they are not the only draw as Assateague is also home to Sika Deer, Red Fox, Delmarva Fox Squirrel, Atlantic Bottle Nose Dolphin, Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, and a number of other birds.  It is also a migratory path for some 300 species of birds throughout the year which makes it a hot spot for bird watchers. 

There are beaches to visit during the day along with walking and biking paths around the island and the lighthouse but since Assateague is a part of a national refuge, you cannot stay overnight on the island.  You’ll be able to find accommodations on Chincoteague in the form of motels, bed and breakfasts, and houses for rent.  There are no high rises though as the island has an ordinance limiting the height of buildings.  The town is quaint with lots of restaurants, gift shops and artists galleries.  If you’re interested in being active, you can rent mopeds, bicycles, and even go kayaking on the ocean or bay sides of the island. 

Hopefully the pictures I’ve included from the couple of visits I’ve made to Chincoteague and Assateague will convince you that it is definitely worth the trip!  And don’t forget to tell them Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com sent you!