Tag Archives: touring

Hiking the Chessie Trail


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Another hike with Chesterfield County! This time we drove a couple of hours to Buena Vista, Virginia to hike on the Chessie Trail. This is a seven-mile, year-round public access walking trail between Lexington and Buena Vista, located along the former Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad right of way. It was developed and is maintained by Virginia Military Institute, better known around here as VMI. Typically we’re on state park or refuge area property, so this was a little different. More specifically, part of the trail was thru a privately owned cow pasture, with the cautions that apply to that terrain!

It was a lovely day and wildflowers were blooming in profusion. We parked a ways from the actual trailhead and followed a connecting path along the Maury River to the opening gate, lined all the way with abundantly flowering dame rocket, scatterings of flea bane, and bright orange poppies. Once on the trail, the Maury on our right and sheer rock towering on our left, we hadn’t gone very far when we reached the pasture. It was full of buttercups with lovely views across the field and river, where geese were bathing with their goslings.

As we approached the next gate into woodland, we finally saw the herd under the trees cooling in the water! The trail became a fire road with butterflies flitting thru the trees and more wild flowers in the under story. We hiked about two miles then returned along the same paths. We were blessed with beautiful fluffy clouds and pleasant temperatures, with cooling breezes from time to time off the river.  It was a grand day, with a perfect ending – rolled ice cream!

Scent of wild roses
Wafts over the Chessie trail
On cool Maury breeze.

Yellow swallowtails
Flitting around buttercups –
Chessie trail springtime.

Renwick: No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man

I enjoyed a bus trip yesterday to the National Gallery in Washington D.C., with a couple of side trips. My favorite was to the Renwick Gallery, near the White House, which has up an exhibit of sculptures from the Burning Man festival held each August in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Absolutely phenomenal. It will be up until January 2019. Put it on your schedule!!

Batteau Festival Arrives in Scottsville

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In 1985 while I was working downtown and construction crews were digging the foundation for the James Center, a batteau from the 1800s was uncovered in what had once been the turning basin, way below the current ground level of Richmond! It was a sensation – daily at lunchtime everyone went down to check progress of the excavation. From that discovery grew the Batteau Festival, held now for 31 years! Homemade 50′ or so batteau constructed by enthusicastic crews are poled for 5 days from Lynchburg to just above Richmond. The first couple of years it was billed as a ‘race’, but the James River can be harsh at the best of times. After multiple damages to boats and humans, it evolved to a ‘festival’, a week-long fun float with some hard work thrown in! Injury still happens, but there’s less stress.

I discovered this spring that my cousin Tad, a master carpenter, led construction last year of the Seven Islands, one of the more recent entries in the batteau fleet. They were just getting ready to raise it from the bottom of a pond where it had been since last year’s festival in preparation for the 2016 event. They sink it to preserve the wood and keep it swollen tight. Tad would be one of the crew! So yesterday four of my cousins and me met in Scottsville to welcome the boats to their fifth night berthing! Another of our cousins who lives just a ways downriver from town joined his buddies with their kayaks to escort the batteaus in.

Tad said 22 batteau left out of Lynchburg on Saturday accompanied by so many canoes and kayaks that navigation was a challenge! We saw a few c&k’s coming into Scottsville, but mostly the batteaus, with crews of anywhere from 4 to 14 folks! Some were in period attire, several included canine assistants. A few crews set off on board cannons as they passed under the Scottsville bridge! This was the middle of the week long festival. They’ll take out the long boats at Maidens Landing near Gouchland Courthouse on Saturday, onto trailers made from the chassis’ of motor homes.

Tad’s boat was the last one in – 3 1/2 tons of white oak construction with popular wood planking, poles, and decking. He said they started out with six 14′ poles, using 4 at a time, along with the long oars at bow and stern for steering. They broke three poles yesterday! So they were picking up more yesterday evening. Most of the river was between 3 and 4 feet deep, but he said they passed thru a couple pools where the poles wouldn’t reach the river bed!

We took a picnic with us, but there were food vendors and the barbecue smelled delicious! We were between the railroad track and the river about even with the Scottsville Museum and Canal Park. Maybe a couple hundred people – not crowded, very laid back. Everyone greeted the boats as they came in and once they’d all arrived folks began trickling away.

We plan to go again next year! Pencil it in on your calendars!

South to Spring – A Travel Journal

Early in April I traveled with some of my fellow retirees to Savannah, Beaufort, and Charleston for an early taste of Spring!  Trees were leafing out, azaleas were blooming and the marshes and Spanish moss added nostalgic atmosphere!

How to save the memories?  In anticipation of the trip, I put together a journal with maps and various papers – graph paper for notes, water color paper, drawing paper, plus a pocket in the back.  It worked very well for notes during the trip.  Once I got home I added photos, some water color sketches from my photographs, and tipped in more maps and brochures. I’m pleased with how it came out.  It’s been a handy tool for remembering all that we did, and for sharing the details with friends and family.

Beautiful Turned Wood Vase

Last week I visited with my Aunt Ann and Uncle Walter in their new home in Hiawassee, Georgia.  They’re nicely settled in, and Walter has his workshop in full swing!  I watched as he put the finishing touches on his most recent creation. The news article tells of a program he gave to the local garden club.  He’s been making and selling his beautiful wood bowls and vases for quite awhile now – for more info see his website.

Muchies Mill Follow-up

In my April 23, 2012 post I shared with you my excitement at discovering Murchies Mill, a home  that was up for sale in the south of Richmond, that was originally a gunpowder mill.  I’ve had many interesting comments with additional history on the site, and this week I heard from Judy Tunnell who sent me these photographs from her mother’s (Ethel May Pease Jones) album.  Ethel May is now 98  and lived at Murchies Mill from the time she was about 5 or 6 until about 12 or 13.

Judy says, “You will see the swimming area, the bath house and dance area, the dinning area above the Mill and the swinging bridge that led from the hotel area to the Mill.  My grandparents, Leland Charles Pease and Ida Estelle Woodcock Pease, built and owned the recreational park along with Bernard and Samora (sp?)  Woodcock (a distant relative) between about 1920 and 1927.  From what I understand, it was then sold to a Mr. Biggs (owned a furniture store) who turned it into a private club.”

Carefree summertime! A big thank you to Judy and Ethel May!

Recent Ramblings

What fun days! Friday morning I went strawberry picking with daughter number two and kids – in Pungo, Virginia. I’ve heard for years about the good pickin’s down that way, but this was my first outing in the area. Brookland Farm delivered as promised!  The strawberries were in raised rows and rested cleanly on black plastic.  Clean, juicy and sweet berries!  We quickly picked two buckets, and munched on them the rest of the day.  We enjoyed the lovely rural drive, with added bonus of a  dinosaur-lined walk in front of the nearby Virginia Beach Airport.

On Saturday, after a very damp morning at the South of the James Market, I drove to Scottsville to donate my father’s uniforms to the Scottsville Museum.  If you haven’t visited this historical gem, put it on your list.  The current exhibit is Where the River Bends, Scottsville and the James.  Right across the street is Canal Park with reconstuctions of the batteaus (and clean bathrooms).

While you’re in town, you may want to drive out to the shopping center (route 6 thru town, then bear left to continue on route 6 to the top of the hill), where I discovered a charming antique mall, River Town Antiques, which has been open for four years.  Selection was extensive and prices were reasonable.  I happened to be here on Customer Appreciation Day, and the hot dog and angel food/pineapple cake were delicious!

Early Spring at Maymont

Weather is finally starting to warm up!  Hubster and I enjoy early spring at Maymont last Thursday – lots of animals around and daffodils in bloom.  We came in from the side of the Dooley mansion, thinking it wouldn’t be as much of a walk.  Obviously I haven’t been in awhile – no matter where you enter, you’re guaranteed several miles of wandering about!

Streets of New York

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Watching the Times Square count down last night I was amazed anew at the number of people in New York City.  During my visit in mid-December, mid-week, I was fascinated by the flocks of folks on the sidewalks and fearlessly navigating cab traffic on foot.  I may have mentioned that we were in a motor coach – I’m not sure how that’s different from a bus, but our ‘operator’ assured us it is so, which is why he’s not a ‘bus driver’.  Distinction aside, we had a great view and I took rather more photos that I really needed to. Perhaps you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Circle Line Cruise- NYC

One of the highlights of our NY Trip was a harbour cruise on Circle Line. We were originally scheduled for a lunch cruise, but Hurricane Sandy took out the pier for that boat, and repairs weren’t complete. So we circled around the Statue of Liberty and came back. We did benefit from Sandy – the storm blew off the tent that was sheltering the Space Shuttle, so we had a clear view of it on the USS Intrepid, parked just down from where our tour started!

I’ve been on a similar tour before, and was very dissatisfied with the views I had of the Statue of Liberty from the upper deck.  So this trip I went out on the bow, and enjoyed the company of high school classes from London and Florida as we all took in the sights.

As we headed back to our berth, we passed the newest addition to the NY Fire Department’s fleet – shiny red fireboat 343, the number of firemen lost during 9/11. Metal recovered from the fall of the twin towers was used in it’s construction.