Saturday, 26 November 2016

Natural and Man-Made Wonders


On our way from Roanoke today we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  High above the surrounding countryside at almost 4,000 feet at its highest point, the air was clear and the views very far reaching.


The view over the Great Valley which runs from New York to Alabama alongside the Appalachian Mountains was very impressive.


Leaving the Parkway we drove to Natural Bridge - a small town, hotel and state park which is built around a most extraordinary feature carved out of the rock by the river which has been a tourist destination since the time of Thomas Jefferson in the late 18th century.



The US11 road runs over the top of the arch and so it is obviously considered to be solid!


We followed a riverside path under the bridge and visited a reconstruction of a Native American village from 1699..


This remarkable house was surprisingly cosy inside on a cold morning although rather smoky..


It was about 20 feet across and would have been home to a family of 6-8 people, the village consisting of 10-15 such houses plus long houses for meetings and working areas.


The next stage of our drive into the Allegheny Mountains took us on a small, windy and hair-raising road through some  steep woodlands..


Finally our destination was ahead.  The Homestead Resort in  Hot Sorings, Bath County, Virginia, is built around natural hot springs...


It is quite a substantial place and so we spent several hours finding our way around and exploring, as it was getting dark.


The entrance hall is quite large and some of the many formal rooms very colourfully decorated..


As night fell the hotel and grounds were illuminated..



We will explore fully tomorrow..

Friday, 25 November 2016

Bedford and Roanoke


At Peaks of Otter we went for a final walk around the lake before breakfast and visited this little wooden building.  It is known as Polly Wood's Ordinary - an ordinary being a simple Inn for travelers.  This one was built around 1800 and was moved in 1964 when the Peaks of Otter Lodge was established.


The stream below the lake looked very  pretty, although rather winters.


The lake itself reflected the clouds above.


We left the Peaks of Otter and called in to the small town of Bedford, county town of Bedford County.  With just 6,000 inhabitants it is a very small place but it boasted some impressive buildings, including this court house.


And a nineteenth century meeting house.


We arrived in Roanoke at lunchtime and headed for the Market Square area..



We had lunch at Ernie's - a well established local cafe -before visiting the Virginia Museum of Transport, where there was lots to see including these fantastic steam locomotives..




This evening we went up onto Mill Mountain above the town to see the extraordinary Roanoke Star - an 88ft illuminated monument which has glowed on the hill since the 1940's..



A kind fellow visitor took our photo.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Thanksgiving Day

We started our day walking around the lake at Peaks of Otter, enjoying the views of the mountains in the early morning light. Sharp Top mountain was originally thought to be the tallest mountain in Virginia at 3900' but later it was discovered that Mount Rogers was higher at close to 5000'.

After breakfast we set off to climb Sharp Top. Several hours of strenuous walking later, including scrambling over a few fallen trees we reached the top. The views were stunning, especially the one looking down on the lodge.

Returning we retired to the on site cafe for hot chocolate and tea, before enjoying the sun setting over the lake.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Peaks of Otter

Peaks of Otter Lodge, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sunset view from our room this evening (too little wifi to post properly)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Holiday Shop


Today was the opening of the Bargain Loft 'Holiday Shop' and this photo shows the calm before the storm!


Since the sale ended and the shop closed on Saturday night an army of volunteers worked for two days to clear the shop and bring in all the Holiday items which had been saved and stored through the year.


Once everything was unpacked, a second army of volunteers moved through the store, ensuring that everything was priced.


As always there is a wide selection of ornaments, including many vintage glass baubles..



The jewelery cabinet was emptied and refilled with sparkling rhinestone items..


An array of Christmas trees were on sale..


And a few Nutcracker figures..


A rather unexpected couple of buildings in the 'holiday village' collection..



Today was very busy and hopefully it will remain that way until all the Christmas items have found new homes.


Monday, 21 November 2016

Signs of Winter


With Thanksgiving now only two days away, the shops are full of turkey related items, especially cakes..


Other special items are in the shops in celebration of winter or the coming Holiday season..



Meanwhile in the house,  now that the weather has turned cold, David has lit his first fire of the season..


The new fire basket seems to be working well!