Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Camping at New River Trail State Park

A portion of our most recent vacation was spent camping in and biking around New River Trail State Park. The trail, in Southwestern Virginia, is 57 miles worth or old railroad trails converted into hiking/biking/horse back riding trails.  39 miles worth of it parallel the New River.  Going through four counties, two train tunnels, over three major bridges, a multitude of smaller tresses and along the river itself you are never short of exciting things to witness.

The park itself has 4 campgrounds.  One in Galax, two in Foster Falls and one closer to the town of Fries.  There are no cabins in this park and no RV sites.  They are ALL primitive.  That means NO SHOWERS...make sure you understand that.  Two of have drinking water but NO

We camped in the Millrace Campground which was one of the campgrounds in Forster Falls.

The town of Foster Falls was established around the iron industry, more specifically, Foster Falls Mining Company.  Their operation, which started in the late 1800s, created pig iron that was shipped North on the rail road that is now the feature of the New River Trail State Park.  A passenger depot and hotel were later added.  Today the old furnace, train depot and hotel still remain.  The hotel has gone through various owners and has been used as a school and children's home.  Today it is owned by the State Park and efforts are being made to restore the Inn.     

What remains of the manufacturing furnace

The train depot

The Hotel

The campground is a very quick walk from the Depot, which is now a visitor center and gift shop.  We arrived late but found our camping information, along with parking passes and maps, in the mailbox at the contact station.  This particular park was unique from the other State Parks we have stayed at in a couple ways.  1.  You park in a parking lot near camp and carry in your equipment.  Wagons were supplied to assist in this and the walk from the parking lot to our site was about 2/10 of a mile.  Some are further and some closer...The park website is spot on with the layout of the campground.  2.  Being primitive you do NOT have showers or sinks to wash your hands.  I read that the sites were primitive but in my head it just meant you don't have electricity or water.  I assumed like other Va State Parks there was a bathhouse.  But there is not.  There is a two room building (men/women) with toilets that empty into large basically a glorified outhouse.  And really that is ok...heat some water (there is a pump for drinking water) and wash off or jump in the river.  But keep in mind if you are a "need a shower" kind of person or if you need a sink to wash your hands that there are NONE.  I would take a solar shower next time. 

There is a camp store very close to the camp so you can get ice, wood, essentials during operating hours.     

Contact station


Wagons for use by campers

The view of the river from site #10

The view from site #6

Site #6

More of the river right next to our camp

I could have sat here all day and enjoyed this view

The park has a horse livery, historical buildings, a nature center, amphitheater, bike/canoe/tube rentals.  Along with the trail itself and the river you have plenty of things to keep you busy.  And if that isn't enough there is a winery 2 miles away.  I will post more about the actual trail in a separate post...too much for one.  But hit me up if you have questions about camping here.  I'll do my best to answer what I can.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back from Vacation

Why is it so hard, after just one week of vacation, to get back into the swing of things?  I can't figure it out either.  It was a glorious week of camping, biking, exploring and relaxing.  I suppose asking for that to go on for eternity is too much to ask?  Humph. 

This week is going to be filled with crock pot meals, laundry and caffinee.  I'm working on putting together the posts telling you all about our vacation....just after this next coffee :-)  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pinterest Inspired

I was perusing around Pinterest a few weeks back, looking at food ideas, when I came across a list of 21 Modern Mysteries You Won't Be Able To Put Down.  The list caught my eye only because a few books I've already read are on the list.  And the list was indeed right.  I couldn't put down those few that I had read.  I figured maybe I should give the other books a try.  My only problem lately is that I struggle with the hard copy versus the digital copy lately.  Weird right?  Don't judge.  Anyway..........I like the hard copy so much better (no recharging and no battery dying right in the middle of an exciting chapter) BUT the digital means that when I'm done with the book I don't have another book sitting around collecting dust (I don't re-read books....EVER).  So what am I supposed to do?!?!?!  And then it hit me....Public library! I have no clue why I hadn't thought about it sooner.  One Monday afternoon I walked in to my local branch, got myself a library card and hello new book that I can return when I'm done....and it's FREE!!!!!  No issues with a battery, no issues with too many books sitting around and no issue spending a dime on a book every couple weeks.  Win-Win.  So far I've read three books now and on number four...Emma even got in on the action with a couple books too :-) 


I think I'm pretty lucky that my local branch is pretty awesome....I mean there is a ship inside it!  This last week I spied some books on Virginia travel.  I have a feeling I better leave those things alone...the wheels on the car may never stop if I find more places to explore. 

Right now I'm reading The Expats by Chris far so good. 

Next week we are on vacation.  I have a book already checked out to take with me.  Finally....something off Pinterest I DID...ha!  What is everyone else reading this summer?  Anything I HAVE to try? 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lynchburg Virginia

Back in January our little family visited Lynchburg Virginia for a weekend.  We were there to watch Tommy run at Liberty University.  While there Mark and I took advantage of a few free hours and hiked around on the city's James River Heritage Trails.  This was one trip I actually took my camera and shot pictures with it instead of with just my phone camera...and wouldn't you know the memory card went all wonky on me and none of the pictures were saved.  We had a great weekend but I had only a few photos from the trip that I didn't feel were "blog worthy".  Now fast forward to July 2014 and Tommy visiting the city again as a student at Lynchburg College.  He had been there for a special program for a month and we were in town to pick him up.  We were all excited to see him again and to get a chance to revisit the city again.  They have miles and miles worth of trails so we went off in a new direction this time...and this time I made sure the pictures were good and SAVED! 

We parked between the James River and Amazement Square.  This visit we hike the Riverwalk Trail, a portion of the Blackwater Creek Bikeway and Point of Honor Trail. 

Amazement Square

Along Blackwater Creek Bikeway

Hollins Tunnel

What the....???


At Hollins Mill Crossing

On our last visit we hiked the Percival's Island trail which took us over the James River.  I enjoyed that hike but because it was January we froze our butts off.    We also visited Old City Cemetery in January...great spot if you are into old cemeteries...and we are.  And if you want a great place to stay near the riverfront try The Craddock Terry.  It was phenomenal!  

This week we are gearing up for a camping trip and for a bike event that is coming soon.  Summer is speeding by.  <sigh>      


Friday, August 1, 2014

Richmond's New Pump House

In the mood to visit a Richmond historal building that is over 150 years old???  If so there are dozens of places like that around Richmond and on Monday I had my heart set on visiting one.  The New Pump House or Byrd Park Pump House is located at the Southern portion of Byrd Park on the James River and Kanawha Canal.  The Pump House spent several years providing the city with water as well as a place for concerts and parties.  I had read a few articles and seen a few photos so I've had it in the back of my mind to visit. 

I can imagine that area lit up with candle light for an evening concert

From what I've read in articles Richmonders would board flat bottom boats up stream and travel by way of the canal to the Pump House.  Once here they would celebrate in the pavilion area until time to return home.  Now the windows are boarded up and the building is in various levels of disrepair...but you can still see the charm and attraction of the once great pump house.  There are a few trails right around the building that seem to only lead to the nearby rail road and to a portion of the canal. There has been work on the building in order to restore and preserve it.  I for one would love to attend a concert or ball here one hot summer night :-)