Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like.....Thanksgiving!

I hear a lot of people complain that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all rolled into one big holiday. retail it certainly seems true.  A local radio station used to play Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving, but this year you can already hear it being played!  I personally can't start NOW with Christmas.  I need to savor each holiday as it comes and enjoy each for what it is.  So as for me and MY house...we are enjoying Thanksgiving now and saving Christmas for later! 

The Seasonal Tree
I even managed a craft night with my sister to work on a craft specific to Thanksgiving! 
Pinterest is amazing!  You can make your own Thom the Turkey...instructions here. 
Along with the Thanksgiving decorations I have also been checking off things from our Fall 2014 list...things like visit Carter Mountain and try a new winery.
Carter Mountain Orchard
The Blueridge Mountains of Virginia off in a distance

The vineyards of Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain Orchard, in Charlottesville, is a favorite for families during autumn months.  We visited last year and wanted to revisit but I knew better than to try going before Halloween.  It's just too packed with people to enjoy it.  We visited the third weekend in November and it was perfect.  No big crowds, no long lines, no Tonya screaming for people to MOVE!   Ha ha!  We scarfed down a dozen apple cider donuts and hot apple cider before going.  I also bought some fresh apples to take home for a couple recipes I want to try. 
After our quick visit at Carter Mountain we visited a couple local wineries, Blenheim and First Colony.  Trump Winery is also close but it was so busy that parking was hard to we skipped that one and figured we could visit there on a later day. 
Blenheim Winery-owned by Dave Matthews

Visitors willing to brave the chilly temps

The view from the deck at Blenheim

First Colony Winery

Our baby girl making friends with the winery cat

At Blenheim we bought a bottle of the Painted White.  At First Colony we bought a couple bottles of their 2013 Rose and a bottle of  2013 Zephyr. 
Both had ideal spots for picnicking and relaxing.  But if you are looking for a place with a view I would suggest Blenheim. 
I still have a few "Autumn" things to check off our list...I mean it's not fall unless you can say you hiked in the woods with all the fallen leaves...right?  This weekend we will celebrate Thanksgiving with a dinner at Mark's grandmothers.  Then next week we will celebrate again with dinner at my sister's.  I look forward to the time with our family and to time giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shot Tower State Park

Way back in August after biking along the trails of the New River State Park, our bunch, made a small detour to visit Shot Tower State Park, in Foster Falls.  You can either drive in through the main entrance or come up from the bike trails of the New River State Park.  If you drive in and park there is a parking fee, biking in is free. 

According to the official state website the tower was built over 200 years ago to make ammunition for early settlers.  Today it's on the National Register of Historic Places.  On this particular hot day in August it was a nice place to slow down and catch our breath. 
There are tours offered select weekends in the summer but this particular day no tours were going on.  There were placards with information about the tower to read and you could peek inside the tower through a door at the base of it.  This park marked out 21st Virginia State Park to visit.  Since our visit here we actually visited one more so that leave 15 in Virginia to go!

The view from the Shot Tower of the New River

Stairs leading from the New River Trail to the Shot Tower
Trestle crossing on the New River Trails right before the Shot Tower

The park does not have camping or overnight facilities.  It is strictly a dawn to dusk park.  There were picnic tables and bathrooms available for use to visitors.  But if you want to camp near by I might suggest here.  Happy exploring :-)