Monday, November 30, 2015

Norfolk Botanical Gardens-A Million Bulb Walk

Now that we've stuffed ourselves silly and washed a million dishes we can turn our thoughts to all the fun and festive things that Christmas has to offer.  I try every year to make Christmas a magical experience for our kids and in the process I get caught up in the excitement and have just as much fun as they do. 

We started early this year by visiting Norfolk Botanical Garden and walking in the Million Bulb Walk. It was only offered for about a week and then just like was over.  But no need to be sad, you can still drive through the Garden and check out the lights! 

The walk was a mile in and then a mile back out.  There was a tram that could take you back but it was so much fun walking in we wanted to walk back out.  The cost was $12 per person unless you are a member of the Gardens.  Before getting in to the lights there were a couple places to buy hot chocolate if you happen to need a little fuel to help you along the way.  We did pass a bathroom stop about halfway through as well (in case you need to empty the hot chocolate).  Keep all of this in mind as I'm sure it will be offered again next year.  But for now you will have to make yourself content with just driving through.  To drive in it is $20 for weekdays and $25 for weekends. 
If you don't live in the area a few other places you can try...The Celebration of Lights in New Port News, McDonald's Holiday Lights in Virginia Beach, Dominion Gardenfest of Lights in Richmond, The Illuminate Light Show also in Richmond, Light the Tunnel at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, or Celebration of Lights in Staunton. 
We have visited New Port News, Virginia Beach (on the boardwalk) and Richmond's Gardenfest.  I loved them all but Gardenfest at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens was my favorite. 
No matter what you do or where you go I hope that you do it with your family.  Making memories with them is magical. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Hamlet Vineyard

In my last post about Fairy Stone State Park I mentioned there are a few wineries near the park.  One of those wineries is Hamlet Vineyard which is in Bassett VA.  On the drive down to the park I planned to visit a couple wineries but I ran into a little trouble.  We were driving down on a Friday afternoon and most of the wineries weren't open.  Hamlet's web page indicated that you could make appointments to visit.  I emailed them and sure enough heard back that day.  The owner advised she could indeed accommodate my sister and myself for a wine tasting.  I'm certainly grateful that she did as it turned out to be such a beautiful place with wonderful wines. 

See what I mean about beautiful place!  Like a lot of Virginia Wineries, this one is family owned and operated.  And the feeling of family came through loud and clear when Virginia, co-owner with her husband, didn't bat an eyelash at Emma running around acting like a typical 5 year old. 
The wines were exceptional and I would have carried all of them home with me if I could.  Instead I settled for a bottle of the Pinot Gris and something red.  I'm not going to lie...I forget what the second bottle was.  I say was because neither bottle made it through the weekend.  I guess we will just have to visit again to pick up more wine.

Like all good wineries...this one has it's own dog :-)

Virginia did tell us that in the summer they partner with a river outfitter to take people to the nearby river for kayaking.  They follow that up with wine back at the barn.  Since I did say we wanted to visit Fairy Stone in the summer maybe we can slip over here for more wine and a new adventure :-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fairy Stone State Park

You know I have a crazy love for the Virginia State Parks.  If you haven't fallen in love yourself with them then maybe this post will help you see the light. 
This story started 1/1/15 at a different Virginia State Park.  The Busy Bryants went on a First Day Hike at Pocahontas State Park and while out hiking I snapped some pictures.  I entered one of those pictures in the State Park's First Day Hike picture contest.  I won a gift certificate that could be used with the Virginia State Parks.  I planned my trips for the year and squeezed in a weekend trip to Fairy Stone State Park.   Fairy Stone (FS) is located in Patrick County VA, just northwest of Martinsville.  The name of the park comes from the stones or rocks that can be found in and around the park.  Since we were going in November we opted for a cabin. 

Our home for the weekend...and the one with the best view of the lake.
The cabins are all furnished and have the essentials for a short stay.  Linens, dishes, a bundle of firewood...they do NOT have phones, televisions or Wi-Fi.  I could not have been happier.  At these particular cabins we also did not have cell phone service.  At first the 16 year old went through withdrawal.  Then she found out how much fun it was to play cards with her family and color with her sister :-)  I spent hours sitting on the screened in porch checking out the view of the lake. 

We snuck in a hike on our last day there on the Little Mountain Falls Trail.  This trail has a spot that is cleared enough you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains off in the distance and it's own waterfall.

The park offers camping (tent and campers), pavilions for picnics, a beach for swimming in the summer and has it's own equestrian camp.  Nearby you have Martinsville, The Blue Ridge Mountains, and or course a couple wineries. 
Everyone in the family agreed that this park deserves a visit in the summer.  Actually I'll visit again any time.  But a summer visit will be a top priority.  We want to try out the swimming and maybe go out kayaking on the lake.  I soaked in the pleasure of sitting on the porch and just listening to the animals in the woods...but the laughter from my family and memories that we created...that is what I LOVED.  Even my 16 year old agreed. 

Monday, November 16, 2015


Thank God it's Monday....yes you heard me right.  It has been a busy couple of weeks and I'm actually glad to say we are settled in at home and I'm glad it's Monday. 

We were at home last week too but before that we were on the road again.  Both trips were to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia so not really far away but being gone so much can take a toll on a person.  Glad we rested up while away on the trips :-)

The view from our cabin at Fairy Stone State Park

The view from the property at Blue Ridge Manor Bed and Breakfast

Along with the trips we also found time for a river cruise, a musical and I went and started co-leading a girl scout troop.  You know...because I have all this free time on my hands.  We also managed to visit two new Virginia wineries since I last blogged. 

The City of Fredricksburg

Hamlet Vineyard

Mt. Vale Vineyards

While on our trips we visited a museum, hiked an awesome trail and crossed off a "to-do" from my bucket list.

Virginia Natural History Museum

Trial in Fairy Stone State Park

The Tobacco Heritage Trail

So yeah I haven't blogged in a while.  But as you can see I've been busy.  I'll follow up in the coming weeks by sharing some of the details of our trips and fun things we've gotten to do.  But enough about me....what have you guys been up to?