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  • Archive for October, 2011

    Ghostly Haunts: Touring Virginia’s History

    by Casey | Posted on October 28th, 2011

    You’ve no doubt heard of the National Register of Historic Landmarks, but have you heard of the National Register of Haunted Places? Virginia has a good presence on both.¬†Care to take a look?

    Gadsby's Tavern. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com

    Gadsby’s Tavern. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com

    When in Alexandria …

    Visit the Ramsay House, a building said to be frequented by spirits in 1700s clothing.¬†Then¬†head¬†to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum¬†to hear the¬†tale of a young woman who died there in 1816. She is said to have led¬†a tavern guest upstairs to a deserted bedroom where a hurricane lamp glowed. Indeed,¬†the lamp¬†was hot to the touch,¬†but the¬†wick had never been lit.

    Want to turn it up a notch? Head to Dumfries.

    The Weems-Botts Museum is the home of a ghost who throws books and likes to turn lights on and off. Reverend Mason Locke Weems was a one-time resident of the home. It was he who fabricated the story of George Washington and the cherry tree! The house also served as his bookstore, so perhaps he is the book-throwing ghost.

    Into Civil War ghost stories and sightings?

    In Leesburg, at the Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park, apparitions of soldiers climbing the bluffs have been seen at night. This¬†is the site of Loudoun County’s largest Civil War battle.

    Fort Monroe¬†in Hampton was¬†known during the Civil War as “Freedom’s Fortress” by runaway slaves. Apparitions of young soldiers walking along the top of the fort have been reported.

    Cold Harbor National Battlefield. Photo by Bill Crabtree, Jr.

    Cold Harbor National Battlefield. Photo by Bill Crabtree, Jr.

    Mechanicsville’s Cold Harbor National Battlefield Park still has ghostly battles at night. Many¬†photographs have captured ghosts¬†near the walkway.

    Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon has held haunting intrigue since the Civil War when the building was used as a hospital. It is said that a young nursing student named Beth cared for a wounded Confederate soldier. Nearing death, he asked her to play the violin. As she played, he quietly passed on. Heartbroken, Beth died a few weeks later. It is said that the room where the soldier died has harbored her spirit since.

    On the campus of Virginia Military Institute¬†in Lexington, written accounts report¬†tears¬†streaming from the¬†”Virginia Mourning Her Dead” statue. Some say¬†she mourns¬†cadets buried at her feet. They¬†died in the Battle of New Market. Additionally, a cadet who was accidentally locked¬†inside Jackson Memorial Hall claimed he saw figures moving on¬†the large mural that depicts the Battle of New Market,¬†and saw flashes of gunfire.

    Of Revolutionary War intrigue …

    On the southern banks of the James River in Surry¬†is¬†Bacon’s Castle, Virginia’s oldest house, dating to 1665. You’ve probably heard of Bacon’s Rebellion? Yes, this was the¬†home that Nathaniel Bacon’s men¬†seized from¬†owner and builder Arthur Allen while rebelling against the Colonial government in 1676. Strange things happen here …

    Colonial Williamsburg

    Colonial Williamsburg

    An iridescent ball of light has often appeared and disappeared to inhabitants of this home, of which there have been several. One¬†owner’s wife encountered “a sweet white face with large black eyes and parted hair with a white scarf around her head.” Some time later, the same owner’s wife¬†discovered her room in disarray ‚ÄĒ a round burner-lamp, normally sitting on the table was leaning against a pedestal, and a globe was smashed to pieces. Also, a large open dictionary was placed tidily on the sofa, and the heavy bookstand had been moved across the room.

    In the¬†second capital city¬†of Virginia,¬†Colonial Williamsburg¬†…

    Some believe the ghost of Lady Ann Skipwith inhabits the George Wythe House.¬†The story goes, Lady Ann¬†and her husband attended a gala at the Governor’s Palace, but because of some slight, her temper flared and she left in such a hurry that one of her slippers broke. She hobbled up the wooden staircase at the Wythe House, sounding like someone with a peg leg. One report stated that Lady Ann took her own life. She is buried in the graveyard of nearby Bruton Parish Church, and is said to be heard ascending the stairs in her one good slipper.

    Ready for a ghost hunt? Learn about more thrilling ghost sightings and history at Virginia.org/GhostlyHaunts.



    Civil War, Fall in Virginia, History | 1 Comment

    Virginia Thrillers

    by Casey | Posted on October 26th, 2011

    Busch GardensAre you ready to get your spook on? If you have not yet been to the creepiest theme parks around, you have no idea what kind of fright you’re missing.

    For the scaredy cats like me, that’s a good thing, but for you who thrive on the thrill of ghouls and goblins, shake your tail on to Busch Gardens for Howl-O-Scream¬†or Kings Dominion for HAUNT.

    Howl-O-Scream is in its 13th year, and that’s a creepy number, no? So to do it up right, they’ve added more horror than ever. They promise, “the scare is everywhere with new bone-chilling mazes, terrifying shows and gruesome creatures lurking around the park.”

    Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion for HalloweenYeah, it’s that lurking part that gets me. Shiver!

    $63.99/adult; $53.99/child
    Parental discretion is advised.
    Open through Sunday, October 30. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    The happy atmosphere of Kings Dominion sours into atmosfear at dusk, as the shrieks and screams signal that HAUNT is coming to life. In my imagination, there is fog settling with that dusk, and the freaks really do come out at night. More shivers!

    Haunt includes 10 haunted mazes, six spooky shows, six scare zones, and of course all of the rides you expect to enjoy at Kings Dominion – it’s the largest Halloween-themed event in the entire mid-Atlantic.

    $58.99/adult; $21.99/child
    Parental discretion is advised.
    Daylight hours at KD offer family-friendly Howl-O-Fest.
    Open through Sunday, October 30, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    More creepiness can be experienced through frightful ghost tours. These two in Richmond¬†seem to be especially thrilling (cue¬†Michael Jackson’s Thriller intro¬†here).

    Capital Creepers EERIE NIGHTS Ghost Tours of Richmond 
    Through October 29, 10-11:30 p.m.
    $13/person. Under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

    Haunts of Richmond Ghost Tours 
    Through November 5, 9-10:30 p.m.
    $13/adult; $10/child in advance or $15/adult; $12/child at the door
    Appropriate for all ages.

    Find your perfect Halloween event at Virginia.org/Halloween!

     

     

     



    Events, Fall in Virginia | 2 Comments

    Peak Color at Shenandoah National Park

    by Casey | Posted on October 24th, 2011

    As of the October 21, 2011 Shenandoah National Park Fall Foliage Report, the highest elevations had experienced approximately 90% color change. Now is a great time to take a day off from work and just drive.

    Appalachian TrailGoing on this week at Shenandoah National Park:

    Tuesday

      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Stony Man Hike – Meet at the Stony Man Trailhead (milepost 43) to take a hike to the Park’s second highest peak and hear Stony Man’s stories. Bring water and wear sturdy shoes. 1.6 miles, 2 hours. Free.
      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Birds of Prey – Here’s your chance to meet live raptors and learn about their role in the Park’s ecosystem. It’s a one-hour presentation. Meet at the Big Meadows Amphitheater in the picnic area.
      • 11 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Discovery Walk – If you’re interested in learning about the plants and animals that make SNP a special place, meet at the Skyland Amphitheater for a one-hour walk.
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Celebrate Shenandoah National Park – It’s the 75th Anniversary of Shenandoah National Park and you’re invited to a 20-minute talk to hear about the history and treasures of this special environment. Meet at Skyland Amphitheater. Free.
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Wild About Bears – Learn about Shenandoah’s largest mammal during this 20-minute talk at the Byrd Visitor Center.
      • 8-9 p.m.: Shenandoah Valley Cloggers at Skyland Resort – This popular dance group gets down to a variety of bluegrass, country, old time, pop, and more. Free.

    Wednesday

      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Story of the Limberlost- Take a 1.2-mile walk to hear stories of change, loss, and hope. Meet at the Limberlost Trailhead (milepost 43), and plan to spend an hour and a half.
      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Appalachian Trail Hike – Experience the legendary mountain trail on a gentle hike. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. It’s a quick hike at 2.1 miles. Plan to spend two hours. Meet at the Milam Gap Parking Area (milepost 52.8).
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Celebrate Shenandoah National Park – It’s the 75th Anniversary of Shenandoah National Park and you’re invited to a 20-minute talk to hear about the history and treasures of this special environment. Meet at the the Byrd Visitor Center. Free.
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Wild About Bears – Learn about Shenandoah’s largest mammal during this 20-minute talk at Skyland Amphitheater.
      • 3 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Meadow Walk – Discover the wonders of a rare high elebation wetland meadow on this gentle one-mile walk. Meet at the Byrd Visitor Center and plan for an hour and a¬† half.
    ThursdayWine Tastings
      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Ancient Volcano Hike – Imagine firey lava and rivers of molten rock in Shenandoah National Park. You’ll walk along the remains of an ancient volcano rift on this two-mile walk. Plan for two hours and meet at the Timber Hollow Overlook (milepost 43.3)
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Celebrate Shenandoah National Park – It’s the 75th Anniversary of Shenandoah National Park and you’re invited to a 20-minute talk to hear about the history and treasures of this special environment. Meet at Skyland Amphitheater. Free
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Wild About Bears – Learn about Shenandoah’s largest mammal during this 20-minute talk at the Byrd Visitor Center.
      • 3 p.m.: Wine Tasting at Big Meadows Lodge and Skyland Resort¬†- Must be 21 to attend. Fee of $15 includes cheese, crackers, and a handcrafted glass
      • 4 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – CCC Walk – Celebrate the Civilian Conservation Corps legacy on this walk to a CCC-era structure. It’s a one-mile walk lasting one and a half hours. Meet at the Byrd Visitor Center.
      • 7:30-9:30 p.m.: Possum Ridge String Band at Skyland Resort – If you like old time string music from the southern Appalachian mountains, you’ll enjoy this free concert.

    Friday

      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Ancient Volcano Hike – Imagine firey lava and rivers of molten rock in Shenandoah National Park. You’ll walk along the remains of an ancient volcano rift on this two-mile walk. Plan for two hours and meet at the Timber Hollow Overlook (milepost 43.3)
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Terrace Talk – Spend a quick 10 minutes learning about a special feature of the park. Check at the Byrd Visitor Center information desk for more info.
      • 3 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Discovery Walk – If you’re interested in learning about the plants and animals that make SNP a special place, meet at the Skyland Amphitheater for a one-hour walk.
      • 7:30 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Campfire Program – This is a National Park Service tradition and you’re invited to join in! Dress for the chilly mountain nights and¬† plan to spend 45 minutes. Meet at the Big Meadows Amphitheater in the picnic area.

    Saturday

    Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park

    Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park

      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Stony Man Hike – Meet at the Stony Man Trailhead (milepost 43) to take a hike to the Park’s second highest peak and hear Stony Man’s stories. Bring water and wear sturdy shoes. 1.6 miles, 2 hours. Free
      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Birds of Prey – Here’s your chance to meet live raptors and learn about their role in the Park’s ecosystem. It’s a one-hour presentation. Meet at the Big Meadows Amphitheater in the picnic area.
      • 2 p.m .: Fall Ranger Program – Junior Ranger Program – Investigate the mysteries of Shenandoah through fun and educational activities. For ages 7 through 12, and an adult must accompany. Plan for one mile of walking and a duration of an hour and a half. Meet at the Byrd Visitor Center.
      • 3 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Discovery Walk – If you’re interested in learning about the plants and animals that make SNP a special place, meet at the Skyland Amphitheater for a one-hour walk.
      • 7:30 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Campfire Program – This is a National Park Service tradition and you’re invited to join in! Dress for the chilly mountain nights and¬† plan to spend 45 minutes. Meet at¬†your choice of the¬†Big Meadows Amphitheater in the picnic area,¬†the Skyland Amphitheater, or the Loft Mountain Amphitheater.

    Sunday

      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Story of the Limberlost- Take a 1.2-mile walk to hear stories of change, loss, and hope. Meet at the Limberlost Trailhead (milepost 43), and plan to spend an hour and a half
      • 10 a.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Discovery Walk – If you’re interested in learning about the plants and animals that make SNP a special place, meet at the Byrd Visitor Center for a one-hour walk.
      • 2 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Celebrate Shenandoah National Park – It’s the 75th Anniversary of Shenandoah National Park and you’re invited to a 20-minute talk to hear about the history and treasures of this special environment. Meet at Skyland Amphitheater. Free.
      • 3 p.m.: Fall Ranger Program – Meadow Walk – Discover the wonders of a rare high elebation wetland meadow on this gentle one-mile walk. Meet at the Byrd Visitor Center and plan for an hour and a¬† half.

    Book a travel package or take advantage of a deal to make this one of the most memorable fall run-aways you’ve ever experienced.



    Couples, Fall in Virginia, Family, History, Outdoors, Virginia Destinations, Wine | 1 Comment

    There are Foodies and There are SEAFoodies

    by Casey | Posted on October 20th, 2011

    Some crave traditional comfort food, but not you. Your comfort comes from the tides. These festivals are right up your alley and will fill all your seafoodie desires.
    Raw Oyster. Credit: Blue Crab Bay Company

    Raw Oyster. Credit: Blue Crab Bay Company

    Live in Hampton Roads? Enjoy a date night! The City Point Oyster Roast in Newport News is¬†tomorrow evening, October 21, from 5 to 9 pm. More than great Chesapeake Bay oysters, there’s also beer tasting, live music, and a fun scavenger hunt and crafts for kids. Free admission and parking; pay as you go for tastings and food.

    Pair your fresh oysters with great Virginia wine when you attend the Oyster Roast at Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery, October 29-30, in Afton. Music by The Cashmere Jungle Lords on Saturday and The Atkinsons on Sunday. Admission includes wine glass and tasting, but not full beverages or oysters.

    Deborah Pratt at Cardinal Point Vineyards and Winery

    Oyster Shucking Champion Deborah Pratt at Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery. Also see her at the Urbanna Oyster Festival.

    The little town of Urbanna takes on a larger-than-life atmosphere every November, and this year is no different. Don’t miss the 54th Annual Urbanna Oyster Festival November 4-5. Plan to bring the whole family and spend quality time with great entertainment like¬†…

    • Fireman’s Parade¬†
    • More than 125 Vendors
    • Virginia Wine Tasting and Oyster Pairing
    • Queen & Little Miss Spat pageants
    • Oyster Shucking Contest

    Oysters will be served up¬†whatever way you care to suck ‘em down: “raw, roasted, fried, smoked, steamed, in fritters, or in stew,” claim the Festival planners. No worries for the wee foodies. There are hot dogs, hamburgers and more for their tiny tummies.

    This is a pay-as-you-go festival. Parking is $10 to $20, offsetting festival expenses and supporting the Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation.

    You can’t get much more “local” than oysters grown out your backdoor and wine produced mere steps away. Come out November 13 for the Church Creek Chardonnay & Oyster Tasting Extravaganza at Chatham Vineyards in Machipongo. Splurge on unlimited raw bar oyster tasting and a glass of steel-fermented Church Creek¬†Chardonnay. Admission is $20 and¬†by advanced purchase onlyonline or by calling 757-678-5588.

    “Eat for a good cause,” that’s what I always say, and you can do just that at the 13th Annual Oyster Roast at the Cape Charles Museum on November 26. Fill your plate with raw or roasted oysters, fried chicken, clam chowder, potato salad, three-bean salad, and homemade rolls and desserts. Mmmm! Beer and wine are available, as is¬†a a 50/50 raffle and silent auction. $30/adult; $10/child aged 7 to 12.

    Find more great culinary events at Virginia.org.



    Fall in Virginia, Food, Food and Wine | Comments Off

    Foliage from On High: Hot Air Balloons Take You There

    by Casey | Posted on October 14th, 2011

    Historic Long Branch. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com

    Historic Long Branch. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com

    “It’s like watercolors and a paintbrush,” commented Teri Fabian on the Virginia is for Lovers Facebook page. We agree, Teri! After trekking on foot to waterfall destinations, the next great way to experience Virginia’s amazing autumn hues is from the basket of a hot air balloon.

    The Historic Long Branch Hot Air Balloon, Wine & Music Festival in Millwood is a weekend of family fun. The events begin at 4 p.m. today and run through Sunday at 4 p.m. It’s one of those events that you need to see to believe, and the good news is that you can and will see these balloons even if you can’t make it to the festival. They’ll be floating across the Shenandoah Valley all weekend.

    What an adventure ballooning promises to be. Blue Ridge Hot Air Balloons in Front Royal reminds us, “you always know where you will take off, but you never know where you’ll land.” Float just out of reach of the stunning waves of gold and orange. It’s nearly the peak of the foliage peeping season, you know!

    Forest Winds, Inc.

    Forest Winds, Inc.

    Glide away with Forest Winds, Inc. out of Forest. It should be a no-brainer, but they’ve caused¬†my light bulb to blink on. “No two flights are ever the same, so you will enjoy an experience unique only to you.” And isn’t that what we all want? To see or do something in a way that no one else has? To discover? Yes! I do!

    Hard as I try, I’m not sure that I could say it better than Balloons Over Virginia, Inc. of Ashland: “Gradually the grass sinks silently away and the earth kaleidoscopes into a masterful mosaic of color and texture … You have been launched on a magical voyage.” Compelling, no? I’m ready to float away.

    If you’re ready to hop aboard the basket ride of a lifetime, book a travel package.

    Mayhurst Inn Adventure Vacation Package  *  Orange, VA  *  $915-$958
    Two nights’ lodging, breakfast, snacks and wine tray, horseback riding, and either hot air ballooning or a biplane ride. Give 10 days’ notice on reservation. 888.672.5597

    The Boar’s Head Bed, Breakfast & Balloon Package¬† *¬† Charlottesville, VA¬† *¬† From $360/guest
    One night’s lodging, breakfast, one-hour hot air balloon ride, and champagne celebration. 800.476.1988

    Plan your own grand hot air balloon adventure with these balloonists and others at Virginia.org.



    Couples, Fall in Virginia, Outdoors | Comments Off