The fall color palette is creeping across Virginia from the mountains to the coast, making this is an especially beautiful time to enjoy the scenery on your way to the wineries of the Chesapeake Bay, Central Virginia and Hampton Roads regions.
According to the National Park Service, “The Piedmont has approximately 50% color and is expected to peak in early November. The Coastal Plain is expected to peak in mid-November.”
If you didn’t have a chance to escape to the mountains in October, maybe you can slip away to the other side of Virginia for a few days, especially as the long Thanksgiving weekend is approaching.
Discovering something unexpected is over-the-top fun, and a foursome tired of their ho-hum days of normalcy have set out to do just that.
Sure, I can tell you all the awesome ways to Get Lost in Loudoun, but why not sit back and enjoy seeing how Andrew, Jolyn, Haley, and James get lost instead?
Six episodes of nine have aired so far, and here, in a nutshell, is what you might have missed:
Episode One includes an adrenaline-pumping paintball battle at Pev’s Paintball Park, one of the top 12 paintball parks in the world.
Episode Two finds the cast being coached through a pot-off with a surprise guest, Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, at Glenfiddich Farm Pottery.
Episode Three is set at Great Country Farms, a 200-acre agritainment farm. Yes, they have successfully married agriculture and entertainment in Bluemont! Don’t believe me? I challenge you to a round of cow pie putt-putt.
Episode Four tingles your spine as cast members take on an individual challenge at Oatlands Plantation - a challenge of paranormal proportions. Hey, what happened to James??
Episode Five is a cook-off at Goodstone Inn, a sprawling estate with amazing history and farm-to-table cuisine by chef William Walton. Can the teams please the palates of local Loudoun foodies?
In Episode Six, the most recent of the Get Lost in Loudoun series, Andrew, Haley, Jolyn, and James hit the rapids of the Potomac River with guides from BTI Whitewater. Um, they’re kind of a big deal.
Now you’re up to speed and ready for next week’s episode, and you’ve got a leg up on just a few of the great gems of Virginia’s beautiful Loudoun County. Go watch the episodes and make a plan to visit and get lost for yourself.
While it’s not the flashiest holiday on the calendar, Veterans Day is right up our alley. Nothing says Virginia more than tradition, history, and honoring those who have blazed a way to a better future.
In fact, it was a notable Virginia-born president, Woodrow Wilson, born in Staunton, Virginia, who got the ball rolling with Armistice Day in 1919. Originally designed to honor those who served in World War I and to celebrate the end of “The Great War”, the holiday finally came to rest in the 1970′s as Veterans Day on the 11th of every November, the same day as the original WWI Armistice signing.
Servicemen greet a young visitor to the National Museum of the Marine Corps
This of course doesn’t even begin to account for the number of Civil War sites and historic homes like Mount Vernon sprinkled liberally up and down the I-95 corridor. You can’t swing a ceremonial parade saber without hitting a Virginia site honoring her veterans.
Veterans Day events and sites are not exclusive to the Washington D.C. region, either. Nearly every Virginia city and town has a parade or similar event celebrating our men and women in uniform past and present. You can find many of them here at http://www.virginia.org/VeteransDay.
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
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.
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 …
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 — 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.
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.
Are 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.”
Yeah, 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).