I actually don’t have a formal bucket list. But, after doing a bit of traveling around Virginia this year and finding LOVEworks in various places, I have decided that tracking down all 300+ of them would be a great way to continue to explore the Commonwealth.
Here are the five I saw this summer and fall. I wasn’t formally tracking them so am sure I missed some, especially out in Southwest Virginia.
There is a Google map of the various locations. I’ll bet there is one near you. I pass one on I-95 at the Keystone Truck and Tractor Museum in Colonial Heights but haven’t pulled over and don’t dare try a picture!
Last month, I took a quick trip up the Eastern Shore to Salisbury, Maryland, and then on to Annapolis to visit with family. I hadn’t been over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel for years. Hampton Roads was its bustling self, of course, but the traffic fell away as I headed north on Route 13, over and under the Bay, touching down briefly on Fisherman’s Island where my husband and I once took a nature walk to see terns, and then onto the Delmarva peninsula.
I was immediately reminded of the experience of taking the Jamestown Scotland Ferry from Williamsburg to Surry: you leave suburbia behind and find yourself in the rural South, fields dotted with small houses and barns, chickens wandering the front yard with a row or two of collards in a winter garden, and, in the few small towns, a post office, gas station and dollar store. I could have been driving along a road near my own home except for the flatness that reached to the horizon.
Both Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass were Eastern Shore natives. I didn’t have time to visit the sites on the Harriet Tubman Byway and the road to the National Historical Park was flooded, but I did visit the Harriet Tubman Statue on the grounds of Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. The sign features a quote from Douglass about Tubman: “The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witness of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism.” For good reading about Tubman, I can recommend The Tubman Command, a historical fiction biography of this fascinating woman that gets beyond the myth and includes details about the raid at Combahee Ferry in South Carolina, which Tubman led and which freed over 700 slaves.
My parents live in a retirement community in Cornwall, Pennsylvania, a former mining town in Lebanon County. The iron furnace was the main economic driver for hundreds of years. The homes in the miner’s villages are made of thick cut stone, and the rail trail that runs through the community passes piles of rocks dotted with ferns. I have fallen in love with the place along with its neighboring town of Mount Gretna, a religious and arts community that I will write about on another day.
Having grown up in the farming flatlands of southeastern Pennsylvania, less than an hour south of Cornwall, the rugged landscape and architecture are always a surprise. I walk every day when I am visiting, exploring two routes through the community.
The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail runs right behind my parents’ townhouse. It is so easy to access that I haven’t explored any other sections but would like to this fall. It is well maintained and gets lots of use.
Wildflower Lane runs from their neighborhood to the main campus. My parents’ next door neighbors have adopted the trail and done lots of plantings in the past year, carefully marking the various flowers. The lane takes a left turn towards campus passing a platform that looks out over wetlands. The last time I was there flocks of birds–cardinals, catbirds, red winged blackbirds–soared over the grasses and among the trees. There are benches, and it is a peaceful spot to sit.
From there you head up onto the main campus, past the lovely old greenhouse, the chapel and towards the main buildings including the ironmaster’s home called the Buckingham Mansion. There is a small round building that serves as a meditation room and the Paymaster’s Building that is used for an art studio.
If you stay straight at the fork, you head into a wilderness area that parallels the road. Eventually, you can turn left into the meadow area. It is part of the manor and has birdhouses, benches, and a lovely bridge over the stream. I snapped the picture below one morning during this past visit. The beams of sun reminded me of an old hymn.
Cornwall Manor has religious roots as does Mount Gretna, and I have a general sense of peace when I am there. I attend the local church–an historic stone building of which I don’t seem to have a picture (it’s on the list for the next trip this fall)–when I am there and its solid presence speaks to something deep in the soul that goes beyond orthodoxy and evangelism.
I compiled a few photos from this trip and others to give you a taste of Cornwall, Pennsylvania, one of my favorite places.
I am visiting one of my oldest friends for a few days. We taught high school English together in Pennsylvania nearly 40 years ago. We get together a couple times a year and have kept in touch over the years via the prevailing communications methods, starting with handwritten letters then moving on to email and text messaging. Now, we connect every day playing Words with Friends.
When we do get together in the same place, we pick up right where we left off: lingering over breakfast, meeting other friends for lunch, shopping at our favorite stores, watching old and new movies, chatting about our families, talking about our current reads and sometimes just sitting in silence, each with a book in our hands. It’s nice to have one person in my life who knows all about me and loves me anyway. Comfortable and comforting.
This is my first post-retirement trip, and I wanted to see if I could travel without a laptop without losing my writing momentum. I am typing this blog post on my iPad with an external keyboard. It is still a bit of hardware to tote but is lighter physically but also mentally. The laptop means work while the iPad is my ereader and entertainment device so turning it on has less pressure. The add-on keyboard just makes it easier for an old school typist to create text.
I have been fortunate to spend time in every part of Virginia. One of my favorite places to visit is what is known as “far” southwest Virginia, reaching south and west from Roanoke across the Appalachian Mountains. Beautiful vistas stretch above dancing streams and remote wilderness beckons if you are willing to get off the interstate and main roads. I have been fortunate to make several trips to the region this year and just returned from my last one, at least until this fall.
This time, I was in and around the Virginia Creeper Trail, a rail trail that runs from Abingdon, Virginia, to White Top Mountain, Tennessee. My husband and I biked the trail many years ago, and I would like to do that again. It is an excellent resource for the local communities both for their own use and for the visitors it attracts. I try to walk on it every day when I am staying in Abingdon, either starting in town or driving to one of the other entrances.
Before heading to Damascus, I had lunch at the Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, Virginia. Owned by author Barbara Kingsolver and her husband, the restaurant lives out the vision and mission Kingsolver described in her memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She tells the story of her family’s move to a small farm in southwest Virginia to live out the locavore life, raising much of their own food and getting the rest from within 100 miles or less. My lunch included a blueberry mimosa, spring salad and chocolate torte with ice cream Everything was fresh and delicious. The Farmer’s Guild attached to the restaurant includes crafts, local foods and books for sale. It is just a few minutes north of Abingdon on Route 11 or an easy exit off Route 81.
After lunch, I headed to Damascus, which is about mid-way along the Creeper trail, which joins several other trails that run through the town, including the Appalachian Trail. Not surprisingly, Damascus is known as Trail Town USA. I spent the afternoon exploring, walking a short distance on the Creeper Trail to read the historic signs and checking out the AT.
Just a few pictures to give you the flavor of the weekend. I was out there to do a couple workshops but took an extra day to explore.