Monday, June 11, 2007

Grayson Highlands - Day 7

Day 7 was our last full day at Grayson Highlands State Park. It's been an absolutely wonderful week. We had a nice shower last night to keep things cool, and provide some desperately needed rain.Today, we will stay at our campsite and enjoy what we love the most...Robin's spinning/knitting, my guitar, and some variation with wood carving. I made a Robin for my Robin.

Grayson Highlands - Day 6

Throughout the history of the Blue Ridge, one thing has remained a constant reminder of something born and bred Blue Ridge-Bluegrass music. A key stretch along the "Crooked Road" , Grayson County has played a major role in the development and popularity of Bluegrass. Most people immediately think of Tennessee and Kentucky for Bluegrass roots, and of course, Nashville's Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. But Bluegras goes back much further than Nashville. Bluegrass roots came from our ancestors' homelands; Scotland, Ireland, and Germand, in particular, and the music became a lasting trademark of their movement through Virgina heading forever west. Call it Bluegrass, OldTime Music, or Country Music, and any local musician will tell you the difference. It all owes its development to folks along the Crooked Road. Day 6 took us to a place known to most devout musicians, and visited by a regular number of fans, admirers, and musicians. Rugby, VA, a spot on the Crooked Road, is also where Wayne Henderson lives and works. Or maybe I should say lives and plays. Who is Wayne Henderson? He is only the most famous of the local musicians and luthiers to play stringed instruments. Wayne is an annual repeat winner in the Galax Fiddlers Convention, but even more importantly, he is a world famous guitar maker. I am happy to say, I have now had the opportunity to meet Wayne, and watch him work in his most unique shop.Photo by: Linda Richardson
Like many along the Crooked Road, Wayne is a tribute to Bluegrass who has devoted his life to strengthening its roots. Care to learn more about Wayne? Read "Clapton's Guitar" . Interested in moving up his 10-year waiting list for a Henderson Guitar? Then enter the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Grayson Highlands - Day 5

One more beautiful new day at Grayson Highlands. The days have been mid-to-upper 60s, nights, low 50s. Perfect! Today we've decided to just sit around the camp-site then later on, ride down to the picnic area and 19th century Homestead Settlement. The Chipmunks were still putting on a show, and we kept the camera handy to try and get a quick shot of the beautiful Woodpeckers paying an occasional visit. The reconstructed colonial settlement is a must see. The cabins, sheds, spring house, and various other out-buildings provide a step back in time to the days when our ancestors moved up the valley west seeking land to start their own homesteads. A review of the building shows how each was used in the small settlement. Living History interpreters will occasionally be present to demonstrate the colonial crafts and discuss the regions history.

The Weavers cabin is backed by various utility buildings used to store equipment and provide shelter for all forms of settlement activities.

The Spring House was critical for food refrigeration and fresh water.

The Spencer family cabin was originally built in the early 1900's just south of Rt.58 on present-day park property.

It was first built by John Calvin Ingram and moved here to the Park's Homestead plantation. Ingram, born in 1842, became a Confederate soldier in 1863 at the age of 17.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Grayson Highlands - Day 4

Having spent most of the previous day hiking, we decided to use today to go down from the mountain and restock. Get some groceries, in other words. We had a choice. Marion was 45 minutes, Damascus, along the Winding Road, 40 minutes to an hour, and Independence, 45 minutes. Or we could cut over into NC and visit West Jefferson, also 45 minutes away. Since Robin's family is from the area, Rugby, to be exact, she had been there before. This would be my first trip to West Jefferson. As with any trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it was time well spent. We picked up what we needed for the next 4 days, and headed into town to look around. Having not been on a computer for four days, we stopped by the library for a few minutes, then the Post Office to mail a flute I confirmed had just sold on eBay. Time for lunch, and we had just seen the perfect spot on the way into West Jefferson. The place, Smokie Mountain Barbecue, is a must stop for any visit, or trip into Western NC. After a great lunch, we started back to Grayson Highlands.
West Jefferson is a wonderful stop, similar in many ways to another quaint Western NC town, Black Mountain, located further south near Asheville.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Grayson Highlands - Day 3

Time to check out the trails and scenery. We started just before noon heading for the Rhododendron Trail. It was sort of like Forest Gump who started running, and just kept running. We hit the Appalachian Trail heading for Mount Rogers and just kept going.

Starting at close to 4,000 feet, we had reached 5,200 by the time we reached Wilburn Ridge...
and then Rhododendron Gap.

Three hours into the hike and we were on Thomas Knob looking at Mount Rogers and a beautiful 360 degree view from Whitetop to Pine Mountains.

It was mid-afternoon, weather threatening, and limited supplies for any idea of making it another two hours to the top of Mount Rogers. So, we started back.

Before long, we were greeted by another herd of friendly ponies,
proudly introducing us to their new additions.
In fact, it appeared they really wanted us to stay...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Grayson Highlands - Day 2

Our second day started peacefully, with beautiful weather. The temperature was about 15 degrees cooler, at 4,000+ feet, than it was down in the valley. We decided to go to the Mount Rogers Visitors Center, just a few miles from our campground, and on the way we passed the Rhodedendron Trail parking lot and saw ponies, free-roaming managed herds, just past the gates.

We also made friends at our camper with a colony of Chipmunks, or ground squirrels, as they are also called. These little guys entertained us all week.

Grayson Highlands - Day 1

We planned our vacation to be the week before Memorial Day weekend, so guess what, we had the park to ourselves, for five wonderful days. Our first full day we were anxious to go fishing for Native Trout. The closest creek was Wilson Creek, so off we went down Wilson Creek Trail. Steep trail, but well worth the walk. The creek was beautiful.

We also immediately saw trout, but no luck getting them to hook.

A Vacation Getaway...

We needed to get away for an overdue rest, and Grayson Highlands State Park provided exactly what we needed. A full week of nothing to do but take in the park's natural beauty; hiking, scenery, wild ponies, mountain streams, and rest. In a hurry to get away from work, I forgot my laptop charger, so even if my verizon card would have found a signal, the laptop lost its charge. A whole week without a computer. Added to the park's peacefulness, this was perfect. See also, Grayson County, Virginia.