Trail hiking and fishing in Virginia

One of the great things about the Charlottesville, Virginia area is the variety of outdoor activities that are available. We have mountains to hike, rivers to raft and beautiful state and local parks to explore. Walnut Creek Park is one of the many gems in the countryside that you should definitely visit. Walnut Creek is in Albemarle County, just a short 15-minute drive south of Charlottesville. You can rent a canoe, play frisbee golf on a large course or swim in the lake during the warm months of the year. There are miles of mountain biking trails for riding enthusiasts. The bike trails are also great for walking, but you do you need to pay attention and be ready to step aside when bikers are coming.

I have recently been spending quite a bit of time at Walnut Creek Park. The park is a great place to take a dog for an on-leash walk. You can walk through the woods on different trails that are tagged based on their difficulty. You can also walk on a lovely trail that winds its way around the end of the lake.

If you are a fisherman, you need to bring your rod and reel out to Walnut Creek Park. I have seen folks fishing from the sides of the lake, as well as from boats that they have launched themselves. You could also fish from one of the many canoes that are available for rent.

All in all, Walnut Creek Park is a great place to spend an hour or an entire day.

Fog on the water at Walnut Creek Park, Charlottesville, VA


Rides, games, and animals at your local fair

What ride threatens to make you sick at the fair? Is it the Tilt-a-Whirl? Maybe it is the Flying Pirate Ship that may at any moment dump you out of your seat. For me, it is the cute green dragons.

Those dragons seem innocent enough with their pretty colors and smiling faces, but beware! Unknown to me was the fact that they each spin individually, while simultaneously being hurled around in a circle. Really, I can’t think of any carnival ride more torturous for an adult. Of course, my two small children thought it was the best ride they have ever been on. They grabbed the wheel in the middle of the dragon and spun it around and around making us go faster and faster. To survive, I had to look out the door and try and focus on a light or building, anything to keep my dizzy head from getting the best of me.

When the ride was finally over, I stumbled outside and safely away from the grinning dragon. The kids handed the man two more tickets and jumped back on. My lesson…. let the kids ride the spinning dragons. I’m happy to wait by the fence with some kettle corn.

Here are a few fairs with and without dragons.

Harvest Faire in Newport News, VA
October 12-14
Harvest Faire is a modern interpretation of a late 15th-century European fall harvest celebration and tournament.    Entertainers and a market mix with the sounds of good-natured martial competition and the smells of period cooking.     Watch a craftsperson plying their trade, try your hand at games of chance and skill, and cheer for the warrior of your choice at the Field of Honors. Wander through 6 acres of the village on a 22-acre site.

New York Fairs 
July through September
In addition to the New York State Fair, there are dozens of local county fairs across the state.

California Fairs
January through December
You will find large country fairs and small farm fairs all across California. You could spend almost every day enjoying fresh food and riding rides.

More to come…..

Farmer’s markets with tomatoes, peaches and more

It’s time to get out and visit your local farmer’s market. You’ll find vegetables, fruit, flowers, cheese, meats, eggs and much, much more at a farmers’ market near you.

Why buy local? Why buy fresh?

  • Locally grown and produced foods are wonderfully fresh and delicious…..local farmers often pick and sell within 24 hours.
  • Buying local gives you freedom of choice for your health and nutrition….. you know where your food comes from.
  • You can try new and unusual produce…..just ask the farmer their favorite way of preparing what they grow.
  • Local farmers can offer produce grown for its great taste…..not grown to stay “fresh” on a supermarket shelf for days and days.
  • Buying local helps the environment…..on average conventionally grown food travels 2,000 miles from field to plate.
  • You can support family farmers….. each local food purchase helps keep your surrounding communities strong.

So grab your favorite shopping bag and visit a local farmers’ market or two. You’ll be amazed at what you will find.

Where will you find your next treasure?

I confess to having 8 quilts, 10 hostess aprons, 9 saltcellars, and 2 chandeliers  – all from antique and thrift stores. I simply love to stop into antique malls in small towns and to slip into thrift stores in big cities. I still miss the huge thrift store in the Mission district of San Francisco. I don’t know of anywhere else that has fun and funky clothes sold by the pound.

My latest finds are 2 cut crystal coasters that were made to hold drinking glasses on a table. I realized when I picked them up that old coasters are the perfect size to hold pillar candles. My dining room table now has two beautiful and elegant candleholders that were just 2 dollars apiece. My guess is that so few people use the crystal or silver coasters anymore that there isn’t much of a market for them… but as candleholders, they are perfect.

I always keep my eye out for old silver plate flatware. I have a collection of mismatched forks, knives, and spoons that I use for backyard parties. This is a fun and inexpensive item to buy at flea markets. Since I haven’t tried to match patterns and simply buy a fork or knife here or there, I have quite a collection now.

Shopping must be in the air because the thrift shops and antique stores are calling my name. I guess it’s time to hunt for more crystal coasters.