Rainy Day Ramble to Lake Anna State Park – March 20, 2016

With my Spring Break coming to an end, we decided do a scenic, back roads drive to Lake Anna State Park. We were last there March 22, 2014, so it was certainly time for a return visit. We were hopeful when we saw a few peeks of sunshine through the clouds as we left the house, but ultimately we encountered chilly temperatures, rain, and some rain mixed with snow! Much driving, but not much picture-taking this time!

You can view a large,  interactive map  of our trip, and this is a small screenshot that shows our route. The red dots represent the drive to Lake Anna, blue stars mark places we stopped, green dots show the return route, and the yellow dots show a brief side-trip loop!


I took this picture of Wayne at Colling Point on Lake Anna (point 26 on the map).  It was in the upper 30s, breezy, and especially cool by the water, so we didn’t stay long!


Unfortunately, by the time we got to Lake Anna State Park, the weather was even worse!  The Park was basically deserted, and there were no boats out on the water.  Even though it was too wet to get out of the car and walk around, we enjoyed driving through the campground and picnic areas.


Pretty place, even in the rain/snow–and the lake is HUGE.  It’s about 17 miles from one end to the other, with over 200 miles of shoreline:


With so few pictures from today, here are some pictures from March 22, 2014 when we had much better weather:

Sign at the entrance:


Red-tailed Hawk:

045-RedTailedHawk 044-RedTailedHawk

American Coot, seagull, and ducks.  We also saw Ospreys in 2014, but we weren’t able to photograph them.

036-AmericanCoot-LakeAnna-HighPoint 039-Seagull-LakeAnna-HighPoint

028-AmericanCoot-LakeAnna 038-Ducks-LakeAnna-HighPoint

Sun setting over the water:


Fishermen at sunset:


When we left Lake Anna in 2014, it was almost dark–and then it was REALLY dark when we tried to find our way home on back roads.  Thinking we were lost, we stopped by the side of the road to look at a map.  Up ahead and on the right we could see some building lit up out there in the absolute middle of nowhere.  By accident, we’d discovered Tavern on the Rail!  It was a wonderful, unexpected surprise, and our dinner was delicious.




The restaurant (in a restored building from 1837) is only open Thursday – Saturday, so we didn’t have the option of stopping for dinner tonight.  We also decided to take a different route home, so we wouldn’t have passed it again, anyhow.

We DID drive through the town of Mineral twice today, and I just learned that the town was named “Mineral” because it was an early mining center in Virginia.  It had as many as fifteen gold mines, and zinc and lead mines operated into the 1970s.  Interesting!

When we drove through Mineral on the way home, we turned RIGHT when we came to this intersection. 😉


Given the history behind the name of “Mineral,” I wondered how the town of Cuckoo got its name. Well, supposedly one of the first cuckoo clocks in Virginia was in a tavern in the little community, so the name “Cuckoo” stuck.

And more trivia: the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August 2011 was centered near the town of Cuckoo, VA. Not only did I feel it (understatement!) at my school 60 miles away, it was felt in more than a dozen states and into Canada.

We also passed through the town of Bumpass today.  I’ll let you Google that one yourself! 🙂

We’ll certainly visit Lake Anna again–but we’ll try for a day with more warmth and less rain!

Posted in Adventures & Travels, Animals & Wildlife | Comments Off on Rainy Day Ramble to Lake Anna State Park – March 20, 2016

Journey (almost) to Holliday Lake State Park – Feb. 28, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016 was beautiful and wonderfully warm, so we decided to go on an adventure.  Wayne suggested a trip to Holliday Lake State Park, which would be a new park for us, given that we have the goal of visiting all of Virginia’s State Parks.  I pulled up a Google map, plotted a “roads less traveled” route, printed the directions, and we pulled out of the driveway at 10:38 a.m.

As we started the drive, I told Wayne to keep an eye out for hawks, and said I thought it might be a “hawk day.”  He said that the day before he’d had a “hawk encounter” when a large one flew over the road in front of him.  Yes, we love our birds.

The first part of the trip directions seemed simple enough: down Rt. 29 South, and then onto Rt. 6 East, and then a turn onto another road.  After a few minutes we realized that our printed directions were actually taking us in a loop!  Worthless!  We made another turn, wound up on Rockfish River Road (always a pretty drive, so no worries) and returned to Rt. 29 South.

We stopped in Lovingston to check a “real” map and adjusted our route.  Where we were and where we needed to be were quite some distance apart, and there was no particularly easy way to get there…


After more than an hour of driving on unfamiliar rural roads, we finally saw a sign for Holliday Lake and made the turn onto Rt. 636.  We’d gone a couple of miles when I spotted something in the road up ahead.  It was a small/young Redtail Hawk!  I stopped, and the bird didn’t fly.  Its head was up and it was looking around, but it was “sitting” on its rump, with its legs extended in front of it and sort of leaning towards its right side.  Not good, not good at all. It was about 1:00 p.m.

Wayne gave me his sweatshirt jacket, and I approached the hawk from the front and then moved behind it.  It was alert and moved its head to watch me, but seemed unable to move, otherwise.  I put the jacket over its head and body, and gently lifted it into my arms while wrapping it in the jacket.  Now what?

We put it in the back of the CR-V and considered options.  We were smack dab in the middle of nowhere with an injured bird wrapped in a jacket.  If it roused up and fought its way out of the jacket, it could be injured further, or it could potentially hurt us.  There were no houses along the road. We had no cell phone service, and we still weren’t exactly sure we were on the right road to the state park.

We decided to keep going, however, because we figured they would have phone service at the park and might know of a wildlife hospital in the area.  We finally saw the park sign and started down the long entrance, but there was no one at the payment booth.  A tornado had come through this area–in fact right through this area–a few days before, and while the park was open, it appeared that no one was around.

Just then a female park ranger drove up from the opposite direction.  After flagging her down, we explained our situation.  She said she’d go back to the office to check for a box (which we’d asked for–to put the bird in) and she said she would call the Wildlife Center of VA to see what they would recommend.

A few minutes later another ranger drove up with a large cardboard box.  As we gently lifted the hawk into the box, we unwrapped it slightly to make sure it was still alive.  It didn’t move, but it did blink.  So far so good.  We gently wrapped it back up, and put it in the box.  We had some duct tape in the car and used that to close the top, leaving a bit of an opening for air.

The other ranger returned and said she’d called the Wildlife Center.  They’d checked and there really didn’t appear to be any wildlife facilities that were any closer than the center in Waynesboro, VA, which was 70+ miles away….

We thanked the two rangers (one of whom, it turned out, is a friend of one of our friends!) and started for Waynesboro.  As we left the park, I snapped a few quick pictures with my phone to show some of the tornado damage….




As I’ve said, we’re used to taking “roads less traveled,” but in this case we really needed to get where we were going as quickly as possible.  The Wildlife Center had said they wanted us to call them as soon as we had a signal for the cell phone, but we were just east of Amherst, VA on Rt. 60 when I was finally able to make the call.  It was almost 2:30 p.m.

The woman at the Center had checked–and confirmed–that they were probably the closest and best facility for an injured raptor, so we kept moving (quickly).  At 2:50, I heard the hawk make a sound–just a small, weak squeak–so at least I knew it was still alive.  We pulled into the parking lot at the Wildlife Center of Virginia at 3:30 p.m.

I asked the woman who met us if there was any way I could get a picture of the hawk, but she said not really, since she didn’t want to open the box in the main area and needed to take him or her back to the treatment area.

While I waited for her to return, I filled out a report on the details of the rescue, and then one of the center “super volunteers” came out with “Gus,” a 22 year old female Barred Owl.  I remembered seeing this bird when the Wildlife Center did an educational program at our school.  Gus is a permanent resident of the Center, and serves as one of their education animals.  You can read her story here.  I DID take her picture.  So beautiful!



When the woman returned, she said that the hawk seemed to have “good energy,” but she cautioned that they wouldn’t know the extent of its injuries until it had been examined by a doctor.  She said I could call on Monday to check on it, and I made a donation towards its care before we left.

We realized we hadn’t eaten anything, so we went to a Chinese restaurant in Waynesboro.  We were seated in a booth, and this, “coincidentally,” was directly to my right:


After we finished our meal, we walked out to the parking lot.  There were several buzzards in the sky, and then I spotted a bird–wait, four birds–with light bellies flying in our direction.  More hawks?!  No, they were …. seagulls!  Four seagulls in Waynesboro, VA, flying west…. That’s different….  And they were quickly followed by two honking Canada Geese (which have special significance to me).  Pretty cool. 🙂

But there’s even a bit more to the story… This evening Wayne called a musician friend to see how his show had gone the night before, and then he told him about our hawk experience.  The friend said that–“coincidentally”–the day before he’d found an old Canadian coin on the ground.  This morning when he really looked at it, he was said he was impressed with the image of a hawk on the reverse side.  Interesting!

Wayne then called one of his sons and started the conversation by asking if he’d had any hawk encounters in the last day or two.  His son said that indeed he had–this morning while sitting on his porch, he saw a huge hawk directly across from his house.  First time he’d ever seen a hawk there–in the city!

I hope that these “coincidental” hawk stories are providing of a circle of healing energy for the one that we found.  Please keep Redtail Hawk #16-0082 in your prayers!

And here’s the route we took. Red markers for the trip to the park; green for our trip back to the Wildlife Center:


Here’s a link to an interactive map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zGp1A4BFNE3g.kBbV84Bd0U7I&usp=sharing

UPDATE: Monday, February 29, 2016

I called the Wildlife Center to check on the hawk, and learned that it had been humanely euthanized due to the extent of its injuries.  I also learned that it was an emaciated adult Red-Shouldered Hawk instead of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk.

Rather than being struck by a car, they said it had possibly been hurt by falling–from the sky or from a tree branch–after being SHOT.  They removed 18 BBs from its wing, head and body.  They estimated that it had been shot 5-10 days ago and had probably been on the ground since then (which led to its emaciated condition).

One of the BBs broke the radius in its right wing and the ulna was probably broken when it fell.  Its right leg was also broken, it had multiple bruises, as well as head and eye trauma.  Due to the seriousness of its injuries–most likely all attributed to being shot–the Wildlife Center has reported this to the game warden in the area.

I have no idea how it wound up in our path, given how severely it was injured.  And while I am so very sorry that this beautiful bird could not be saved, I am still thankful that Wayne and I were able to get it to a wildlife facility where it could be evaluated and then released from its suffering. :'(

Posted in Adventures & Travels, Animals & Wildlife | Comments Off on Journey (almost) to Holliday Lake State Park – Feb. 28, 2016

Sewing with Teenagers!

Each year when we return to school after the Christmas break, we have a special “Winter Week of Wisdom and Wonder” (WWOWW) selection of classes and activities.  Kids sign up for one class and one activity (there are so many awesome choices!), and this year a co-worker’s wife and I offered a beginning sewing class.

On the first day of class, we went on a fabric-shopping field trip. Over the next few days, students made drawstring bags, hand warmers, pillowcases, and small stuffed animals.  Such fun!

Sewing-01 Sewing-02 Sewing-03 Sewing-04

It was SO much fun that I decided to add machine sewing to my art curriculum (in conjunction with a sculpture unit), and the kids had a blast.  We did many of the same projects we did during the WWOWW sewing class.

I worked with each student, individually, to show them the basics of operating the sewing machine.  After they practiced sewing straight lines, back stitching and pivoting at corners, they were able to choose a simple sewing project to make.  The boys enjoyed this just as much as the girls did, and as one boy said, with foot on the pedal and eyes on the lines on his paper, “It’s kind of like driving a car….” 🙂




Some made hand warmers, which are small squares of flannel-lined fabric, sewn together and filled with rice.  When microwaved for 30-45 seconds, these are great to put in pockets, as they stay warm a surprisingly long time.


They also made pillows, and self-designed stuffed animals and “monsters,” which they created from their sketches.  Details were added with fabric paint, stitchery, and fabric pastel sticks.



Advanced Art students were challenged to do a multi-step project that first incorporated a painted or printed design.  One student, who wanted to screen print his design, asked if he could make t-shirts for the golf team if he provided the shirts.  Great idea!

WillB-ScreenPrint-01  WillB-ScreenPrint-03

He also printed on fabric to make a pillow.


The kids are very proud of learning this new skill, and I’m very proud of them. 🙂

RyanS-Sewing2  SecretB-Pillow

KaylaM-DrawstringBag SecretB-Pillow-2 ThomasT-Pillow DavidX-Pillow

More pics are here: Art Students Learn to Sew


Posted in Art Education, Sewing & Crocheting | Comments Off on Sewing with Teenagers!

Shenandoah Valley & Goshen Pass – January 31, 2016

With roads clear after our first major snowfall of the year–and with a beautiful day in the forecast–on January 31, 2016 we set out on one of our “roads less traveled” adventures.

We typically start with a general idea of where we want to go, check maps, and then set our course.  On this day we drove over the mountain to the Shenandoah Valley, and drove south on Rt. 252.  The scenery was spectacular!




This route took us through the quaint little towns of Middlebrook, Newport, and Brownsburg, all rich with early Valley history.


When we came to Rt. 39 we headed west, following the Maury River towards Goshen Pass. This area always offers the opportunity for some nice photographs.





We were surprised to see kayakers braving the rock-strewn white water of the Maury at Goshen Pass!


This guy made it through the rapids okay, but we saw another guy “take a drop in the drink.”  Brrrr!


Just a little further west of the overlook, Wayne carefully made his way down to the river.  This is one of our favorite–and certainly one of the most scenic–places, regardless of the season!



Moving along–and feeling adventurous–we turned off of Rt. 39 West onto Rt. 601.  We weren’t quite sure where it would lead, but we were willing to explore.  Fortunately, we were again rewarded with beautiful views and muddy–but passable–paved and dirt roads.


We took a side road off Rt. 601 to check out Wallace Mill.  What an amazing and busy place this must have been during its heyday….


We followed Rt. 601 until it met Rt. 42, and then, traveling north, we stopped at the August Springs Wetlands–another new-to-us place.  Unfortunately there was too much snow for us to consider walking on the trails, but we hope to go back to see what’s there.



Our last stop before heading home was on Rt. 250 East, where we paused to enjoy the view of the Rockfish Valley.  We truly love exploring our beautiful state!


Here’s where we were:


Photos by Sharon & Wayne


Posted in Adventures & Travels | Comments Off on Shenandoah Valley & Goshen Pass – January 31, 2016

Art & Sewing: End of 2015 and Beginning of 2016

Given my interest in and enthusiasm for sewing, I was wracking my brain trying to come up with some sort of sewing project gifts for my kids for Christmas.  In a major “duh” moment, I realized that I had some other options!

I did this painting of my youngest son and my “granddog,” Yuma, using a picture taken when we were in Colorado in June 2015:


I also painted this one of my oldest son and his wife:


I started both of these paintings on Wednesday, December 16th, got them mailed on Saturday, December 19th, and they made it in time for Christmas on that Thursday!

And yes, I’m still sewing, too!  Minion-themed purse and two zippered pouches for a friend.


Quilted baby blanket for a co-worker and his wife and their new baby girl.


Quilted baby blanket for Wayne’s nephew and his wife and their new baby girl.


So far I’ve made 2 pairs of flannel pajama pants.  The first ones were made during a “Lazy Pants” class at Jo-Ann Fabrics in November 2015, then I made another pair in January 2016.

LazyPants-Pattern PajamaPants-011316-1

Also completed another large purse….


…and flannel pillow cases….




I’ve also made two long, flannel nightgowns.  From patterns!

Nightgown2-013016 Nightgown-012616-01

Busy times, but fun times.  I really enjoy all things creative. 🙂

Posted in Artwork, Sewing & Crocheting | Comments Off on Art & Sewing: End of 2015 and Beginning of 2016