Augusta Springs Wetland Park & Goshen Pass – August 27, 2017

A couple of years ago we discovered Augusta Springs Wetlands Park, but with ice and snow on the ground at the time, we knew we’d have to come back another time.  On Sunday morning, August 27th, we decided to visit again.

We got on Rt. 254 in Waynesboro since it offered an alternate, new-to-us route to Staunton, and ultimately to the park.  Any time we can stay off of main roads and interstates–and have pretty, rural views–is a plus. 🙂


As we drove through Staunton, I realized we were going right by Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room, and I impulsively turned into the driveway.  Why, you might wonder?  Because this property–950 West Beverley Street in Staunton, VA–used to belong to my great-great grandfather, John P. Koontz.

I knew the cottage wasn’t original, but I wondered if the owners had any information about the history of the land and former buildings.  We were told that the cottage had been built about 10 years ago on a site that had become sort of a city dump (!), and they let us wander around a bit on the site.  At first I thought one of these houses (at the back of the property beyond a gate) might have been my great-grandfather’s house, but then I realized they were on Anderson Street and not on West Beverley.

This building, however, which is directly behind the tea house, was intriguing.  Perhaps it’s original, as it’s at the very back of the property against a steep hill.

According to a deed that I found in the Staunton courthouse, the Koontz property (a house and several buildings) was sold out of the family in 1907, two years after John P. Koontz’s death.  I’ll have to see if I can find plats, tax records, and other information about 950 West Beverley Street the next time I go to the courthouse.

We bought some scones at the tea house and thanked the owner for his time and information.   We then continued on towards the park, which is about 20 miles south of Staunton on Rt. 42.



Before exploring the park, we decided to sample the scones–which were delicious! We also enjoyed the messages that were printed on the underside of the jam lids. 🙂


After cleaning up, we looked at a map at the beginning of the walk.

The trail is an easy 2/3 of a mile loop that passes through a variety of habitats.  There were so many flowers and so many colors!




We were in a small meadow at first, and then the trail led through some woods before crossing into a much larger and somewhat marshy meadow.


As we walked on the boardwalk over the meadow, we could see the most amazing tree to our right.  Wayne said it looked exactly like something Bob Ross would have painted!


When we re-entered the woods on the other side of the meadow, Wayne noticed some odd scratch marks on a bridge.  Made by a raccoon, maybe?


Soon we could see the “Bob Ross Tree” again, and we realized it was on sort of an island in the middle of a pond. Interesting that all of the bushes around the base of the tree were the same color!  Does anyone know what type of tree this is?


We were delighted to see some wildlife at the pond.  In addition to the ducks, goldfinches, and other birds, a buck was at the far edge, eating some sort of vegetation that he was pulling up out of the water.



What a pretty place! We opted to just do the “wetlands” trail, but there’s a shorter upland trail that leads to the spring house.  Maybe next time. 🙂



It was still early in the afternoon, so we decided to extend our day trip by driving further south down Rt. 42 to Goshen, VA.  There we turned east on Rt. 39, which runs along the Maury River.



The river was about as low as we’d ever seen it in Goshen Pass.


Blessing the waters of the Maury River:




After sitting by the river for a while, we drove another mile or so down the road to the overlook above the Maury River.  Sometimes we’ve seen kayakers coming through the rapids here, but with the water level so low, I’m sure it would be hard to navigate now due to all the rocks.


As we started for home, we opted to head north on Rt. 252, which is also called the Brownsburg Turnpike.  This scenic byway goes through the little towns of Brownsburg, Newport, and Middlebrook, and while we’ve never stopped in the towns, this is one incredibly beautiful drive!










Below is a link to an interactive map that shows our route.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day, and we hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with us through our pictures. 🙂

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The Beautiful Ferals – August 8-9, 2017

These cats–basically wild, though they may be–are so pretty!  These are pics from the past couple of days.

Orange Girl:




Post-breakfast bathing:



Still so shy….

Beautiful Mama Cat:

Oh, how I’d love to be able to brush out all of the dull, dead hair from this kitty’s coat:

I didn’t see anyone this morning when I went over to feed them, but after using my standard sing-songy call–“Kitties!  Where are the kitties?”–Mama Cat came running over to me and started rubbing around my legs. (In this pic I have the trail cam in my left hand. I set it up before I left to monitor activity today and tonight around the feeding station.)

There was another new “first” today with the Mama Cat: I picked her up while I was standing and held her for a moment–twice–and then gently put her down.  She didn’t really like it, but even some of my personal cats haven’t liked to be picked up and held.

Wayne got some nice shots of the Orange Girl this morning:


She comes closer than she used to, but she is still very, very cautious.

Such sweet girls…. <3

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A Taste of Nashville, Tennessee – August 3-6, 2017

On the road again!  On Thursday, August 3, 2017, Wayne and I set out for Tennessee. The early morning views as we crossed Afton Mountain were beautiful….



It was a wonderfully clear day, but by the time we reached the Lexington area in the Shenandoah Valley things were a bit different….

A heavy, dense fog came out of nowhere, and it continued for miles along I-81 South! Once it dissipated, somewhere north of Roanoke, an accident on the interstate bought traffic to a standstill.   When we finally crept to an exit (30-45 minutes later), we opted to take secondary roads, and detoured through Salem, Virginia.

Fortunately, we had blue skies and no significant delays (other than construction and lots of traffic) on the rest of the drive into Tennessee.


After 9-1/2 hours and 521 miles, we arrived at our hotel.  Whew….

On Friday, we ventured into Nashville and parked in the Music City Center parking garage across from the Bridgestone Arena (home of the Predators).  The parking fee was $15, and we considered this to be pretty reasonable, given that we were only about a block and a half away from Nashville’s “entertainment district.”  Our goal was to spend a couple of hours on lower Broadway, and then leave early enough to avoid Nashville’s rush hour traffic.


The first place we stopped was Rippy’s Bar and Grill on the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue South.  The beer was cold, and the band was hot, so win/win. 🙂


There’s a fascinating blend of old and new in Nashville.  The city was founded in the late 1700s, and named for Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War hero.  Most of the buildings along Broadway were built in the 1800s, but looming just behind them are very sleek and modern hi-rises.  Whoops, I cut off the “ears” of the “Batman” building (AT&T) in the picture on the right.


When we left Rippy’s, we walked northeast along Broadway, surprised by the number of “party barges” and other unusual tour vehicles on the street.  In addition to wagons pulled by tractors and double-decker buses, we saw several “pedal taverns,” including two that were apparently bridal shower events.  These folks–drinking and pedaling their way up the street–were making very slow progress due to a problem that became obvious as they came closer….


There were lots of tourists, lots of neon signs, and lots and lots of music pouring out from every bar and open door on Broadway!




After several more stops in bars and boot shops, we went to Jack’s Bar-B-Que  for lunch. The 2nd floor dining room gave us a good view of all the activity on the busy street below.



After lunch, we stopped by Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for a second time.  There’s a lot of country music history associated with this place, and it’s advertised as “the world’s best honky tonk.”  🙂

We browsed through Legends Gifts (where we bought t-shirts), and then–sucked in by the music–we went into Legends Corner.


The band, fronted by a left-handed guitarist, was impressive, and after a few minutes, Wayne and I joined the other patrons out on the dance floor.  While I can’t say that dancing in a Nashville honky tonk has been something on my “bucket list,” I can say it was fun–and I’d do it again.  😉

There was so very much to see, but we’d only covered a couple of blocks by the time we needed to leave.  We put several places on the “next time” list (Ryman Auditorium, the river front, etc.) and started walking toward the parking garage.

It started to lightly sprinkle as we waited to cross Broadway, and a few seconds later when we were barely halfway down 5th Avenue South, the skies opened up and it POURED!!  We ducked into the stairwell entrance to a fancy restaurant just as the thunder and lightning started. (Google Map’s pic on the left, my pic–and view–on the right.)


The storm cracked and boomed around us, and the torrential rain created rivers on the street.  (Had we known that it would rain this hard and storm so severely–and for so long–we would have stayed at Legends Corner instead of hanging out in a stairwell!) When the rain finally slacked off to sprinkles again, we continued on to the parking garage.

Uncertain as to how quickly the storm was moving east–and since we were going in that direction, too–we decided take secondary roads back to the hotel instead of getting on I-40.  Perhaps it took a bit longer, but it kept us out of traffic and it let us see some of the smaller communities (Donelson, Hermitage, and Mt. Juliet) in the Nashville area.

You can click here for an interactive map of our route.

By that night, the almost-full moon was hanging in a crystal clear sky, and the storm had washed away all of the heat and humidity.  Saturday promised to be gorgeous.

After spending a day (well, a few hours) in the city, we were ready for some back-to-nature time at Percy Priest Lake.  This 42-mile long lake/reservoir was completed in the late 1960s, and while we didn’t anticipate having time to drive all the way around it, there were certain places we wanted to see.

We drove south on Rt. 171, and our first stop was the boat ramp at Long Hunter State Park.  We visited this park two years ago just before a storm came up, and this was the only part of it we’d seen during that trip!


Awww… heart-shaped leaf in the parking lot:

Still within the park, we went to Couch Lake.  Barn Swallows had taken up residence in the covered fishing pier, and while I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of Mama Barn Swallow delivering food, her four babies were still in the nest.


After leaving Long Hunter, we continued driving on Rt. 171 South, crossing another part of Percy Priest Lake.


We took a long, convoluted route to get to our next stop, on Anderson Road.  Even now, looking at Google Maps, I’m still not exactly sure how we got there.  I DO know we were on Anderson Road for what seemed like forever!

Since there’s a possibility that we’d someday take our travel trailer with us on a trek to Tennessee, I wanted to check out Anderson Road Campground.  Unfortunately, when we finally got there a sign said that the campground was full, AND another sign said “No Weekend Drive-Thru’s.”  Well, darn.  I didn’t push, and the woman at the gate didn’t make an exception.

The long trip down Anderson Road wasn’t wasted, however, because we continued on to Anderson Beach.


The beach offered a broad view of the lake, and there were all sorts of boats on the water; sailboats, speed boats, jet skis, and pontoon boats.  Looking way to the left of the beach and using the zoom on my camera, I could see travel trailers perched on a cliff, high above the lake.  Interesting.

We came back down Anderson Road to Smith Springs Road, and then turned north on Bell Road to drive along the western side of the lake.  When we got to the place where we’d seen the RVs on the cliff, we drove in.  We didn’t see anyone around, and given the closed gate, we didn’t pursue it further.

We next headed towards the dam at the far northwest end of the lake, but as we approached it, a police car was partially blocking the road.  The officer didn’t stop us, so we continued on for another couple of blocks.  There we encountered two police cars, and the officers were blocking the road and making everyone turn around.

If you’re a local and you have to detour, it’s usually an inconvenience, but not a problem.  For out-of-towners like us, it proved to be a bit more of a challenge.  Even with maps and a GPS, we probably detoured much farther than we needed to, but ultimately we made it back to a small park near the dam.



Again using the zoom on my camera, I could see what appeared to be a water park across the lake.  I later learned this was Nashville Shores Lakeside Resort.

We drove across the dam on Bell Road…

…then stopped for a delicious lunch at “Papa Turney’s BBQ.”


Again using the zoom on my camera to look across the lake, I was able to see the park where we’d stopped near the dam.

Our last planned stop was Seven Points Campground. Oh, no–at the gate there were signs saying no weekend drive-thru’s and that the campground was full. 🙁

This time I asked if it would be possible to quickly tour the campground since we were from out of state, and I was given a temporary pass, good for 15 minutes.  I’m sorry we didn’t take any pictures of the campground (you can view ones on Google by clicking here), but what an awesome place!  Most of the campsites are directly on the lake, and all are large, most are wooded, and the fees are extremely reasonable ($26 per night).  This campground is definitely somewhere we’d love to stay if we ever do bring our trailer to Tennessee….

We were running late (the detour was partially to blame) and we needed to get back to the hotel.  Using maps, I tried to plot a course that would take us back to Rt. 171 a few miles south of the hotel, but we were absolutely flabbergasted when we started seeing rural intersections with no road names or route numbers!  (In retrospect, I could have just plugged in the address of the hotel in the GPS–but I didn’t think of it at the time!)

But how rural were we?  Rural enough to have a family of wild turkeys run across the road in front of the car. 😉

We were kind of surprised when we finally saw I-40, but at the next intersection when I thought we should turn right, Wayne said he thought we should continue straight–which we did.

I didn’t take this picture (it’s from Google maps), but my jaw literally dropped when we crested a hill on this country road and could see the sign for our hotel–RIGHT THERE!  We’d actually turned left onto Adams Lane each time we’d left the hotel (to get to a stoplight on Rt. 171), but I’d had no idea where the road went if you turned right.  At least we know now! 😉

This is the route we took around the lake (best that we can remember!)

You can click here for an interactive map of our route.

On Sunday, August 6th, we got up early, packed our stuff, and started the long trek back to Virginia.








We got home 9-1/2 hours later (traffic was just generally slow on I-81 north of Lexington) and after 518 miles of driving….  Whew, again.

Now you might be thinking that this was an awfully long way to go just to spend a few hours on Broadway in Nashville, and a few more hours driving around a big lake–and you’d be right!

While those were enjoyable “extra” things we did while we were there, the main reason for the trip–and the very, very best part of it–was getting to visit with my oldest son, daughter-in-law, and three-month old grandson who live in the area!


Seeing this beautiful little boy (along with his mommy and daddy) made the long drives completely worth it!   I can’t wait to go back! 🙂



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Trail Cam Pics and Breakthroughs! – August 1-2, 2017

When I fed the kitties on Tuesday morning, I set up the trail cam to see what’s happening around the feeding station when I’m not there.

Apparently Orange Girl has decided to make like “Snoopy,” and hang out on top of the feeding station. 😉


Pictures confirmed that she DID get down occasionally, but that evening she was back on her perch:

Major “LOL” at her expression–“That’s the funniest looking cat I’ve ever seen!”

Mama Cat has continued to come over to me for pre-breakfast petting, and when I was there on Tuesday, she came back over to me after she’d eaten a little, apparently wanting attention as much as she wanted food.  (This was a first.)

When one of my co-workers walked by and stopped to talk, I thought the kitty would run away, but to our complete surprise, she came over and let my co-worker rub her!   Even though it’s taken months for her to get to this point, I had to wonder if she was a true “feral.”  Instead, I think she’d started to remember a “past life” when she was someone’s pet….

On Wednesday morning, Mama Cat was waiting for me, again.

She came over–with no hesitation–for her pre-breakfast rubs.

“Ah, yes, that feels so good!”

After she’d eaten, she came back over to me (I’d sat down on the concrete block I use to hold the trail cam), and I rubbed her a bit, and then cautiously, gently picked her up and put her on my lap!

She purred and “made biscuits” for a few seconds, then quickly hopped down as if to say, “Whoa–did I just do that?!”

But she came right back over to me, and I picked her up again!  This time, she stayed even longer:


Wayne zoomed in on her face, and I think she was truly remembering; remembering a life she had months ago–or even years ago.


She walked over to Wayne and let him rub her, too, (another first!) and then she followed us to the car as we were leaving….

I don’t know how this beautiful cat came to be feeding four kittens out of a dumpster last December, but I’m now convinced that she has known love before. My hope is that she will only know love in the future….

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Feral Trio – July 31, 2017

This morning Mama Cat came out for rubs before breakfast.  Each day I try to rub her a little more–and in different places–and she was fine when I rubbed down her back to her tail.  She was “making biscuits” the whole time.

Orange Girl always watches when Mama Cat is twirling around my legs, and she probably doesn’t quite know what to think of it!  While she still talks to me each morning from a safe distance, I don’t anticipate her coming close enough for me to touch her–at least not yet. 🙂

And the pre-breakfast dance continued….


Cali-1 was taking it all in, too.

I’d set up the trail cam Sunday morning, hoping to see the black kitty (already a TNR baby), “Floofy Tail” (that I haven’t trapped) or other cats I’ve seen over the last 7 months.

I haven’t seen “Cali-2” (TNR – Jan. 2017) since late last May:

And I’ve only seen this kitty once, in late January 2017:


The large male I trapped in March was possibly spotted by one of my co-workers a week or so ago, but I haven’t seen him since the trail cam took this sweet picture of him with Orange Girl:

When I downloaded the trail cam pictures this morning, I only saw Mama Cat and Orange Girl, and the camera caught this “argument” between the two of them on Sunday afternoon:

Girls, girls!  You need to share!  There’s enough food in the bowl for several kitties!

I hope I can continue to feed them in one location, as I’d rather not set up additional feeding stations!

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