The Mountains Are Calling...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The mountains have always been my home away from home and taking a long weekend is a must when it starts getting cooler and the leaves start to change colors.  I have been going to Shenandoah National Park since I was a little girl and have loved it so my mister and I decided to make it a yearly tradition of going to the Shenandoah and staying at Skyland Resort.

We loaded up the car (& I do mean loaded up the car...we definitely need to improve our less is more packing skills) and headed out to Virginia.  Our first stop was in Lexington, VA or as I like to call it the Land of Stonewall.  We love eating at The Palms so since Lexington was on our route we decided to stop for a quick lunch.

After a great lunch we resumed our journey to Skyland Resort in the Shenandoah National Park.  We entered Skyline Dr. at the Swift Run Gap entrance.  Its a ritual for me that as soon as we get on Skyline Dr. I immediately roll down the window...there's just something about the smell of the mountains!  

We were in the end room on the second floor at Skyland Resort.  
The view from our room. 

We woke up to cloudy skies and a forecast of afternoon rain from Hurricane Michael so we decided to put off our hiking to the next day (which promised sunny skies) and set out to explore a few of the surrounding towns.  Our first town was Sperryville, VA.  As soon as we arrived in Sperryville it started raining so we didn't stop to tour around but did get a few photos from our shelter (aka the car).

Our next stop was to Culpeper, VA also known as the birthplace of Confederate General A. P. Hill (of course you knew the Civil War history part of the trip was know me!).  We stopped at the visitor center to pick up some pamphlets of things to do around town and toured the town museum (it's attached to the visitor center).  
 1900-1906 National Cash Register.
Portrait of General Ambrose Powell (A. P.) Hill.  Reading recommendation:  General A. P. Hill:  The Story of a Confederate Warrior by James I. Robertson, Jr.

After a quick stop for lunch, we headed to Brandy Station.
 We really wanted to see the inside of the Graffiti House but they are only open on Saturday and Sunday.  The Graffiti House was built in 1858 and was occupied by soldiers from both sides during the Civil War as a hospital and a headquarters.  During the 1993 renovation of this house it was discovered that the walls (under layers of paint and wallpaper) are covered with "names, pictures, and messages" from the soldiers.  What a fantastic piece of history
 This building is located beside the Graffiti House.  I don't know the history of this building, other than it is/was more than likely a church but I thought it was very beautiful.
 Across the street from the Graffiti House, is this monument dedicated to Major John Pelham.  Confederate Major Pelham was a was mortally wounded at the Battle of Kelly's Ford.

We didn't get to see much of Brandy Station before the rain came back in full force.  We decided to head on back up the mountain to our room.  After a few hours there was a break in the rain so we headed down to the lodge for dinner and enjoyed watching the night's entertainment, cloggers (they were great!).

Since Friday was calling for all sunshine, we decided to get up early and head out on a hike.  First of all it was cold, not chilly but cold (low 40s).  (I apologize to my friend Lindsey who lives in Buffalo, NY for that statement as I understand that 40 isn't really cold but for this SC girl any degree below 80 is chilly/cold..HA!)  My parents had previously hiked the Dark Hollow Falls so we decided that we would give that one a try.  I enjoy hiking but have for the most part only hiked flat land.  Hiking in the mountains of the Shenandoah was a whole new thing for me and while getting to the falls was great coming back from the falls was challenging.  However, I was inspired by the female hiker with a baby on her back making the hike and I was channeling my inner Dixie from Homemade Wanderlust and pushed through.  I was very grateful for my trekking poles that I received from my mister for Christmas last year because without them the stops to rest would have been endless.  We meet a ranger on the hike who said that the elevation gain was 440 feet and I felt every inch of it.  However, the falls were beautiful and I am very glad that we did the hike and very grateful that we both made it back to the top.

All smiles before the journey back up!

After our morning hike, we treated ourselves to grilled cheese sandwiches at the Grilled Cheese Mania in Harrisonburg, VA.  I had read about this place on and knew that we would definitely be eating here.  It did not disappoint...the sandwiches were delicious. 
 Grilled Cheese Mania
 My mister ordered the Jersey Boy Grilled Cheese Sandwich which included ham pork roll, a fried egg, and American cheese.
I ordered the Philipo's Pepperoni Strip Grilled Cheese sandwich which included pepperoni and muenster cheese and served with a shot of tomato soup (for dipping).  Holy grilled cheese it was amazing!

We drove past James Madison University, such a beautiful campus and then headed to an antique mall (I could spend hours in antique malls).  On our way back to Skyland Resort we stopped to put gas in the car in New Market, VA.  I told my mister that next year on our visit to Skyland Resort we would be coming back to New Market to explore.  It was an adorable town and jammed packed full of history.

We returned to South Carolina Saturday afternoon and while it's always nice to be back home, I already miss the mountains.  Until next time...

Happy Travels,

Hatfields and McCoys

Sunday, October 7, 2018

After months and months of planning (what can I say, I'm an extreme planner!) vacation finally arrived!  We suffered through the hot HOT hot South Carolina summer (it's still summer, who I am kidding?!) to finally head to the mountains for some cool mountain mornings, fall colored leaves, and beautiful views!  We got all of those plus RAIN!  Ronnie Milsap's song Smoky Mountain Rain kept playing in my head as it rained for 40 days and 40 nights (I kid, for serious it rained 7 straight days).  BUT we were determined to not let the rain beat us so we put on our rain jackets and embraced the weather because there were things for us to see and history for us to learn and it all started in Pikeville, KY.

Have you heard of the Hatfields and McCoys?  Are you team Hatfield or team McCoy?  After reading Feud:  Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900 by Altina L. Waller, I was team Hatfield all the way.  And then of course I saw the History channel's Hatfields and McCoys mini-series.  Kevin Costner as Devil Anse...I mean who wouldn't be team Hatfield after that!  But in all seriousness, team Hatfield.  The majority of the Hatfield feud sites are located in West Virginia with the majority of the McCoy feud sites being located in Pikeville, Kentucky.  However, they are all within 60 miles of one another. 

Due to the rain and detours, our journey from South Carolina to Kentucky was extended a couple of hours, we didn't arrive in Pikeville until mid afternoon which limited us to what we could see with the remaining day time.  We decided to start at the Pikeville County Tourism CVB Visitors Center.  This small but informative center is a great place to start as they have driving tour maps among other Hatfield & McCoy Feud sites items that really get you ready for your journey.  We got our driving tour map and visited the sites in town. 

We ventured to the Big Sandy Heritage Center (Museum).  We knew we were in for a treat (sarcasm) when we walked into what we thought was the museum entrance only to be standing in the jail watching individuals on 1 side of the glass talk to another individual on the other side of the glass.  We walked back out, looked at the sign and sure enough the jail was the first floor and the museum was on the 4th floor.  Side note:  I laugh when I'm uncomfortable, which of course makes the situation even worse so you can imagine just how hard I was laughing during the entire adventure.  Have no fear, we made it to the courtroom, I mean museum (the museum is in a former courtroom).  The museum has 5+ rooms to tour that include not only Hatfield and McCoy feud artifacts like Randal McCoy's bed but also artifacts about the county, coal mining, sports, music, etc.  The Staff were very helpful and knowledgeable as one of the gentlemen accompanied us through the museum to answer any question we might have.  Needless to say, I learned a lot about coal mining which was very interesting!
 Native American Ceremonial Drum
 Milk Jar Holder (one of my favorite things!)

 Portraits of Randolph McCoy (left) and Devil Anse Hatfield (right)
 Randolph McCoy's Bed

 Hatfield McCoy Painting
 Candle Mold

 Canary Cage

After leaving the museum, we visited several Hatfield McCoy feud sites.

 The murder trials of the McCoys (murdered were:  Tolbert, Randolph Jr., Pharmer, Alifar, and Calvin) were held at this Courthouse.  Ellison "Cotton Top" Mounts (one of the accused and son of Ellison Hatfield) was hung after being found guilty of murder.
 McCoy House (now a Italian Restaurant) is where Randolph McCoy lived after his former residence was burned.

Perry Cline's gravesite.  Perry Cline was attorney and family friend of the McCoy family (that's a very short description of who he was in regards to the feud).

Ellison "Cotton Top" Mounts' hanging location.

 Several members of the McCoy family are buried in the Dils Cemetery.
 Gravesite of Roseanna McCoy (daughter of Randolph McCoy).  She fell in love with (and had a child by) Johnse Hatfield (son of Devil Anse Hatfield).  Johnse ends up marrying Nancy McCoy (they later divorce) and his child (Sarah) with Roseanna dies less than a year after her birth.
 Gravesite of Randolph and Sarah McCoy.

 Burial site of Basil and Martha Hatfield.  (Since it was raining we didn't venture up the hill to the actual gravesite seeing as I could just see myself slipping down the hill.)

 Throughout Pikeville there were painted bears on what seemed like every street corner.  I thought it was awesome and brightened the cloudy/rainy day.
After we left Pikeville, we drove pass this Lincoln parking lot statue.  We enjoyed Pikeville and of course we found a place to eat delicious tacos!

Happy travels,