Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Another Visitor-Lucky Me!

September 1-4, 2022                                                    Most Recent Posts:
Stony Fork Campground                                  Jodee & Bill Visit Stony Fork
Wytheville, VA                                       Opps…Price Lake & Mellow Mushroom


Bill and Jodee pulled out of Stony Fork at 10:30 on Thursday morning and Mary Grant, my friend from Charlottesville arrived at 1:30 to stay with me for a few days.   We had planned this some time ago, before Jodee let me know they would be in the area. But there is no such thing as too many friends.  I’m sorry they didn’t overlap, they would like each other.

Mary is such an easy house guest.  She comes with food, snacks and settles in easily.   She took up a spot for reading on my patio while I finished posting a blog and then we went for a walk around the Nature Trail and the campground.  Her drive was about 200 miles, the same one I’ll make when I return after leaving Stony Fork.  The hike was just enough for her to stretch her legs.

On the Nature Trail, she’s pointing out the 7 Sisters Trail, we hiked some of that one the next day.


Today we went back to the Nature Trail and then on to the 7 Sisters


It turned out to be longer, rougher and steeper than we’d expected.  We knew we couldn’t go the entire way unless we took one car to the other end which is 7 miles away.   So we turned around and planned our afternoon.

This is my one fungi picture from the trail.  When I have a companion, I apparently don’t take as many photographs.  Too busy chatting I expect.


For the afternoon we drove into Wytheville where we did not have any of Skeeter’s World Famous Hot Dogs.


And we did not get to visit the Edith Wilson (wife of Woodrow) Birthplace as it is closed on Friday.   Huh???


But we did get to see the world’s biggest pencil.



And pick up pizza for dinner from Moon Dog Pizza though we ate it before I thought to get any pictures.


From there we drove to Big Walker Lookout where we had ice cream and it was very good.

These are somewhat better pictures than I took when Jodee and I were here.
Easier to see the lay of the land with the Country Store behind the swinging bridge which is over the parking lot.  I still would not trust that bridge.


I think nearly every spot in Virginia has a civil war battle sign.  Walker Mountain is no exception.   This sign proclaims the Battle of Wytheville.


At least the ice cream looks great in this picture even if neither of us do.


Mary’s was butter pecan and mine was some sort of cherry.  I forget exactly but I remember it was so good we came back the next day.


I took these pictures of folks who paid $8 each to walk on the swinging bridge.



These two actually climbed the tower.  She went all the way to the top.  He didn’t get much further than half way before heading back down.  That’s her at the top in the picture on the right.   I bet the view is fantastic from there which of course is the whole point.





We hung around the campground and chatted on Saturday.  There is no end of talking we can do and laughing.

Had lunch at the picnic table and tried again to take a selfie. 

Not too bad of Mary and the lower half of my face.   Toooo funny!! 

In the afternoon we drove over to Rural Retreat Lake.  I wanted to check it out for kayaking and there was a trail that went around the lake.


The trail started out gravel but became dirt very shortly.


We saw the wild flowers of fall.







But this was my favorite flower of the day.


Almost looks as though these trees were planted in a row.   ??????


Of course, in the woods we saw mushrooms.   Interesting top, interesting stem.


I assume these are some sort of puff ball.  They made me think of “3 pretty maids all in a row”


If this isn’t called a leopard mushroom, it should be.


We arrived at the dam.  After we’d crossed it on the narrow trail,  Mary decided she was ready to turn back. 


We walked up to the top and I followed her across.


From this spot we could see some of the lovely country side in southwest Virginia.
It was such a beautiful day.


Actually I think we were both anxious to go back and have ice cream one…..more….time at the Walker Mountain Country Store.  

And so we did.  But no more pictures.   It was our last day together as Mary left the next morning.  You know you have a very good friend if she will drive nearly 400  miles round trip to spend a few days with you and Winnona.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Jodee & Bill Visit Stony Fork

August 28 -31, 2022                                                    Most Recent Posts:
Stony Fork Campground                Opps…Price Lake and Mellow Mushroom
Site 46                                                              Linn Cove Viaduct Boulder Field
Wytheville, Virginia

Take your mind back to Sunday August 28th and imagine me moving out of Bear Den Campground in the North Carolina Mountains to the mountains of SW Virginia.  Over the preceeding days, I had planned this drive carefully.  When Sharon was here we drove part of google’s idea which was the most direct route and only 125 miles.  Later I checkout the route to and out of Spruce Pine and chose to do that and go 50 miles out of my way to avoid narrow and winding roads and stay on gradually mountain climbing interstates. It took nearly twice as long.  But I didn’t care.  It kept me on big roads going up and out of these mountains.   More time, more gas, less stress

IMG_3895My destination was Stony Fork Campground, in the Jefferson National Forest at the foot of Big Walker Mountain  outside of Wytheville Virginia.  It sits in a dense forest at 2400 feet.

I arrived after a long tiring drive drive.  The wonderful camp host came by and helped me back Winnona into her long narrow site.  I hooked up the electric, put out the slides and chilled out.  Leftovers were at the ready thankfully.

PXL_20220829_122200640As you can see, the campground has sites with no hook ups, some with electric only which is what I have and a few with water and electric.  No water hook up for me. The good news is I had a water spigot by the road  at the front of my site.  The bad news, which I didn’t know until I was already set up,  is that the spigot had no threads for hooking up a hose to fill your tank.  So I just filled gallon jugs for everything including flushing.  Not a big deal.   I did this just fine for two weeks.  My site # 46 was also right beside Stony Creek which crisscrosses the campground road at several spots, all of which are low and prone to flooding with days of rain.   But, the creek is lovely and the sound of the water after it rained was too.

AND I was right near the Nature Trail.  That’s Winnona and Ruby in the background.


The next morning I took a hike on the campground Nature Trail which turned out to have an abundant variety of mushrooms. 

It was an amazing amount of fungi.  It seemed to be everywhere I looked.

I wondered if this one would catch rain in a pool if I came during a rain storm.



So white, as though it had been bleached.


At first it appears this mushroom is growing straight out of the bark of this fallen tree.  Mushrooms are not plants so they don’t have roots as such.  Mushrooms have an amazing network of mycelium.


Looking closer I see that the mushroom has grown out of this hole which has probably filled with decomposing matter.  Like other decomposers, mushrooms help wood to rot and return to soil.  The whole system is just beyond belief.


No two alike I’m sure.


Also at my feet were black walnuts still in the first of their two protective shells.  I wonder why they have two.  These are seriously tough nuts to crack.   They have both this pulpy green covering and a really thick shell.  Squirrels must have incredible jaws and teeth to eat these.


I remember hearing stories from old time farm neighbors of their having to don gloves and pick up these green looking nuts to scatter on their lane so the vehicles would smash the outer covering before they got out hammers to crack the shells.  The gloves were because handling the nuts directly would cover their hands in a dark brown color that was difficult to remove.  Great as a brown dye no doubt.

This is one of my favorites from today.  I like its mottled top and matching colored stem.


Another rainwater catcher??


I assume this is some sort of a puffball.  I love its non smooth skin.  I choose it as another of today’s favorites.  Do you have any favorites?


Although a similar color to my favorite above, this one has a white stem.  How can their be so many unique mushrooms all in this same area?


This one appeared to be growing sideways rather than broken off.


The Stony Fork nature trail is a horse shoe shaped trail starting and ending on the campground road.  At its highest point up the mountain, the much longer Seven Sisters trail goes off from it.   Not today.   I have friends coming this afternoon.


Two tiers.  Isn’t it great?   Favorite #3.


Ruffled, dark, trimmed in cream.   Another favorite.


Similar to the above but a swirl.  It’s all just amazing.


And if you don’t have an RV, you can come and walk the Nature Trail and stay in the park’s only log cabin.


Happy happy for me Jodee had planned her route so that she and Bill could stop and see me for a couple of days here.  We met each other through our blogs and this is the 2nd or perhaps 3rd time we’ve met in person.  They are so great at meeting up with friends and family on the road.  I’m honored to be included.

The next day the 4 of us (Tessa included) went to lunch in Wytheville at The Log House Restaurant built here as a two room home in the famous year of 1776.  There were additions in 1804 and in 1898.  There was a printed history of the house and its additions on every table.

  Thank goodness I took this picture before we even ordered since I obviously took none of the food we had.  As usual, we were too busy talking.


Jodee and I took a tour around the restaurant after lunch.  There were quite a variety of places to eat other than the front room where we were.  Though all of the people eating lunch were in that front room.


And displays of artifacts found on the property.




It’s an interesting sort of higglety pigglety building.



I snap this picture as we leave.  I’m not sure whether Tessa is going to get any of the contents of “the doggy bag”.


On their final day here and the last day of August, Jodee and I took a trip up to Big Walker Lookout to see the store, the tower, and the views.   It is definitely a SW Virginia attraction.  Many patrons arrive on motorcycles as the surrounding narrow curving mountain roads are advertised specifically to them.



Coming attractions were posted.


Here is the tower which you can pay $8 to climb for better views.  We declined.   There is also a swinging bridge (lower right) that will take you over to the structure blocking the view in one of the pictures below.   No way would I get on that swinging bridge given the looks of it but we saw someone do it and survive.


We snatched a volunteer to get our picture in front of some of the kitsch including the guy behind us.



I love this one of Jodee and her guy in the tie .  We did no end of “commenting” and laughing.



This is the picture of the other end of the “swinging bridge”.  The views would be even nicer without it.





Sadly they left the next day and due to some health issues for Bill had to make a mad dash for home in Arizona.  All turned out well thankfully.   I really loved seeing them and so appreciate their effort to meet me here.