It has been a couple of weeks since my last entry.
A week and a half ago, I spent three days on the road in Greenbrier and Monroe counties in West Virginia doing research for my second book. At The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, I watched a falconry demonstration. The handler allowed his bird, a Harris hawk, native to the American Southwest, to fly into a nearby tree. Then he positioned a food morsel, a body part of a chicken, on his leather glove. His hawk swooped down from the tree and landed again on his glove to eat the food. I was with a group of only five people so each of us had the opportunity to wear the glove and have the bird take the food from us. Exciting!
I interviewed several people from which I hoped to glean some ideas for my novel. I stayed at the Sweet Springs resort where I was joined for dinner by owner Warren Smith and his lady Amonda Moon. They are actively refurbishing the grand resort at Sweet Springs. I detailed this in a chapter in The Spine of the Virginias. Anyone who cares about area history should be grateful to Warren and Amonda for the work they are doing.
Jane and I spent several days on the road last week on a mini vacation. We took the opportunity to patronize two of the businesses that I was fortunate to get to know and profile in The Spine of the Virginias.
I had stayed at the Fort Lewis Lodge in Bath County last spring and wrote a chapter about my experience riding with Carolina Tailwinds, a bicycle touring company. I also profiled a young woman named Shelly Roberts who worked at the Lodge. This trip, I invited several friends from Blacksburg who I ride bicycles with frequently. We arrived on Saturday in the midst of a pouring, drenching rainstorm. We had planned to take our first ride that afternoon but the weather was miserable. Instead, we watched on TV the Virginia Tech versus Miami football game taking place back home in Blacksburg. Our daughter was in attendance at the game. We called her frequently during the game to see how things were going. At one point she sounded so wet we thought she might drown! Fortunately, Virginia Tech won the game handily.
The next day, we were able to take a nice 45 mile bicycle ride. Our trip took us northward from the Lodge through the town of Williamsville, then McDowell, over Bullpasture Mountain, then back through Williamsville again and back to the Lodge. One highlight was the spotting of a pair of bald eagles on the Bullpasture River.
Because the Fort Lewis Lodge is so remote, they include a full breakfast and dinner with each night’s lodging. The food there is absolutely terrific, easily the best I have eaten along The Spine of the Virginias. Unfortunately, Shelly was off work while we visited and I was not able to see her again.
If you'd like to read more about Fort Lewis Lodge, on this website in the "vignettes" section is an article about John Cowden who with his wife Caryl run the Lodge.
At the Capon Springs Resort, we took two nice hikes in the surrounding forests. We were also able to “take the waters,” in the form of a relaxing bath-pool experience. Jane attended two classes in watercolor painting. Capon Springs has many endearing traditions, including a morning flag raising and an afternoon serenade of classical music on loudspeakers placed throughout the resort. One evening’s dinner was provided at an outdoor pavilion with a wonderful sunset view. Capon Springs is an enchanting place.
The day before yesterday, Jane and I rode one of our Honda motorcycles to Rocky Knob recreation area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We took a short hike to a vast open field where we flew a kite in the stiff wind. This area is often used by birdwatchers to see the annual hawk migration. We spent perhaps an hour and a half flying our kite. At one point, for about 10 minutes, there was a flurry of activity in the sky where we saw six hawks. I believe they were either broad-wing hawks or red tailed hawks, but I forgot to bring the bird book.
My book, The Spine of the Virginias, is finally nearing the point where it is ready to be seen and evaluated by potential publishers. I will include a fuller report next week. Thank you, as always, for your interest in my writing projects.