Trip to Floyd – Day 4

We started the day with a healthy breakfast from our hosts. After we packed the car we walked from the farmhouse up to operations center of Miracle Farm, Ed and Karen’s house.

We were greeted by Pris, the friendliest cat I’ve ever seen. The first time I saw Pris, three days prior, he had rubbed against my legs, purring loudly, and then plopped down on my feet, relaxed and comfortable.Miraclefarmstream

I took some photos of the cats,the organic gardens, and the river (see photo); then the batteries in my digital camera ran out. The camera is several years old and seems to be an energy hog. It really hurt because I missed two scenes that I would have liked to have recorded.

Pris the cat was sitting in front of me, offering to shake hands like a dog. When I bent over to pet him, he jumped onto my left shoulder! Then he stretched out around my neck with his front paws on my right shoulder and relaxed. That’s a friendly cat.

Ann discussed composting with Ed. Advanced gardeners like to share tips and stories about their successes and failures, which often involve composting and mulching.

We said goodbye and drove into Floyd on Laurel Branch Rd. As we traveled east, we saw a sight that was eerie and strange. On a wooden fence that connected to an old shed, a flock of buzzards (turkey vultures) was catching the morning sun. About 30 of these big birds were on the fence and ridge line of the shed, about three feet apart, with their wings open, gathering sunlight. And the batteries in my camera were dead. It was such a unique sighting and I didn’t get to capture it — very disappointing. (Now I know why professional photographers like Doug Thompson carry two cameras.)

We bought some batteries in Floyd, took some photos, and jumped on the Blue Ridge Parkway, headed towards Roanoke. It was a beautiful drive (except for the new houses visible from the Parkway near Roanoke — is nothing sacred?).

In the Roanoke airport waiting for our flight to Atlanta, we reflected on all that we had experienced on the trip. Floyd is truly a unique place.

Trip to Floyd – Day 1
Trip to Floyd – Day 2
Trip to Floyd – Day 3

Trip to Floyd – Day 2

This post describes our second day visiting Floyd, Va, on Oct 5, 2007. Here’s the Day 1 post.

On Friday we took our time getting up and out, enjoying the sounds of rural Virginia at the Miracle Farm B&B: cows mooing in the distance, crows and hawks playing their war games, and the mountain stream behind the farmhouse. We ate the delicious breakfast delivered by Ed and Karen and went out to explore Floyd.

Since our cell phones were not getting a signal around Floyd, we went to a local retailer to buy a tracfone to check our voice mail and to make local calls. When we purchased it, I noticed a warning that only two phones per person can be purchased. I asked the store manager about regulation — she said that they enforced it strictly. Apparently they often get out-of-state cars with several passengers who buy as many phones as they can as often as they can. What is going on…?

After we purchased a phone and checked our voice mail, we went to the public library to use the computers to check email.  Then I dropped Ann at The Harvest Moon so she could determine if we can get the natural and organic foods that we like in Floyd. (Ann was impressed.) I went to Citizens, the telecommunications company just up the road, to discuss rural broadband access. I had an encouraging discussion with Shelia at Citizens that gave me confidence that fast Internet and cable TV are available in much of Floyd County.

A few blocks west of the public library, Epperly Mill Rd turns south off of West Main St. Seeing that street sign triggered a memory — I visited Floyd many years ago with childhood friend John David Epperly and his father. I remember that Mr. Epperly grew up in Floyd — I’ve recently learned that Epperly Mill Rd. was named after Mr. Epperly’s grandfather, who owned the Mill.

In the afternoon we drove east on Franklin Pike to look at the countryside. Floyd’s terrain is dominated by rolling hills with mountains in the distance. The entire county is situated on a high plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains, at an average elevation of about 2,500 feet. The landscape is almost an even mix of pasture land and forest, with many beautiful evergreens that look like Christmas trees. Occasionally we saw antique car museums (junk yards), which do not improve the aesthetics or the value of the property.

A Floyd County morning by Doug Thompson

We stopped at the Floyd Dry Goods Store. Amy Gravely, who had lived in my home town of Martinsville for several years, runs the store, which has quite a unique mix of interesting goods. We enjoyed the store and the conversation.

We returned to the Floyd Country Store for a late lunch. I saw Doug Thompson, local blogger and photo-journalist (his photo above), sitting on a bench in front of the store. I introduced myself to Doug and starting asking questions. Doug grew up in Floyd and returned to Floyd from Washington, DC, after spending many years traveling the world photographing wars and other current events. He writes the Blue Ridge Muse blog and knows almost everyone in Floyd County. Doug is quite a story teller — he entertained Ann and me for quite a while.

We went to Over the Moon Gallery & Cafe restaurant for dinner. It’s located above the Harvest Moon store. We enjoyed the acoustic music performed by a local musician. Almost every eating establishment in the town of Floyd features good music, often from live performers.

The next stop was the Friday night jamboree at the Floyd Country Store. This is the event of the week that brings everyone together for socializing and music. Unlike most music venues, no alcohol is served — we saw Woody Crenshaw, owner, scooping ice cream for kids. Families bring children to this event — we saw young children having a great time dancing. We watched Doug Thompson taking photos — I enjoyed watching a pro spot an interesting scene and capture it immediately. The blue grass jamboree cost $3 at the door. It draws a crowd — there were about 500 people in and near the Country Store. After the second band left the stage, a ticket was drawn from the fish bowl for the raffle and I won! Is that a sign?

On the way back to the car, we saw Doug Thompson in the Cafe del Sol having a coffee and sat down with him. He introduced us to Sally, the owner, who is also a vocalist in a local band. Cafe del Sol and The Floyd Country Store both provide wi-fi for customers.

It was a memorable day.

Trip to Floyd – Day 1
Trip to Floyd – Day 3
Trip to Floyd – Day 4

Trip to Floyd – Day 1

We arrived in Floyd at mid-afternoon on Thursday, Oct 3. I was surprised at how small the town of Floyd is, in contrast to its reputation. It felt like we had time traveled back to Mayberry. We were uncomfortably hungry, so we headed for the Floyd Country Store. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 6:30am at our home north of Atlanta. For lunch, I ordered a strawberry milkshake, a grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes, and a peanut butter cookie (here’s the menu). The food would have been delicious if I hadn’t been so hungry, and it was especially good given that it had been eight very long hours since we had breakfast.

I was talking with Jen at the front cash register when I spotted someone I felt like I knew but had never met. David St. Lawrence, author of the Making Ripples blog and the Danger Quicksand book, had walked into the Floyd Country Store. I recognized him from his photo on his blog. After I introduced myself, he immediately invited Ann and I to sit down and talk. He spent almost two hours answering questions and describing the Floyd area, with the underlying theme that Floyd is a great place to live (if you are not dependent on the local economy for employment). I had started reading David’s blog several years ago on the recommendation of Fred First, who writes the Fragments from Floyd blog. (I had discovered Fred’s blog in my ongoing search for great photographs of rural Virginia.) David had been living near Charlottesville at the time, but he and his wife Gretchen had moved to Floyd after falling in love with the area. He is one of many unofficial PR people for Floyd, and he generously took time from his busy schedule to talk with us.

David introduced us to Woody Crenshaw, owner (with his wife Jackie) of the Floyd Country Store and one of the business leaders who has been instrumental in the renovation of downtown Floyd. In addition to the home-grown residents, Floyd’s population includes artists, musicians, and techies who have relocated to the area. There are several art galleries displaying the work of local artists. Excellent musicians emerge from the hills on Friday and Saturday to entertain and celebrate the music they love. Several local establishments have wi-fi so patrons can stay connected to the Internet. The local telecommunications company, Citizens, provides high-speed Internet as well as phone and cable TV service for the surrounding area — a great infrastructure for information workers.

We soon discovered an inconvenience: our cell phones (Cingular/AT&T) could not get a connection. We couldn’t check our voice mail or make local calls. So much for the new AT&T.

Renovated Farm House at Miracle Farm

We were staying at the Miracle Farm B&B about 8 miles west of Floyd. We met Karen Osborne, who relocated from the Bay Area in California, when we checked into the renovated farmhouse where we were staying. The farmhouse is not for visitors who want luxury, but how many 5 star hotels feature the sweet music of a mountain stream as you fall asleep? Karen and her husband Ed prepare four-course organic breakfasts that would be a great start for a strenuous day of mountain biking or kayaking.

We had dinner at the Oddfellas Cantina — good food and good music. With full bellies and a long day behind us, we headed to the farmhouse for some rest and relaxation.

To wake up in a suburb of Atlanta and fall asleep in a rustic farmhouse near Floyd, VA, is a great day.

Trip to Floyd – Day 2
Trip to Floyd – Day 3
Trip to Floyd – Day 4