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Woodson’s Mill Reopens

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Woodson’s Mill

In 1794 Woodson’s Mill, as it is now known, opened and things haven’t changed much since then.  The new owners Will and Sarah Brockenbrough, inherited the property after Will’s dad died in 2001, but the mill sat empty for over a decade until they decided to restore it.  Both Will and Sarah have degrees in historic preservation so they wanted to bring the mill back to life but they wanted it to be as authentic as possible.   Today they mill corn and wheat much as it would have been for over 200 years.  The Mill sits on the Piney River and the river water  is diverted from a dam upstream to a canal that powers the mill.   In the early 1900’s there was some “modern” equipment installed in the mill and while it is still there but not utilized in the milling process today.

Grain shoot and mill stone

Organically grown grain from local farmers is milled in small batches.   The grain is milled slowly to avoid the heat generated by commercial mills to prevent breaking down the oils in grain and to preserve the moisture and nutrients found in the grain giving you a product with more taste and texture.  The final product is fresh and without any additives or preservatives.  I checked the label from cornmeal purchased at a grocery store which had 7 ingredients vs. the corn meal from Woodson’s Mill which just listed white corn as the only ingredient.   After this label comparison which product do you think we would rather eat!

Water flowing into mill wheel

The mill stones which grind the grain weigh about one ton.  Water flows over the mill wheel which powers the stones.  The speed of the stones is controlled by adjusting the flow of the water moving the large mill wheel.  The best part of the mill is that you are able to see the whole process from start to finish.  Fresh grain comes in and about 15 minutes later it’s grits or cornmeal.  Originally the mill was a place to buy grain and later it became the social hub in Nelson County.  Today it is one of the last grain mills in the country that still are operational.   Visiting the mill offers you a rare glimpse of history.

The mill is only open on Saturdays which is when they typically grind the grain.  It is worth the trip to see the mill in action and to buy whole grain flour or grits/cornmeal.  If you can’t get by there on a Saturday they do sell their products online at www.woodsonsmill.com.    They are sold in recyclable, compostable packages.  While the mill uses only the flow of water to operate the milling equipment  they currently use electricity for lighting.  Soon they hope to generate their own power and be in a position to sell electricity back to the power company.

Woodson’s Mill is located about 45 minutes northwest of The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and is located at 3211 Lowesville Road, Lowesville, VA

  • To reach the mill from Lynchburg take 29 north and travel about 16 miles (from RT 210 and RT 29)
  • Turn Left onto RT 151 (Patrick Henry Highway) and travel 7.5 miles
  • Turn left onto Lowesville  Road and travel approximately 2.4 miles to the mill on the right.

Cure the Dog Days of Summer by hitting the Ski Slopes!

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Snowflex, Lynchburg, VA photo from Virginia.org

Summer has two more months to go, but this one has been hot and dry.  The grass which usually turns brown as it goes dormant during the dog days of August has been brown for the past 30 days.  As June came to a close the wind storm knocked out our power for four days as temperatures soared past 100 degrees.   The vegetables in the garden keep begging for water and the fish in the pond think they are being poached.

With so much heat and drought we decided it was time to embrace winter.  Try to visualize swooshing down the ski slopes (I know the Summer Olympics are in full swing).  Feel the cool and refreshing breeze as you pick up speed.  OK maybe your imagination can’t take you there but you can still go skiing.  No I’m not talking about getting on a plane and heading to South America where it is winter.  Just hop in your car and head to Lynchburg where you can enjoy the ONLY year-round skiing in the Western Hemisphere.  That’s right; in Lynchburg Virginia you can hit the slopes and ski or go snow boarding or tubing, even during the dog days of summer.

Snow-flex is on the campus of Liberty University and is open to the general public.  They offer equipment rentals and lessons or you can bring your own.  Tickets are affordable and the views of the city are spectacular.  We have had avid skiers stay with us who have hit the slopes and they report the experience is almost like skiing on snow, except you don’t have to dress up like the Michelin Tire Man in layers of clothing to try to stay warm.  You will need to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts.

Check out these youtube videos for more information on Snowflex.

 What is Snowflex?

Miss America Contestants visit Snowflex.

A first timer at Snowflex.

A professional at Snowflex.

Cure the dog days of summer.  Come stay with us at our award winning bed and breakfast and check out the skiing in Lynchburg.  Bring your camera and you can post your adventures on Youtube.

For more information visit the Snowflex website.

 

 

 

White Dinner

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Grape Vines at Sans Soucy Vineyards

 On Saturday, July 21st, Sans Soucy Vineyards in nearby Brookneal, Virginia hosted it’s Annual White Dinner.  Located on a former tobacco farm the vineyard area was chosen for its gentle hillside slope.  The first farm winery in Campbell County, their first 5 acres were planted in 2001.  The winery and tasting room are located in a century old restored barn and school house, a unique setting for delicious wines.

Photo by the Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Tasting Room-San Soucy Vineyards

Taking place on the vineyard grounds, under the stars, Chef Paul Anctil and his wife Cameron delighted guests with a unique and delicious dinner menu featuring white foods and  white wines  in a white setting.  Guests wore white.  The vineyard was decorated in white.  The breeze was brisk and the sky cloudy but never rainy.  

Photo By The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Dinner on the grounds of Sans Soucy

The evening began with a delicious Sangria while guests mingled, explored the vineyard and began to relax.  Featuring farm to table eats and wine pairings the menu included the following dishes:  Grilled Watermelon with Ahi Ceviche, accompanied by 2008 Viognier Reserve, Grilled & Roasted Goose-Stuffed Pepper with a Pasilla Sauce, accompanied by 2008 Traminette Reserve, the main course was Pulled Pork, Cuban -style Black Beans & Rice accompanied by Traminette Reserve, Grilled Pain Perdu topped with Mango Jicama Salsa accompanied by 2010 Tempranillo Reserve and Sweet Potato Pudding topped with Chocolate Espresso Bean Ganache garnished with a Churro  and Coconut Praline accompanied by 2010 Legacy.  (Of course all of the wines were from Sans Soucy Vineyards!)

A toast! Pictured are Wayne and Susan Stoner and Kathy Bedsworth

Live music was provided throughout the evening.

 This annual event is by invitation and sells out each year.  If you’re interested in next year’s White Dinner contact Sans Soucy Vineyards at www.sanssoucyvineyards.com.  You’ll be glad you did!

Horse barn is close to the tasting room

Crabtree Falls

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Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls is about 1 hour from Lynchburg and is arguably the most beautiful waterfall in Virginia.  It is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi and is a must see.  The falls were named after William Crabtree who settled in the area in 1777.  The hike to the top of the falls will take about 3-4 hours and the return trip down will take about half that time.  There is parking at the bottom of the falls for about 20 cars and the last time we hiked it there was a parking fee of $7.00 (take cash or check and a pen to deposit the fee in box and mark which space you are parked in-honor system).  There are restrooms at the bottom of the falls.    During the hike you will be climbing almost 1400 feet in elevation.  Most of the trail is along the falls although there are a number of switch backs.  Wear a good pair of hiking boots and socks and take lots of water with you as there are no concessions stands to buy water.  Take your camera, the scenery is beautiful!  Since we have lived in Lynchburg several people have died when climbing on the rocks in the falls so we advise our guests to stay on the trails.  The hike is moderate difficulty.   This is a good way to burn lots of calories.  According to a calorie calculator you will burn 1500 calories so don’t worry about eating too much at breakfast!

To reach the falls from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast (directions from Mapquest):

  • Take the D Street Bridge    Go .2 miles
  • Turn Left onto Rivermont Ave    Go .3 miles
  • Turn Left onto 5th Street (changes to VA 163)    Go 1.1 miles
  • Turn Right onto VA 210 (at light)    Go 3.1 miles
  • Turn Left onto US-29 (don’t take US 29 business)    G0 16.2 miles
  • Turn Left onto VA-151 (Patrick Henry Highway)    Go 10.6 miles
  • Turn Left onto Crabtree Falls Highway (VA-56)    Go 14.5 miles
  • Follow signs to parking area

Baby snake sunning itself on a rock

 

Small falls

 

Kathy, your innkeeper, enjoying the sound of the water!

 

Cool and refreshing watermelon

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Cool and refreshing breakfast fruit

Summer is here and what would summer be without watermelon?  We serve this as a fruit course during the month of July.  It is the perfect fruit, juicy and refreshing on a hot summer day.  The sauce is a tangy, gingery sauce.  The chopped pistachios give the dish great contrast in both tastes and textures.  It is sweet and salty,  juicy and crunchy.  It couldn’t be easier to make!

Start by cubing one-inch squares of fresh seedless watermelon that has been chilled, pour the sauce over the cubes and sprinkle with some chopped pistachios and serve!

The sauce:

  • Stir together:
  • 6 oz of Greek yogurt (can use plain yogurt as a substitute)
  • 2 Tablespoons of honey
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger

 Serving suggestions:  This can be served on a plate or in a bowl.  If you are having a large gathering you can hollow out the watermelon and serve from the hollowed watermelon rind.

This dish is very versatile.  Serve it as a breakfast fruit, a refreshing dessert or as a fruit salad.  It has been a hit with our guests and I’m confident you will love it too.

On Saturday we got some great fresh peaches from the farmer’s market and in about a week our black berries will be ready to pick.  This is the time of year to enjoy all the fresh fruit that is available locally!   We will be posting other recipes using fresh fruits and vegetables so keep checking our blog.

Bed and Breakfast goes black after storm

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Photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

My bedroom after the storm.

It’s amazing what we take for granted now days.  With a flip of a switch we have power and all the things that go with it such as hot water, air conditioning, computers, televisions, stoves, washers and dryers and much more.  All that changed suddenly last Friday (June 29th) about 9:30 PM.  After taking Kathy out for a birthday dinner we headed home and were relaxing until the wind picked up and we ran outside to secure all of our front porch furniture.  The wind got worse the power flickered and then things went black. Finding our flashlights we wandered around the house to see if there was any damage and noticed a huge tree limb from across the street had fallen and was blocking the street.   As storms go it wasn’t much of a storm, only about twenty minutes of high winds with some thunder and lighting and an insignificant amount of rain which did nothing to ease the drought.  It was the hottest day of the year with temperatures reaching 103 degrees and this little wind storm dropped the temperature about 20 degrees.  Without power we called it a night and we expected things to be back to “normal” the following day.

Saturday morning we woke up and still no power.  The forecast was for another 100+ degree day but I had confidence that things would be restored quickly now that it was daylight.  Fortunately we didn’t have quests that weekend so we thought it would be a great day to do some exploring around town, but first we decided to go to McDonalds.  As we approached the golden arches traffic came to a complete stop.  As we inched our way closer and closer it was apparent that we were not the only ones without power.  The line of people waiting to be served was out the door, every parking spot was taken and people were parking blocks away and walking…we didn’t stop for breakfast that morning.

The phone started ringing.  “Do you have rooms available for tonight?” the caller asked.  “Our power is out and we aren’t taking reservations until it is restored,” Kathy replied.  I can’t blame people wanting to get out of their hot house but I thought they were over reacting as power would surely be back on by mid-afternoon.  As we drove around and saw trees down, streets closed, power lines in the road I realized that we may not have power today.  Every couple of minutes the phone would ring….”Do you have any rooms available?”  After about the 30th calls we changed the message on our phone, “Due to the power outage we are not taking reservations until our power is restored.”  We, like the 70+ percent of Lynchburg that didn’t have power, just made the best of a bad situation until we started hearinig that it could be a week or so before all the power was restored.  Deciding that it might be prudent to get a hotel room with air conditioning I started making calls.  The front desk person, if they even answered the phone, would laugh when I asked the question so when it was obvious that there was not a room available within a 60 mile radius we made the best of a bad situation and went to bed early.  That night it was a little warm in the house, but I was still confident that we would get power the next day.

Sunday we woke up to no power and Kathy went jetting off to Michigan to visit her mom.  I called people that had reservations with us this week and explained the situation (no power, but I’m optimistic that it will be on before they arrive later in the week.)  Every one cancels their reservation.  The phone continued ringing and ringing and ringing, locals looking for a room with air.  By the afternoon I decided to go to the movies to cool off.  On the way home I had the brilliant idea that I could get a generator and hook up a window air conditioner that was stored in garage and be able to sleep in air conditioned comfort.  Stopping at all the stores in town I quickly found out that no one had generators, but I could order one and have it in three weeks.  That reminded me of looking for a snow blower two winters ago before the third major snow storm hit us.  To make a long story short, I bought a hammock since I couldn’t find a generator and hung it over the covered driveway.  Even though the drive is covered it does get a little sun in the late afternoon so I would cool down the asphalt by wetting it down at dusk and then settle in for the evening.  It’s amazing how many cars drive up and down our street all night long!  Where are they going?  There isn’t anything open at 2:00am and no one has power.  Why aren’t they at home sleeping?  Some day I’m going to stay up all night and follow all these people to see where they are going.  There must be something really interesting at the end of our street for all these people to be driving there.  That’s a project for another day, for now, I’ll just put a pillow over my head and try to sleep.

Monday morning.  Another HOT day!  I’m not going to waste my time calling hotels; I’m going there in person.  Someone has to be checking out of a room and I was going to be there to get it.  Well that plan didn’t work, but at least I was able to recharge my cell phone…yes, people were still calling and no, I don’t have any rooms available but at least I now had a fully charged phone.  By the afternoon I decided that I needed to clean out our three refrigerators and our free-standing freezer.  Rather than just throw things away I decided to have a cookout and feed the neighborhood before things went bad.  We had wild Alaska salmon, pork chops, steak, hamburgers and pork loin as the main course and had a feast.  Thankfully I had a full tank of propane for the grill.  Dinner was a big hit.  It’s always good to connect with your neighbors.  As I was cooking the power came back on.  Life is good again.  I rolled up the hammock and moved indoors to our bed.

I was one of the fortunate ones.  Our power came on but there are still lots of people without power.     Tuesday morning I start getting calls from all the hotels in town letting me know they now have a room available for me, but no one is calling me looking for a room.     As I sit in my air conditioned office writing this post there are hundreds of electric workers in the hot sun on this 97 degree day working to restore power to more neighborhoods so that other families can get back to normal.  The City workers that had July 4th off are working hard trying to clear streets.  The land fill is open (I took a truckload of brush there).  Later tonight I’ll pick Kathy up from the airport.

If you are reading this post, I want to assure you we now have power AND we have rooms available.  Please feel free to call us and make your reservation.   To put it another way, The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast is open for business.  We have cool rooms and cold beverages!  Call now to reserve your room!

I hope everyone has a great 4th of July.