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Star Gazing!

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Fairy of the Eagle Nebula

On the evening of August 24th we had the pleasure of attending an open house at the Lynchburg College Belk Observatory.  Located on one of the highest points on the Claytor Nature Study property (approximately 960 feet above sea level)  the observatory features a 177-square-foot dome.  The dome houses the primary telescope and an observation deck equipped with 12 piers for mounting smaller telescopes.

Viewing the summer night sky through both large and small telescopes and astronomical binoculars we were presented with a show like none other.  Mike and I have had the pleasure of viewing the night sky from the middle of the ocean on several occasions, where the truly dark sky, due to the lack of ambient light emitted from humans and buildings, provides  for viewing spectacular stars and planets and maybe other life forms.  At the Belk Observatory, set at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, within a 470-acre preserve our views were almost as spectacular!  Plus, we had the advantage of viewing the night sky along the full horizon and “close up” and unobstructed.

Lynchburg College opens the observatory several times throughout the year to the public.  Admission is free but a ticket is required.  Visit the web site www.lynchburg.edu/observatory for the public viewing schedule and information on obtaining tickets.

The drive to the observatory from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast is about a 45-minute drive from Lynchburg through a beautiful part of Bedford County.  Stay with us for your viewing weekend and we’ll treat you like a “star” with our generous rooms, room amenities and 4-course breakfast each morning.  Visit our web site www.thecarriagehouseinnbandb.com to compare our availability calendar with the viewing calendar to book your stay with us.

Now the story of the Fairy of the Eagle Nebula:

The Eagle Nebula is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, whose “pillars of creation” are dense clouds of gas and dust that are regions of active star formation.  Out of one of these ten-light-year-tall pillars emerges a gigantic alien fairy holding a telescope in her hands, aimed south toward the approximate location of the Eagle Nebula.  The sculpture was envisioned and sculpted by Jon Hair and was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Belk.

Hard Cider Company Opens

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Bold Rock Hard Cider Opens

Back in 1985, John Washburn bought a 50 acre farm on the Rockfish River in Nelson County, Virginia, attracted by the trout river running through the property and the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding the farm.   As his daughters left the nest John and Robin moved to New Zealand.  From time to time John would come back to Virginia and discovered a number of wineries had popped up and then the beer breweries started popping up.  New Zealanders (Kiwis) love their cider and so he thought, could a hard cider bridge the gap between the great wine the area produces and the awesome beer that is being crafted locally?
Brian Shanks, one of the foremost cider experts in the world just happened to live in New Zealand.  Brian had been in the apple orchard business and after a cyclone hit his orchard in the 1980s he got into making cider before cider became popular.  Over the years he perfected his craft and eventually became known worldwide as the expert to go to for answers.  As an international cider consultant Brian has helped companies in America, Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Apple Press — They use local apple The first step in the process

Today John and Brian (and their wives) own and operate Bold Rock Hard Cider about 35 minutes northeast of Lynchburg on Route 151 in Nellysford, Virginia.  The tasting area is open daily from 11-6 and having been there twice I can assure you it is worth the trip.  You can view the entire process from the crushing of the apples to the bottling of the final product when the production line is operating.  It is quite interesting, but if manufacturing isn’t your thing, then tasting a cold crisp clean bottle of cider is a great way to celebrate your arrival.  If you bring a picnic lunch you can enjoy lunch on their deck or by the banks of the Rockfish River.   Make sure you pick up a couple of 6 packs before you leave!

Apple juice ferments in these holding tanks

Bold Rock cider has been in operation since October 2010, but didn’t bottle their first bottle of cider until May 2012 (It takes time to build the buildings, install the equipment and then to ferment the apples).  Their tasting room hasn’t been constructed yet but plans are drawn and work should start soon.

Carbonation is added to the fermented juice

They are located at:
1020 Rockfish Valley Highway
Nellysford, VA 22958
(434) 361-1030

Labels are added to the bottles

Bottles are washed, filled, capped and rinsed

Directions from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast from Mapquest

. Start out going southeast on Cabell St toward D St.

0.01 mi
2. Take the 1st right onto D St.

  • Go over the D Street Bridge
0.2 mi
3. Turn left onto Rivermont Ave.

  • Rivermont Ave is 0.1 miles past Hancock St
  • Turn Left as if you were heading down town
0.3 mi
4. Turn left onto 5th St/VA-163. Continue to follow VA-163.

  • 5th Street is the First light after crossing the Rivermont Bridge
  • 5th Street becomes VA-163 after you cross the James River
1.1 mi
5. Turn right onto Old Town Conn/VA-210 E.

  • The first light after you cross the James River
  • If you reach Miller Ln you’ve gone about 0.2 miles too far
3.1 mi
6. Merge onto US-29 N via the ramp on the left toward Amherst.

  • Go 3.1 miles DO NOT turn onto US 29 Business
16.2 mi
7. Turn slight left onto VA-151/Patrick Henry Hwy. Continue to follow VA-151.

  • VA-151 is 0.5 miles past Toytown Rd
  • Exxon is on the right
  • If you reach VA-610 you’ve gone about 1.8 miles too far
  • Road is windy in spots-watch your speed
22.

 

Virginia’s Craft Brewers Fest!

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On Saturday, August 25, 2012, at Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Nelson County, the 2012 Virginia Craft Brewers Festival will be held from 2 pm until 8 pm.  Presented by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild and the Virginia Manufacturers Association the festival is designed to gather all qualified Virginia Craft Brewers in an opportunity to promote craft brewing.  The event will feature the Virginia Craft Beer cup (a competition in 5 categories with the cup being awarded to the best overall brewery), beer tastings, live music, delicious food, camping and bike races.

Beer tastings will be available from 22 Virginia Craft Brewers, including Lynchburg’s own Jefferson Street Brewery.  Visit their web site at  www.jeffersonstreetbrewery.com for descriptions of our local beers.  Other breweries participating come from as far away as Hampton, Northern Virginia, Abington and everywhere in between.

Live music will be performed throughout the festival from some of Virginia’s best bands.  Beginning at 2:15 pm with Love Cannon and ending with No BS! Brass Band at 6:45 pm a total of four bands will entertain you throughout the event.

The Rock Barn will prepare amazing food which will be available for purchase throughout the festival.  Featured dishes include: Beer-poached TRB Bratwurst, Shrimp ‘n Grtis, “Tachos by Fardowners”, “Pretzels by ABC”, TRB “Barn Dogs” and various sides and accompaniments.  All great dishes that will pair nicely with the beers being tasted.

Tickets will be sold using a variety of pricing options and inclusions.  General Admission ($10-all beer tastings & food at an additional charge), Tasting Package ($36-admission to the festival, 1 4 oz. commemorative Tasting Glass, 10 4 oz. Tasting Tickets), VIP Package ($45-admission to the festival starting at 1 pm, VIP seating area under a tent with a view of the stage, 1 4 oz. Commemorative Tasting Glass, 1 Commemorative Tasting Mug, 10 4 oz. Tasting Tickets),  Camping and RV Passes and mountain bike racing information can be found online (see www.virginiacraftbrewersfest.com for more details).  **All prices listed are for advance purchase only!  The rain date is Sunday, August 26th.

Take advantage of this inaugural event just up the road from Lynchburg and end your summer on a happy note.  Stay at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and enjoy our legendary 4-course breakfast each morning.  During the month of August we are featuring peaches in our fruit and main dish recipes.  Visit our web site www.thecarriagehouseinnbandb.com to check our availability calendar.    

If you’re heading to the festival and need directions for your GPS Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company is located at 200 Mosbys Run in Roseland, VA.     

 

Peach Pancakes

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Delicious Peach Pancakes

Peaches are in season and we try to use fresh and local ingredients when we prepare our legendary breakfasts.  This year peaches the peaches are especially good.  To make a peach pancake you need to remove the pit from the peach.  To do this, take a paring knife and cut from the top of the peach to the bottom and continue around the pit until you are back where you started.  The pit should be the only thing holding the peach together.  Next take the peach in both hands and twist the sides in opposite directions until one half of the peach has separated from the pit.    Carefully cut the pit out of the other half, using a spoon to get under the pit.

After you have separated the peach from the pit, you need to peel the skin off the peach, then slice the peach into 1/4 inch slices.  You could peel the skin off before removing the pit, but it is easier to separate the halves before the skin is removed.

Next make the pancake batter.  I use a buttermilk recipe that is easy and quick.

  • Three large ripe peaches
  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar (white)
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 Cups of buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 1/3 cup of melted unsalted butter

Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).  In a second bowl whisk together the wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, whole milk and melted butter).  Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook.

Heat a griddle or frying pan to medium heat.  Put a little butter on the griddle/fry pan and place a peach slice on the griddle.  This step is important.  If you don’t butter the griddle/fry pan the peach will stick when you go to flip the pancake.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix using a fork or wooden spoon.  Mix until just blended together (it will be lumpy).  Do NOT over blend the mixture.  Using a scoop (I use an ice cream scoop)  pour the batter over the peach.  Brown on both sides and serve with butter and maple syrup.  This recipe should serve twelve people.  If you are making them in batches you can preheat the oven to 200 degrees and store the pancakes in the oven until you have cooked all of them and are ready to serve them.

The warm juicy peach adds sweetness to the pancake.  I’m sure you will enjoy these as much as our guests do.

Have a great breakfast recipe?  We are always looking for something special to serve our guests.  Send us an email with your recipe and we may publish it on our blog.  If you will be visiting the Lynchburg area, consider staying at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.  We were recently named as one of the Top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in the United States by BedandBreakfast.com.

 

 

 

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.