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Things to do

A Poplar Forest Christmas

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Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s retreat just outside Lynchburg, Virginia, will host a holiday open house on Sunday, December 15, 2013 between 10:00  am until 4:00 pm.

Visitors to this octagonal house will see the house as it might have been decorated for Jefferson’s holiday guests.  Evergreen, holly and mountain laurel garlands will grace the railings and banisters, mantels and picture frames.  Rosemary and lavender will scent the rooms.  The natural materials used as the decorations are all found on the grounds, just as they would have been in Jefferson’s day.  The boxwoods shown in the above photo were removed about 3 months ago so that the front of the property can be restored to the way it looked in Jefferson’s time.

In addition to touring the home there will be early 19th century dance presentations by the Regency of Virginia, traditional candle-making demonstrations and the preparation of traditional recipes on an open kitchen hearth.

Admission to the open house is free with a donation of a nonperishable food item for Lynchburg’s Daily Bread of the Bedford Humane Society.  A special discount, 20%, will be offered on items sold in the gift shop throughout the month of December.

Here’s a fact that many people don’t know:  The Watts family built what is now The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Descendants of R. T. Watts were the last private owners of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.  If you are traveling to the area to see Poplar Forest and need a place to stay you can make reservations at their original home, now a bed and breakfast.

Mistletoe Market

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Santa and Mrs. Clause posing with mother and child at the Mistletoe Market

Santa and Mrs. Clause posing with mother and child at the Mistletoe Market

Once again this year downtown Lynchburg, Virginia’s Community Market (one of the oldest, continuously operating markets in the country) is presenting it’s annual Mistletoe Market.

Free Carriage Rides leaving the Misitletoe Market in the Community Market Parking Lot

Carriage Ride leaving the Mistletoe Market in the Community Market Parking Lot

Saturday December 7th, 14th and 21st between the hours of 7:00 am until 3:00 pm the Community Market will be filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and holiday greenery, unique, handcrafted gifts, food and beverage tastings, family activities, carriage rides through downtown (starting at 10:00 am, $2.00 per person,) Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Grinch will be stopping by.

Get your wreaths, trees and other greenery at this years MIstletoe Market

Get your wreaths, trees and other greenery at this years Mistletoe Market

Get a head start on your holiday shopping by supporting your local businesses, vendors, crafters, farmers and others who greatly appreciate your support all year long.  We’ll see you there!

Enjoy the holiday season.  Kathy and Mike with The Grinch.

Enjoy the holiday season. Kathy and Mike with The Grinch.

Kathy and I want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and hope that next year will be a great year for you.  Of course if your travels bring you to Lynchburg give us a call, we would love for you to enjoy The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast as your home away from home.

 

Monument Terrace

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Monument Terrace at night

Monument Terrace at night

It’s only fitting to write about Monument Terrace on Veteran’ Day.  Everyday, Monument Terrace pays tribute to those Lynchburg residents who gave their lives defending our freedoms.  Today, November 11th, Veterans Day there will be a ceremony at the foot of Monument Terrace allowing us reflect on the freedoms we enjoy and the costs of those freedoms.

There wasn’t always a Monument Terrace; originally it was a dirt path that connected Court House Hill (site of the original court house, now the Lynchburg Museum) to what is now 9th Street.  In 1882 August Forsberg designed stone steps, a plaza and a fountain to be placed at the base (now Church and 9th Street).  In 1883 five volunteer fireman lost their lives and statue of a fireman was placed on top of a fountain with water pouring from the nozzle of his hose.  That  statue stood there until 1924.

Today’s Monument Terrace was completed in 1925 and it was intended to be a monument to those who fought and lost their lives in the first World War (1917-1918).  Since then other monuments have been constructed to honor those local heroes from other wars.  There are 132 steps taking you from Church Street to Court Street.  Along the way there are 10 landings and 11 markers and monuments along the terrace.  Eight of the markers are devoted to military service and three commemorate civic milestones.  Today there are monuments to honor those who lost their lives in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  Additionally there is a POW-MIA Monument and a Purple Heart Monument.

Friday gathering to show support for our troops

Friday gathering to show support for our troops

In addition to these monuments, every Friday since 2001 from noon-1:00 a group of citizens gather at the foot of Monument Terrace to demonstrate openly their support for the men and women who serve the United States in its military services.

In the event you are unable to visit Monument Terrace I have posted a few photos below of some of the monuments.

Vietnam Memorial at Monument Terrace

Vietnam Memorial at Monument Terrace

I started with the Vietnam Memorial because I wanted to honor those troops who were not well respected when they returned from the war.

The Korean War Memorial at Monument Terrace

The Korean War Memorial at Monument Terrace

The Korean War is the forgotten war.  Lynchburg like lots of towns and cities across this nation lost troops in this far off place.

A tribute to the veterans of the First World War.

A tribute to the veterans of the First World War.

It was only after we had World War II that this memorial was called a memorial to those who died in World War I.  Let’s hope we never see another World War!  This monument is at the foot of Monument Terrace at the intersection of 9th Street and Church Street.

 

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial--part 2

World War II Memorial–part 2

A tribute to “The Greatest Generation.”  Unfortunately the memorial had to be on two different walls due to the high number of causalities.  The National D-Day Memorial is just 20 minutes west of Lynchburg and is also a must see to those who fought on the Beaches of Normandy towards the end of World War II.

A memorial to those who fought in the Spanish American War.

A memorial to those who fought in the Spanish American War.

Unfortunately, The Spanish American War is just a foot note in many history books.  Monument Terrace pays tribute to those Americans that fought in this war.

A memorial to those who served in the American Civil War.

A memorial to those who served in the American Civil War.

For those of you who haven’t visited the Lynchburg area, we are only 20 minutes from Appomattox Courthouse where the country was reunited almost 149 years ago.  It is worth the trip to visit this national park.

Purple Heart Monument

Purple Heart Monument

IMG_9869.1The origin of the Purple Heart Medal dates back to the American Revolution.  The medal that is used today is given to those wounded or killed in time of war and was established in 1932.  Unfortunately, it is estimated that  more than 1.7 million medals have been given out since 1932.

Tribute to the POW and MIA.

Tribute to the POW and MIA.

This monument is to honor those that were held as a Prisoner of War (POW) or those that never returned from the war, Missing in Action (MIA).

I hope that all of us takes a moment to remember our Armed Forces, both current and past.  Veteran’s Day is more than just a day off or a time to go shopping at the mall.  If you have a reason to visit Central Virginia, I would hope you carve out time to  visit Monument Terrace, The Old City Cemetery, The National D-Day Memorial, Appomattox Courthouse and the Museum of the Confederacy.  There are many other interesting places to visit and things to do, but on this Veteran’s Day lets focus on these venues.  Today at 10:30am there will be a ceremony at the base of Monument Terrace.  Church Street will be closed during the event.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the fall colors by hot air balloon

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Hot air balloon is being filled.

Hot air balloon is being filled.

See the fall colors by air in a hot air balloon!  The Lynchburg area is a colorful area in the fall. The brilliant fall colors can be seen while driving the windy mountain roads, hiking the many trails trails, kayaking down the James River, strolling the paved walking paths of the Blackwater Creek Trail system or by air in a hot air balloon.

Almost ready for flight

Almost ready for flight

Kathy and I took such a trip last winter.  While it was too late to see the fall colors we enjoyed the peacefulness of floating above the trees, seeing the deer run through the forest and the quietness of flight (except when the gas valve was opened to keep the hot air balloon afloat).  If you would like to indulge yourself and do something very special then consider booking your flight on your next visit to The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.  The company that offers hot air balloon flights is Freedom Flights (click their name to be linked to their website where you can book a flight or purchase a gift certificate).

What you need to know about taking a hot air balloon ride is that Freedom Flights will cancel the flight if the winds are too high or if the weather is too bad.  Obviously they are concerned with your safety so check the weather forecast before you book your flight.  Currently they are running a $50.00 off per person special through November 10, 2013 so don’t delay in purchasing your tickets or gift certificate.  The other interesting thing is that you will never know what you will see on these trips.  The wind takes you where it wants to so each trip is different.

Lynchburg hot air balloon

Our reflection as we floated over a pond

If soaring above the tree tops in a hot air balloon is not for you then there are plenty of other opportunities to enjoy the fall colors.  Here are links to a couple of hikes that we have taken that should be spectacular when the fall colors are at their peak.

High Bridge Trail is a park on an old rail road line.  This is a very flat and easy walk where you will walk over a very long bridge and see the fall colors from above.

Crabtree Falls is a moderate hike through the woods and up a mountain along water falls.  This takes you on a nice drive where you will also see lots of colors.  Don’t forget to stop at Woodson’s Mill and Bold Rock Hard Cider when you go to Crabtree Falls.

Falling Water Cascades is an easy walk.  You will be driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway and will see some great colors.

Disclaimer:  The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast or the innkeepers have NO affiliation with this or any other hot air balloon company.  For insurance purposes we are unable to recommend this company, however we had a great time when we went on our hot air balloon trip and would do it again,  Call us at 434-846-1388 to book your reservation at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and if you would like a balloon trip, click on the above link to purchase your tickets.

 

Buchanan Swinging Bridge

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photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast, Lynchburg

Buchanan Swinging Bridge

Perhaps the most recognizable architectural structure in the town of Buchanan is the Buchanan Swinging Bridge.  Not long ago we read an article about this quaint little town and decided to head there to check the town out and to see if there were any treasures we couldn’t live without in the couple of antique stores in town (there weren’t).  The town is a small southern town on the James River.  Main Street is dotted with mom and pop shops (there were no chain stores that we saw).  The people were friendly and this would be a great place to get away from the rat race.

Stone Pier of the Buchanan Swinging Bridge dates back to 1851

Stone Pier of the Buchanan Swinging Bridge dates back to 1851

While the town is small, the town and the bridge are rich in history.  The bridge is 366 feet long and just over 57 feet tall and portions of this bridge date back to 1851.  Today the Buchanan Swinging Bridge is recognized as a National Register Historic Landmark.  The large stone pier rising from the James River was constructed in 1851 as part of the Buchanan Turnpike Company’s Toll Bridge. Back then, the bridge was a covered bridge.  The toll to use the bridge was five cents for every person plus an additional five cents for each horse, mule, oxen or wagon.  On June 13th 1864 Confederate General McCausland burned the bridge by packing it with oil soaked hay and then lighting it on fire when Union General William Averell’s cavalrymen attempted to cross the bridge on their way to Lynchburg where they would join up with Union General Hunter who was under orders to burn Lynchburg because Lynchburg was a major supply depot for the Confederate Army.  The wind carried embers across the river and eleven houses burned.  Averell’s men helped extinguish the fire.  The bridge survived the fire but was unusable.  The next day, General Hunter’s troops crossed the Blue Ridge Mountain (on what is now Route 43) on his way to Lynchburg.

After the war, the bridge was rebuilt but in 1877 the bridge was destroyed by a major flood.  The R&A Railroad Company built another bridge during this time and that bridge was toll free.  In 1897 this bridge was replaced with a steel bridge that remained in use until 1938.  In July 1937, construction of the current concrete James River Bridge was started with an agreement to maintain a pedestrian bridge (today’s Buchanan Swinging Bridge) between the town of Buchanan and Pattonsburg (the town on the opposite side of the James River).  Today, the Buchanan Swinging Bridge uses the large stone pier of the original covered bridge that dates back to 1851.

If you are looking for a nice day trip you may want to consider a trip to Buchanan where you can grab a bite to eat at one of the mom and pop restaurants in town.  From Lynchburg, take RT 460 west to Bedford’s RT 43 exit.  Stay on RT 43 and you will wind up at the Peaks of Otter entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Turn Left onto the Parkway (heading south) and stay on the Parkway for about 5 or 6 miles until you see the exit for RT 43.  Take Rt 43 into the town of Buchanan.  As you enter the downtown area, the bridge is on the right.  Driving time from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg is about 90 minutes.  And just in case you were wondering, yes, the bridge does swing back and forth as you walk across the bridge.

Monks visit Randolph College

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Monks making a mandala at Randolph College

Monks making a mandala at Randolph College

Randolph College welcomed back a group of Buddhist monks from the Rashi Kyil Monastery in Derha Dun India.  The monks are touring the United States and will be on campus for 5 days. During that time they will be not only interacting with the students and facility but with those that want to stop by and visit.  While on campus they will be working on a Mandala (a spiritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the universe).  Most mandalas are the form of a circle with a square.  Mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts as a spiritual teaching tool for establishing a sacred space and is an aid to meditation and trance induction.  The mandala is made by arranging colored grains of sand into a pattern.  This practice has been done since the sixth century.   Two years ago Randolph College hosted the monks on their tour of the United States.  They also created a mandala then so and you can watch a video of their 2011 visit if you can’t make it to Randolph College before they depart.

 

The mandala is expected to be completed tomorrow (September 11, 2014) early afternoon.  At 3:30pm they will hold a closing ceremony in which they will destroy the mandala and disperse its colorful sand into a nearby creek.  The public is invited to watch the monks finish the mandala as well as attend the closing ceremony.  The mandala is being made at the Houston Memorial Chapel on campus.  Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to witness a historic form of religious art as well as interacting with the monks.

Work in progress by monks at Randolph College

Work in progress by monks at Randolph College

UPDATE:

Yesterday, September 11, 2013, Kathy and I attended the closing ceremony at Randolph College.  The mandala had been completed (photo below) and then the monks chanted and then gathered all the sand up and it was distributed to those in attendance.  After everyone got their sand, there was a procession to a stream that feeds into the James River and the sand was sent downstream.

photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Completed mandala

Photo by The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Closing Ceremony at Randolph College

Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia is a small liberal arts school.  Formerly known as Randolph Macon Woman’s College, men were admitted four years ago and the name was changed.  This is one of the most beautiful schools I have ever seen.  Additionally, it has been ranked as one of the top schools in the country.  They often have speakers and events that the public is invited to attend such as this one.  If you are visiting the area or considering a college you want to keep this one in mind.  Check out their website at:  http://www.randolphcollege.edu/.