Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bottles and Cans and Plastic Cups

In the past it has been prior to the first day of school, but this year the Wertland Street block party was on Saturday night. And they came. At times it was hard to drive through the crowds that poured into the streets. The cops were on hand providing crowd control.
If the size of a party can be measured by the amount of trash left over afterwards, this one was a doozy. Unfortunately the solo cups are not recyclable.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

White Oak Canyon

The Lower Falls and swimming hole.An hour from C-ville, White Oak Canyon is all around wonderful. The drive through Madison County countryside is worth the trip. The pay-lot is $8 per person. The land the parking lot is on is leased from the Graves family. 0.2 miles from the trailhead is the border of Shenandoah Nat'l Park. It's 3 miles to the top of the upper falls. It took us three hours to go up and back at a brisk pace with a break for lunch. Despite the name, there are many species of oaks and a fair number of hickory nuts littering the trail. There are the ever present tulip poplars and a few sycamores. We were warned about rattlesnakes, but all we saw were centipedes and butterflys. This hike is a must for any Charlottesvillian.

To get there take 29 north to Madison. Drive through downtown Madison. After town bear left onto 231 North. Turn Left on Route 670 at Banco. Take Route 643 in Syria to Route 600. Bear left and follow the signs to White Oak Canyon parking area.

Bonnie Prince Billy - 8/09/08

BPB rolled into the Gravity Lounge last night. Since this was a Satellite Ballroom Presents show, I assume that it was originally intended for the old Corner digs. To accomodate the crowds at the smaller Gravity Lounge, Mr Billy played a 7 and 10PM show. I can't help but think that the 7PM show was for old people like myself. Even if the band was saving up for the 10PM show, it was an amazing performance. BPB, who sounds just like Will Oldham, is touring with his brother and band The Onamoanan. They shared the stage evenly for most of the set. Sarah White came on stage for three of the songs and she sounded great. The show was so good I moved Guatemalan Handshake to the top of my Netflix queue.

Raphine, VA

Just west of I-81 exit 205 lies the hamlet of Raphine, VA. About an hour from C-ville, we hit the agritourism trio of Wade’s Mill, Orchardside Farm, and Rockbridge Winery. Each place was more bucolic than the last.

Wheat Berries!

Wade’s Mill was founded in 1750. The flour is stone ground and largely unadulterated. There is a water wheel that can run one set of stones, but there are two run by electricity. We were assured by the woman running the shop that the process still hews closely to how it was done a hundred years ago: no heating, no bleaching, no chemicals. The winter wheat and yellow corn comes from the Shenandoah Valley, the white corn from Nebraska, and the buckwheat from Canada. According to the shopkeeper, business is picking up. This has been helped in part by a recent decision by W&L to buy more local food.

We bought three 5-lb. bags or wheat flour. This is in addition to the 1-lb. bag of buckwheat I bought from Foods of all Nations. I’ve been using it to make buckwheat oatmeal bread. If you call Wade’s ahead of your arrival, they’ll fill a 25-lb. bag for you. In the freezer the flour will last 6 months. The shelf life is otherwise shorter than other store bought wheat because there are less preservatives.

Orchardside Farm is just a little further down the road. There is a thornless blackberry orchard and a butterfly garden. On the same property is a small house which serves as a yarn store. Women were sitting around a large wooden table knitting and talking about their children. Dogs ran in and out. There is a wide selection of reasonably priced yarn and the women were quick to help and offer their advice.

Closer to the highway is the Rockbridge Vineyard. This winery includes 18 acres of grapes and looks more like a farm than other wineries in the area. Overall it was an impressive selection of wines. We ended up taking home a couple bottles of Tuscarora Red ($10) and a bottle of Norton. The latter is a candidate for our 100 mile Thanksgiving.

Before heading back to Charlottesville, we ate lunch at the Fairfield Diner at the recommendation of our wine pourer. After lunch we enjoyed a short hike at the St. Mary’s Wilderness Area.