As many of us fall back into our routines and hustle and bustle that a new school year brings, I wanted to take a moment and look back. I’ve been absent here nearly all summer. For the first summer in years, I put down my jewelry tools and didn’t bring them along anywhere. It felt good to take a break. I’ve enjoyed seeing what many of you have been creating by keeping up with you on Instagram. I’m going to take a couple of blog posts and share photos taken along the way over the last few months….for those that stumble across my blog one day doing a search on one of the places I visited, and for myself so I can remember these warm days when we’re bundled up to our chins in winter coats.
For one adventurous week, I took all of the boys to the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia. It is beautiful. We’ve been there several times, for robotics competitions, antiquing, and en route to my husband’s childhood home.
Two of the boys attended robotics camp at James Madison University, learning LEGO Mindstorms EV3 programming.
The small groups created pneumatic LEGO designs.
While two of the boys were immersed in robotics, I took the other two to see some of the sights. There is truly so much to do in what I initially thought to be a land-locked part of the state. Take the small town of Staunton – just miles from Skyline Drive. We took a stroll down the main street, lined with old architecture (and a few antique shops), and spent some time at a sprawling park.
Cool vintage bathing suits in one of the antique shops.
Gypsy Hill Park is a huge park situated on 200+ acres. There were once springs here, which were used in the mid 1800′s to supply the city with water. The park was named after the gypsies who would camp near the springs.
When leaving Staunton, I stopped to take a look at a fairly well known abandoned building. You can’t walk around this private property – which was closed in 1996 – but I managed to take a few photos from a distance. The DeJarnette Center (formerly the DeJarnette State Sanatorium) was founded in 1932 as a private pay unit of Western State Hospital. The center was named after Dr. Joseph DeJarnette – the physician who served as superintendent of WSH from 1906 to 1943. DeJarnette was known for his support and involvement in the unfortunate eugenics movement. This building has been the subject of many amazing and creepy photos. A really incredible collection, as well as more information, can be found in this The Forgotten America post.
One thing you’ll want to do in the Shenandoah Valley is to visit one of the local caverns. Luray is a popular destination, but we had been there a handful of times. I sought to find a cavern that we had never visited, and got lucky with the nearby Grand Cavern in Grottoes. It is the oldest “show” cave, operating tours since 1806.
Years ago the tours would take several hours – not the place to be if you have claustrophobia! We found it fascinating that the cave was visited by both Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War – there are 200+ verified signatures on the cave walls. Dances were held during this time in the Grand Ballroom chamber. Captain W W Miles of the Fourteenth Calvary Regiment of PA visited and signed the wall on September 26th, 1864. Not long after on December 17th, Captain Miles was killed by a Confederate ambush while on a reconnaissance near Millwood,VA. His signature is immortalized on the cavern wall…
There is so much natural beauty in the valley – and one of our stops included the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at James Madison. It was a super hot day so the tall trees provided a welcome shade.
The kids had a great time cooling down at the Massanutten Waterpark. This is a four-season resort so we’ll have to come back in the winter to ski.
Saving one of my favorite day trips for last – the lavender farm. I had never been to a lavender farm – the White Oak Lavender Farm was a treat for someone who loves the smell of lavender! Tours, a gift shop, farm animals, and pick your own lavender all in one beautiful smelling place.
That’s it for my Shenandoah Valley round up. Have you been to any of these places? Which one of these stops would you most like to visit? Thanks for stopping by…. my next travel stop will be New England. But before that…an exciting blog hop featuring the new book, Unexpected Findings by Michelle Mach.
Cindy Wimmer is a jewelry designer with a passion for combining vintage elements with modern wire design. She is the co-founder of artBLISS, hosting jewelry and mixed media workshops in the DC area. Her first jewelry design book, The Missing Link, was recently released last Fall.