Blue Ridge Parkway - Rock Castle Gorge Overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway – Rock Castle Gorge Overlook

Rock Castle Gorge Overlook.

Rock Castle Gorge Overlook is located at milepost 168.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After we visited Mabry Mill, we decided to pull into this overlook on the return to Roanoke.


According to the National Park Service sign, the Rock Castle Gorge is best seen from the summit of Rocky Knob, where you can look into valley 1800 feet below.

The first settlers came before the American Revolution to farm the land. Six-sided crystals of colorless quartz occur here. The shapes reminded the settlers of castle towers, and that is how it came to be called Rock Castle.


An old road parallels the creek through the gorge. Originally a trail, and then a wagon road, the old road is once again a hiking trail.

You can access the Rock Castle Gorge Trail, which is a 10.8 mile loop from this overlook. We were on a day of exploration and not hiking (meaning that we did not bring the amount of food and water that we would have if this had been a hiking day). We did walk a little piece of the trail, accessed at milepost 168.0, The Saddle Overlook.

The part of the of the Rock Castle Gorge Overlook that caught my attention was this trio of rocks.

Call it the lover of all things fantastical in me, but I was drawn to their semi-circular state.

It made the area feel quite magical.

Like they held some ancient secrets.

I’m sure that this feeling of mystery was spurred by the fact that I traveled to Scotland at the beginning of June. I didn’t have a chance to visit any standing stones while I was there, but they were (and still are) high on my bucket list.

Given that the Blue Ridge portion of the Appalachian Mountains was formed somewhere between 250 million to 1.1 billion years ago (second only in age to South Africa’s Barberton greenstone belt), I’m pretty sure that these rocks contain some secret magic of their own.

So much of who we are is where we have been. -William Langewiesche

Let your light shine!



wpc: scale

Friday Faves – Edition 35


For many people this symbolizes the end of the work week. A time to spend relaxing over the weekend.

For me, it’s symbolizes the end of my large spaces of quiet time. The weekend is often a time spent cheering from the sidelines of Miss Sunshine’s soccer games. A time spent driving to said soccer games. Finding those moments to make sure that I am connecting with my sons while they are out filling their weekends socializing with their friends. Taking time to sit and talk with the hubby without a timeline.

Last Friday, Miss Sunshine and I went to Richmond for a soccer tournament. That night we met a friend and went to Dave and Buster’s (kind of like Chuck E. Cheese for the older crowd…better food…and beverages). It was a lot of fun. I even remembered to ask for “no straw” for my water and when the waitress brought out my Strawberry and Watermelon Margarita, she brought it sans straw. Score!

Richmond has a zillion ways to get to an end location. I thought I had specified the way that I wanted the GPS to go…. I hadn’t. It decided the shortest way was a toll road that I’d never been on so the other mom was putting the address into her GPS as well just so we could make sure that we weren’t heading to some random place. It was fine. We got back to the hotel. I was proud of my merging skills…and relieved that at 10:00 at night, the roads were surprisingly empty. I do love these days of map apps talking me through my turns!

Saturday’s games were actually in the afternoon, so we had a relaxing morning.  Miss Sunshine even joined me in a 10 minute meditation session. They won both of their games for that day. We had a team dinner that evening, rounded out by Miss Sunshine’s favorite….


Chocolate Ice Cream.

Her final game was at 10:00 am on Sunday. Quite often, the set up of games depends on how many teams are playing. Miss Sunshine is a U15 and there were six U15 teams at this tournament. Three teams are separated into Bracket A and three into Bracket B. Saturday’s games determine when you will play on Sunday. Unlike many of the tournaments that she plays in, this tournament did not do a semi-final (where #1 of Bracket A plays #2 of Bracket B, and reverse) and then have a a championship game. This tournament, the #1 of each bracket immediately played each other. This meant that we knew the girls would medal.

The question was…1st place or 2nd.

And they won the Championship!

After our long drive home, I relaxed and did my meditation. I decided to sign up for the meditation challenge that I mentioned in last week’s post. That started on Monday. I’ve been very pleased with it so far. It’s also crazy to me that I have meditated for 13 days straight.

The hubby had Monday off, so we had a semi-lazy day and went to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. Tuesday I had a doctor’s appointment, so my week was still out of sync at that point. Ahh…Wednesday, I finally made it to Pilates! And Thursday, I finally it back to the treadmill for my run. I was worried that the time off might have been detrimental, but I ran 3.13 of the 3.2 miles without stopping.  That’s the farthest I’ve run without needing to walk for a minute in between spaces of distance. Keep your fingers crossed that I can do it again on my next run!


I have had some ideas for a novel rolling around in my mind for the longest time. Fear that my words won’t be good enough always makes me just not pursue. After reading Big Magic, I’ve finally committed to at least trying to put my words to paper. Each day I sit down with that black journal and sometimes the words spill from my mind and through my fingertips onto the paper and other times I sit down and they roll round and round in my head, but refuse to be coaxed onto the paper. I have come to a space of peace with that process. If it wants to be written, then eventually it will.


I’ve also had some luck on a semi-mystery for which I was once seeking answers. In watching the DVD’s of my grandmother, it made me interested in once again trying to look up a person that she mentions. My grandmother, Reva (technically Violet Reva, but she always went by Reva), was named after the midwife at her birth, Reva Boan. I also knew that she was a Native American.

When I first joined, I tried looking up her name. I’m pretty sure I spelled it Bowen…and had no luck.  This time I tried a search where I estimated how old she may have been and looked in Superior, Arizona (which is where my grandmother was born). This time it brought up a 1930 census of a Reva Boan married to a Butler Boan. Making it even more likely that I had found the correct person was the fact that Butler was listed as  a machinist at a copper mine. My great-grandfather, William Everett Van Hoose, was also a machinist at a copper mine at that time. A little more digging and I found the Dawes Census Card for Anna Reva Tyler, born October 11, 1905. She was 1/2 Choctaw. She died in 1975, having remarried and become Reva Silverman. I could discover no children.

Then, yesterday, I was thinking about how I hadn’t told my mom that I had found her and my phone rings and it’s my mother. During the conversation she needed to run inside an office and call me back. When she went to call me back, her screen was on the number to call my grandmother (if you’re new to the blog, my grandmother passed away in November of 2013). I decided perhaps I should dig a little deeper. It turns out that she became an artist. One snippet indicated she may have once had a painting hanging in the Smithsonian. I do not know if that was factual. From what little I can find, she was perhaps well known in the Phoenix area from the 1940’s through at least the 1960’s. In this age of the internet, you’d think I could find at least one of her paintings to be able to see it. So far I haven’t had any luck. I know that she was very active in the Arizona Artist’s Guild, so I may reach out to them. As a side note, if you’ve ever heard of the artist, Reva Boan aka Reva Boan Silverman aka Reva Silverman, let me know.

The music I’ve been listening to while I run is a 90’s music channel…. so I’m throwing it back this week.

So that was my week….

How was yours?

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away. -Terry Pratchett

Let your light shine!



Blue Ridge Parkway - Rocky Knob Visitor's Center and Picnic Trail

Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center and Picnic Trail

Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center.

On our Blue Ridge Parkway outing, we stopped at the Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center. Located at milepost 169.0, it is open Friday-Monday from 10-4. There are bathrooms located here as well.

If you are traveling this way, always be sure to check the U.S. National Park website as most things along the Blue Ridge Parkway are not opened year round and days and times might change in the future.

The Visitor’s Center was where we discovered that we should check out the trail at the Saddle OverlookThere is also a one mile loop trail called the Rocky Knob Picnic Area Trail  whose entrance is located the Visitor’s Center. We arrived here right at noon and were starting to get hungry. Our final destination of Mabry Mill was still another 7 miles up the road. Given the fact that paving was being done along the Parkway, slowing down the traffic, we decided to head south to get lunch.

But not before I captured some photos of the forest dappled with sunlight.


This shed is located right across the parking lot from the Visitor’s Center. I thought of all my Thursday Door  people, even if the door has a tendency to blend into its surroundings.

I only meandered a slight ways onto the trail since we needed to continue along on our journey.


Nothing like this sign at the entrance to the Picnic Area to remind you that we are not alone. The forest is home to many animals….and some of those animals would like to eat your stuff!


I love all the giant rocks located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I climbed over many of them when I hiked Dragon’s Tooth.  On the Rocky Knob Picnic Area Trail, I just admired them.

I have always been fascinated by the lichen, ferns, and moss that grow in the forests of Virginia. They add to ambiance of the enchanted forest feeling you get when traveling through this woodland.

The rocks along this trail were covered in lichen.

Lichen is quite amazing. It’s a fungi and an algae or cyanobacterium (sometimes both) living in a symbiotic relationship. Fungi is incapable of photosynthesis and so in this relationship, these lichens are able to live in places where they would not have been able.

Nature never ceases to amaze me!

With its symbiosis and cycles…reminding us of our own place in these things.


John Muir quote over a photo of mountain view from dragons tooth trail in catawba virginia

Let your light shine!


Blue Ridge Parkway - Mabry Mill

Blue Ridge Parkway – Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill.

When the hubby and I had a day of exploration along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we knew that the final destination would be Mabry Mill.

Mabry Mill is located at milepost 176 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was built by Edwin Boston Mabry. He began construction in 1903. At first it was a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, then it became a sawmill. By 1905, it was in operation as a gristmill.

In our four years of living in Roanoke, we have never meandered down to Mabry Mill, even though it is one of the most photographed locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Perhaps the fact that it is such a heavily photographed locale is what kept me from venturing down there.  A quick Google image search will bring up a plethora of photos of the mill…in every season…in every light…

And I am an amateur/hobbyist photographer.  It’s unlikely that I could add anything new to the perspective. We are not in peak fall color season…or flush with wintry white snow…or in the rhododendron blooming phase of spring.

However, I decided to go because what would make the photograph different…. was that it would be mine.

We took our time making it down the Parkway, stopping at the overlooks. If you missed my post on The Saddle Overlook, you can check that out here. By the time we arrived at Mabry Mill, it was around noon. We had some lunch and then strolled through the pedestrian pathways around the mill.

The shot above was one of the first I took, and is probably my favorite. Mostly due to the fact that the perspective is not one you immediately see as you scroll along the image search.

But don’t worry! I took some classic shots as well. The ducks decided to be accommodating and make my photo have a slight uniqueness.

Even though autumn had not shown her glory, there were still some colors to be found along the paths.

The are other buildings to near the mill and the area is set up like an outdoor museum.

From Memorial Day through the end of October, there are demonstrations on crafts such as blacksmith, furniture maker, basket maker, and hand loom weaver. The schedules of the demonstrations rotate.  The day and time that we were there, the furniture maker was outside of the blacksmith shop describing the process for making a chair.

There is also a collection of Mill Stones.

According to the sign, they are made from a quartz congiomerae (it doesn’t say conglomerate, I checked. I don’t know if that’s a sign error or if the other is a real word) obtained at Brush Mountain Quarry. Blacksburg, VA. They were shaped at the quarry, but  the miller “dressed” or sharpened them with homemade “chisels.”

I wanted some of them for my yard! I loved how there were little flowers growing in the center of some.

The Mathews cabin was built near Galax in 1869. It is mostly made of Oak and has one room on each of its two floors.  In 1956 the cabin was donated to the National Park Service. They restored the cabin and moved it to this site.

Have you ever visited Mabry Mill?

If you are traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is definitely worth taking the time to stop and see.

I suspect that now that I have finally made my way down there, I shall find myself visiting again.

Let your light shine!


Friday Faves – Edition 34

Who else is excited that it’s Friday?!

I should be packing because Miss Sunshine and I are heading to Richmond for a soccer tournament….but I have a tendency to wait until the last minute when it comes to packing.

Remember how in last Friday’s post, I mentioned that I had a day of exploration ahead?

Well if you saw Tuesday’s post, then you know that we explored the Blue Ridge Parkway. Next week I’ll be sharing more photos and tales from our outing.

But I thought you might enjoy this photo of the countryside. There was a segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway that was being paved. This meant that we traveled very slowly through that area and I was able to snap a photo of this farm from the Jeep.

On Saturday, Miss Sunshine and I had to travel to Mount Crawford for her soccer match.

Sunday was a gathering with the hubby’s family. His oldest brother recently got married and they traveled up to see the family. The three brothers had not all been together since my father -in-law passed away at the beginning of 2013.


I was able to get some photos of the brothers along with their mom.

After eating, we embarked on the family tradition of setting up the projector and watching some slides. We stumbled upon some slides that most of us hadn’t seen. I was in awe of the photos that my father-in-law had taken of during the time they lived in Morocco. The lighting was magnificent. Lighting is one of my biggest struggles in photography and those slides reinforced my wanting to learn it because it can add so much dimension to a photo.

Wednesday would have been my Grandmother’s 88th birthday.  Those of you who’ve been following me for some time know that she was an amazing voice of wisdom in my life. My mother interviewed her back around 2009. I have copies of those DVD’s and usually watch them a few times a year. I decided to video a couple of her memories for those of you who like to put a voice with a face.


These are just two snippets from her memories of being a teenager in Los Angeles.



The entry deck is complete! My photo does it no justice, but you can see that we left the railing open in order to let in light. I wanted a white-washed feel to the decking. The house is gray so I wanted gray tones to the white wash. After looking at numerous choices, I opted for Behr semi-transparent in Cape Cod Gray.  The photo makes it look like there is much differentiation in colors than in actuality. I’ll probably try to take more photos of it in the future, but I’m just so happy that it’s complete!

In yesterday’s post, I shared how I fared in the September Challenge. I’ve finished six days of the October Challenge and am really enjoying it. In my need to get on the road last Friday, I neglected to mention an interesting event. After I posted about my October Challenge, I left to run some errands.  I checked my email when I returned and had an email about a meditation challenge! Synchronicity?! Quite possibly.  The challenge actually doesn’t start until October 9th. It runs for three weeks. 15 minute sessions. It’s free. It happens to be lead by Light Watkins, who I had noticed leading a meditation challenge at the MindBodyGreen website. I didn’t join in that time. I haven’t signed up yet for this one, which is being offered by Wanderlust TV. I will be perusing the information on this one once I make it to our hotel in Richmond, but I just wanted to let you all know about it, in case you have any interest.  You can read more about it here.

I am enjoying the meditation process so far. Learning how to quiet my mind just a little more each day. Which is such a peaceful feeling in this chaotic world.

A friend of mine introduced me to the song that I am sharing this week.  There is so much hatred in the world, but there is also much love.  Sometimes we just have to look a little harder through the chaos to find it.

I hope that you all have a beautiful weekend.  I’m sending smiles and beams of light across the miles to each of you. I hope that you’ll take a moment to send the same to others over the coming week!

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions"

Let your light shine!