You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Staunton reconnaissance -- walks about town, May 2019
It's Market Day in Staunton, Saturday, 4 May 2019 -- this is an arts and crafts fair on the main street, E. Beverly, on a hot day.
Very interesting it all is, too, but this morning we're after vegetables, or herbs or something.
At the Saturday Farmers' Market in the 'Wharf' district near the rail station
It seemed sparsely attended, surprisingly, until someone pointed out that most of the stuff hadn't started growing yet. Come back in a few weeks.
But there's a festive mood anyway.
And the bratwurst tent was superlative.
W. Beverly Street on the way home
The old Masonic building, dating from 1895 or so, now with commercial and residential uses
Choupette must be passed out somewhere, or Melvin would never get away with this.
Two cats have heard the elevator down the hall, and are poised to dash out as soon as someone opens the door.
Our little coin
We call it progress -- some of the books are up and organized, but . . .
. . . at this point, a lot of them aren't.
And at this point, the future is not looking promising. But, a month later, after some awkward debates with a very unhandy handyman . . .
. . . and some great remedial work by a real handyman, we're good to go.
As of mid-June, we're only 15 feet short of additional shelving to get everything sorted out . . . a challenge we will address in the autumn.
Two cats waiting for the show to start
A walk up Sears Hill
The Amtrak rail line between New York and Chicago
Looking up Augusta Street from the train station carpark, 24 May 2019
The former warehouse district, called 'The Wharf', across the street from the station
The first railway station was built in 1854 but was destroyed by the Union Army in June 1864. The second station was knocked down by a runaway train, evidently in 1890, and this third one mostly dates from 1902. Most train traffic is freight, apparently, but passenger service is available on the Amtrak Cardinal (thrice weekly in each direction), and part of the old facilities, the former telegraph tower, still serves that purpose. The rest of the row of old offices, waiting rooms, etc., are now in commercial use, including the Depot Grill, presently our favorite place in town.
We're up on the historic Sears Hill Bridge over the tracks, recently renovated we're pleased to note.
The Amtrak line heading west, with a side track to the Buckingham Branch Railroad's Staunton yard, since 1988 a 'family-owned, short line railroad' for moving freight around 275 miles of track in Virginia.
Disused railroad cars pressed into service behind the restaurants
We're taking a short, hot day's walk over Sears Hill and Woodrow Wilson Park, where some of the houses are just as historic as those downtown . . .
. . . but could benefit from some knowledgeable care.
From Sears Hill, that's the masonic building and the Catholic church, with the Old Y just in front of the church.
The Sears Hill Bridge
The bottom of Augusta Street at the Wharf
The Art Fair in Gypsy Hill Park
A 15 minute walk from home
Artists and craftspeople from around the region adorning Gypsy Hill Park, 25 May 2019
The Staunton Augusta Art Center 'Art in the Park', with musical accompaniment in the Stonewall Brigade Bandstand
A relaxing atmosphere
And an extremely diverse group of people
The Stonewall Brigade Band began life as the 'Mountain Saxhorn Band' in 1855 and has been continuously in existence since then, acquiring its present name during the members' service with Stonewall Jackson's First Brigade in the Army of the Shenandoah, 1862. It's been associated with Gypsy Hill Park since the park was inaugurated in 1889, and the present bandstand was dedicated in 1976 and was formally given this name on Flag Day, 2001. (The performers today are a succession of local artists, not the Band itself.)
Art is great, but we've got one eye open for the food concessions.
Ah, yes. Funnel cake, with Thai coffee
Or a hot dog from the Blue Mountain Grill wagon ('King of the food trucks in Central VA! Book 'em early, though!')
The Gypsy Hill duck pond
The Gypsy Hill playground and . . .
. . . climbing wall
Neat, though underused
Gypsy Hill Park from the pavilion near the entrance
The Montgomery Hall Park
We're off, on another hot day, 26 May 2019, to investigate the Montgomery Hall Park, a few kilometres west of downtown Staunton. This is West Beverly Street, extending out from the town centre . . .
. . . past the Thornrose Cemetery to the western suburbs. We're turning off at Montgomery Ave to find . . .
. . . the Montgomery Hall Park, 148 acres of sports fields, picnic facilities, hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, tennis courts and a swimming pool.
The park lands were purchased by the town when they were part of the 19th century Montgomery Hall plantation and established as a municipal recreational park for 'the African American community' in 1947, to be managed by 'a committee of African American citizens appointed by City Council'. According to the information plaque at the entrance, 'Staunton's park system was desegregated late in the 1960s' (i.e., 1969).
The municipal pool
The plantation was established in 1808, and the first Montgomery Hall was built in 1822; that one was destroyed by fire in 1906 and replaced more or less on the original design, and it's now the home of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation administration.
We're trekking back into town along Stuart Street (an extension of Peck Street), along the Amtrak rail line, with this fine machine sitting idly on the track. The conductor informed us that they were headed for Chicago, pumping his fist in the air.
The historic Staunton 'food market'
Down by the railroad tracks
Bridge Street back into town
Under the Amtrak and Buckingham Branch train lines
The Paris Cake Company, with seasonal outdoor seating
Along Middlebrook Ave to the Wharf district . . .
. . . and the Ox-Eye Vineyards HQ
The Betsy Bell Wilderness Park
We're still looking for good places for casual walking, without having to drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is the 'Betsy Bell Wilderness Park', 27 May 2019.
We were told that this road up the hill is suitable only for 4x4 vehicles, but our cute little Volvo would have been fine with it.
Looking from an observation deck at about 600m asl down onto the malls
Picnic tables at the summit. Time to go home.