Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2021-2022

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

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.

The mysterious sign at Sherando Lake, and more Staunton views

Early December 2021

We're off Interstate 64 and heading south on Mt Torrey Road (Rte 664) towards Sherando Lake for some lakeside reading on this balmy afternoon, 2 December 2021. Here we're passing over what might be thought of as Deplorable Hill on the way past Lyndhurst.

Sailing through downtown Sherando, VA

And sailing past the Sherando Lake fee station on the access road, seasonally vacant (and de facto free)

And parking our cute Volvo under the hornets' nest

We've brought along our books and a picnic lunch, and can't wait to get settled in our favorite benches in the absence of summer crowds.

The views at Sherando Lake, especially when it's unhabited, never fail to be amazing. (There's a fisherman in a red jacket on the little dock on the left, and likely a few more at the dam at the far end of the lake. But otherwise, personne.)

We frequently waste precious moments just shooting the same photos every time we're here, but . . .

. . . there are seasonal changes to be observed. Two weeks ago that was a flaming red tree, now it looks like bomb damage.

There goes our lunch, better hurry up before it's all gone.

Staking out our favorite benches (nearly the only ones that aren't bolted onto a picnic table)

Mine's the ham and Gruyère on baguette; hands off that one.

When we were here last week, we noted a sign posted on the island that faced out onto the lake, unreadable to us on shore and inducing a lengthy speculation about what such a sign would say in a place where no one could read it. The smartest guess was that it might be directed to canoists and kayakers forbidding them from setting foot onto the island. But who really knew?

Whilst the rest of our party has finished lunch and is engrossed in reading, we'll just poke along the shore path and see if we can get an intelligible photograph of the mystery sign with the zoom on.

-- Don't leave without us.

Off we go, our little Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot clutched in our fist, and ready.

There's the sign at the right end of the island, way too far off to be legible with the naked eye even if we could find a good angle on it. But perhaps with the zoom.

Impossible from here. What could be written there -- we can just make out some of it, but not enough to make sense of it. We'll try for a better angle on it.

We keep trying to untangle the foliage enough to get down to the water's edge, but not much luck so far.

No clear shot yet, and getting farther and farther away as we persist.

Now we're stuck in the brambles.

But here's a good shot -- we can't get a clear view of it now, but with a few shots on maxi-zoom, we may be able to decipher it when we get them onto the big monitor at home.

We can't wait to see if anything comes out of this, but we're pretty doubtful.

But here it is on our home monitor -- the answer to all of our speculations.


That's so embarrassing. All that wasted speculation time.

But at this point, still ignorant of that cruel trick that's been played on us, we end the afternoon's festivities with a short walk along the lakeshore trail and back.

We have the place to ourselves, except for ten fisherpeople spread out around the shore. One of whom said that he had caught one fish.

Three right here on the dam

Walking back, a short stroll this afternoon

One would think that this would be crushingly boring, waiting for fish to perk things up, but these gentlemen have had the foresight to bring along their smartphones.

Back to the island, and anxious to get home and see what the little camera's come up with.

But now we have to wonder whether whatever the sign might have said is just facing the other way. (Like 'no diving')

The sun retires early in the mountains, particularly in December.

Bussing our leftovers and trash, like good citizens

Hurtling through downtown Sherando

And over the Deplorable Hill back to the Interstate

Sleeping cats

Melvin and Choupette enjoying a group siesta in the study, and . . .

. . . another, in the guest room, a few hours later. They sleep a lot.

The reading bench on Mary Baldwin's campus

It's another fairly warm day, 3 December 2021, and we're marching up the hill to see if there are any benches free at the top of the campus.

Passing the wonderful 'Chateauesque' residence on N. New Street

Admiring that multi-residential house on New Street as we turn up Academy St

That building, whatever it's for these days, sits at the high point of the campus, and just nearby . . .

. . . is a flag.

No want of benches here, happily, and we've never seen any students using them, though they sometimes group-study sitting out on the grass.

The flagpole (or its predecessor) was added in 1921, and this became known as 'Flagpole Hill' in the SMA military academy's days. It was originally flanked by two Revolutionary era cannons, which were donated in 1942 for the World War II scrap metal drive. This is a large stone memorial from 1921 listing the names of former students who'd died in World War I, and . . .

. . . that naval gun was added at the time. Facing east, for some reason.

After a few hours flipping pages over, it's chilling up and we're heading home. This remarkable thing, just 60m below the flagpole on 'Flagpole Hill', is a Smartflower solar panel device -- either on demand or on a schedule (we're not sure which) it unfurls itself into a large disk of elegant solar panels ['Sunflowers open, close and follow the sun for optimal energy conversion, we figured solar panels should too.']

We're strolling a longer way home to catch the late afternoon sunlight. That's at 161 N. Coalter.

That's the Mary Baldwin Alumnae House, or so it says (MBU was a women's college until recently).

At the top of the hill, those two are at 212 and 215 N. Coalter, overlooking the MBU athletic fields down the far side.

And that's just across the street, down Pleasant Terrace

That colorful residence is at 320 Vine St as we've coming round to N. Coalter again . . .

. . . for a late afternoon view of the MBU campus.

And this, 107 N. Coalter St., facing down onto E. Frederick

That's the Woodrow Wilson setup, birthplace on this end, then a museum and the presidential library. No sunlight on this side, unfortunately.

Nor any decent sunlight here either, but round the back . . .

Voilà, sunlight -- the back of the Wilson birthplace

Down the hill to home, passing . . .

. . . a covid-masked pumpkin on the front porch . . .

. . . of that greenish hued building (216 E. Frederick).

Taking advantage of the disappearing sunlight, that's the 'end' of N. Market St on the MBU campus, which will revivify itself farther up the hill.

Cat siesta

Cats seeking the last of the sunlight

At the end of Mark and Nancy's visit (12 hours after their arrival, sadly), it's time for brunch before they fly up north on the Interstates, 9 December 2021.

Kristin, after brunch

Beverley Street, nearly deserted, 10 a.m. on a Thursday

Mark and Nancy, heading north

What's next, then? A Montgomery Hall three-trail mélange of a hike, and the Christmas crèche

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 13 December 2021.

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