Rocky Rambles to Booker T. Washington National Monument in Franklin County, Virginia

If you’ve ever been confused between the story of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, you’re not alone. But, you’re in luck, because the good folks at Booker T. Washington National Monument will help you with that. Park Ranger Betsy Haynes explains…

The park is located at 12130 Booker T Washington Hwy, Hardy, Virginia. Click on the address to see it on a map, from which you can build directions from your home.

Here is the link for all sorts of information about:  Booker T. Washington. That is your key to everything and all the contacts you need, especially for attending special events or setting up a special tour.

Before I continue on about activities at Booker T. Washington National Monument, here is the link to the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, the university started by Booker T. , who hired George Washington Carver, who developed all his research about peanuts at the this university.

Back to Booker T. Washington National Monument activities. Here is their activity page, with some of the special events mentioned

Juneteenth Celebration

The third (3rd) Saturday of June every year is their , the day the park commemorates the news that Booker T. Washington, his mother Jane, and the rest of the plantation were informed of emancipation – the dissolution of slavery – and sent Jane taking her family to West Virginia as free people. The day is commemorated with children’s activities, food vendors, and a living history recreation of the time news of emancipation came to the Burroughs Plantation. The day is capped off with a free Gospel Concert in the evening. This year’s headlinners are: The Joybells, Darrell McFadden and the Disciples, Perkins & Envision, Larnell Starkey & The Spiritual Seven, We are DMD, and The Appointed Messengers for Christ.

Junior Ranger Month

July is Junior Ranger Month at Booker T. Washington National Monument. Check the webpage for details.

Harvest Time Event

History Comes Alive at Booker T. Washington National Monument! Come experience craft and farm demonstrations by expert living history reenactors. Children’s activities, food vendors, and horse-drawn wagon rides compliment a fun and educational family event you will not want to miss! This event is FREE!!

 An Old Virginia Christmas

An evening event with living history of a Virginia Christmas in days gone by – including the celebration of the Yule Log!

We also discussed volunteering in the park. If you’re looking for such an opportunity, contact the staff at Booker T. Washington NM, or any other specific park. Or, you can tap into a nation-wide effort to unite potential volunteers with host sites. Click here:  Workamper 

You’ll definitely enjoy a ramble out to this great park. AND, it’s free to the public!

As you go about your rambling, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle to get you there and back safely.

Defensive Driving Tip for this Week:

Leave your attitude at home. Road rage causes accidents. Monitor your mood. If you are running late, just had a fight with the boss, or the spouse – or just sorta fed up with humanity on a day, check that mood and remind yourself that you still want to get to your destination safely. Imagine the mood you’d be in if you killed someone because you drove under the influence of a bad attitude.

Until my next episode…Here’s wishing you SAFE RAMBLING!

Rocky Recommends Rambling to the Mabry Mill to Avoid the Summer Heat

Beautiful in the Spring, and Unprecedented in the Fall, Mabry Mill may be under-appreciated as a place for a mid-summer ramble. The fact is that sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway can be 10 degrees (F) lower than the nearby lowlands. So, there just isn’t a bad time of year to visit Mabry Mill.

Along the way, we stopped at Lover’s Leap to shoot the show’s introduction and then out to Rocky Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway to shoot the ending. The two-dimensions of a flat screen just can’t do justice to those incredible views! You’re gonna have to ramble on up the Parkway to see for yourself!

Don’t miss the music that they have every weekend throughout the summer. You check out the music calendar, and other information about what’s happening at Mabry Mill. Here’s the National Park Service Mabry Mill and Rocky Knob Webpage to help you do that.

My wife and I had lunch while we were filming the show – in fact, the experience is part of the show! We’ve eaten there before, and we’re never disappointed with their down-home southern meals. They also have unique souvenirs, some made by local people and even some of the their own employees. Check it out in the Mabry Mill Restaurant and Gift Store website.

I hope you’ll ramble on up and see it for yourself!

And, when you do, make sure that you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Know Before You Go – Before you head out on your day of rambling, check the weather, road conditions, know your route and how long it will take to get where you’re going. Check the DOT website for the state(s) you’re driving through to see if there are any construction zones or road closures along the way. Know what kind of shape your vehicle is in, check the tires, the lights, fluids, etc. Check your first-aid kit, warning devices. And, make sure that someone knows where you are and how to get hold of you if they need to.

Put it all together with this mental thought: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.

Until my next post, here’s wishing you…SAFE RAMBLING!


Rocky Rambles to the banks of the Smith River in Bassett, Virginia to Discuss Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education Opportunities

You don’t have to travel great distances to enjoy great outdoor recreation opportunities, especially if you live in southwestern Virginia! (OK, if you live in downtown Chicago, LA or New York City you might have to do some traveling.) Right here in the Dan River Basin, we have many great opportunities. Rocky spoke with Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) Program Manager Brian Williams about such opportunities. We also discussed DRBA’s efforts to improve the quality of life within the Dan River Basin, and how that is unique among environmental organizations. Watch the show and then look through the references below, and enjoy our wonderful natural resources!

Map of the Dan River Basin:

All the things we discussed are highlighted in Dan River Basin Association’s Website . I would urge you to consider membership, if not getting involved. Your membership will help the group provide more recreation, which will lead to more appreciation of the wonderful natural resources of the basin.

DRBA Membership

Here is a look at DRBA’s regular recreational opportunities:   DRBA Monthly Recreation Opportunities (First Saturday Outings)

Check this page out if you’re interested in the Environmental Education opportunities throughout the basin.

And, we discussed the Citizen Scientist program. You don’t have to be a trained scientist to use your observation skills to monitor water conditions in the area.

If your company, community, organization, or family would like to support DRBA, consider a larger membership or contact them through the contacts at the bottom of their Corporate Membership page.

We also discussed the financial assistance from outside entities. Foremost in that arena is The Harvest Foundation. There are others, and need for more.

As always, as you ramble about, make sure that you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Defensive driving is really a choice; a series of choices, to make better decisions to take smarter before and while you are behind the wheel of a vehicle. The three key concepts to driving more defensively are to: Pay Mor Attention, Drive More Cautiously and, Drive More Courteously to others on the road. Granted there is more to those three keys than just saying them. But, defensive driving starts with the realization of the importance of using these keys. To learn more, find a defensive driving course in your area, of go online and find one.

Rocky Rambles to the Tryon Palace in New Bern, North Carolina

New Bern, North Carolina is a wonderful place to Ramble. There are a lot of things to do and places to see. The most magnificent of them is the Tryon Palace, . Just what the Tryon Palace is, its history and what you can expect out of your own visit is the focus of this week’s episode of Rocky’s Ramblings.  I hope my interview with three of the directors who run the site will encourage you to ramble on over to New Bern, North Carolina to see The Tryon Palace for yourself. Below the video, as always I have put links, directions and other information that will assist you in planning your own rambling expedition.

First, here is  the Tryon Palace Website, where you can begin learning about the palace and what there is for you to see there.

And, of course, here is a Map of the Tryon Palace to allow you to get directions from wherever you are.

Next, let’s look at aspects of the Tryon Palace that we were not able to fit into the show. As I remind you all the time, we can’t fit everything into a half-hour episode, and there is so much more than we can show on a 2-dimensional screen. So, you will simply have to ramble on over to New Bern, North Carolina and explore this site for yourself – you will not be disappointed.

You can scroll through the special events at their Special Events at the Tryon Palace page. Here are some we discussed – off-camera – that would be well worth your rambling time. There are more, so check out the webpage.

Tryon Palace Multicultural Fair

This event is coming up quickly, July 22, 2017 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and explores the cultural diversity of eastern North Carolina.

Behind the Scenes: Costume Shop

This is fascinating! While I was going about filming the grounds for the show, my wife headed over to see the costume workshop, where Leslie Lambrecht, whom we interviewed on the show, oversees the building of all the costumes for the site. This special opportunity is offered from time to time, so check out the special events calendar to see when the next one will be.

Tryon Palace Gardens Lecture Series

All you gardeners out there will want to put September 16 (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.) on your calendar to hear Craven County Master Gardner, Jennifer Knight discuss the incredible gardens on the Tryon Palace grounds.

Behind the Scenes: Gardens

This is a special tour of the gardens on the Tryon Palace grounds, and as with the Costume Shop tour, is offered on an irregular schedule, so you’ll want to check the calendar.

African American Heritage Tour

This is a tour of the larger city of New Bern to explore the history of African Americans at the palace.

Candlelight Christmas Celebration 

If you have never been to one of the historical sites at Christmas time, you have no idea what you’re missing. Holiday tours at the Tryon Palace begin at the end of November and run through December, with the Saturday evening Candlelight Christmas Celebration Saturday evenings. Check the calendar for details and ramble on over to see this historical look at Christmas.

We discussed the private and special use opportunities at the Tryon Palace in the video. From Group Tours to Renting the Palace (or parts thereof), you’ll want to Contact the Staff to work out the details.

All-in-all, the Tryon Palace is a special place for your next ramble! I encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle to assure that you get there and back safely.

Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Make sure your brakes are in good shape. Your brakes should stop you firmly, quietly, evenly and straight. If your braking experience is anything other than this, or if you brake pedal seems to be spongy, take you vehicle in to a qualified brake mechanic. Your life depends on it.

Until my next posting, here’ wishing you…Safe Rambling!

Rocky Rambles to Danville, Virginia to Highlight the Sutherlin Mansion

The Sutherlin Mansion, historically, was the last Executive Mansion of the Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy. Today, the Sutherlin Mansion is the home of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, telling the story of Danville, which centers on its status as the last Capital of the Confederacy before Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen, Ulysses Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History (Sutherlin Mansion)
Facebook Page

Museum Hours:
Tuesday through Saturday : 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday : 2-5 pm
Monday : Closed

Directions: Sutherlin Mansion, 975 Main Street, Danville, Virginia 

Individual tours of the mansion are handled with headsets. Groups of 8 or more visitors may request a docent led tour by appointment only, by calling CB Maddox at 434-793-5644 or writing him at .

During the interview, we discussed the Annual Juried Art Show coming up in October. Details are not available for this year’s show yet, but you can follow development either through museum’s website, or you join the Danville Art League. Check out their Facebook Page

Here is a news item from the 2015 Danville Art League Annual Juried Art Show .

All in all, the Sutherlin Mansion – the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History – is a great place to visit. I encourage you to ramble on over to see it for yourself. And, when you do, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Here’s Your Defensive Driving Tip of the Week:

Making proper turns. As you make a turn, do so from the proper lane and turn into the closest lane available to you. Make your turns as squarely as possible, moving from your lane squarely into the proper lane, rather than sort of oozing across several lanes of traffic. Make sure to use your turn signal first, to let other drivers know your intentions.

Until my next post, here’s wishing you…Safe Rambling!