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!

Rocky’s Testimony as a Life-Long Rambler, with a Video to Take You Around the Western USA

This episode will be a bit different than any to-date, for two reasons. First, the video is not my own work, and second, my comments below will be sort of my testimony as a lifetime rambler. I found this video that will give you a broader look at travel opportunities in the western portions of the USA than I can all by myself. I hope you’ll appreciate this video by VietTin Travel, which I found online.

The Testimony of a Life-Long Rambler: How Rocky Ultimately Started the TV Show, Rocky’s Ramblings.

It is more than a little satisfying to realize that I’ve been to most places highlighted in this video from VietTin Travel! The reason for that is that travel has always been an important part of life in the Rockwell family – a huge reason why I started Rocky’s Ramblings upon my retirement from a more structured  career. So, I thought a testimony of a life of rambling might give you, my faithful viewers and fellow ramblers, a better idea where this show comes from and what my motivation is.

Before departing on my rambling testimony, I need to give you a basic chronology of where I’ve lived: I was born in Wisconsin, but my family moved to Colorado when I was 5 years old, where I lived all the way through school. Right out of college, I joined the Peace Corps and moved to Botswana, Africa, where I was a Wildlife Conservation Education Officer for the Botswana Department of Wildlife, National Parks and Tourism. Upon returning to the US, I looked for work that would allow all of these experiences to remain central to my life. I started as an Interpretive Park Ranger for the US National Park Service in Colorado, which parlayed into a career with the US Army Corps of Engineers, first in Bismarck, North Dakota (yeah, from the heat of southern Africa to the cold of North Dakota within a year). After 6 months, I transferred to Hot Springs, South Dakota, where I stayed for 10 years, married and where all three of our children were born. From there, it was on to Clarkston, Washington, where we lived for 20 years before moving to Bassett, Virginia, nearly 9 years ago.

With that background, my rambling testimony begins by sharing that, because Mom felt that travel was a very important part of our education, my sister, brother and I grew up traveling every summer. Every other year, that trip was to Indiana to visit the extended Rockwell family, taking little side trips along the way. Not quite as regularly, we traveled to Orange County, California (south of Los Angeles) to visit the extended family Hinkley (Mom’s family), again, with  side trips along the way. The years in between we rambled EVERYWHERE in a 1963 Chevy Biscayne station wagon filled with camping equipment! One year we went to Texas and Mexico; another year to British Columbia, Canada. One year we took a mega-trip, from Colorado to the Grand Canyon,  to LA, on down to San Diego, up to China Town in San Francisco, up the coast on Hwy 1 through the Redwoods, along the Oregon Coast to the Rain Forest of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington (state), and up into the Canadian Rockies (which are breathtaking), down through Montana  and home. We were gone virtually all summer. On another trip, we went to Yellowstone National Park. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the places we went.

In the Peace Corps, I was stationed in Maun, Botswana, just outside of the Okavango Delta – THE most incredible wildlife haven on the planet! My job was to teach people the importance of conserving the wildlife that was so central to every aspect of life in Botswana. In recognition of the role of wildlife in Botswana’s economy, I was also delegated the role of acting Tourism Officer in Maun.

Later in life, as parents, my wife and I continued my mother’s travel tradition with our own children. We took our kids EVERYWHERE! While in South Dakota, we took the kids to Mount Rushmore, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Devils Tower and even long road trips to Texas, toGeorgia, and to Florida and the East Coast. Once in Clarkston, Washington, we continued traveling, sometimes down to Orange County to visit extended family, other times finding new places we’d never seen.

My career provided many opportunities to travel, too – for the first 20 years, to training and conferences around the country. On those trips, I always tried to add some leave time to take side trips along the way, sometimes with the family in tow, other times, not.

Travel ultimately became a key component of my career when I was selected to be on the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Team of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and even more when I was asked to become a Congressional Liaison for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Caucus of the US Congress – to the tune of 300,000 miles in the air and probably another 3,000 in a vehicle.  These two jobs had me traveling back and forth, all across the country, as we built the partnerships, commissions and funding mechanisms that would fuel the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial into the largest commemoration in US history! During the planning years leading up to the commemoration (1999-2003), I traveled to virtually every community along the Lewis and Clark Trail, to Vermont/New Hampshire to help put on a Lewis and Clark event there, and even into the southern states to bring them into the national commemoration. During the Bicentennial commemoration (2003-2006) I traveled to the big national events to participate on behalf of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and to portray Captain William Clark on the national stage. These events were in major places along the Lewis and Clark Trail: Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia; Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; Kansas City, Omaha, Nebraska,

Then, I took my final post with the Corps of Engineers, as the Operations Project Manager of Philpott Lake, just outside of Martinsville/Bassett, Virginia – the most beautiful lake in the country by the testimony of anyone who has gazed at it from the overlook!

So, I traveled many roads, figuratively and literally to get to Philpott Lake. Along the way, I have had a lot of intimate contact with Cinematography, Ad Production, Public Affairs, Tourism, etc. I coordinated and produced an educational video for the Corps, assisted in producing a portion of a national water safety video, acted in and worked with the production team of the Army’s Lewis and Clark documentary video, Lewis and Clark: Confluence of Time and Courage – Camera One.

My combined life experiences allowed me to bring to Philpott Lake a lifetime of travel experiences and 30+ years of experience in providing  outdoor recreation resources and working with tourism entities to help them market those resources. This has been a huge part of the re-invention of the economy in a community devastated by the exodus of manufacturing from the USA, the results of NAFTA.

So, it seemed like a natural transition when I retired after a 38-year career, to start a TV show highlighting tourism and travel sites. My goal for this show has been to focus on tourism from the perspective of the visitor experience, skirting the political aspects (trust me, tourism is highly political).

So, there’s a quick look at how I got to where I am, as the host and producer of Rocky’s Ramblings.

I hope this has encouraged you to get out and do your own rambling! There is SO much to see and do in this country, much of it right in YOUR back yard. It’s there, just waiting for you to get out and do some exploring. And, when you do, make sure that you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Here’s Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Tires: a critical part of safe driving. I’m not going to try to give you a dissertation on tires. I just want to highlight the importance of good tires, with substantial tread and properly aired. Work with your mechanic and/or tire maintenance specialist to make sure your tires will do their job and get you safely where you’re going and home again.

Rocky Rambles to the Greensboro History Museum, in Greensboro, North Carolina

The museum director, Carol Hart, does an eloquent, yet relaxed job of introducing this high quality, and beautiful, museum.  Watch the video, scroll through the information below, and make your plans to ramble on down to see it for yourself.

After viewing the video, I’m sure you would expect to  pay a hefty entrance fee to see this quality museum. But, it’s FREE. What a great place to take visitors to show off Greensboro, a community near the northern border of North Carolina.

You’ll want to scroll down below these important notes. I couldn’t figure out how to get all of the pictures I took into the show. But, I want to share them to give you an idea of just how beautiful, how well maintained, this museum really is. There are also stories that we just didn’t have time to put into the show.  So, read the notes, look through the pictures, go to the Greensboro History Museum website, and then make plans to ramble on over.

Here’s a map that will help you get directions.

2017 Special Events, with links, as Mentioned in the Show

Fun Fourth Festival – July 4, 1:00 -8:00 p.m. at the Greensboro History Museum

Fabulous Fifties Flashback July 8, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

5 by O. Henry 2nd and 3rd Weekends of August (link is from 2016. 2017 details still pending)

National Folk Festival – Sept 8-10 – 2017 will be the Final Year of this event in Greensboro. The National Folk Festival moves to a new community every 3 years. Next year(2018) the festival will move to Salisbury, Maryland.

An aspect of the museum that we didn’t have time to cover is how you go about scheduling a Special Group Tours. If you are interested in scheduling a special tour for your group, click on the link.

Pictures that I couldn’t fit into the show.

This staircase is just one example of the beauty in this magnificent museum.




Furnishings from Belle Meade, a residence built in 1867 and torn down in 1954 were donated to the museum – beautiful and elegant.


Honoring Confederate soldiers.





A 1920’s vintage Ford Model-T and a 1908 Cadillac honor the role of transportation in the development of Greensboro.







A poignant exhibit, the inflight manual of Sandy Bradshaw, a Greensboro resident who was a flight attendant on the ill-fated United Flight 93 on 9/11/2001.

And, there is so much more to see – for free. Make your plans to ramble out to the Greensboro History Museum. As you do, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Handling Tailgaters. Space is important, it gives you time to react. We should keep a safe space between us and the car ahead of us, and that is your responsibility. In previous tips, I suggested using the 2 second rule. But, what do you do when someone pulls right up on to your rear bumper? As tempting as it is to slam on your brakes – what we call brake-checking – but, that clearly is not the best alternative. But, you clearly cannot allow someone to ride your rear bumper. The first thing to do is to slow down and make sure you have just that much more space in front of your vehicle. If there is space to let the tailgater get around you, slow down and let him go around. Use your 4-way flashers to get their attention, which will normally get them to back off. When they do, turn off your flashers and continue on. If they pull up on you again, try the 4-ways again. If that doesn’t work, clearly they are not going to back off. Slow down and find a way to let them get around you.

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





Rocky Rambles up to the the National D-Day Memorial to Attend the 73rd Anniversary Commemoration of D-Day.

This episode is a follow-up to the episode recorded in mid-May of 2017 at the National D-Day Memorial. It is excerpted directly from the ceremony, without commentary and without interruption.  Below, you will find the keynote speech by Cpt. Jerry Yellin, given that I could not cover the entire speech in a half-hour episode.

Cpt Jerry Yellin (Ret) Keynote Speech, unedited.

These special commemorations are important to remember the true cost of freedoms. I hope that you will ramble out to attend these events.

When you do, make sure you re driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your defensive driving tip for this week is to make you’ve had plenty of sleep before getting behind the wheel of your car – make sure you are fully alert. If you find yourself getting sleepy while driving, pull over, take a power nap, go for a walk – something to ‘shake out the cobwebs’ before you continue.

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


Rocky Rambles to the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum on the Campus of Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia

The Blue Ridge Institute & Museum is all about preserving the culture of the local area through exhibits, archives, workshops and events. Here’s my episode interviewing Roddy Moore, the institute’s co-director. Below, you’ll find lots of helps to get more out of the video and prepare you for your own visit!


We had a great visit, and I hope you enjoyed the show. More importantly, I hope this video has encouraged you to ramble on out to see the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum for yourself. And, don’t forget to put the Old World Echoes Concert and the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival on your calendar! Scroll down for more information.

For more information about the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, click on their logo.





We talked a lot about the Crooked Road in our conversation. Click on the logo to learn more about that.




Click on the poster below more information about the Blue Life Folklife Festival.

Here is a flyer about the upcoming Old World Echoes concert coming up on June 9, 2017. At the time of this posting, the information has not yet been updated. Check back from time to time by clicking on this flyer!

We also talked about a traveling show on the Early Virginia Canneries. Learn more about that history.

Many of the displays in the museum come from photography by Earl Palmer. Here is a look at his amazing work.

We discussed some of the key families in the music history of the region. Here are some links that will help you learn more.

Ralph Stanley and Family

Carter Family Article

Carter Family Induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Stoneman Family

Make sure that in all of your ramblings, you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Avoid Impaired Driving – We all know that driving while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs is illegal – and stupid. But, there are far more impaired states that should cause us to stay out from behind the wheel of a car. Many legal drugs – prescription or over-the-county – can cause drowsiness or worse. Imagine driving with a severe case of the flu, or other illness. Driving while in intense pain – perhaps a broken bone. Driving while experience a tremendous emotional upheaval. The bottom line is that if there is any condition that has you unable to give driving your best and undivided attention, you should not be in command of a vehicle. Remember, you are driving a 2-ton chunk of steel hurling down the road at up to 70 miles-per-hour.

Rocky Shares His Memorial Day Follow-up

I have never done a follow-up to any of my episodes before. But, I’m doing one for my National D-Day Memorial episode. I attended our local Memorial Day ceremony, and hope that you did, too. It’s so important, especially now, before we lose any more WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War Veterans. I wanted to share the speech given by Congressman Morgan Griffith at the Martinsville-Henry County Memorial Day ceremony. I also want to remind you that D-Day, June 6, gives you another chance to take part in a ceremony honoring our WWII Veterans.

Here is the Presentation of Colors by the Magna Vista High School ROTC Color Guard. They did a great job.


Here is a clip from yesterday’s ceremony at Roselawn Cemetery in Martinsville, Virginia. Listen to Congressman Griffith’s words:

And, so you don’t have to go looking for it, here is my National D-Day Memorial Day Show. If you are within driving distance of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, you don’t want to miss the D-Day  Ceremony on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 . Here is the National D-Day Memorial website for more details.

God Bless the USA and all of the families of our great veterans!

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

Rocky Rambles Up to Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway

It was a bit stormy the day my wife and I were supposed to head up to shoot the show. Should we risk it or reschedule? We decided to risk it! And, it was worth the risk. The storm clouds made for dramatic vistas, subdued lighting and deep Spring greens. There’s just not a bad time to view 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!

We missed the music that they have every weekend throughout the summer by one weekend. So, make sure 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.

All-in-all, it was a great day of interviewing and shooting for the show, and a beautiful, if a bit stormy, ramble. 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 Reviews the Parks Information in Henry, Patrick and Franklin Counties of Virginia from Three Previous Shows

As the summer recreation season begins, I wanted to remind you to make plans to ramble out to the County parks in your backyard. This week’s show is condensed from the three shows recorded early this Spring in the three counties where the Virginia Mountains, Blue Ridge Highlands, and Southern Virginia regions converge.

Here are the listing of public parks in the three featured counties. All of the information you need to take advantage of these parks are within these three webpages.

Public Parks in Henry County 

Public Parks in Patrick County

Public Parks in Franklin County 

And, as always, as you go about your rambling, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle to do your own Rambling!

Defensive Driving Tip For This Week:

Always be aware of your escape routes. Have you ever wondered why you are uncomfortable driving across a narrow bridge? Well, part of it is wondering if it’s wide enough for two-way traffic, maybe fear of heights. But, part of it is that either consciously or sub-consciously, you realize that your escape route – which on a two-lane road is primarily the right shoulder – is limited. As you’re driving, think about where you could go, what you could do to avoid a collision, if one seems imminent. Your first reflex needs to be to move to the right to avoid an accident. But, what do you do, where do you go, if that is not available or perhaps the threat is coming from the right. Train yourself to be constantly mapping an escape route, you might need one.

Until my next post, here’s wishing you…safe rambling!

Rocky Rambles to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia to Encourage YOU to Plan to Attend Their Memorial Day Ceremony

This week’s show is a special tribute to our fallen veterans, and an encouragement for viewers to make plans now to get out on Memorial Day to show your appreciation by attending one of the many Memorial Day Commemoration Ceremonies. If you can ramble on out to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, you will not be disappointed.

Here is the National D-Day Memorial website to help you make plans to visit. It is at 3 Overload Circle, Bedford, Virginia. Click on the address to find a map from which you can build directions from your location.

In the show, I listed the Memorial Day and D-Day Commemorations in Henry County, Franklin County and Bedford County, Virginia. Here is the information, with clickable addresses to help you find the events.

Martinsville, Virginia

Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 12 noon
Roselawn Cemetery
Key Note Speaker – US Congressman Morgan Griffith

 Rocky Mount – has two events

Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 11 a.m.
Franklin County Veterans Memorial Park
Key note Speaker – US Army Sargent 1st Class Ricky Keith Warren
Music by The Wright Kids

Saturday, June 3, 10 a.m.
Franklin County History Museum, 460 S. Main, Rocky Mount
Rifle Salute and Civil War Re-Enactment Camp


Bedford, VA has two events

The 1st is on Memorial Day,
Monday, May 29, 11 a.m.
National D-Day Memorial
Keynote speaker Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, 1 of 6 surviving Medal of Honor Winners from WWII

Admission is free until noon – bring your own chair

The 2nd event is the Annual D-Day Commemoration,
Tuesday June 6, 11 a.m. at the
National D-Day Memorial 3 Overload Circle, Bedford, Virginia
Keynote Speaker: Jerry Yellin, WWII pilot who flew the final combat mission of the war, during which his wingman was the last man killed in combat.
Music by the 29th Division Band
There will be a Veterans Reunion tent73rd Anniversary tribute to the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Normandy and those who lived to fight another day.

As always, I encourage you to get out and do your own ramblings. Get out and explore the many places to go, things to do and events to attend, many of them, right in your backyard.

When you do, I also encourage you to make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle to assure that you get there and home safely.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week:

The Right of Way is not something you can TAKE. It’s something that must be YIELDED. Uncontrolled intersection, merging on to a highway – who has the right of way? It’s important to know what the law says, so that you can properly yield.  But, being right is of little consolation in a car accident. The defensive driving outlook is that yielding to the other driver beats being dead right.

Until the next episode…Here’s wishing you safe rambling!

Rocky Rambles to the Bavarian Theme Town of Leavenworth, Washington

A number of years ago, my wife and I took our kids on a rambling expedition to Leavenworth, Washington and found it to be a charming town with a Bavarian theme.  We loved the fact that the entire town joined in – the women in Alpine Dresses (actually Drndl Dresses), the men in Lederhosen, the German menus and souvenirs. It was fun to ramble back there to do this show. I hope you enjoy this treat.

More importantly, though, I hope you’l take this as a testimonial to the enduring value of exploring and find these hidden gems that become that special place in your memory – the place you hope to visit again…someday. Well, my show has given me the opportunity to do just that.

Leavenworth is in the center of the State of Washington, just up the river from Wenatchee. Here is a map of Leavenworth from which you can map directions from your location.

To find details about any-and-everything about Leavenworth, go to their site,

Leavenworth has a very active community theater, for which they have an elaborate webpage: Leavenworth Summer Theater. The Community does shows throughout the year. But, their production of The Sound of Music is a summer-long hit.

Here is the community’s Calendar of Events, which is highly detailed, but will help if you know when you would like to visit and want to find out what’s happening at that time. Here is a website that might help you if you have some flexibility and want to try to visit for one of the major festivals, Leavenworth Festivals.

The gentleman that I interviewed in the show, Ron Orcutt, Owner/Operator of Metal Waterfall Gallery, sent an e:mail with some information that we missed in our interview, and to thank me for interviewing him – which I appreciated, because I am grateful to him for allowing me to interview him. What he wanted to let me share was that Leavenworth is also a popular destination for both Mountain Biking and Rock Climbing.

There is so much MORE about this community than I could possibly cover in my show or this website. I just want to encourage you to ramble out to Leavenworth, and see it for yourself. But, the very purpose of this show is to encourage you to get out and do your own rambling; find your own special rambling spot!

And, as always, I encourage you to make sure that when you do your own rambling, you are doing so in a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week:

I’ve been giving you a defensive driving tip every week since this show started. But, what is defensive driving? It’s the realization that you are not at the mercy of fate; you don’t have to be at the mercy of other drivers, or even your own bad driving habits. Defensive driving is a realization that there are driving attitudes, actions and behaviors that can lessen your chances of being involved in an accident. If you drive with an attitude of anticipation, you can often avoid an accident by responding to subtle things that seem to be not-quite-right, before a situation becomes critical. If you use safe driving actions and behaviors all the time, you will develop defensive driving habits that will be more automatic when you need them. So, when you get behind the wheel, make the decision that getting your vehicle and your passengers to your destination safely is the only important activity for you until you arrive safely and park your vehicle. Put everything else out of your mind and concentrate on driving defensively.

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