Rocky Rambles Out to Philpott Lake to Talk About the Many Things To Do At this Regional Gem

Philpott Lake has been a cherished gem and outdoor recreation haven in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains since the 1960’s. One visit to the Overlook, with it’s Million Dollar View, and you’ll agree!

I rambled out to talk with Park Ranger Brian Stewart to highlight the opportunities. Of course, I hope you enjoy the show. But, no show could give you the true sense of beauty and relaxation, or do service to the recreation opportunities that this beautiful little lake offers.

If you’re looking for a place to camp, picnic, swim, fish, boat. kayak, or otherwise enjoy some serenity and natural beauty, you cannot do better than take a visit to Philpott Lake. Just look at this Fall picture of Emberson Falls, on the upper portion of the lake.

In the show, there are a number of references to websites and other resources. Here are those references with links for you to follow.

Here is a Virtual Tour of Philpott Lake

In the show, I promised to give you the link to make reservations for camping and picnic shelters in the Corps-managed parks. Here is that link:

Here is the link for reservations of the Philpott Marina Group Campground,  and for other information regarding the marina: Philpott Marina and Group Campground

We also discussed the volunteer program. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or if you are looking for volunteers, here is the link for the best resource I know:

We talked about the status of Jamison Mill Park, specifically the bridge reconstruction project and the efforts to lease the park to Franklin County. From talking with both the Corps and the County, it appears that the lease is on track for an early May turn-over, giving the County time to get Jamison Mill Park open before Memorial.

The bridge reconstruction is…well, here; see for yourself!

Philpott Lake is a beautiful little lake, a cherished gem, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The seasonal pictures in the main show (above), the farthest horizon that you can see is the Blue Ridge Parkway. How cool is that!?!

Two recreation opportunities that we did not talk about in the show are the kayaking opportunities and hiking trails. Kayaking has absolutely exploded on Philpott Lake, easily the fastest growing recreation on the lake.

The hiking trails on Philpott Lake offer a great deal of diversity and access to the beauty  of the back country along the lake. The Dogwood Glen Trail, on the Franklin County (northeast) side of the lake also allows horses.  This trail runs from just below the dam, 3 miles up Stoneybrook Ln (mis-labeled in Google Maps as River Brook Rd), to Salthouse Branch Park, and can be accessed from either end. The largest trail system on Philpott Lake, with 6 miles of trail, is the Jamison Mill Park Trail System.

As always, I encourage you to get out and do your own ramblings. You couldn’t stumble upon a spot any prettier, with more recreation opportunities than right here at Philpott Lake.

As you go about your ramblings, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Here’s your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week:

Fog can be terrifying when you’re behind the wheel of a car. Turn your headlights on, but use the low beam to cut under the fog. Remember, if you can’t see other vehicles, other drivers can’t see you either.

We’re all familiar with massive pile-ups on the highways. The most dangerous conditions that lead to such pile-ups is heavy fog conditions. Check the weather before you head out – a concept known as Know Before You Go. If heavy fog is forecast, be wary. If you find yourself in heavy fog, get off the road if at all possible.

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

Rocky Rambles to Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in Bedford County, Virginia

This was a very special rambling for me – to commemorate the birthday of, Thomas Jefferson, principle author of the Declaration of Independence, our 1st Secretary of State, our 2nd Vice President, our 3rd President, the author of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the visionary behind the Louisiana Purchase, and the founder of the University of Virginia.

But, I wanted to commemorate him by highlighting something more personal. Watch the show and you’ll see what I mean.

As you can tell, Jefferson’s Poplar Forest is one of my favorite places for rambling to. Once you visit, I think you’ll share my point of view.

Jefferson’s Poplar Forest at 1542 Bateman Bridge Rd, Forest, VA

The Bible tells us that we all need rest, to get away, to recharge our batteries, to heal the wounds that we get in our every-day lives. Thomas Jefferson did so at Poplar Forest.

Poplar Forest is also a great get-away for you. If you don’t go to such restored historic sites because you don’t like being herded like cattle, this is the place for you to visit. Allow the docents to show you around as you want to be shown.

Keep in mind that Jefferson’s Poplar Forest is operated by a private organization, not using tax dollars. So, they operate through memberships and donations. If you would like donate to the cause, here is the Poplar Forest Support Page. If you would like to join the organization, here is the Poplar Forest Membership Page. Finally, if you would like to volunteer and make your own unique contribution, here is the Poplar Forest Volunteer Page.

So, get out there and do your own rambling, if not to Poplar Forest, to find the many other places to go, things to do and events to attend, many of which are right in your back yard.

As you do so, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip of the Week:

As you drive, keep your eyes panning as far out in front of you as you can see. If you are in heavy traffic watch for the tail lights far ahead. When you start seeing brake lights blinking on and off, they give you an indication that there may be something happening up ahead. Then, take your foot off the gas and be prepared to respond as necessary. That’s what defensive driving is all about.

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


Rocky Rambles to 3 Museums in Uptown Martinsville, Virginia

Every town in America has a story – and people trying to tell that story. I wanted to do something to let you hear that story of Martinsville, Virginia. I should say PART of that story. In a half-hour show, there’s no way I can get to all of the little museums – public and private – and story-tellers in our community. If you live near, or will be visiting, Martinsville, I hope you’ll take time to ramble on in to some of the museums and listen to the stories of the owners. Watch the show and think about the story of your own community – and then ramble on out to listen to that story.

Realize that I have just covered THREE of the museums in this ONE community. Here is the Martinsville-Henry County Tourism Offices listing of museums within the Henry County community. Martinsville-Henry County Museums

Here are the websites and addresses of the museums highlighted in the show:

The Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center and Museum is located at 1 E Main Street, Martinsville, VA and is operated by the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society.

Rucker’s Telephone Museum is at 20 E Church St, Martinsville, VA, and is operated privately by Steve Rucker, retired engineer from the local telephone company.

The FAHI Museum is located at 211 W Fayette St, Martinsville, VA, and is operated by FAHI, . They also have a FAHI Facebook Page

I encourage you to ramble on out to visit these museums and the museums in your own community.

As you do, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Here’s your Defensive Driving Tip of the Week

Don’t Drive Distracted. We all hear the stories, see the aftermath, and mourn the losses from distracted driving. And, we shake our heads at the senselessness of OTHER drivers. But, if we’re honest, WE ALL commit acts of distracted driving too often. Remember that you are the operator of a 2-ton potential weapon. Put down the phone, wait to find whatever you dropped, leave that hilarious conversation, and wait to reset your GPS, until you are safely off the road.

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

SPECIAL REPORT: Ruritan Saturday Breakfasts in Henry County, Virginia

This is a little different than the normal destination sites that I like to cover on this show. This is a place to go BEFORE you start your weekend of rambling. Oh, and you’re not gonna wanna miss the special interview in the middle… Watch the show, and you’ll see what I mean.

Well, you can guess where I’ll be as many Saturday mornings and my schedule will allow! How cool is it that you can have a really great breakfast at a very reasonable price, spend some quality time visiting with fellow-ramblers, AND do something to help your community – all in one fell swoop! I’ve mapped out the Saturday Breakfasts that I could document. Here’s the list (all are 6 to 10 a.m.)

Spencer Ruritan – 40 George Taylor Rd, Spencer, VA – 1st Saturday of the month, November through May

Bassett Ruritan – 277 Philpott Dam Rd, Bassett, VA – 2nd Saturday, year-round

Sanville Ruritan – 3451 Stones Dairy Rd, Bassett, VA – 3rd Saturday, year-round

Horse Pasture Volunteer Fire Department – 17815 AL Philpott Hiway, Ridgeway, VA – 4th

Note that the last entry listed is NOT a Ruritan. But, I included for two reasons. First, when I was asking Ruritan Club members where other Ruritan Breaksfasts were, they listed this one. Second, the Horse Pasture VFD uses the proceeds the same way – to benefit the local community.

If you are as impressed with this breakfast concept as I am, or if you would like to learn more about the Ruritans, whose sole purpose is to assist their local community in any way possible, you might want to join them or give them a donation. Here’s their link: Ruritan National Clubs.

So, when you’re heading out for a weekend of rambling; to explore the many places to go, things to do and events to attend, hit a Ruritan Saturday Breakfast first, and know that you’re making a difference in your community.

As you head out, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

SPECIAL REPORT: Status of Entrance Bridge and Re-opening of Jamison Mill Park on Philpott Lake in Franklin County, Virginia

Many have watched and waited for the re-construction of the entrance bridge into Jamison Mill Park and Philpott Lake in Franklin County, Virginia. So, how’s it going? Well, here’s a special report looking at that effort.

There is much to celebrate about this project. First, IT IS FINISHED, and it is done right! Wow, what a beautiful new bridge!

Second, Jamison Mill Park is finally re-opening, hopefully by Memorial Day.

Third, the park will be opening as a Franklin County Park, instead of a  US Army Corps of Engineers Park. That lease agreement has been under negotiation for the last 6 months. Having a County presence within the Federal footprint is a great thing; this park and the Henry County operated Philpott Marina, make clear that there is a local stake in what happens on what has here-to-fore been solely federal management.

To follow the development of the County efforts to re-open the park, here is link: Franklin County Parks.  However, as of now, there is no reference to Jamison Mill Park on the County site, yet, as the lease is still not finalized. If I hear something, I’ll share it in future posts.

Well, that’s my special report on the status of Jamison Mill Park on Philpott Lake. I hope you enjoyed it.

As always, let me encourage you to get out and do your own rambling; explore the many places to go, things to do and events to attend – many of them right in your back yard.

As you do so, let me also encourage you to make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Rocky Rambles Out to Fairystone State Park in Patrick County, Virginia

This week’s show is an interview with Park Ranger Charlene Goad about what there is to do at Fairy Stone State Park in Patrick County, Virginia. Click here to see it on a map: Fairy Stone State Park

Enjoy the Show! Below, I’ll put internet links and other bits of information that will help you enjoy a visit this great State Park.

One of the unique activities at Fairy Stone State Park is the opportunity to actually hunt the Fairy Stones. But, you make ask what Fairy Stones are and what the legend is behind them. Well, here is a link to fill you in. The Legend of the Fairy Stone

For Camping, Yurt and Cabin Reservations: Fairystone State Park Reservations through Reserve America

A Yurt!?! What is a Yurt. Funny you should ask. We looked at yurts in the show. You can see them by going to the show (top of page). But, basically, a Yurt is a semi-permanent camping structure, sort of between a tent and a cabin. Here’s a Wikipedia explanation: What is a Yurt

Firewood Quarantines: In the show, I promised to put information on this webpage about the firewood quarantine, what it means and why it’s in effect. Here is that link: Virginia State Firewood Quarantine

That’s my show for this week.

As always, I hope this show inspires you to get out and do your own rambling! Get out there and find the many places to go, things to do and events to attend, many of which are right there in your back yard.

As you head out, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Here is your Defensive Driving Tip for this Week:

Keep a pair of polarized sunglasses within reach as you drive. If you drive around a curve or over a hill and suddenly find yourself blinded by the sun, grabbing a pair of polarized sunglasses is the best way to cut glare from direct and reflected glare.

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

Rocky Rambles To the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, Virginia

Rocky interviews Ryan Barber and Dr. Alex Hastings about what the Virginia Museum on Natural History (VMNH) has to offer fellow ramblers!

Below, you’ll find other links and information to make your visit to the VMNH more fulfilling.


If you want to rent the museum for a special event or want to arrange a special tour, contact the VMNH by e:mail to  or by phone 276-634-4150

Click here if you would like information about VMNH Membership.

Take every opportunity to get out and do your own rambling: explore the many places to go, things to do and events to attend – many of which are right in your back yard! And, as you do, make sure that you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle!

This week’s Defensive Driving Tip

Put your phone down and drive. Remember that you are driving a 2-ton deadly weapon. Hazards can appear in seconds, and it takes all of your attention to react to them in order to avoid an accident.

We all know that distracted driving has killed many people. But, it takes every driving making the conscious and continuous decision to keep our hands, eyes and minds fully focused on driving.

And, as always, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle as you go about your own Ramblings.

Here’s some fun I had when I visited the VMNH:

As I entered the Main Exhibit Hall, I had a chance to chat with the VMNH Director, Joe Keiper.

And, then I settled in to recording for the show.

After the shoot, I got to shake hands with a Polar Bear.

And, I was even able to do a little fishing (didn’t catch anything…)
(just kidding…)

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

Rocky Visits with Mary Jordan at the Spencer Penn Centre in Henry County, Virginia

This week’s show was a real treat to record, chatting with Centre Director Mary Jordan about what’s going on at the Spencer Penn Centre. As you watch this show, the music that I announced would be before the first break ended up at the end of the show. But, never fear, because I’ve also included a few songs from that night below the show link.

If you have not been to the 2nd Friday Music Night at the Spencer Penn Centre, you really need to take that in. They provide food so you can make a whole evening of it!

For More Information about the Centre, go to their website:
Spencer Penn Centre, Henry County, Virginia

Or contact them directly at:
Telephone: 276.957.5757

Click here for more information about the Pig Cooking Contest coming up in April. See ya there!

Now that music I promised you. These were recorded live at the Spencer Penn Centre where everyone was having fun, which was the whole idea. So, there is some background ‘noise’.

This first song is by The Courtney Rorrer Band

Below is a song by Jason Harris & Friends.

Pay particular attention to the young Mandolin player, Nick Goad from Stuart, Virginia. He was the winning Mandolin player, as well as the Best All Around Performer at the 2013 ‘Old Fiddlers Convention‘ in Galax, Virginia. He is now a professional Mandolin player for the Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome Band, but happened to be home the weekend that Jason Harris & Friends were scheduled to play at Spencer Penn Centre.

In addition to music programs, classes, special events, and all of the things that Mary Jordan discussed in my interview with her, the building is also a tremendous asset to the community. The sense of history, evidenced by dedication plaques and murals throughout the facility are worth seeing firsthand. I’ll close this posting with pictures from my tour through the building as part of putting this show together.

Defensive Driving Tip of the Week:

No matter the weather you’re driving in, make sure that all of your windows are clear. In the winter season, clear your windows completely of snow and ice on the outside. And, make sure that all of your windows are clear of fog and ice on the inside.

We’ve all seen drivers who have cleared just enough of the windshield to be able to peer through – and otherwise have no idea what’s going on around their car. Remember, the window you can’t see through may be the one that brings you a surprise you won’t like.

And, as always, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle as you go about your own Ramblings.

Murals and Plaques Inside The Spencer Penn Centre

Rocky Rambles up to Rocky Mount, Virginia to Discuss Franklin County’s Parks and Recreation Program

This week, Rocky interviews Paul Chapman, Franklin County Director of Parks and Recreation. and Matt Ross, Franklin County Outdoor Recreation Manager. We met at Waid Park and talked about the parks and the recreation programs being managed by Franklin County. You can watch the show here, and below you’ll find more information

More Information: Franklin County Parks or call (540) 483-9293

Here’s a map that you can use to get to Waid Park.

Waid Park, Rocky Mount, Virginia

I’m going to do a special posting to show the progress on the entrance bridge to Jamison Mill Park. Check in later to see that.

Defensive Driving Tip For This Week:

Always use your turn signal to let drivers around you know what you’re going to do. Surprises are great for birthday parties, but not so much on our busy roads. We share our roads with other drivers, slower moving vehicles, emergency response vehicles, and pedestrians. It is important that we communicate with each other so that we can all anticipate what the others are doing. That’s why our vehicles have turn signals, brake lights, back-up lights and 4-way flashers. Use them! Not only does that let others on the road know what you’re going to do, it also lets them know that you are paying attention and driving defensively.

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



Rocky Rambles Over to Stuart, Virginia to Talk with Clyde Crissman, Patrick County Director of Recreation and Patty Hazelwood, Part-Owner of Wayside Park

This was a fun show to record, talking with Clyde about the County’s park system and all the activities going on in Patrick County. That led to a special treat, chatting with Patty Hazelwood about the park that her family and two other families allow the community to use for special events.

Click here for More Information:

Patrick County Parks and Recreation.

A list of Parks in Patrick County.

Activities at Wayside Park.

Phone numbers for:

Reservation of Shelters in Patrick County Parks – 276-694-3917.

Events at Wayside Park – Patty Hazelwood – (276) 692-4149.

Defensive Driving Tip For This Week:

As you approach an intersection, if the light turns yellow and you CAN stop safely, do so. If you’re running a light that is yellow – maybe turning to red, you are focused on getting through, not on what else might be happening in the intersection. There may be someone jumping the gun from one of the other directions.

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