Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Grab Yer Cozzies - The Beach is Open!

The Beach at our Franklin County Community Park is OPEN!

It officially opened last Friday just in time for memorial weekend and boating season. I guess there really is no reason left to go anywhere else. We have mountains, lakes, scenery beyond description and now our own beach!

There is no cost to go to this beach, bring your swimsuit, sunscreen, noodles and a big ugly hat and you are all set for a day of fun in the sun.

At the Franklin County Community Park you will find a brand new playground, restrooms, fishing pier, picnic tables and a wonderful trail that leads out to the point. This is a great trail for a nice walk after a swim or if you have a pooch, he/she would be forever grateful if you wandered down this trail to the point.

The community park/beach is about a 45 minute drive from The Claiborne House B&B. The directions are easy enough -
from Rocky Mount go Route 40 West to Route 122/Booker T Washington Highway. Go approx 18 miles til you come to WESTLAKE CORNER (you'll see a Kroger store and Wendy's) at the next light turn RIGHT on SCRUGGS ROAD. You will pass a Dairy Queen and then a fanstastic restaurant Blackwater Cafe. You will see Scruggs Fire and Rescue and turn LEFT at the service station. From there follow the signs to the beach.

There is plenty of parking near the beach or the other side near the fishing pier. Some decent sized Striper have been caught from this pier. So if you like to fish, don't forget your rod and reel.

Don't forget to stop at Homestead Creamery on your way back to The Claiborne House B&B. They have the most delicious ice cream made right there off Route 122 near Burnt Chimney. It reminds me aof a creamy custard.

They have the cows out the back from which this ice cream is made! You can grab a pint of the special of the week or have a cone right there and peruse there little store. I would add a website link, but this creamery is owned and operated by the old older of German Baptists. So there will be no website. Just old fashioned ice cream.

PS Certain parts of Australia call a swimsuit a swimming costume, therefore the typical Aussie abbreviation to Cozzies. I think in Queensland they call them TOGS. Grab yer togs. Or Swimmers.

FYI The water in August is 84 at Smith Mountain Lake. So you better hurry up and get here and enjoy it!

Life is too short for bad coffee... Shellie @ The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia

Monday, May 19, 2008

Roanoke's Millionaire Club - The Texas Tavern

A trip to Roanoke would not be complete without a stop to the city's most unique and very popular restaurant THE TEXAS TAVERN. (Perhaps the smallest as well)

The Texas Tavern is the most photographed building in Roanoke.

The Texas Tavern is a favorite haunt for many, famous and infamous and regular everyday ordinary people. Within the walls of this tiny building sit an elite group set to solve world problems over a cup of buttermilk and a chili.

When Dad and I went to The Texas Tavern, Dad commented on how good the coffee was. Of course it is good, just like here at The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast, it is percolated! So when you go, don't skip a cup of coffee after your meal, you will really enjoy it.
As we sat at the counter on our bar stools, the first thing I noticed was the solid brass foot rest that runs the entire length of the counter was worn down to below half. Boy has this counter seen some business!

Here is some trivia for those who love trivia about The Texas Tavern:

  • Texas Tavern is open 24 hours per day-7 days per week, except Christmas.

  • The building has been painted approximately 65 times.

  • Approximately 1100 Tons of Pinto Beans have been consumed since 1930.

  • Approximately 1,260,000 pounds of hamburger meat have been consumed since 1930.

  • Approximately 9,460,000 hotdogs have been consumed since 1930.

  • Gerald Williams and Bill Ammons ate at the "Tavern" the day it opened and are still customers 74 years later.
A favorite sign or two at The Texas Tavern:

  • We seat 1,000 people-10 at a time.
  • We don't cash checks or play with bumblebees.

I have taken this information directly from their website and hope it brings many more interesting folks in to join Roanoke's Millionaire Club.

Famous customers over the years include the "3 Stooges", when in Lynchburg or Roanoke back in the vaudeville days, Glen Miller, the legendary band leader, Lynwood Holton, former Govenor of Virginia, M. Caldwell Butler, member of the House of Representatives, Clifton A. “Chip” Woodrum, Virginia House of Delegates and Vic Thomas of the same. John Payne (famous movie actor in the ‘40s and ‘50s) was a native Roanoker and “Tavern” fan.

Also, Billy Joe Burnette, a well known entertainer originally from Roanoke and a loyal “Tavern” customer, recently presented the Texas Tavern with an original platinum record of his hit recording “Teddy Bear”, a multi-million seller.
Also, very well respected and popular retired Judge Jim Brice has been a "Tavern" regular since the early '40's. When Debbie Reynolds was married to a Roanoker, she was a frequent customer.

Over the last 74 years many people from various walks of life have visited the Tavern. It is not unusual to observe a judge sitting on one stool having a conversation with some fellow just released from jail. Preachers sit next to sinners and “ladies of the evening” rub elbows with the country club set. Democrats speak to Republicans at the Texas Tavern!

Everyone is treated the same at the “Millionaires Club” for each customer is treated as if he is indeed a “millionaire”.

Many famous people have come in, eaten, and left without any fanfare. Always bring your camera, you never know who is coming next. The Texas Tavern is the most photographed building in Roanoke. (Yes, it was rumored that Elvis was seen at the Texas Tavern several nights ago). Also, at a recent (February 04) Alan Jackson concert, pictures of the Texas Tavern were featured as a background to loud cheers from his fans!

Amongst many other accolades Texas Tavern is a consistent winner in polls conducted by the Roanoker magazine in catagories such as "Best Late Night Dinner", "Best Chile", "Best Hotdog" and "Best Inexpensive Lunch".

Featured in Fodors travel guide for the Southern U.S.

Sample Texas Tavern's Menu:




Double Hamburger

Egg Sandwich

Cheeseburger (small)

Denver (Egg & Cheese)

Cheeseburger (large)

Ham Sandwich

Ham & Egg Sandwich

Ham & Cheese

Cheesy Ham & Egg



Chile (Bowl)

They also have a breakfast menu that draws in a regular crowd.

All photo credits are given to our dear friend Jim Scott who stopped by for a visit and then hightailed it back to the NW.

Life is too short for bad coffee... Shellie @ The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia

Monday, May 12, 2008

Visit Patrick Henry's House - Red Hill


Patrick Henry's plantation home RED HILL is an hour and a half drive from The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast. It is something to see and explore! He referred to Red Hill as "One of the garden spots of Virginia."

After twenty-five years in Virginia's legislature, five conventions, and five exhausting terms as governor, Patrick Henry retired to Red Hill and resumed his private legal practice.

A little bit of history of the Man (taken from REDHILL.ORG website)

Patrick Henry’s political career began in December 1763 with his rousing victory in the Parsons’ Cause, a controversy rooted in the peculiarities of colonial Virginia’s tobacco-based economy that also became an important precursor of the American Revolution.

Clergymen of the established Anglican church and other public officials in colonial Virginia received their annual salaries in tobacco – 16,000 pounds per a year for a clergyman. For decades the market price of tobacco had been about 2 cents a pound, but severe droughts in 1759 and 1760 drove the price of tobacco much higher. In response to this crisis, the colonial legislature passed a Two-Penny Act, which declared that contracts payable in tobacco should be valued according to the normal price rather than the higher “windfall” caused by the recent drought. Many of Virginia ’s Anglican clergy, who already felt that their vestries paid them too little, protested the law. Eventually, the parsons appealed to colonial authorities in England , who overruled the Virginia statute and declared it void. This action aroused a controversy over the nature of British authority within the colony.

Most of us know the familiar words of Patrick Henry "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death" this Speech by Patrick Henry to the Second Virginia Revolutionary Convention meeting at St. John's Church, Richmond, on March 23, 1775.

Some more inspiring words of the same speech:

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?

Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.

Click here to read the entire speech.

Osage Orange Tree Both a National Champion and a member of the American Forestry Hall of Fame, this Osage Orange tree has an astonishing eighty-five foot span and stands sixty feet high

Toll Free: 800-514-PHMF (800 514-7463)

Red Hill is open:
Monday - Saturday 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm

Admission: Adults, $6.00; Children, $2.00

Red Hill has a fantastic 4th of July celebration!
Fireworks, live music, food, Patrick Henry, living history interpreters, games, and more...
$10 per vehicle carrying up to six passengers

Life is too short for bad coffee... Shellie @ The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia

Saturday, May 3, 2008

U-Pick in Blue Ridge Country

Having just returned from picking fresh warm in the field strawberries yesterday, I have share some U-Pick places you will enjoy. There is nothing better than handpicked ripened on the vine/tree fruit. NOTHING!

Guests from the U.K. this morning started their meal with handpicked red juicy strawberries and cream. As a part of their savory breakfast they also enjoyed homegrown tomatoes.

At The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast we will always strive to provide local produce if at all possible. There is plenty that grows here in these hills besides corn for moonshine and tobacco!

Dansby's Strawberries – Glade Hill

Sweet and clean. Plasticulture grown. A fun family event, pick one eat one pick one eat one. The Dansby’s encourage “sampling” as many as you like!

Picking times: Daily (Sun-up to Dark) and Sundays (2pm to Dark) – We’re in the buckle of the Bible Belt, so for folks who think everything oughta be open early on Sunday - - well it ain't gonna happen, thankfully.

Hot to find them:
From Rocky Mount go 8 miles on 40 East to Glad Hill Post Office. Turn right on 718 (Colonial Tpke). Go 2 miles to Doe Run Rd. After True Vine watch for the signs (448 Colonial Tpke).

Prices this year are:
You Pick - $9.25 per gallon = 5 lbs or $1.85 lb
We Pick For You - $13.00 per gallon = 5 lbs $3.25 qt

In Glade Hill - True Vine Area

They have already alerted us to the asparagus we will be able to pick early next Spring! Asparagus is my all-time favorite vegetable – hm, how can I work that into a quiche?

Levering Orchard - Ararat

On a good season, the cherries start as early as late May and can extend to the Fourth of July and sometimes beyond. Almost 30 years after Sam's planting, Levering Orchard claims the title as the largest cherry orchard in the South and draws customers from as far as Washington DC and Atlanta to pick its 43 varieties of sweet and sour cherries. I have to warn cherry picking is not for the faint hearted. The heat is on, the ladders are tall and wobbly. That is the only way to reach those beauties!

As Deane Kern wrote for a recent issue of Blue Ridge Country magazine, "Every June, Levering Orchard welcomes more than 20,000 visitors from the Blue Ridge and beyond.... Frank always encourages visitors to bring picnic lunches and take time to savor the clear mountain breezes and breathtaking scenic views. He declares that his delicious fruit cannot be found in grocery stores at even twice the price."

Levering Orchard nestles 2 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Orchard Gap, 75 miles southwest of Roanoke and 10 miles north of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Cherries ripen in June and early July; apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and pears in July and August; apples from July through November.

163 Levering Lane Ararat, VA 24053
Packhouse Office: 276.755.3593
Cherry Hotline: 276.755.4837 See their website for current pick dates or call the cherry hotline.

This is not NEAR The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast, it is a decent one and a half to two hour drive down The Blue Ridge Parkway – a nice leisurely drive I might add. Remember you can’t go over 45 mph on The Parkway. So take your time and take in the scenery!

From Blue Ridge Parkway, between mileposts 193 & 194 at Orchard Gap (east of Fancy Gap, west of Meadows of Dan), go south on Orchard Gap Road (VA 691), down mountain 2 miles.

Johnson's Orchards and Peaks of Otter Winery - Bedford

Directions: Take Route 460 1 mile west of Bedford. Turn right on Route 680 north for 5.5 miles. Follow the "yellow apples." From the Peaks of Otter and Blue Ridge Parkway, take Route 43 south for 3.5 miles, turn right on Route 682 for 3 miles, turn right on Route 680 for 1 mile. Follow the "yellow apples."

Hours: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Open daily, August through November.
Special Comments: A drive to our farm is spectacular, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning. You can taste our apples, peaches, nectarines, cider, and other home grown and homemade products. Roadside stand open year round, 5 miles west of Bedford on Route 460. 15' high Johnny Appleseed statue. Restrooms. Picnic pavilion.

Products: Pick-your-own or fresh-picked apples, peaches, nectarines, and plums. Over 170 different varieties of apples including Red and Golden Delicious, Johnny Grimes, Jonathan, Johnny Dels, Grimes Golden, McIntosh, King Lush, Granny Smith, Rome, Black Twig, Arkansas Black, Stayman, Winesap, Gala, Fugi, plus many more antique apples.. Homemade cider, apple butter, syrup, apple hot sauces, jellies and jams, and other farm fresh products such as molasses, honey, pumpkins, hot peppers and other produce.

Note from Shellie – my favorite time of year to go to Johnson’s Orchards is near Memorial Day when the sunflowers are in full bloom to pollinate the apple trees!

Johnson's Orchards in Bedford. Nancy and Danny Johnson 2122 Sheep Creek Road, Route 680 Bedford, VA 24523(540) 586-3707 1-800-PIC-OURS (1-800-742-6877) See their website for the many festivals and events held at Peaks of Otter Winery and Johnson’s Orchards.


Directions: One mile west of Route 419 and Oak Grove School.Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturday. Closed Sunday (remember I said buckle on the belt).

Special Comments: Family farm since 1875. Our fruits and vegetables are grown on premises. Old fashioned homemade hard candy (in season). Fruit and gift baskets are a specialty.

Products: Apples, peaches, nectarines, vegetables, apple butter, peach butter, mountain honey, hard candy, Amish country cheese.

Dennis Jamison 5635 Grandin Road Extension, Roanoke, VA 24018 (540) 774-5537

private patch - Bassett

JULY. I was given information for a pick-your-own blueberry patch. Blueberries are easy to pick (and easy to eat as you pick them!) They freeze well and shall be featured in many a blueberry pancake over this Summer and Fall at The Claiborne House B&B.
These are not the typical small Maine or wild blueberries, these are the large sweet and juicy North Carolina style blueberries. It only takes about 5 or 6 per pancake to make them bleed all over your plate.

Call first before you go to see if they are ready for pickin’ 276-629-7820. 110 Pawnee Lane Bassett VA

Directions: From Rocky Mount go 8 miles south on hwy 220 to Lucky Two store. Turn LEFT – go 3 miles to patch.

If anyone goes to any of the above – PLEASE SEND ME PHOTOS! Here is a list of all Virginia pick-your-own apples.

We had a guest stay with us who owns an orchard and every tree in it is cut from a tree owned by a notable American, Like Thomas Jefferson who extolled the virtues of the agrarian life. The third president of the United States considered farming to be his profession. While in Virginia you have the opportunity to visit Monticello or better yet Thomas’ summer home Poplar Forest where he spent his leisure time, contemplating much. (Poplar Forest is about 45 minutes from the B&B) near Bedford, VA.

“I continue in the enjoyment of good health, take much exercise, and make frequent journies to Bedford, the only journies I now take, or ever expect to take.” Thomas Jefferson January 10, 1811 [Age 68]

Life is too short for bad coffee... Shellie @ The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia