Archive for October, 2010

From Virginia’s Eastern Shore To The Charlottesville, Virginia Mountains- Our Annual Trek For Apples

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Three hours is all it takes to travel from our sandy seashore to the top of Carter Mountain outside  Charlottesville, Virginia but what a change in scenery and pace,  folks just zipping around those mountain curves like the blazes. ( Me,  I  just drive  along at a good pace but not trying to set any records either. )  It’s really beautiful on top of Carter Mountain this time of year,  off in the distance the Blue Ridge peaks look very blue.  Close up,  the mountain foliage  is almost past  its peak whereas  back on the Eastern Shore,  a lot of the trees are just slowly beginning to turn.

When my kids were small they loved cider and a little song called Sipping Cider Through A Straw.  Now that they’re adults they still love sipping cider and Carter Mountain Orchard is an excellent place to do just that.  The week-end before Halloween is a busy time at the orchard,  it seemed  like their winding  mountain road was bumper to bumper,  both going up and coming down,  cars chuck full of pumpkins, apples and apple cider.  But nobody was  impatient or honking,  they were  just enjoying the crisp fall air permeated by the sweet smell of apple pies baking in the orchard’s little bakery.  Actually,  we like Carter’s  apple cider donuts just as much as their apple  pie– if you’ve never had one,  let me say that it’s hard to beat a fresh cider donut ( or 2 ) paired with a cup of  hot spiced cider as an autumn treat.

Anyway, the plan was to meet up with our son and crew to have lunch atop the mountain and then pick apples.  BBQ sandwiches and real french fries  ( not frozen mushy things so often served)  washed down with fresh-pressed apple cider,  a tasty lunch for sure,  just close the eyes to the calories !   But the rest of the  plan was to work off some of those calories by picking apples.  After the kids enjoyed a ride around the orchard on a tractor-pulled hay-wagon,  we all set off  for the U-Pick section of  Fugi apples.  In my opinion,  Fugi’s are a  perfect apple for both eating and cooking.  Picking was the easy part– toting about 100 pounds of apples down the mountain while corralling 3 little running, laughing  grandkids was a challenge but we managed it.   By then the time had finally come to pick the Great Pumpkin.  After much searching,  evaluating and advocating for a particular favorite,  the kids at last  found a pumpkin upon which they could all agree,  thank Heavens for that !

Then they were off to make a couple other stops,  leaving my husband and I to settle down and relax at one of the picnic tables to enjoy the long view out to the Blue Ridge and to have a wee bit of dessert….. an apple cider donut and a cup of cider,  of course.   We wrapped up the afternoon by selecting a few other varieties from the pre-picked bins, some Jonathans,  a few Granny Smith,  some McIntosh,  some Staymans, etc. .  When cooked together into an applesauce,  the flavor of a mixture of different varieties of  tart-sweet apples like these is incomparable.  ( Why the only so- called applesauce you can buy in grocery stores is some thin,  runny,  no- texture,  flavorless  stuff which has no relationship to what real applesauce actually is if you make it at home,  I truly can not understand.  Really,  how hard should it be to make a decent, delicious commercial applesauce ?  Some company should make that their calling– bringing real applesauce to the market ! )

Last item on our Carter Mountain Orchard to-do list was to get a bushel of  Pink Lady apples.  Having had our fill of apple picking for the day,  we  opted for a pre-picked bushel of these beautiful apples,  each one sporting a wide pink blush.  For staying power in a refrigerator,  a Pink  Lady is hard to beat.  They are a wonderful all- around apple for  eating,  Waldorf salads,  frying,  etc.,  etc.   So,  loaded up with apples,  apple cider, apple cider donuts and jars of apple butter,  we were ready to say goodby to Carter Mountain Orchard ( )  until next year’s  apple trek from Virginia’s Eastern Shore to Charlottesville, Virginia.

From Virginia’s Eastern Shore To Blue Ridge Mountain Wineries — A Wonderful Trip !

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

From the seashore to the mountains in only three and a half hours of travel through beautiful scenery — that was the essence of our  trip from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Charlottesville, Virginia last week-end.  October is wine month in Virginia,  no better time to take a little break to follow the Monticello  Wine Trail  ( ) and to have fun visiting a few of the 25 wineries on that Trail.  Question:  What do Dave Matthews,  Thomas Jefferson and an extremely wealthy Virginia family have in common ?   You’ll see.

Visiting The Big Apple

The first stop on our trip was up Carter Mountain where we hooked up with my eldest son and family for some apple picking,  cider sipping and  hayride tripping but more on that in another post.   Carter Mountain Orchard has added a wine tasting room where we tried several different wines from the Prince Michael Winery,  including a particularly good  Chardonay.  I ended up getting a bottle of the Chardonay for a friend who is having foot surgery on Friday — if you are confined to the sofa for a week or more,  what better than a good glass of wine to liven things up.

Jefferson Vineyard

Our next stop was Simon’s Market which specializes in picnics and sandwiches for the many winery visitors in the area and is located just around the bend from Jefferson Vineyards.  We popped in for two of their cream cheese,  kalamata olive spread,  roasted peppers  and Genoa salami sandwiches to enjoy with a glass of Jefferson’s excellent Viognier out on the vineyard’s  patio,  overlooking the  beautiful views of  the vines and the Blue Ridge mountains.  Only a mile from Monticello,  this land was the site of Thomas Jefferson’s first vineyard,  planted in 1774 .  Jefferson became very interested in wines from his time in France and the winery website, ,  offers a lot of detail on the interesting history of this property.  Jefferson has a very attractive tasting room and the wines here are delicious,  especially the velvety  Cabernet Franc and their  Viognier,  which is particularly crisp and refreshing.

After a good dinner at the Boat House,  a restful night’s sleep and a late breakfast at Brodo’s Bagels,  it was off  to  a trio of wineries,  all near Monticello.  We wanted to visit the tasting rooms of  First Colony,  Blenheim and nearby Kluge.  We had thought about  Keswick Vineyards because we had read about their interesting  tradition called  “Yappy Hour” where on Sunday afternoons from noon till closing, doggie  loving customers can bring their canine pals and socialize with other dog owners.  Even though our dogs were not with us,  it still  sounded like fun but Keswick was too far away from other the three vineyards we had already decided to visit  and still depart Charlottesville by 5  pm.

First Colony Vineyard

First to First Colony.   The driveway approach to the tasting room winds around the 12 acre vineyard with the mountains as a familiar back-drop.   Once inside,  the main room is lightfilled and airy with a separate dining area for special events.   We tasted  several whites as well as the reds.  My favorite red was  the Petite Verdot and I loved the Zephyr,  a bright white wine with flavors of pineapple.   Just off the tasting room at First Colony is an elevated deck surrounded by large hardwoods dressed in their intense fall colors– a good place to rest with a glass of wine and some of the available cheeses.

Blenheim Vineyard's Tasting Room

From there to Blenheim Vineyard not far away and owned by, you guessed it,  Dave Matthews of the famed Dave Matthews Band.  The land was owned by his mother before Matthews decided to begin the vineyard and it is a family run operation.  The tasting  room is in a handsome timber-framed building which features a full glass south facing wall overlooking the vineyard and the mountains and includes a large outdoor seating area for a picnic with a bottle of Blenheim’s excellent  wine.  The most interesting part of the tasting room however is the floor– or rather,  lack of floor.  As you walk in the door,  the center portion of the tasting room floor is made of clear plexi-glass so customers can see into the barrel room below.  That’s a very unique feature in my experience and one that I’m sure everyone  “oo’s and ahs”  about — I know we were impressed.   The wines were impressive as well and we ended up with several bottles of  the spicy Cabernet Franc.

Wine And Cheese In The Garden At The Kluge Estate Vineyard

From Blenheim we were off to Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard just a few minutes  away.   The Kluge family is a very wealthy family and the vineyard and winery established by Patricia Kluge in 1999  are located on a tiny portion of their  very beautiful 2000 acre farm.  The tasting room is nestled in a grove a mature hardwood trees and features outdoor seating on the patio and in the garden area as well as indoor seating surrounded by warm hardwood paneling.  Kluge’s tasting proceedure is also unique– instead of  small pourings into commemorative wine glasses,  Kluge  has a custom upright tray with 6 slots for tall cylindrical vials.  Customers select from two tasting flights of  six wines each,  approximately $10-14/flight,  select a cheese plate  if desired and then find a quiet spot to sip and evaluate  the wines.  We picked the flight that included two of their superb sparkling wines,  a rose and three different vintages of their  “New World”   a luxurious blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot.  Needless to say,  as we left  Charlottesville and these four fine vineyards behind,  jumping  on the interstate to head back to home- sweet- home  on Virginia’s  Eastern Shore,  we were well armed with red, white  and sparking wines  for the upcoming holiday season !

P.S.   Back to the  question of what Thomas Jefferson,  Dave Matthews and the Kluge family all have in common.  The answer is of course, a love of  good wines  and the creation of memorable vineyards as testiments to  that love. See these wineries on the web at : and .

I Can’t Believe That My Favorite Month On Virginia’s Eastern Shore Is Almost Over !

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

From Our Deck The Water Looks Bluer In October

October on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is just the best month of the year,  to me anyway.  The clear blue skies and the Indian Summer warm days are so delightful,  nearly perfect really.  The leaves start to turn,  but very slowly.   My dogwoods and crepe myrtles are coloring up beautifully  but the deep reds and oranges of hickory and oaks have yet to really start.  Fall camellias are just starting  to bloom,  pansies are ready to plant,  time to put collards and kale in the garden and buy a few mums for the porch steps to enjoy as I come and go.   Sitting on the deck enjoying the views,  for some reason the water just seems bluer to me in October.  Fall here is  long- sleeve- cotton- blouse weather,  not yet time for a sweater or windbreaker,  which is good because I hate toting that stuff around,  putting them on,  taking them off.  ( Actually I’d rather be a little cold than lug a sweater around even in December.  January is a different story. )

Colorful Fall Foliage In The Blue Ridge Mountains

And there’s always a lot going on in October both on the Eastern Shore and around Virginia.  It’s almost time for our annual Blue Ridge mountain trip to Carter Mountain Orchard  in Charlottesville, Virginia,   home to  Pink Lady,  Fugi,  Stayman Winesap, Yellow Delicious and  Granny Smith apples— all favorites of our family.  Time to put a couple bushels in the garage refrigerator for pies and Waldorf salads, etc. through the winter.   Fall foliage will be at its peak up in the Blue Ridge Mountains,  a lovely sight indeed.  And the 20 + wineries there will nearly all be having special tasting room treats.  It’s an easy trip,  just over a three hour drive  from Virginia’s Eastern Shore to Charlottesville  ( C-ville as the locals there call it ),  through some beautiful scenery.  Going to Carter Mountain for apples, apple cider and apple butter plus some side ventures for wine to Jefferson Vineyard and Barboursville Vineyard,  both a part of the Monticello appellation ( )  is annual October tradition for my husband and I.   Part of the  “October is my favorite month”  thing —  good apples,  good wines ,  good times.

October Is The Time To Plant Pansies And Mums On Virginia's Eastern Shore

Here on the Eastern Shore,  the October foodie thing,  the annual Harvest Festival has come and gone.  ( In fact, I just finished a week of rice cakes and cottage cheese for lunch,  thanks to over- indulgence at the Harvest Fest,  especially on crabcakes and the always fantastic sweet potato pie.)   The October birdie thing,  the 18th annual Birding Festival  has also come and gone.   But the birds,  especially the beautiful songbirds and large raptors,  are still migrating through.  Good luck guys and gals,  it’s a long,  long way to Central and South America.   ( Ever wonder if  birds say to themselves,  in bird speak obviously,   ” This migration thing is a severe pain in the tukus —  let’s just say   “No”  next year and go to Miami instead !”  )   The annual Chili and Chowder Cook-off  held in Chincoteague, Virginia  each year in  October for the last eleven years has also come and gone.  The chili and  chowder part is great–  I love chili,  my husband loves clam chowder,  so it’s  a  win-win event for us.  But Treat or Treat is still to come.  I’m looking forward  pumpkin carving and walking around the  “big block”  in the little town of Cheriton with my grandkids on Halloween as they collect enough goodies to provide another year of  job security for their dentist.   And then, inevitably,  October,  my favorite month on Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  will be over yet again.

“Sweet Baby” James Taylor’s Gift to the Birds Of Eastern Shore Of Virginia

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Singer/Songwriter James Taylor has enabled a wonderful legacy for wild birds on Virginia’s  Eastern Shore.  On Friday, October 8, 2010, an addition to Kiptopeke State Park was officially dedicated in his name by the Director of Parks and Recreation for the state of Virginia.  Thanks to James Taylor’s  generosity,  the state of Virginia ,  in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy,  added an additional 37 acres of upland area to the park.  Kiptopeke State Park is located at the very southern tip of the Shore in an area that is vital to the migration of songbirds in their flight south for the winter from their summer breeeding grounds in the northern regions of North America.  (See a great  video of James Taylor and his wife  kayaking on Virginia’s  Eastern Shore at )

On-site Information Marker for the James Taylor Bird Habitat At Kiptopeake State Park

As the topography of the East Coast shapes into a funnel at the end of the Delmarva Penninsula so follows millions of migrating songbirds where they gather at the tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore to refuel for the crossing of the Chesapeake Bay and for leaving the mainland of the continent to migrate across thousands of miles of the Atlantic Ocean towards Central and South America.  James Taylor personally donated $200,000., the proceeds of a 2009 fund raising concert he performed in Virginia Beach.  The land that was purchased and added to the state park was formerly agricultural in use and now will be allowed to flourish as wild bird habitat for future generations forever. Hundreds of native trees, shrubs, and grasses have been planted there to support the songbird migration. Birds truly have  “got a friend”  in   James Taylor.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia Master Gardeners donated 500 hours of volunteer labor and the plants necessary to establish a demonstration garden of native plant species, the perfect compliment to the James Taylor bird habitat.  I joined the Master Gardeners two years ago and have gained quite a bit of knowledge and experience in gardening, landscaping, plant diseases, and maintenance.  The best part is making new friends and contributing to our wonderful community.  Each new class that graduates has installed a garden in a public place and maintains it.  The  Virginia Eastern Shore community benefits also by the thousands of hours of volunteer work that the Master Gardeners donate each year in support of education and maintenance of public gardens.

Our Historic Homes For Sale – Enjoy The Romance Of Living In A Yesteryear Home On Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Grand Old Homes Along The Beachfront

If you are thinking of buying a historic home on the  Eastern Shore of Virginia,  you’ll be happy to know that most  of the older  homes here have not been razed to build something modern but instead have been lovingly restored.   As a consequence,  for our size and low density population,  the Eastern Shore of Virginia boasts  a  substantial number of beautifully renovated and modernized  Victorian era or older  homes.  And some spectacular historic real estate on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is  for currently sale at very attractive prices.  ( Check out our historic home listings on the web at .)

  Indeed,  several of  our little Northampton County towns,  including Cape Charles, Virginia  and Cheriton, Virginia,  were  actually founded around the late 1800’s  and their  architecture consists substantially of   Victorian style homes along with Georgian Revival,  America Four Square, etc..

The Amazing 17 Mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel

Now for a   brief history lesson…  Discovered in 1608,  with English settlements dating from the  1620’s,  the Eastern Shore of Virginia  was,  for a long time,  geographically very isolated.  Farming and seafood were the economic engines and remain important  today.  Travel to mainland Virginia was by boat trip across the Chesapeake Bay,  a very substantial trip.  ( Even today,  most locals here say “I’m going across the Bay today” rather than “I’m going to Virginia Beach/etc. today”,   a throw-back to the days before the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel when traveling across the Bay by boat was lengthy and possibly arduous.   If a sudden storm were to come  up   “going across the Bay”  back then was a pretty big deal.  Now , with the truly amazing 17 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge,  ( ) this previously difficult  journey has been reduced to a scenic 15 minute car ride. )  Families tended to stay on the Shore and on the farm because,  back in the day,  farming and seafood here were both very, very lucrative.  Beautiful homes were built,  both in-town and out on the farms  and these homes were passed down through the generations.  Today,  neither farming nor seafood is quite so appealing and some farms and and a number of lovely historic homes in our towns have been purchased by people  moving here from out of the area,  as my family and I did,  to enjoy the Eastern Shore’s relaxed, coastal way of  life.   The point of this being that homes that have been torn down in other areas to build new developments have generally been renovated and restored here,  enabling the Eastern Shore of Virginia to retain a certain romance,   a true sense of yesteryear that many other rural areas have already lost.( )

5 Bedroom, 5 & 1/2 Bath, 3000 Square Foot Historic Craftsman Cottage Style Home

Two very different examples of  historic homes for sale on Virginia’s Eastern Shore include a beautiful  in-town Craftsman cottage style home built in 1913  and an amazing waterfront historic home,  situated on five acres in the country,  the earliest section of which was built in the late 1600’s.    The Craftsman cottage style home ( ) ,  has been meticulously restored,  with over  3000 square feet,  featuring  five bedrooms and five and a half  baths,  located only about 500 feet from the wide sandy beach in the quaint coastal town of Cape Charles, Virginia with amenities like beach,  golf and marinas.  Shown on HGTV’s  “If Walls Could Talk” ,  it’s  currently serving as a very successful B&B.   However,  its open, airy floor plan and modern conveniences  will make it a wonderful personal residence,  offering great entertaining spaces.  Friends and relatives— come on down !   All the  “must have”  historic treatments are here — ten foot ceilings,  raised panel doors,  wainscoating,  columned room dividers, moldings, etc.  Walk to the beach in 30 seconds,  enjoy water views  and dazzling sunsets from the huge  front porch.  Golf carts are  “street legal”  in Cape Charles so you can  “go-green”  and zip over to the Cape Charles Coffee House,  etc.  for lunch in your electric cart.  Offered at $585,000,  this fine home can be a wonderful personal residence or kept  as a B&B,  the perfect opportunity to have a home business.


On the other end of the spectrum is the nearly 4000 sq. ft.  “Wellington House”,   located on the water  in the country about 20 minutes from Cape Charles.  Situated  on a colorful, deep saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay,  this amazing four bedroom, three bath home  with an existing backyard dock  is a rare opportunity to marry a love of  historic homes with a love of  boating.   An absolute gem,  built of  brick,  Flemish bond style,  this home’s earliest section dates back to the late 1600’s .  When you enter the original quarter kitchen with its huge hearth and beams, used now as a sitting room,  it’s like going back in time to the Colonial days.  High ceilings,  additional  fireplaces and wide plank floors throughout lend this special home an authenticity and ambience that few historic homes can rival.   Add to that its amazing waterviews,  backyard pier for a  boat  and the seclusion offered by its five acre size and it totals one terrific historic home,  all this offered at the attractive price of $1,495,000.  


We’ll have more posts soon about the opportunites to purchase historic real estate  on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  In the meantime,  some of our unique historic home for sale listings can be viewed at  with prices  starting at $199,000  to over $3,500,000 for a home on 100+ acres.

Foreclosure Fraud Effects Everyone

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Normally in this blog we  discuss both aspects of  life on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and some specific real estate here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  But nobody can pick up a newspaper today without reading about the rampant bank recklessness in the foreclosure process around the entire country and I want to make a short comment about this issue.   The widespread disregard that it appears that most banks willfully have shown for the underlying legal process is very disturbing to me because every single property purchase in this country relies on the sanctity of the process of getting and keeping clear title to the real estate being purchased.   Therefore,  for the system to work properly,  when a bank wants to foreclose it needs to be able to prove that it has the right to do so.  When  these individual property rights are trampled on,   it effects public faith in our entire structure of property rights and real estate contract law.  So possible foreclosure  fraud by banks effects everyone.  An excellent explanation of the entire purchase-to-foreclosure process can be found at  .  I guarantee it’s worth taking the time to read.

Celebrating The Great Fall Migration — The Eastern Shore of Virginia’s Annual Birding Festival

Monday, October 11th, 2010

See you at the Owl Prowl

What do the  “Run For The Birds”,  the  “Butterfly Walk”  and  the  “Owl Prowl”  have in common ?   ( No,  they’re not new dance steps !  )  Rather,  each is a part of the annual Birding Festival held on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on the first week-end in  October.  ( The first week of October is getting to be a pretty important week  what with the start of  the new term of  U.S. Supreme Court  and the Eastern Shore’s Harvest Festival and Birding Festival all held then. )  This year’s Birding Festival,  held last week-end,  was the 18th in this  series of highly successful  eco-tourism events and included the largest number of  participation activities of any Festival so far.   Bird lovers  from all over Virginia,  indeed from all over the East Coast,  came to  Cape Charles, Virginia  to hear the keynote address given by Dr. Gregory S.  Butcher,  an internationally renown ornithologist and Director of Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society.

If you look at a map it’s easy to see that the shape of  the DelMarVa  (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) peninsula  is rather funnel-like.   On the northern end,  in Delaware,  the funnel is rather wide.  Venturing  south, the penninsula grows more and more narrow so that  by the time you reach Northampton County,  the Shore is only about  8 miles across,  narrowing to about 4 miles south of Cape Charles.   During the Fall bird migration,  as the birds fly south along the Atlantic  Flyway,  they are funneled into an ever decreasing land mass.  This results in the Eastern Shore of Virginia having large concentrations of migrating songbirds and raptors at our southern tip where they are able to rest and replenish before flying over open water.  Great efforts to protect and study these birds have been expended by a large number of organizations including  US Fish and Wildlife,  The Nature Conservancy,  Coastal Management Dept of VDEQ and numerous others.  From those efforts grew the idea for the eco-friendly  Birding Festival.  The rest, as they say,  is history.

Part Of Our Pristine Chain Of 18 Barrier Islands

I personally think that what accounts for the continuing great success of the Birding Festival is that there are such interesting  activities in which to participate,  with new and different activities being added all the time.   This year a number of  different boating options were available including  a  two+ hour trip from  the little town of  Willis Wharf  out  to the Machipongo River to view shore and wading birds,  a 2 + hour trip out of Watchapreague  and  a 3 hour boat trip out of  the tiny town of Oyster to Cobb Island hoping to see  nesting terns,  oystercatchers, whimbrels, sandpipers,  etc., maybe even plovers out on these pristine Barrier Islands and a 2+ hour trip,  also from  Oyster,  out to Wreck Island to see what is being hailed as  the world’s  largest and most successful seagrass restoration program.

Adios Amigos, We Are Off To Mexico

I personally always enjoy the bird banding– it’s amazing  how calm these beautiful  birds are as they are banded but how quickly they flit away as they are released.  The bird banding station is located at Kiptopeake State Park which is the very, very  tip of the the Eastern Shore of Virginia.   Millions of songbirds migrate through our area each year and many of them can be found at Kiptopeake  Park  which has a huge natural maritime forest plus open areas and lots of  specifically planted beneficial shrubs and trees.  Like ducks to water,  the birds have really taken to the Park.   Apparently over half a million birds have been banded at Kiptopeake Station over the years,  a real achievement,  mostly by volunteers.   Also located at the Kiptopeake Park is an amazing hawk observatory.  On Saturday,  mermerized watchers were counting with glee the numbers and variety of hawks and falcons they were observing —  lots of Cooper’s hawks especially.  The Kiptopeake  Observatory is plays a vital part in the the annual raptor count for the Shore.  Kiptopeake Park  is also home to a  beautiful Butterfly Garden planted and maintained by the Master Gardeners of the Eastern Shore.   The Garden was filled with colorful Monarch butterflies on Saturday,  flitting along in their  migration  south to over-winter in Mexico .  Lots of  folks, many with kids in tow,  were snapping picture of them while waiting for the  “Butterfly Walk”  to begin.  Later still,  9-11 pm,  for those who  had the energy,  Kiptopeake Park would be one of several sites for a two hour  “Owl Prowl”.   ( I love owls.  Often,  if I am up very late,  I can hear a pair softly calling to each other not too far from my house.)

" Release Me Already, I'm Banded"

Finding Butterflies

Hawk Observatory- Seeing A Lot Of Cooper's Hawks Today

Meantime back in the town of Cape Charles,  at Festival Central,  ( )  lots of organizations  had booths set up,  literature to distribute,  ready to answer questions  and give advice.   Tons of interesting exhibits and plenty of stuff for kids too.  Next door,  the Marine Science Aquarium’s huge mobile truck was set up with its  “Oceans In Motion”  exhibit plus its  mini  “Touch and Feel”  tank which was attracting kids of all ages.   Anyone who loves Nature would love the Birding Festival.   So don’t forget– the first week of October each year signals  the new term of  the  Supreme Court,   the Eastern Shore of  Virginia’s Harvest Festival and the Eastern Shore Birding Festival !   Hope you can make it next year.

Aquarium In A Truck -- Amazing !

Virginia Dept. Game & Inland Fisheries, An Important Festival Sponsor

Festival Central- New Information, New Ideas, New Efforts

The 18th Annual Harvest Festival on The Eastern Shore Of Virginia, Coming Tomorrow

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Food, Music & Fun On The Beach At Virginia Eastern Shore's Harvest Festival

I’ve been dieting for about a week in anticipation of the annual Virginia’s Eastern Shore Harvest Festival held each year in  early October.  Where else can you find such an exciting array of traditional seafood dishes ( plus some land lubber foods as well)  in an open air beachfront setting with music,  an artist’s pavilion  and inevitably,  politicians.    No where that I know of except at the Sunset Beach Resort located on the Chesapeake Bay near Cape Charles, Virginia ,  the traditional home of the Harvest Festival,  held there on the first Wednesday in October since 1992.

We Used To Tent, Now We're Just Foodies

Entering the Festival grounds,  it’s always fun to see all the little food tents with a few business tents interspersed. ( We used to have a tent to give out business cards and catalogues  but everybody on staff really wanted to be out and about with friends and food so a few years ago we decided to consider the Harvest Festival strictly as a  “Food and Friends”  event and forget about a more formal  business approach.)   Once inside,  my daughters  usually head straight for the soft shell crab sandwich tent and  my husband maneuvers towards  the crabcake  tent.  But I head straight for  the devils-on-horseback.  ( If you’ve never had a “devil-on-horseback”,  it is a shucked, seasoned oyster wrapped in bacon and roasted  to pure perfection.  Topped with a little hot sauce it is more like angel- on- horseback.)  Harvest Fest is all about the  various foods from our pristine Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean saltwaters  including fish,  shrimp and clams as well as oysters and crab.   A perennial favorite is the “Eastern Shore style”  clam chowder,  made in huge kettles and thick with clams,  onions,  potatoes and salt pork,  all cooked in a clear broth,  served up steaming and fragrant.  It’s quite different than the more traditional cream- based New England clam chowder or the tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder–  very simple yet delicious.

Land-lubbers enjoy the country ham served on traditional sweet potato biscuits or thinly sliced roast beef on yeast rolls.   And who can resist Sting Ray’s famous spicy chili,  lots of heat and not too many beans.   And  those who are  “all hat and no cattle”  with regard to spicyness  join in the stampede for the  Buffalo but mild chicken wings.   Add in the Carolina- style shredded BBQ and we-all have got us-all  a really fine southern-style feast !   Last but not least is the scrumptious sweet potato pie from Kate’s Kupboard Bakery– it’s the best ever,  with a just a hint of lemon and a little coconut,  served with or without some smooth whipped cream,  just melts in your mouth.   So now it’s easy to see why it’s necessary for me to diet for a week before the Harvest Festival— too much great food to resist and too many calories to ignore.  So —  it’s rice cakes and cottage cheese for lunch on Thursday !

The RE Show– Studying Social Media At The 2010 VAR Convention In Virginia Beach, Virginia

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Every year the Virginia Association of Realtors  (VAR)  holds an annual convention and the 2010 event was held last week-end at  the Virginia Beach Convention Center,  a sleek modern facility which fortunately understands the value of  comfortable chair seats for  those who are going to be attending seminars held in 2 hour modules,  i.e.,  the mind can only absorb what the derriere can endure.   Since Virginia Beach is less than an hour from Virginia’s Eastern Shore it was an easy trip,  a piece of cake really,  and I slid into my first seminar  with 10 minutes to spare.  The convention is an annual opportunity for Virginia Realtors to network and to attend seminars on a variety of topics presented by top experts in their field brought in by VAR  from around the country.  This year I  agents selected six seminars,  each about using   “Social Media”.

So for nearly 12 hours over two days,  I immersed myself in Internet social media ideas and questions.  Starting with  a seminar entitled  “Beyond Blogging”  given by Jeff Davis from California  (who apparently is one of the top 5 experts in the US on Word Press  which happens to be the platform this blog is written on)  to  tips on  “Risk Management in Social Media”  also presented by another  Californian,  Ginger Wilcox and finishing  with  “Agent 2.0”  offered by Brian Copeland,  a funny,  funny guy  from Nashville,  Tennessee,  my derriere endured and my mind was stretcheeeeeed.  I loved Brian’s  witty  aphorism,  you can be smart or you can be pretty but this afternoon  let’s try to be smart.   ( Brian himself is both smart and pretty ! )  All three speakers were terrific,  the rooms were  fairly crackling with ideas and info,  mostly  new to me.   I definitely was trying to be smart but I think I probably was mostly pretty.  Yep,  I know I was mostly pretty.

Brian Copeland...Smart and Pretty

Anyway,  from  “Engagement is the New Metric”  and Dunbar’s  Number (150)  to websites with names like Cademus,  TweetBeep and Ping,   various  rooms  full of mostly middle age plus Realtors  ( in my case, plus plus)  grappled with new names,  terms and concepts.  We learned how to create an interactive web poll,  we  learned the program for doing voice-over on videos of our listings and  we were urged to  “move our off-line to on-line and our on-line to off-line” .   My husband likes to call learning all this new technology   “Coming out of the Cave.”   (  For the record,  I should note that  he selected  seminars on familiar subjects like  ” Floating In A Sea of Short Sales”  and  “Understanding the Glue to Real Estate Agreements”  and was not out there  trying to understand the security issues of  being or not being on Foursquare ! )   However,  step by step,  I do think I am coming out of the Cave but it is hard —  the Cave feels safe and is so familiar.  Also,  much as I hate to admit it,  I’m a person who looks back very nostalgically on the days when a cell phone was simply a device for placing and receiving phone calls.   So,  we’ll see if  by this time next year I’m tweeting Tweets and friending on Facebook.   The proof will be in the pudding,  time will tell,  not taking any bets just yet,  etc., etc.