Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Our Annual Carter Mountain Trek- From Virginia’s Eastern Shore To The Blue Ridge Mountains In About 3 Hours

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

World Famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Westward Ho !  ,  the theme of our annual trek  some weeks ago from our beloved Eastern Shore’s sandy seashore to the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in Charlottesville, VA.  It’s a trip that, depending on traffic,  only takes 3-4 hours,  but it’s a trip that shows off  the real beauty and diversity of  Virginia geography as we drive from our saltwater-dominated Atlantic coastal plain through the Virginia’s rolling plain Piedmont area, ( think Williamsburg, Richmond, etc. ),  and then into the gorgeous Blue Ridge area of Charlottesville and Roanoke.

A View From Carter Mountain, Charlottesville VA

( Westward still would place  you in the Appalachian Mountains and Virginia’s  famous Shennandoah Valley, very beautiful yet somehow we seldom go that far. )  Virginia certainly isn’t an especially large state but it has a diversity which makes getting a change of pace and scenery easy and fun to do.  For some reason,  it never ceases to amaze me that I can be driving on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, watching rolling  waves and seabirds just after breakfast and by lunchtime I can be sitting in a chair atop Carter Mountain,  munching a juicy York apple.

Michie Tavern, ca.1784, A National Historic Landmark

This year,  because of an especially busy schedule,  for the first time,  we made  our Annual Apple Trek after Halloween rather than before, which like most things in life had its pros and cons.  Pros were that it was quiet,  no lines to pay for apples and Carter’s fabulous fresh-pressed apple cider,  easy to find an attendant to get questions answered and a chair was immediately available  to sit and admire the wide vistas.  Cons– well, I really missed seeing all the kids running around trying to choose their Halloween pumpkins,  the hayride wagons full of  excited parents and kids,  the bluegrass fiddles and banjos.   In short,  apparently it wasn’t just about the crunchy apples and the beautiful vistas from atop Carter’s Mountain, it was also very much about the infectious  atmosphere of their month long October Apple Festival accompanied by the mouth-watering aromas of fresh apple pies and apple cider donuts  wafting through it that we had been enjoying all these years.  At any rate, before venturing up to the Orchard we enjoyed  a late lunch at Michie Tavern,  located right at the foot of the mountain and only a half mile from Jefferson’s Monticello.  Built in 1784 as a country inn to accommodate travelers of the day, it is a beautiful structure, a National Historic Landmark, very well-preserved. Serving a menu of foods typical of the time and still popular today– fried or baked chicken and excellent southern style  pulled pork BBQ,  accompanied by black-eyed peas,  stewed tomatoes, beets, cole slaw, mashers, cornbread, big, fluffy biscuits, etc. ,  Michie Tavern gives an authentic taste of  what travelers of the time would have experienced.  Lunch can be eaten  inside or al fresco  on their screened porch overlooking the propery’s magnificant woodlands or by the roaring fireplace in winter,  it’s always a very pleasant experience.  (

So Many Apples, So many Choices At The Carter Mountain Orchard

Lunch over, up  Carter Mountain we went.  The apples were great,  as usual.  We normally buy a bushel each of four different varieties, typically Stayman Winesap, York, Fugi and Pink Lady,  so that we can mix them together and give them as little  “happy-apple-harvest”  gifties to friends and family.  A Pink Lady is an especially pretty apple, a very pale green with a large blush of deep pink on the side,  quite crisp and slightly tart, one of my favorite apples, both a good eating and a good pie apple.   But for applesauce, I think you just can’t beat the combination of  the Stayman and  York varieties with a few Fugi and Macintosh thrown in for good measure.   At our house we love applesauce, unsweetened, chunky, flavorful,  lightly laced with cinnamon,  completely delicious with chicken or pork, and, I might add, so good for you.  It’s hard to tolerate what passes for applesauce in the supermarket, thin, grainy, absolutely flavorless– must be made with mealy red delicious, the worst apple ever for flavor.  But a big pot of  three or four  types of  sweet-tart Carter Mountain apples, slowly simmered with a little apple cider,  mashed carefully to retain some chunks  (but not too  many), gently flavored with cinnamon and perhaps a tiny dash of clove at the very end — now that’s an applesauce that we will drive 3 hours to get really fresh apples to make !  ( By the way, applesauce freezes very well, pull it out, defrost and it tastes almost as great as the day it was simmered off in the big apple kettle.)   So we got some  great apples, newly  picked that morning,  we got the fresh-pressed apple cider, delicious either hot and mulled or icy cold,  as well as a dozen pre-packaged cider donuts.  All in all,  we had a great day.  But …..  for Apple Trek 2012,  I think we will make a point to go before Halloween so we can enjoy all the extras too — the yelling kids, the noisy hayrides,  the bluegrass band twanging away and the aromas of apple pies newly baked,  all the many features of the October Apple Festival atop  Charlottesville’s Carter Mountain.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Halloween On Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

It seems that kids of all ages  love Halloween,  be it the little ones who dress up in their cute costumes or the big  “kids”  who get the costumes ready and stand by to do the annual   “Trick or Treat”  walking thing.   Here on the southern tip of the Shore,  the most popular place to Trick or Treat is in a little town,  especially in Cape Charles, Virginia or in Cheriton,  just a few miles away.   Since my middle daughter and her family have lived there  since about 1996,  Cheriton has naturally become our official  family Halloween destination,  we are loyal to you,  Cheriton,  dear Cheriton.

Trick or Treating  there generally involves what we  call  “doing the Big Block”.   On the east side of   Bayside Road lies the largest and most compact  residential portion of town,  with just enough little businesses located right on  Bayside Road  to make it the prime   “Treating”  spot for those with little legs that tire easily.   The so-called  “Big Block”   is  actually  two blocks square,  so it’s  still  a pretty good work-out for kids and parents alike.   The great thing about  “doing the  Big Block”  on Halloween  is seeing people you know from business settings just out having fun with their kids,   the kids all having fun seeing their friends  dressed up,  laughing and waving their colorful lite sticks at each other and the residents,  waving to friends on the street,  with carved pumpkins on porches beckening,  providing the sweet,  sweet  rewards.   It’s just plain fun,  good wholesome fun for everyone involved,  kids,  parents  and  homeowners.   So,  see you next Halloween,  Cheriton.

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.