Crunch Your Way Through Route 11 Potato Chips 19 May 2015, 8:05 am
America loves potato chips. Whether it’s Lay’s Ruffled Chips, Cool Ranch Doritos, or Frito-Lay Sunchips, most people indulge every once in a while in these crispy, crunchy morsels. Here in Virginia, we are lucky enough to have our own fantastic brand of potato chips, made by the the company Route 11, which is located in Mt. Jackson, Virginia.
According to Route 11’s official website, their chip recipe is “simple,” including only “good potatoes, high quality oil and unusually delicious seasonings,” and this company certainly succeeds in the quality of their snacks! Not only are the chips delectable, but they have different flavors for different preferences (meaning that all you picky eaters out there have a wide variety from which to choose)! You’ll have check out their complete list of flavors, but here’s a hint of what they offer: Chesapeake Crab, Dill Pickle, Garlic and Herb, Mixed Vegetable, and Sweet Potato.
Did you know that you can also visit Route 21 and feast your eyes on a frying demonstration? Indeed you can, though they recommend calling beforehand to make certain of their cooking hours.
Celebrate Spring with an Annual BBQ at King Family Vineyards 11 May 2015, 7:23 am
King Family Vineyards in Crozet is known primary for two things—its premium wine and its exciting polo matches. On a warm, Sunday afternoon, perch along the polo field alongside your loved ones, and take in the sights and sounds of these mallet-wielding competitors on horseback. King Family wine is always available at these events, so take the opportunity to enjoy a glass of Crose 2013, Chardonnay 2012, or 3, a collaborative wine produced by the efforts of King Family Vineyard, Veritas Vineyard, and Grace Estate Winery. (Also, if you’re a fan of Meritage, then a King Family Vineyard Meritage Vertical Tasting is a must.)
Polo isn’t the only event that the vineyard hosts, however! Coming up this Saturday, May 17, 2015 is King Family Vineyard’s Annual Spring BBQ, which will include everything you could want at an event of its kind—live entertainment, wine tasting, and of course, hot, juicy barbecue. Let’s talk a bit about the barbecue. From noon to 5 p.m. on the day of the event, the Gordonsville, VA-based Barbecue Exchange will be serving their hickory-smoked, slow-roasted pork, dry-cured and then prepared in their wood-burning cookers. Grilled chicken, cole slaw, pumpkin muffins and more will complete the pulled pork meal. Pair it with some King Family wine, and your taste buds are in for one delicious treat.
Tickets to the Annual Spring BBQ are only $16/person and are available for purchase here. (Reservations are required, so don’t miss out on this fun event!) Furthermore, King Family Vineyards is only 15 minutes from the Iris Inn, so it’s a beautiful and convenient drive to the event. We look forward to seeing you!
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Fridays After Five Concert Series 4 May 2015, 6:27 am
Charlottesville, Virginia’s nTelos Wireless Pavilion is well-known for hosting concerts, shows, and tours of all musical genres. The list of upcoming performers for the Pavilion’s ever-popular Fridays After Five Concert Series, now in its 28th year, has recently been released, and whether you’re a die-hard fan of bluegrass, a lover of rock, or an admirer of world rhythms, you will most certainly find a band to suit your tastes.
All of the performers are local artists from central Virginia, and you will be delighted to know that all the performances in this concert series are free. Also, part of the proceeds from concession sales will go towards local non-profit organizations. (How great does this concert series sound?)
If you aren’t able to make any of the shows during the first half of this 2015 concert series, have no fear. A list of musicians for the second half will be released sometime towards the end of June.
May 8- American Aquarium (with Kendall Street Company)
May 17- Adrian Duke (with Born Crooked)
May 22- The Bootsie Daniels Band (with Moon)
May 29- Abbey Road (with Kairos Effect)
June 5- The Gladstones (with Rockafellers Acoustic)
June 12- Superunknown (with Disco Risque)
June 19- Lord Nelson (with Circus Mutt)
June 26- The Kokomotions (with Tom Robbins & Fulton Patrick)
July 3- Keith Morris & The Crooked Numbers (with Her Checkered Past)
Book your room at the Iris Inn, and start planning your Fridays After Five activities!
Take a Hike: Trails Near the Iris Inn 15 Apr 2015, 5:00 am
One could argue that spring is the ideal season for hiking. The chill of winter has departed and the intensity and humidity of the summer heat has not yet arrived. Everything is bursting with new life, and there is an overall sense of well-being in the springtime (other than the allergies of course!)
There are numerous hiking options within a short distance from the Iris Inn, and the imminent shift to fall if the perfect time to start planning an outdoor excursion. Peruse the list of trails below, and make sure to book your room at the Iris Inn!
Crabtree Falls– Hike a four-mile loop, comprised of neatly-kept trails, breathtaking scenery, and the “highest cascading set of falls east of the Mississippi.” Dogs are also welcome, so long as they are leashed.
Appalachian Trail to Spy Rock-Spy Rock is is one of the tallest mountains in the area with a “360-degree panoramic view.” The hike begins at the Montebello Fish Hatchery, proceeds across two-miles of the Appalachian Trail, and then continues to Spy Rock.
Wintergreen Nature Foundation Trails– There are nearly 30 miles of marked trails around Wintergreen, with four of them being the main trails. They cover “an array of distances and difficulties over the five-mile loop that leads you by the breathtaking Shamokin Falls to the easy one-mile trip through Allen Creek Preserve.”
Blackrock Summit Trail– This is a simple, beautiful one-mile hike located in Shenandoah National Park. The rocks for which it is named is a unique sight that supposedly resembles “the terrain of a foreign planet.”
Humpback Rocks Trail– This trail is “short, steep, but immediately rewarding,” and the “rock outcrop on top provides one of the best views of the Shenandoah Valley.” (This hike also happens to be the person favorite of the Iris Inn blogger!)
Sharp Top– Sharp Top is a strenuous three-mile hike that can take at least two-hours to finish. The effort is definitely worth it, as it overlooks the remains of a World War II bomber aircraft, as well as a panoramic view from the Piedmont to the Alleghany Mountains.
EarthCaching in Shenandoah National Park 7 Apr 2015, 2:00 am
Geocaching has become an increasingly popular activity, and for those unfamiliar with it, it is a sort of high-tech treasure hunt: “For the traditional geocache, a geocacher will place a waterproof container containing a log book (with pen or pencil) and trade items then record the cache’s coordinates. These coordinates, along with other details of the location, are posted on a listing site” (Wikipedia). Other geocachers will use their GPS to find the hidden caches, sign their names, take any available trinkets, and then leave an item of their own.
Similar to geocaching is an activity called EarthCaching, which, instead of having a physical cache, results in locating a feature of the natural world: “Instead of leaving or removing anything from the site, EarthCachers document their observations and answer questions as a learning experience, and then report their discoveries on the EarthCache website.” Shenandoah National Park offers a beautiful place to go EarthCaching, with no fee other than admission into the park.
So, how do you go about starting an EarthCaching adventure at Shenandoah National Park?
- Set up a geocaching membership (basic membership is free).
- Check out the available EarthCaches at Shenandoah National Park, and choose which hike you’d like to do. (The Blackrock EarthCache is the closest to the Iris Inn. It’s only a 45-minute drive away and is a relatively easy hike in a beautiful area!)
- Have a GPS device or GPS app on your phone.
Both EarthCaching and geocaching are fun ways to explore different areas, and the biggest benefit is that anyone can participate. (Make sure to not leave any traditional caches at Shenandoah National Park. The park only allows EarthCaching.)
Happy hunting from the Iris Inn!
Explore Virginia’s Historic Garden Week 1 Apr 2015, 1:00 am
Lush gardens, historic homes, and warm walking tours with good company—nothing celebrates the arrival of spring like Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, and the annual event is fast approaching! “Every April, visitors are welcomed to more than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during ‘America’s Largest Open House.'”
The first garden tour nearby the Iris Inn is on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at Morven Estate in Charlottesville: “Morven, a three-story brick manor house built in the late-Georgian/Federal Style, dates to 1820. The land on which it sits was part of the original Carter family land grant and was known to Thomas Jefferson as ‘Indian Camp.’” The estate was passed from Jefferson to his adoptive son William Short. It was then passed on to others until it was finally owned by John Kluge, who generously gifted the estate to the University of Virginia. A bit of trivia for you: “Morven” is a Scottish word that means “ridge of the hills.”
The Staunton, VA tour will also be held on Saturday, April 18, 2015, exploring why the Queen City is “one of Virginia’s most celebrated preservation success stories.” Each stop on the 2015 Staunton tour “Each of the farms and estates on this year’s tour has a deep connection with the area’s historic and cultural roots. These 200+ acre properties are anchored by landmark residences in the Federal, Tudor Revival and French Eclectic styles with construction dates ranging from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries.”
On Sunday, April 19 and Monday, April 20, you’ll have the opportunity to tour Albemarle-Charlottesville homes and gardens: There is something to please everyone, from historic estates to restored Gillette gardens to prized modern landscape architecture.” (These tours are only a short drive away from the Iris Inn!)
Book your calendar, and reserve your room at the Iris Inn. You won’t want to miss out on this indulgence in history, gardens, and springtime in Virginia.
The 40th Annual Lexington Road & River Relay 18 Mar 2015, 10:24 am
If you caught last week’s blog, then you’ll know that the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour is coming up soon, but that’s not the only outdoor competition to get your blood flowing. Another upcoming event is the 40th Annual Lexington Road & River Relay, “a challenging 16.1-mile course in and around Lexington, Virginia.” This event also just so happens to be sponsored by one of our local breweries, Devils Backbone, which will be offering its brews during post-race festivities. Sound interesting? Then keep on reading.
This relay will commence on May 2, 2015 at 10 a.m. at the Rockbridge Regional Library in Lexington (only a 45-minute drive away from the Iris Inn). From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., participants will challenge themselves physically and mentally as they fight through the four legs of the relay:
- 3.5-mile run over a “moderately hilly course” on paved roads.
- 9.1-mile bike ride over paved, hilly roads.
- 2.2-mile canoe or kayak course that travels down the Maury River
- 1.3-mile loop run on a “slightly hilly” trail course.
While you have the option of entering as an individual competitor, you can also enter with up to four other team members. Make it a girls’ adventure with a stay at our B&B or a family event with the addition of an inn getaway. There are so many fantastic ways to make this a fun vacation with some fun competition thrown in. (Plus all participants get pizza and beer after the relay!)
Register for the Lexington Road & River Relay by calling 540-463-5375 or going here. (Website info should be updated soon for the 2015 race). Click here to reserve your cabin, cottage, or suite at the Iris Inn.
Cheer on the Cyclists at the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour 10 Mar 2015, 3:55 pm
“Set your cycling goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.” –Felicity Luckey
Cycling is a fantastic cardio exercise. There’s a reason spinning classes are so popular, right? However, nothing beats a ride out on the road, especially when you have great company, gorgeous scenery, and a friendly air of competition.
If you follow cycling competitions, then chances are, you’ve heard of George Hincapie: “He competed in a record 17 Ronde van Vlaanderen races and finished second at the grueling Paris-Roubaix, the best ever for any American. Beyond the classics he rode in the Tour de France 17 times and won three US National Road Race championships.” So why are we telling you about George Hincapie? Because he’ll be joining the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour from June 26-July 1, 2015! These six days (or three, depending on which registration option you choose) will take you on a moderate-to-difficult journey, 20 to 108 miles, and up to 26,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart!
So, what all will be included on the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour?
– Rest stops with food, fruit, and drinks packed with electrolytes to keep your bodies fueled.
– A daily “premium rest stop” that includes some sort of culinary treat.
– Beer and wine sales
– Shower trucks
– On site retailers just in case you need bike clothing or accessories
– On site entertainment every single evening
– And much more.
Now, you’re going to need a whole lot of rest before you start
on your long bike tour, so why not swing around to Waynesboro, VA
take a quick getaway at the Iris Inn before heading north to
Abingdon, VA. We fill up fast in June and July, and the bike tours
registration fills up quickly as well, so book your room and register now!
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Come to the 15th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival, Waynesboro, Virginia 1 Mar 2015, 5:05 pm
It may be difficult to think about venturing outdoors and enjoying some fishing while it’s still so chilly outside, but there’s a promise of warmer weather in the air. And you know what spring in Waynesboro, VA means…it’s time for the Annual Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival! (Trivia: Did you know that this festival is the largest outdoor event of its kind in the country?)
Now in its 15th year, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival will take place on Saturday, April 11, 2015 and Sunday, April 12, 2015 on the banks of Waynesboro, VA’s beautiful South River: “Over 50 onsite exhibitors will have the latest in fly fishing equipment, fly tying and guide services. Beginner to expert anglers will enjoy nonstop lectures on where, when and how to fly fish in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.” Enjoy classes on beginning fly fishing, fly tying deer hair bass bugs, spey casting, and advanced casting. Visit the vendors with offerings that include everything from food to jewelry to fishing supplies. And of course, taste some of the wine and cider provided by local vineyards and cideries—Barren Ridge, Bold Rock, DuCard Vineyards, Hunt’s Vineyards, Sans Soucy Vineyards, Sweetwater Vineyards. (Most of the festival tastings will be free to those 21 and older…that’s right FREE!)
Whether you’re a beginning angler, an experienced fly fisher, or you just want to show up for the wine tasting, it’s never too soon to start planning your Fly Fishing and Wine Festival vacation.
Where: South River, Waynesboro, VA
When: April 11-12, 2015
Admission: $20 daily, $35 weekend pass, children 16 and under FREE
Lodging: The Iris Inn!
Photo Credit: Žiga
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Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, Virginia 16 Feb 2015, 3:47 pm
“He was a wise man who invented beer.” –Attributed to Plato, but more than likely not said by him (nevertheless, we agree)
We write this on a frigid day in the Shenandoah Valley. Snow is falling (even though we’re only a few weeks away from spring), and the winter weather is making us especially thankful for a toasty bed & breakfast with a crackling fireplace in the Great Room. It may be cold outside, but you can warm up your insides with a taste of local brew. One particular brewery of note is Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, VA.
Starr Hill has provided its patrons with the “Gift of Great Beer” at the hands of Master Brewer Mark Thompson. For Mark, the brewing process has always been a form of art, and each brew is as unique and interesting as its name. For example, you’ve got the Psycho Killer, a Wee Heavy Ale with a roasted malty flavor and undertones of caramel and chocolate. Then there is the Northern Light, an IPA with a citric bitterness and an intense hop and a smooth finish. As with the other nearby breweries, Starr Hill is also an award-winning establishment, having earned gold for its Jomo Vienna Lager, its Dark Starr Stout, and its Festive Amber Lager along with a host of other awards and achievements. Will you find the Gift of Great Beer at Starr Hill? We answer with an enthusiastic “yes!”
(Note: On February 16, 2015, Mark Thompson announced his retirement from Starr Hill after 16 years with them. He will certainly be missed, but we have no doubt that the brewery will carry on the Gift of Great Beer as per Mark’s vision.)