The one, the only, Elissa-the-photographer guest blogs today. And while Elissa is too shy to tell you this, her photography is on elp6n (that’s the name) on Facebook, if you want to see some of it. This is what comes of a 7-hour time difference whence Wendy, in Turkey, realized she could put up Elissa’s guest blog before Elissa ever got up.
Wendy is not a “native.” Jack is not a “native.” Oh yes they’re native to somewhere, but they’re not “from here” as we SWVA natives tend to say. You can’t tell just from looking at them; Wendy has a non-local accent that belies her.
In Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap they barely touch on the subject of why Southwest Virginia is their chosen settlement. Have you ever thought about it? Of all the places in this great big world to settle down, why Wise County/Big Stone Gap?
Is it the fabulous people? I wasn’t living in the area when they settled down here so it couldn’t have been that. Are they here as spies? Wendy doesn’t lie very well so it can’t be that.
Let’s go on a little speculative photo trip. What is so fabulous about this area that Jack and Wendy moved here and birthed our dear Little Bookstore.
This is Powell Valley, where it’s rainbows and butterflies all the time. In fact, back in October when Superstorm Sandy rolled through, most of the county was on the receiving end of upwards of a foot of snow. Powell Valley / Big Stone Gap received none.
Just down the road less than 5 miles is Roaring Branch Falls, a rough waterfall located off the side of the road. It’s just sitting right there for the world to see, no effort, no muss no fuss.
If you’ve leaving Big Stone Gap driving past Roaring Branch Falls, this is your destination: the small town of Appalachia, built by coal, carrying a lot of history.
Morels. Dry Land Fish. We have them. Restaurants pay $50+/lb for them. We eat them by the pound for free. Envy us. By the way, it’s currently Dry Land Fish season here. If you ask a local where his/her hunting spot it, the absolute best you could wish for would be to be blind-folded, driven in circles for a couple of hours, hike a few miles, and maybe you’ll be permitted to see a morel.
We throw a heck of a party. The July 1 2010 Stator Party was one for the record books. This bad boy rolled through town July 1 at 11:45 pm. Big Stone Gap partied all day and all night. Familes, college students, the elderly: everyone celebrated The Stator.
You’ll also find recreation areas of various sorts. Here we have Flag Rock, a 25-acre recreation area in the Jefferson National Forest. The flag was placed here in 1920.
Next up: University of Virginia’s College at Wise. At the left of the photo across the lake is the Gilliam Center for the Arts. In this building The Phantom of the Opera was recently performed, featuring students & musicians from the college. Every show was sold out, with the natives and non-natives demanding access.
Trek down US58 and you’ll find Little Stoney Falls. A person can walk a short distance from the parking area to find these falls, and if feeling more adventurous, walk on down to find additional equally lovely falls. I highly recommend it. Don’t fall in. I don’t recommend that. The water is freakishly cold at all times. I know this the hard way. I’ll miss that Birkenstock…
Fall colors. Not just for the Northeast!
Talent. We have it.
Here, Lyric the Mastiff teaches her human how to spin wool. Lyric doesn’t look very pleased with her progress, does she?
There’s a local group of woodworkers that make art with chainsaws, or carve 3-Dimensional faces in standing trees. I asked one of these folks what his approach was when carving a large bear from a tree and I was told “Easy. You just remove everything that isn’t a bear.”
And lastly, we have one of my dachshunds, Princess Nellie the Nelligator. You don’t have one of these. There’s only one. (And the world breathes a sigh of relief…)