Tag Archives: Clifton Forge

Roanoke, Virginia, October 2016

Rainy Roanoke!  It actually is a beautiful small city, even during an overcast October week — and the skies cleared up brightly my last day there.

What I loved most about the city during the daytime is how the surrounding mountain peaks ascended to be obscured by darkening alabaster clouds.  It’s as though some celestial painter was coloring outside the lines, and brushed broad swathes of smoky white to cover the summits, and to turn the slopes the hues of deep, royal blue-gray and dimming charcoal.

This entire region in Southern Virginia rests along a broad valley encircled by mountains — the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west.  (The Alleghenies are where you can find Iron Gate and Clifton Forge.)  It is slightly disorienting for a first-time visitor to see mountains virtually everywhere on the horizon; I think it subtly affects one’s sense of direction.  (Mill Mountain, home of the famed Roanoke Star, is within the city limits.)

There actually is a Long Island, Virginia along the Roanoke River, presumably where all the cool people live.  Just northwest of that is Altavista, Virginia, with its notable cottage industry of obsolete Internet search engines.

My girlfriend calls Roanoke “The Snow Globe City,” and that makes sense when you view downtown from the highway.  It is a quaint looking southern city, its streets are neatly lined with boxlike period buildings, and it has the appearance of a picturesque architectural huddle.

And there are churches everywhere within the city.  It is indeed part of the Bible Belt.













Iron Gate and Clifton Forge, Virginia, July 2016

Here are a couple of more shots of Iron Gate and Clifton Forge, in the Alleghany Highlands of southwestern Virginia.  Words can’t convey the immensity and beauty of the 400-foot-high Rainbow Rock, towering over Rainbow Gorge and the railroad tracks.



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Camping at Iron Gate, Virginia, July 2016

So the Mary Washington College alums finally shanghaied me into the annual campout at Iron Gate, Virginia (population 388).  It was amazing.

I saw a bear (on the ride home); a bald eagle; cows and horses; huge snorting hogs and friendly little piglets (hoglets?); a bat; a glittering blue-tailed skink; a wrinkly, red-faced turkey buzzard (up close); finger-length iridescent blue dragonflies; and innumerable wildflowers.

We smelled skunks too — several times along the way and once downtown in neighboring Clifton Forge.

This was all in the company of some amazing friends, schoolmates and their families — a couple of whom I haven’t seen in nearly a quarter century.


Approaching Iron Gate via Clifton Forge and the Allegheny Mountains in southwest Virginia.  What you see is not fog — these mountains are high enough so that the road runs parallel with the clouds.


The Cowpasture River and its vicinity.




Camp Nolan.  The bat is for bobcats or The Blair Witch.


The magic bacon-creating creatures of legend!!!


I made friends with these adorable bacon beans!  After I called them, they decided they liked me and tried to follow me out! I wanted to adopt one and name him “Delicious.”


Accidental overhead abstract mountain shot is creepy as f#%k.  I’m pretty sure this is the last thing a murder victim sees …


The first fireworks photos I’ve ever taken that have actually turned out.  I am 43 years old.