Thursday, December 29, 2011


Hello cross country skiers...if/when we get snow this year just let us know if you want an email. Our 14 acres and surrounding property are perfect for this winter sport. The entire Blue Ridge Parkway is available because it is usually closed for snow. Keep this all in mind if you hear of a storm heading our way. Give us a call for reservations or book on line at .

Winter: A “Secret Season” in the South’s Loftiest National Parks

Mount Mitchell in the Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular cross-country ski destination. Randy Johnson photo.
The Southern Appalachians stretch a long arm of New England deep into Dixie. Down that spine of summits, the East’s highest, snowfall can accumulate to astounding depths that defy stereotypes of the Sunny South.
When the snow closure signs go up on portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Skyline Drive inShenandoah National Park, and theGreat Smoky Mountains — cross-country skiers and snowshoers are often seen striding and stomping into a winter wonderland. As far south as North Carolina, lofty locations receive more than 100 inches of average annual snowfall—equal to Buffalo, New York. That kind of “accu” doesn’t all come down in three-inch dustings.
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The Price Lake Trail in the Blue Ridge Parkway offers lots of room for kick-and-glide. Randy Johnson photo.
Even an average Appalachian winter in North Carolina or Virginia yields opportunities to find a substantial base of snow and enticing Nordic ski and snowshoe conditions.
Here’s a primer on the places where our national parks offer a “secret season” of winter recreation in a region more associated with sun than snow.
Both Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge Parkway straddle the eastern-most “front range” of the Appalachians. That can mean that most of the snow from the region’s storms falls on more westerly ridges (West Virginia peaks can receive nearly 200 inches of snow!).
Nevertheless, when the snow strikes, Shenandoah is only an hour or so away from urban areas like Washington, D.C., and Richmond.
Skiing or snowshoeing in the highest part of the park requires driving the Skyline Drive. The Drive is often closed after heavy snow, but the park routinely plows the road.
“Safety will always be number one,” says Chief Ranger Leslie Reynolds, “but we always want to open our roads as soon as safely possible.”
When open, skiers and shoers head south from US 211 to the area of Big Meadows, a summer recreation and services area known for high elevation grassy fields.
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You can ski, or snowshoe, to the Old Ragg Shelter in Shenandoah National Park when there's ample snow. Randy Johnson photo.
The meadows are great for Nordic skiing, so is Big Meadows Campground and a wealth of nearby fire roads and level stretches of the Appalachian Trail.
Chief Reynolds notices people heading down “the fire road to Rapidan Camp,” President Herbert Hoover’s fly fishing retreat. And the scenic Limberlost Trail offers a great loop tour of about 2 miles, while Hawksbill, Shenandoah’s highest summit (4,049 feet), can be tackled on a loop formed by fire roads and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. A stone trail shelter sits on its summit (no camping is permitted).
When the park is really dumped on and the Drive is closed, head to the Old Rag area. Public plowed roads reach the park’s eastern boundary near adjacent small settlements of Nethers and Syria. The summertime loop of Old Rag’s rocky Ridge Trail is immensely popular, but winter can be quiet. From the trailhead parking area, mountaineers and energetic snowshoers might head left up the Ridge Trail.
Skiers should consider touring the Weakley Hollow Fire Road, a long gradual climb into the valley between outlying Old Rag and the main ridge where Hawksbill crowns the park. For lunch, take a left to the Old Rag Shelter (also no camping). From there it’s all downhill back to your car.
Peaks of Otter
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The ski to Mount Mitchell can be incredibly picturesque. Randy Johnson photo.
The Parkway’s best-kept-secret in Virginia is the Peaks of Otter. Virginia highway 43 crosses the Parkway between Bedford and Buchanan, actually running along the Parkway for five miles in a “staggered” crossing. That gives great access to some of the high road’s most spectacular scenery.
Conical Sharp Top pierces the sky and Flat Top bulks beside, both towering above Abbott Lake. Sharp Top is a wonderful, strenuous winter hike of 3-miles round-trip. An easy 1-mile trail loops the lake, and a variety of other moderate trails make nice snowshoe walks or ski tours.
Peaks of Otter’s appeal climaxes at Peaks of Otter Lodge. This is the only Parkway concession accommodation that is open in winter. It sits beside the lake with awesome views and effortless access to great trails in the snowiest weather. The Lodge has a nice restaurant, lounge and gift shop, too.
North Carolina High Country
The High Country corner of northwestern North Carolina is a hotbed of Nordic ski enthusiasm. The High Country Nordic Association is sponsoring its annual Tele-Fest January 21st at Beech Mountain Resort, the East’s highest ski area and one of three downhill slopes in the area.
The college town of Boone and the resort towns of Blowing Rock and Banner Elk are the destinations. Granted, expert local skiers focus on the East’s highest summits, Mount Mitchell and Roan Mountain, both well over 6,000 fee. But the Parkway has a wealth of ski options when the snow cooperates.
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When conditions are just right, you can ski the Linn Cove Viaduct in the Blue Ridge Parkway. Randy Johnson photo.
The Parkway is lower, generally 4,000 or so feet, but its easier paths attract beginners and advanced skiers.
As with Skyline Drive, the National Park Service routinely plows part of the Blowing Rock portion of the road. That offers access to the Price Lake Trail, a nearly 3-mile loop around the Parkway’s largest lake.
Other trails are easy to reach from public roads, including the carriage roads at Moses Cone Park. Cozy tours lead through towering groves of snow-muffled white pines and up to open vistas of Grandfather Mountain on Rich Mountain and Green Knob.
The Tanawha Trail, part of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, leads across meadows with links to Grandfather Mountain, a rocky state park summit beside the Parkway that challenges even serious mountaineers.
A bit farther south, near the High Country town of Linville, the Roseboro Road crosses the Parkway permitting a tour of the Flat Rock Nature Trail, with views west to the Appalachian Trail.
Parts of the Parkway here are gated under snowfall and make great tours. A favorite is the tour out over the famous Linn Cove Viaduct span on Grandfather Mountain. When the Parkway is open to Mount Mitchell—admittedly a rarity, but worth the effort to call ahead (828-675-4611)—snowshoers and skiers have the memorable opportunity to ski and hike the East’s highest summit (6,684 feet).
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When the gates close along the Blue Ridge Parkway in winter, you usually can be assured the skiing or snowshoeing is good. Randy Johnson photo.
At times there’s also great skiing and snowshoeing on the southernmost section of the road, in the area of the Shining Rock Wilderness south of Asheville, and from Soco Gap, closer to the Great Smokies. It’s easy to assess road access—the Parkway’s road conditions info line is always updated for those who want to drive on the road or locate gated sections for ski touring or snowshoeing. There’s also a cross country ski report available online for the High Country area.
The Smokies might lie pretty far south—but no other mountains lie to the west to sap the snow from storms. The Smokies’ ridge is so abrupt and massive—rising from 1,000 feet near Gatlinburg to nearly 7,000 feet—that the highest peaks can get hammered by big snow in even marginal conditions.
Snowstorms often interrupt travel across the park on US 441, the Newfound Gap Road, but the public highway is such a critical transportation link that plowing is routine.
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Vast views are possible during the ski to Mount Mitchell in the Parkway. Randy Johnson photo.
That allows easy access to Clingmans Dome Road, one of the South’s great skiing and snowshoeing sites. The Dome Road, which climbs seven miles from US 441 to the parking area for the park’s highest peak, is closed and unplowed from December through the end of March.
Take that ski tour, and along the way, the Spruce Fir Nature Trail provides a neat half-mile side loop that makes a nice turn-around point for a nearly 6-mile tour or snowshoe from Newfound Gap. The tour to the top of Clingmans Dome requires a 15-mile round trip—but it’s all downhill on the way back!
Of course, all the South needs is snow for these and other sites to offer great winter recreation. Luckily, even a moderate winter offers plenty of snow if you know when to go. Keep your eye on the weather and the South’s classic mountain national parks are a resource straight out of the snowy North.
Randy Johnson, travel editor for the Traveler, is the author of the best-selling Parkway trail guidesHiking the Blue Ridge ParkwayBest Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway, and the “cult classic” ski bookSouthern Snow: The Winter Guide to Dixie, among other books. Visit him at this site.
Contact info:
Shenandoah: Call the park’s recorded information line for road status updates: (540) 999-3500, option 1.
Blue Ridge Parkway: Get the latest Parkway road status report at 828-298-0398 or on the Web at this site.
Peaks of Otter Lodge: Lodge information can be found at this site, or by calling 1-800-542-5927.
For more on High Country area winter sports, check out this site.
Great Smoky: Smokies weather information is available at 865-436-1200. When you hear a voice, dial 631 for road conditions and 630 to hear weather forecast. The park posts road updates for Newfound Gap Road on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Floyd County, Virginia...where else would you want to go!!

Another wonderful article on our area, 

read it and you will understand and love 

Floyd as

so many do.

Make your reservation at Mountains Song inn Bed and Breakfast when
you visit Floyd County. A beautiful B&B with a fantastic view and
gourmet breakfast!!

Floyd, VA

by Jim Morrison
photography by Norm Schafer 
Under the eave of the public restroom on Locust Street in downtown
Floyd, wizened players lean in and softly start picking and singing an old
country classic.
For the first time in a long time,
I want the sunshine to shine on me,

I want those hillsides to feel me walking
And I want your love all over me.
Four men with acoustic guitars and three others with fiddles sit in a ragged
semi-circle, nodding, trading licks and occasionally joining in on harmonies.
The song, recorded by Jessi Colter for her chart-topping debut 40 years
ago, fades away and the players begin to rearrange, a guitarist packing
up to move down the street.

Greg Ward, a retired advertising executive, artist and musician who moved
from the suburban Washington area to an apartment up the street about
a year ago, ventures out Fridays to play with his new friends, often
guys who for decades have played for pay. Next to him is Carleton
Harmon, his “adopted father” and someone who began strumming in
Texas country bands in the 1950s.
Ward began as a classical musician, moved into punk in high school,
then on to singer/songwriters like James Taylor and Simon &
Garfunkel before immersing himself in the D.C. bluegrass scene beginning
in the mid-1970s.
“This is pretty much the heart of this music, Appalachia and the Blue Ridge,”
he says. “It’s still treasured here. People want to keep it alive. They see the
true value of it. ”
Those treasures are on full display in Floyd, a one-stoplight town on a
plateau along the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Roanoke, about five
hours’ drive from Hampton Roads.
This is the home of FloydFest, the four-day music and arts festival started
in 2002 that each summer brings thousands of people and some of
the hottest Americana and World music acts to the area. This year, the
performers included Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Old Crow Medicine
Show, The Del McCoury Band, Trampled By Turtles, and Donna the Buffalo.
But Floyd lives FloydFest on a small scale year-round. The town of 440
swells with musicians and music fans for the Friday Jam every week. Hotel
rooms are booked weeks, sometimes months, in advance for tourists
from New England to North Carolina. Parking is difficult. Restaurants fill early.
On the street, you’ll hear everything from string band music to bluegrass covers
of the Beatles. At the Dogtown Roadhouse and Sun Music Hall, there’s a
rollicking night of music that begins with a couple of rock and boogie blues
bands and ends with Charlottesville semi-sensitive singer/songwriter William
Walter and guitar demigod Tucker Rogers.
Woody Crenshaw, the owner of a local lighting studio, helped create the
phenomenon. Eight years ago, he bought, restored and expanded town’s
centerpiece, the Floyd Country Store, which for decades has featured
musicians on Friday nights. “We had this idea that if we made the country
store a place where musicians wanted to come and hang out, that every-
thing would follow, and it has worked out that way,” he says. “The street
scene on Friday night has really developed dramatically. It’s larger. It’s more
dynamic. There are more people.”
What’s surprising about Floyd is that the vibe is energetic, more eclectic
than you’d expect. It’s not only good ol’ boys in camouflage. Four decades ago,
hippies began moving into this area to found communes next to working farms.
Now, their children have grown, gone away and, in many cases, returned.
North Carolinians favor Floyd as a spot for a second home in the mountains.
All that contributes to a thriving community of artisans, old and new.
At first blush, old-time music and new-time hippies seem an unlikely pairing.
But they’re both about community and craft. The stickers given to Friday patrons
at the Country Store read “handmade music,” but Floyd is about more than just
music crafted lovingly by hand.
You can still get good moonshine if you know someone who knows someone.
But belly up to a table at any restaurant in town and you’ll be handed a list
of craft brews on tap and in bottles that rival any big-city offering. You’ll find
an old-fashioned biscuit so fluffy only the rich sausage gravy anchors it to your
plate at the homey Blue Ridge Restaurant and a seared Muscovy duck breast t
hat Tom Colicchio would love at the sophisticated Natasha’s Market Cafe.
Need a handmade mountain banjo? There’s a luthier nearby. Looking for
pottery, wood sculpture or paper artistry of the quality you’d expect down
the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville or in urban galleries? Wander Troika,
The Floyd Artists’ Association, and other galleries along Locust. The Hotel
Floyd, a block off the main drag, is a stylish, eco-friendly lodge with rooms
built by a local woodworker that feature local art.
“It’s a creative culture here that has its own kind of essential quality to it,”
Crenshaw adds. “People come and they recognize that, they experience that,
and they want to stay. It’s been nice to see Floyd grow into what probably
is the most interesting small community in the state.”
Music is the central pillar of that community.  As dusk cloaks the main drag
and the streetlights glow, small encampments of pickers materialize in the
gloaming. In the alley next to the country store, a half-dozen old timers sit
 around, one playing a mountain banjo made by a local luthier.
Across the street, a trio with a banjo, upright bass and acoustic guitar
make a newgrass pass on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence.” Over the
next few songs, other players, including an older man confidently playing dobro
and a young woman tentatively joining in on her own, new, dobro, become part
of the group. They move easily between pop classics by the Beatles and Doc
Watson’s classic bluegrass moonshine tribute, Mountain Dew. A young visitor
joins in on John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads.
Performances on Friday nights blur the boundary between audience and
performer.  Just down the street at Oddfellas, a restaurant of booths and
mismatched country tables, diners occasionally join in with a quartet
playing Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival
One couple, newly engaged guitarists from Greensboro, have driven to town
for a getaway weekend. “Music heals you,” she says, before taking her turn
on stage.
Oddfellas fits neatly into the Floyd oeuvre, offering smoked salmon mousse with
crab, herb-cured salmon, and blue cornmeal-crusted catfish with chipotle cream
to a crowd that ranges from middle-aged guys in ball caps with their families
to tattooed trendies in cool boots and thrift store chic.
Down the way in a small band shell in the budding town park, the Lone Ivy String
Band is practicing before a few dozen onlookers. Jim Pendleton is watching his
son, Michael, the band’s fiddler. Michael played in a rock band for years, but
he’s come back to the future.
“We finally got him playing country music,” says Jim, whose cousin, Buddy,
is a renowned fiddler in these parts. Buddy’s Gems from a Master Fiddler is for
sale in the country store.
In the Floyd Country Store, the hub of this tuneful spoke, the gospel hour is over
and a square dance interlude is finishing. The caller concludes, “And promenade
your partners all,” and men and women – some longtime partners, others
strangers return to dancing to the Black Twig Pickers, a young quartet playing
old-time string music.
On the street, the number of musicians and fans seems to have doubled
as 10 p.m. approaches. Cars, some muscle machines showing off, cruise
bumper to bumper. Hard liquor, at least legal hard liquor, isn’t available in Floyd.
So it’s a family scene. Children run through the park and on the sidewalks,
At one end of town, there’s a triple bill at the Dogtown Roadhouse and Sun
Music Hall. Earlier, the deck was a perfect spot to watch the sun set and drink
a North Coast Blue Star wheat ale on tap. Now, Jon Roberts, a Norfolk native
with the hat and mutton chops favored by music hall managers the world over,
collects the cover and explains that he bought the joint about a year ago.
The crowd is younger and the opening acts are louder. Walter and
Rogers mix originals and covers of ’70s songwriters in a catchy set that at
different times brings to mind Jack Johnson, Neil Young, and especially
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds.
By the time their set finishes, only a few pickers remain on the street. It’s 11
p.m. and, in a small town, that’s time to go home.
The next morning, there’s a trio playing at the farmers’ market under the
roof of the Floyd Community Market, across the street from the country store.
In Floyd, it seems, the music never dies. The market, featuring produce from
farmers within 100 miles, has everything from peaches and green beans to
heirloom tomatoes and fresh quinoa bread. There’s a tasting competition for
the top tomato staged by Sustain Floyd, a nonprofit organization
dedicated to preserving the past and developing the future.
Overlooking the farmers’ market is Black Water Loft, a second-floor coffee
shop and lounge with ridiculously low prices and a delicious feta and
green onion scone to start the day.
Handmade music may be the reason travelers trek to Floyd, often with a roller
coaster ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the crafts and the food provide an
excuse to linger.
The Station, just down from Black Water, is home to the kind of galleries
and shops you’d find in an upscale metro neighborhood. In Troika, nearly
all the 20 artists on display are from Floyd. There’s a healthy mix of
photography, paper work, jewelry and pottery.
Walking up Locust, I browse the Bell Gallery & Garden, which focuses on the
owners’ landscape photography and glass; the New Mountain Mercantile, a
collection of candles, clothes, and even cats from the humane society for
adoption; and Farmers’ Supply, a throwback selling everything from cast iron
pots to cutting boards, leashes, fishing poles and wall switches.
On Main Street, Chic’s Antiques, three floors of stuff, is selling a
mahogany dresser/sideboard for $250. I think it’s probably a bargain,
but I have neither the expertise to know nor the truck to haul it home. What
intrigues me is a collection of old oil cans, cans with Esso Handy Oil, Blue
Ribbon Lubricating Oil, and Fine Parts Oil labels. They go for $7 to $10. I didn’t
realize antique oil cans were collectible.
Lunch is pizza and beer on the deck at Dogtown, which already feels like a
base of operations for future Floyd excursions. The waitress suggests a
Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema from California’s Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
to go with the Paisan pie – local sausage with fennel, caramelized onions and a
house cheese blend.  The combination works.
Then it’s another lap around Floyd, to the other end of town where there’s an
organic food store. On the way back, I drop in to the Republic of Floyd, the town’s
main beer and wine store with a stellar collection of craft suds. There, Tom
Ryan, another refugee, holds court. He ventured here for a woman and stayed to open the store. “I’m following my dream – beer,” he says.
Dinner at Natasha’s Market Cafe on the north end of Locust Street winds down a
laid-back day.  The square white room is lit in the early evening by large windows
at one end, featuring views of weathered red and white barns. Natasha
Shishkevish moved to Floyd after years cooking in Georgetown, Baltimore and
Ohio, working at Oddfellas before opening a restaurant dedicated to the
area’s seasonal bounty. And it’s not only a restaurant; it’s a gallery as well with
pottery, sculptures, and paintings by area artists for sale.
The menu is so varied and so enticing, I ask the waitress twice for more
time, eventually settling on chickpea fries with spicy dipping sauce and a seared
duck breast with a dried cherry sauce. Healdsburg Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
from the reasonably priced wine list matches perfectly.
The dinner is leisurely and, I think, a celebration of the handmade, a fitting
coda for a weekend escape.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Still looking for that perfect gift for your loved the article below 
explains below about a kennel club membership....we just suggest 
bumping it a bit and combining it with a weekend stay at
Mountain Song Inn.  Now you are really thinking outside the box!!

Think Outside the Gift Box

Holiday Guide

Gifts They Won't Hate
We all know it’s better to give than to receive (well, almost!), but nothing says "cop-out"
more than a generic gift card. To put that childhood Christmas-morning magic back into
gift giving, think outside of the traditional gift box and create a present that keeps on
giving long after the season has ended. We’ve given you a few ideas to inspire your
creative elf:
For the Wine Aficianado: A Toast to Pet Lovers
Almost all of Virginia’s wineries have wine clubs, but we particularly like Chateau
Morrisette’s "Kennel Club" ( since some of the proceeds from wine
sales support animal charities like the Service Dogs of Virginia. An annual membership
($50) includes complimentary tours and tastings throughout the year, invitations to V.I.P.
club events, discounts on wine and gift shop merchandise, and early notification of new
wine releases. You choose the wines (minimum purchase of $100 per year) and the
delivery schedule. Of course, you can get a gift for yourself if you keep the membership
benefits and meet the minimum purchase requirements by giving "kennel packs": four
bottles of Chateau Morrisette’s reds or whites, or a mixed "mutt pack" of personal favorites.

Calling All Riders...

Gold Wing Touring on Blue Ridge Parkway

When you are ready for a rest from the open road Mountain Song Inn is just 15 miles, of great windy road, off the Blue Ridge Parkway. A wonderful place to rejuvenate for the next leg of your trip. Click above and make a reservation, you won't be disappointed. 

2012 Honda Gold Wing Video
"Clean, green and untraveled" is the way Honda describes the 
Blue Ridge Parkway, the ultimate destination for the touring 
The Parkway runs 469 miles through the Appalachian Trail from 
Waynesboro, Va., to Cherokee, N.C., providing some of the most 
breath-taking views within the United States.
In the attached video above, Honda displays its ultimate touring 
machine traveling through the Blue Ridge Parkway - the 2012 Gold Wing.
For 2012, Honda upgraded its flagship tourer with many amenities 
needed for long-distance travel, including an updated GPS navigation 
system with user-friendly program-ability for sharing favorite ride routes 
with friends and other riders, which can be accessed online.
Honda also redesigned the fairing for extra protection from the elements, 
and added seven liters of space to the 2012 GoldWing; the machine now 
has over 150 liters of cargo capacity including the trunk and fairing pockets.
Regarding rider/passenger comfort, the suspension has been updated for 
comfort but with enhanced sporty capabilities. The motor and drivetrain 
have been refined, and the 2012 Goldwing has extra luggage space, and 
greater protection from wind and weather.
The GL1800 also received some upgrades to its fuel-injected 1832cc 
six-cylinder engine and drivetrain, allowing for more efficient grand touring.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Jim Morrison's blog below is a good description of all things Floyd. Rumor has it that the property that Mountain Song Inn was built on was a farm, then commune, then Mountain Song Inn. What a lovely past our area has. We are about 15 miles from the Floyd traffic light, a scenic drive.  Come for a visit and be surprised by our eclectic community.
Thanks Jim.

Floyd, Virginia: Old-Time Music and New-Time Hippies

My story on a weekend escape to Floyd is in the latest issue of Distinction. The online version is at:
Handmade Music.

What’s surprising about Floyd is that the vibe is energetic, more eclectic than you’d expect. It’s not only good ol’ boys in camouflage. Four decades ago, hippies began moving into this area to found communes next to working farms. Now, their children have grown, gone away and, in many cases, returned. North Carolinians favor Floyd as a spot for a second home in the mountains. All that contributes to a thriving community of artisans, old and new.
At first blush, old-time music and new-time hippies seem an unlikely pairing. But they’re both about community and craft. The stickers given to Friday patrons at the Country Store read “handmade music,” but Floyd is about more than just music crafted lovingly by hand.
You can still get good moonshine if you know someone who knows someone. But belly up to a table at any restaurant in town and you’ll be handed a list of craft brews on tap and in bottles that rival any big-city offering. You’ll find an old-fashioned biscuit so fluffy only the rich sausage gravy anchors it to your plate at the homey Blue Ridge Restaurant and a seared Muscovy duck breast that Tom Colicchio would love at the sophisticated Natasha’s Market Cafe. Need a handmade mountain banjo? There’s a luthier nearby. Looking for pottery, wood sculpture or paper artistry of the quality you’d expect down the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville or in urban galleries? Wander Troika, The Floyd Artists’ Association, and other galleries along Locust. The Hotel Floyd, a block off the main drag, is a stylish, eco-friendly lodge with rooms built by a local woodworker that feature local art.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Mountain Song Inn in Floyd County, Virginia is proud to be a part of Virginia: Green. We recycle all glass, cans, newspapers, and cardboard, plus use cloth napkins, dish towels, and cloth cleaning rags. You will find no commercial water bottles, or Styrofoam  cups or plastic glasses and we have a huge compost bin.  We are always looking for new ways to reuse.

Make a reservation for a visit soon...we are beautiful during all the seasons.

Virginia: Green

Virginia has been a leader in encouraging businesses in the tourism sector to be eco-friendly, in its statewide initiative Virginia Green. That means if you strive to be green and are planning a vacation, or just want to support businesses with that same philosophy, Virginia has made it easy to find green restaurants, hotels conference centers and wineries.“This is for people who want a choice, and more and more people want that choice, when there is a choice to stay at a place or eat at a place that undertakes recycling, minimizes the use of Styrofoam, composts left over foods,” says Richard Lewis, a spokesman for Virginia Tourism Corp. “The entire city of Virginia Beach was certified as Virginia Green. They have so many places within that city that are green and the city is trying to promote its places to be green. So you’ve got everything from that size to a mom and pop coffeehouse.”
Tourism providers such as tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels voluntarily submit to certain guidelines to be certified by the state as Virginia Green. The core requirements for hotels for example includes recycling and waste reduction, optional linen service, energy efficiency, water conservation, and have green support when they have meetings and conferences, such as recycling.
Restaurants that are Virginia Green follow guidelines that include recycling and waste reduction, recycling grease, minimize use of disposables, energy efficiency and water conservation. Wineries that are Virginia Green recycle and reduce waste, minimize use disposables and pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers and are energy efficient and conserve water.
“It is very unique and a couple states are following in our footsteps,” says Tom Griffin, who runs Virginia Green, and is helping neighboring states model after Virginia Green. “Our program is set up to recognize folks for having some core green activities in place in order to qualify. But then what is really unique about our program is we make people go through our full check list of idea, so we’re educating facilities along the way.”
Virginia Green also creates a web page for each participant so that it helps these businesses market themselves at the state level. “And because it’s a tourism-based program, it’s a marketing side of it, so it becomes directly interfaced with Virginia is For Lovers,” Griffin says.
Consumers are encouraged to be engaged and give constructive feedback on the Virginia Green website. Virginia Green started in 2007 and the focus has been on working with businesses in the tourism sector to get them certified and to educate them about the new program.
“It has really taken off from the facility standpoint,” Griffin says. “This website has been there, but it hasn’t been fully focused on marketing yet. It’s only been in last few months that we launched this consumer website that is actively engaging. We have spent our time engaging the industry. You talk to any hotel in this state and they know there is a Virginia Green program.”
Right now, there are 1,100 businesses that are Virginia Green, which includes about 500 hotels and the others are restaurants, attractions, conference centers, festivals, events and visitor centers. The program has been instrumental in offering these businesses a place to go for help in going green.
“We help people find solutions,” Griffin says. “Not everyone has composting and things like that.” A restaurant can produce upwards of 1,400 bottles a week and many restaurants in the past did not recycle these bottles. Griffin recalls doing the math with one restaurateur recently who counted over the last 12 years he probably threw away one millions bottles that were easily recyclable, into the landfill. And that was just one restaurant, Griffin pointed out.
Griffin practices what he preaches. With food scraps that make up much of our trash, composting offers an easy solution to lessening the amount tossed in landfills. Griffin has a 50-gallon compost bin at his home and says it’s simple. “All I do is turn it over with a pitch fork from time to time and I water it like a plant,” he says. “Sometimes I come home from an event with a random bag of stuff and it turns into compost in a matter of weeks.”
Here are some businesses that are Virginia Green…
Virginia Green Lodging
Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia has over 200 member inns and many of these B&B’s are Virginia Green. If you want to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, check out some of their participating B&B’s.
Best Western Plus Waynesboro Inn and Suites Conference Center’s website prominently shows the Virginia Green logo, so you know when staying here, they strive to be green. This new Best Western opened in 2007, is 100% non-smoking and pet-friendly and offers mountain views. It’s just five minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.
It’s nice to know that Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park offers tourists a green option, especially when they’re enjoying nature in our splendid national park system. Located on Skyline Drive, there are no in-room phones and WIFI, offering tourists a true getaway and a step back in time to a lodge built in 1939 by the CC and mountain laborers.
Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Richmond is a 100% non-smoking hotel, which was also the first hotel in the area to compost all its food waste. And for a major hotel, that’s a lot of compost that will go back to the enrich the land. In the first month alone, they diverted more than 2,000 pounds of food scrap to compost.
Virginia Green Dining
When you go to the Fork in the Alley Brick Oven Pub website, one third of the page proudly explains what the Virginia Green program is. They want you to know they strive to be eco-friendly in addition to offering classic pub food, that also includes their own specials like brick oven smores.
L’Auberge Provencale is an award-winning French restaurant in the Shenandoah Valley that also strives to be green. And it’s just one hour from Washington D.C. so this little French country inn in Virginia also offers a perfect weekend getaway.
Taste Unlimited on the oceanfront in Virginia Beach has been a local favorite for more than 35 years. They offer Lunch All Day gourmet sandwiches on fresh-baked bread and house-made dressings. They also offer the area’s largest selection of gift baskets and wines from Virginia and elsewhere.
Virginia Green WineriesThe list of Virginia Green wineries is much shorter than their counterparts in dining and lodging, so we’ll list them all here. They are Barrel Oak Winery,Cooper VineyardsDuCard VineyardsStinson VineyardsSunset Hill VineyardsThe Williamsburg WineryWest Wind Farm Vineyard & WineryWisteria Farm and Vineyard.