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Renting out eight rooms…

September 30, 2017, 12:29 AM

So apparently, I spoke too soon when it came to the closure of The Inn at Afton.  You may recall that last month, I announced the closure of The Inn at Afton, based on a sign that said that the lobby and hotel were closed.  Elyse and I went down that way again on Wednesday, and one of our stops was to see how The Inn at Afton looked in the daylight after finally going out of business for good.  Much to our surprise, we found that the place was open again.  We stopped into room 211, which was being used as the lobby, and had a chat with the lady working inside.  As it turns out, the hotel is barely operational, with only eight rooms, all on the parking lot side, in service.  None of the rooms on the other side, which has a tremendous view of the piedmont, are in service.  I’m told that the remaining rooms have been stripped, and a walk past some of the first-floor rooms that are not in service seems to confirm this.  That means that out of 118 total rooms, 110 of them are out of service, presumably for being uninhabitable.  That’s an availability of 6.7%.  For that few rooms, it hardly seems worthwhile to remain open, but apparently, they do, likely out of habit.

Meanwhile, the room being used as the lobby smelled strongly of mold, and had visible mold and water damage.  Definitely an unhealthy environment.  We might have stuck around for longer and chatted with the very nice lady working there, but the mold smell was too much.  I imagine that the rooms that are still in service are just as bad, if they are willing to let the room that they’re using as a lobby become so bad.  Thank heavens for Orbit “Bubblemint” gum.  It got the mold taste out of my mouth.

So apparently, and much to my surprise, just when we thought that the book had closed on the operational history of the vintage businesses on Afton Mountain, there’s more to the Afton story to be told.

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The other shoe finally dropped on Afton Mountain…

August 18, 2017, 1:25 AM

On Wednesday, I was on a day trip down to Stuarts Draft and such with a few people.  On the whole, it was a fun time.  On the way out, we swung by Afton Mountain in order to give a quick, five-minute tour of the abandoned motels up there.  One pass across the lower properties, then up and across the front of The Inn at Afton.  The Inn at Afton was a lot darker than I might have expected, and I spotted a sign on the window of room 213, which, as we discovered in April, was being used as the lobby.  This is the sign:

"HOTEL CLOSED. LOBBY CLOSED. WILL REOPEN AT A LATER TIME!"

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Categories: Afton Mountain

Just when you thought that the mountain couldn’t look any worse than it already did…

April 16, 2017, 5:37 PM

On Tuesday, April 11, I got together with Elyse and Melissa, and we headed down to Virginia for the day.  The plan was to get together with my parents, plus visit Afton Mountain and downtown Staunton.

We left the house at 9:30, and took US 29 down to Charlottesville.  First stop was Moe’s Original Bar B Que, where we had lunch with my father.  Fun time, and my father seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to finding good barbecue.  Every barbecue place that Dad has taken me to has been wonderful, and this was no exception.

From here, we took US 250 across to Afton Mountain.  There, we went to the second overlook, i.e. the Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook, to get some views.  I tend to avoid Afton Overlook, the first overlook, after being propositioned for sex there one night back in 2005.  The second overlook, which is a mile and some change further down the road, tends to attract fewer undesirables.  I suppose it’s because it’s further away from civilization than the first one, which is a minute’s drive from the freeway.  In any case, the view is awesome:

View from Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook

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The only constant is change…

April 5, 2016, 6:06 PM

On March 30 and 31, I went on a road trip down to Stuarts Draft with Elyse, where I showed her a whole bunch of stuff.  I showed her the mountain, we visited my ex-store, we went to Staunton Mall, and we saw JMU.  All in all, a fun trip.  The lesson to be learned from this trip, however, is that change is inevitable, as many things that I had hoped to show Elyse had changed, and other things were going to change.

Coming down from Maryland via US 29, we visited Afton Mountain.  I have photographed this area many, many many times before.  So I more or less know what’s there.  I did spot a few new things in the process of going about things, like this vintage television:

An abandoned RCA XL-100 television set

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Irresponsible beyond belief…

November 8, 2013, 6:16 PM

So this past Monday, I took a day trip down to Augusta County with my friend Pete.  All in all, we had a fun time.  We had lunch at Barracks Road in Charlottesville, I showed Pete the cluster of abandoned buildings on Afton Mountain owned by local businessman Phil Dulaney, we hiked up to Humpback Rock, and we stopped by my parents’ house before heading north again via I-81.

When we visited the abandoned buildings on Afton Mountain, I pointed out the building that had the tree growing through it, we quickly looked at the Howard Johnson’s, but our visit focused mainly on this building:

Former Skyline Parkway Motor Court guest building, now covered in graffiti

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What is Afton Mountain, anyway?

March 21, 2013, 5:58 PM

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this article by Dr. Christopher M. Bailey, a geology professor at The College of William & Mary.  The article discusses the name of a place that many people in the part of Virginia that I grew up with are most likely quite familiar with: Afton Mountain.

The article is titled, “Mind the Gap! Where is Afton Mountain?” and discusses the geology of the area, specifically Rockfish Gap, and a few quirks of the local culture.  First, for those not familiar, Rockfish Gap is a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which separate the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont region in Virginia.  Because it is the lowest gap for quite some ways traveling both north and south, the area became an important way to travel east and west.  Today, Interstate 64 and US 250 carry travelers through Rockfish Gap.

Technically speaking, this is Rockfish Gap, seen here in a 2003 Schumin Web file photo:

Rockfish Gap, seen from the junction of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, on a bridge over Interstate 64.

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Categories: Afton Mountain, Nature, Roads

Day tripping it to Stuarts Draft…

May 29, 2012, 8:46 PM

I certainly had fun on Monday!  I went with Isis and Cubby to Stuarts Draft and surrounding areas.  First I picked them up, and then we headed down to Augusta County, Virginia.

Our first stop was the old DeJarnette Center in Staunton.  For those not familiar, DeJarnette Center was constructed in 1932 as a privately funded mental institution named for Dr. Joseph DeJarnette.  The facility became a state-operated children’s mental institution in 1975, and was abandoned in 1996 when the DeJarnette Center moved to a new facility across Route 250 from the original.  The facility was renamed the “Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents” in 2001 due to Joseph DeJarnette’s strong support of eugenics.  The facility was boarded up in 2009.

On our visit, we stopped the car nearby, and then took a walk around the outside of the building.  We didn’t go inside for a few reasons.  First, due to the board-up, there was no light inside.  Second, asbestos.  And lastly, snakes.  I’m told that the building is infested with snakes on all levels of the building.  And snakes creep me out.  Speaking of snakes, while walking around the grounds, we found a snake, laying on the ground partly in our path as we walked behind the building.  It was a long black snake.  It wasn’t interested in us, but still, snakes creep me out, especially so when Cubby indicated that it could either be a black king snake (not poisonous), or a cottonmouth (very poisonous).  In any case, I didn’t really want to find out for sure which one it was.

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And the photos are in…

May 21, 2011, 9:26 PM

I certainly had fun on my vacation week! I went swimming on Monday, sat around like a bum on Tuesday, headed to Stuarts Draft on Wednesday, photographed on Afton Mountain on Thursday, and then went to Kings Dominion and Potomac Mills on Friday. Plus I finished the Plungefest 2011 photo set in Photography across a few days’ time.

When I went down to Stuarts Draft, I headed down via US 29 through Charlottesville. Technically speaking, on my route, you just nick the top of the city itself, but spend a lot of time in the Charlottesville metropolitan area. I think the total time spent within the city limits is about two minutes, depending on whether or not the traffic lights like you. Arriving in Stuarts Draft, I first stopped at Stuarts Draft Middle School, where I attended middle school and where Mom now teaches eighth grade. Checking in at the office, I noticed that they had the cover off the master clock, due to the need to manually sound the tones because of SOL testing. So I got a photo:

The master clock at Stuarts Draft Middle School, a Lathem LTR4-128.

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So maybe someone wants us to just believe that $4.00 per gallon was just a bad dream or something?

November 23, 2008, 7:50 PM

First of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft, where I’ll be for the better part of a week. I’ve set up a little Lappy workstation in the kitchen, which is where I write you today.

And with all the price speculation on oil having subsided with the economy in the dumper, look at these numbers:

Gas prices at Martin's in Waynesboro, November 23, 2008

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Categories: Afton Mountain, Gas prices

The Skyline Parkway Motel has finally been demolished.

April 25, 2007, 5:04 PM

Afton Mountain now presents a slightly more picturesque view to those who visit it, as the Skyline Parkway Motel was demolished in the last week or so. In doing so, they not only removed the main building, which had been the target of an arson attack in 2004, but they also removed the row of cabins next to the main building. The cabins had never been torched, but had been abandoned for some time, and were in hideous shape.

And of course, here are photos:

Straight-on view of the former motel.
Straight-on view of the former motel.

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A few quick things…

April 24, 2007, 1:02 AM

First of all, the photos of the now-demolished Skyline Parkway Motel are officially in the can, and I will be posting those on Wednesday, after I get back from apartment hunting in DC on Tuesday.

Secondly, does anyone have a good recipe for green slime? I want to do a homage to You Can’t Do That On Television for the splash page, and so I need to make some slime. In making the slime, the finished product can’t be clear. It needs to be opaque and somewhat thick, and it also can’t be completely smooth. I want something authentic poured on my head when I say “I don’t know.” And of course, to get clean again after getting slimed, you just have to mention “water”.

Meanwhile, to be truly authentic, I’d need to find an old-style metal jungle gym to do the shoot at.

Photos of mine, printed ABOVE the fold…

August 28, 2006, 7:51 AM

How often can you say that your photos end up on the front page of the local newspaper? And above the fold, no less. If you look at the August 28, 2006 edition of The News Virginian, you will see two photos anchoring an article about the Skyline Parkway Motel, which, you may recall, had been abandoned for some time, and then was torched in 2004. Both of them are tagged with “Photo courtesy of BEN SCHUMIN”. Here are the photos that the newspaper ran:

Skyline Parkway Motel before the fire  Skyline Parkway Motel after the fire

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When I did the photo set, I never thought I was going to be documenting the last days of the complex…

June 19, 2005, 4:27 AM

When I shot the photos that comprised the two-part photo set Afton Mountain: Victim of Progress, I never really thought that what I was documenting would disappear so quickly. The focus of the photo set was threefold, if you recall:

Howard Johnson's Restaurant
Howard Johnson’s Restaurant

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Skyline Parkway Motel… people were charged!

August 7, 2004, 1:04 AM

An update regarding the recent fire at the Skyline Parkway Motel…

Turns out that it was arson, which we were not surprised about. And the building is a total loss. Also not a surprise. The surprise is how old the three suspects are. There are two 16-year-olds and one 17-year-old charged with the Class 4 felony of setting fire to an unoccupied dwelling. I’d have thought it would have been people who were at least legally adults, rather than kids. But go figure. Anyway, though, since they are children in the eyes of the law, or as the law calls them, “juveniles”, their names were not released.

I understand why their names were not released, but I so want to put the “Nick and Adam” theory to rest. Recall that some days before the fire, the previously-blank sign in front of the motel read “NICK AND ADAM”. Recall this from a previous journal entry:

"Nick and Adam" at the Skyline Parkway Motel, post-fire

I so want to put that theory to rest and either have it be the case or not be the case, because I really want to see if people are actually stupid enough in real life to prominently place their name on the crime scene, showing to the world how stupid they are. Just remember… never underestimate the power and speed of stupid.

Photos of the Skyline Parkway Motel fire, and some other stuff

July 15, 2004, 1:56 PM

First of all, before I start showing you photos, guess who I saw on Tuesday afternoon at Wal-Mart. I saw Mrs. Kucs (pronounced “kooch”), my sixth grade math teacher at Stuarts Draft Middle School. That was a lot of fun. She’s retired now, so I don’t see her around SDMS when I go visit. Still, Mrs. Kucs was a great teacher. The one phrase that has stayed with me that I learned from Mrs. Kucs was “That will be fifty whacks with a wet noodle!” All in all, great math teacher, and it was great to see Mrs. Kucs again.

Anyway, after seeing Mrs. Kucs as I was leaving work, I headed out to Afton Mountain and then beyond. Going to Afton, I went by way of downtown Waynesboro, because I had a few other photo spots I wanted to hit on the way. For one, the “scar” on the mountain in Waynesboro:

The scar on the mountain in Waynesboro

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