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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

And this is what Shenandoah Acres looks like now…

September 21, 2012, 9:01 PM

So while I was out and about today, I got new photos of Shenandoah Acres as a follow-up to my previous Journal entry on Shenandoah Acres.  And if you ask me, it was kind of depressing.  Take a look:

One of two platforms in the lake, and the 1997 beach house.  To give you an idea of the normal lake level, the platform was less than a foot above the water level, and the platform was completely surrounded by water.
One of two platforms in the lake, and the 1997 beach house.  To give you an idea of the normal lake level, the platform was less than a foot above the water level, and the platform was completely surrounded by water.

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A train ride with far more excitement than you might expect…

September 19, 2012, 9:21 PM

This is also why, when I’m traveling on a public mode of transportation, the idea is to leave early so that I can be at the boarding location in plenty of time, just in case anything goes wrong in the process.  Today was one of those days where something went wrong.  I described it as a “clusterf—“, and I think that was putting it nicely.

First of all, though, to set things up: I’m in Stuarts Draft right now, and I went there on Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal.  To get there, my plan was to take the 51 from my house to Glenmont, and then take the Red Line to Union Station. Initially, things went well.  I caught the same 51 that I usually get to go to work, and caught my Red Line train.

And then things went downhill from there.

The Red Line was having a power problem on Track 2 at Brentwood Yard.  Thus they had to single track through the yard, during morning rush hour.  Whenever you hear “single tracking” and “rush hour” in the same sentence, by the way, that’s never a good sign.  So at Glenmont, we sat for several minutes before we started the run – much longer than usual.  Then we proceeded to Wheaton and held again.  No hold at Forest Glen.  Then we held for about ten minutes each at Silver Spring and Takoma.

And then things got worse.  There was a second power problem on the Red Line at Van Ness-UDC, with single tracking over there, too.  Lovely.  By this point, Metro was telling people in the e-alerts to consider taking the Green Line.  That’s when you know it’s bad.  With two areas of single tracking, I bailed at Fort Totten and took the Green Line.

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What to do with Shenandoah Acres?

September 2, 2012, 8:39 PM

For the last few years, I have been involved in a Facebook group called “Remembering Shenandoah Acres“.  This group is built around discussing memories of times spent at the Shenandoah Acres resort in Stuarts Draft that closed after the 2004 season, but most discussions anymore center around complaining about the state that the property is now in.

For those not familiar, Shenandoah Acres was a facility that billed itself as “America’s Finest Inland Beach”, owned and operated by the Blacka family for many years.  It had a campground, there were cabins, and a motel building on the property.  The facility also had tennis courts, trail rides on horseback, and miniature golf.  However, the centerpiece of the facility was a manmade lake with a beach around it, playground equipment in the water (including one slide about two or three stories high), and a large tower in the center that offered a zip line ride.  The facility was a popular tourist attraction, and the lake was also very popular with locals during the summer season.

In the years that I’ve been familiar with the facility, one of the merry go rounds in the water was replaced in 1995 by “Clyde the Slyde”, which was a small slide built inside a dinosaur sculpture, and the zip lines were dismantled in the late 1990s or early 2000s and replaced with the “Pink Zipper” water slide.  Additionally, the roof of the original beach house collapsed due to excessive snowfall in 1997, and was replaced with a new structure slightly to the northeast of the original.  The facility closed after the 2004 season because, according to the owner at the time, whom my family went to church with, the cost of insurance finally became too much to bear.  My family went to Shenandoah Acres from 1993 until about 1996.

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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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My trip to Stuarts Draft… via Amtrak!

September 27, 2011, 10:41 PM

So this is actually a Video Journal entry. And here it is:

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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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This is what vacations are good for…

May 18, 2011, 11:34 PM

Vacations are great for Schumin Web. Usually, every time I take a vacation, I manage to finish a photo set. This time, it’s Plungefest 2011. Normally this wouldn’t be notable, except that I ran out of time to finish this “in-studio”. See, I normally do all my photo sets at home, on my real computer. However, I ran out of time on Tuesday night, and I had planned a trip to Stuarts Draft from Wednesday to Friday. So first of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft. Thankfully, I was able to complete enough of the set on Tuesday night that I could do the rest of the work on the road from the netbook. So I did all the captions on my parents’ couch, and then pulled the covers off the menu entry, and then voila! Done.

On that last part, that was kind of interesting. Before I left the house, I put the menu entries in and then commented them out. Kind of reminds me of when banks change names, which, as you know, happens on a fairly regular basis anymore. They change the signs ahead of time, and then put a cover over the new sign with the old logo on it. I believe Wachovia is in this process right now, with their eventual change to the Wells Fargo nameplate. Then when the time comes, they just yank the cover off and the name is changed. Same here. I just removed the comment tags, and boom – the menu item is revealed.

Of course, this kind of stuff will all change when I eventually convert the site to WordPress. Then I’ll be able to do all of the site from anywhere, rather than the current situation of being restricted to my home computer for some parts and being partially mobile for others. I’m looking forward to that, but it’s going to be a long time still before that happens.

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“Oh, it’s terrible! The King has been transformed! Please find the Magic Wand so we can change him back.”

November 27, 2010, 4:31 PM

First of all, I admit – the title doesn’t mean much in relation to this entry, except that it perhaps reflects that I’ve been playing too much Super Mario Bros. 3 on my Super Nintendo lately. Regardless, this Journal entry has been a long time in coming, since this is about a trip I took to Stuarts Draft two weeks ago. All I have to say is, hey, I’ve been busy. But it’s also somewhat fitting that I post this entry this weekend, since this was “Thanksgiving” with the parents a couple of weeks ahead of the holiday. Traffic is a real pain, you see, and this obviates the need to mess with it. Have you ever driven US 29 in Virginia on Thanksgiving weekend? It’s no walk in the park.

On Friday the 12th, after driving perhaps a shade too fast the whole way down, I arrived at Stuarts Draft Middle School. After all, Mom was there, and I hadn’t seen her new classroom yet. Mom was recently switched from sixth to eighth grade, and so she moved rooms as a result, from Room 24 to Room 1. And here it is:

Mom's new classroom, Room 1

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Make a happy face out of cooking oil, and then light ‘er up!

November 13, 2010, 9:02 PM

Tonight’s dinner experience was certainly a bit more exciting than most when eating out. I went with my parents to Massaki, a Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar in Staunton. That was a cool experience.

See, Massaki is one of those places where they cook the food right in front of you, and put extra emphasis on showmanship. And the food was good, for that matter. But yeah, they put the whole cooking thing on display. First the server takes your drink order, and then after they bring you the drinks, they take your order. The soup comes out, the salad comes out, and then while you’re eating the salad, the chef comes out.

The chef came out with a little cart containing all the raw ingredients for the table. I had the swordfish and mahi mahi, others had a chicken dish, and someone else had steak. First thing the chef did was get started. After doing a little thing with his spatula, he made a happy face on the grill out of cooking oil, and then lit that sucker on fire. Big flame-up right there (and you can feel the heat from the individual flame-ups several tables away). Then he put the rice down, and got to work chopping up the vegetables. Then he did the side dishes. Dad and I had chicken livers, and Mom had sauteed mushrooms. The chef made a big to-do of the cooking, that’s for sure. It was quite fun to watch, as he placed this sauce on this, and this on that, and moved stuff around and flipped stuff.

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“And every Friday, he calls me a bastard!”

July 9, 2010, 9:23 AM

And he will again, because… it’s Friday, ya bastards!

Of course, yesterday is what really felt like Friday for me, because I took the day off today. See, I’m going down to Stuarts Draft today, because then on Saturday, Mom and I are going to Buena Vista for my friend Patrick Jarrett’s wedding. Pretty cool, if you ask me. I’ve known Patrick for around ten years, and I’m really excited and happy for him that he’s getting married. And of all the places for Anna (his bride) to be from, she’s from Stuarts Draft! How cool is that.

Of course, that means I have to drive down, which I’m not particularly looking forward to. It’s just a dull drive is all. I try to alternate taking I-81 and US 29 down and back, and so since I took 29 down and 81 up last time, I’m taking 81 down and 29 back this time. So I get to deal with a sea of tractor-trailers early on this time, and then deal with traffic lights on the way back.

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Categories: Friends, Stuarts Draft

A fun time was had by all…

April 7, 2010, 9:06 PM

So I got back from Stuarts Draft last night, and all in all, it was a pretty good trip. First of all, on the way down, I visited my friend Bergit, who I first met at the National Equality March back in October. We had a good time, chatting it up, and visiting a few stores in Charlottesville’s Corner district. Perhaps the most amusing part of the whole trip was the discovery that UVA sold a Snuggie with their logo on it, which Bergit modeled for the camera:

Bergit models the UVA Snuggie

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See, don’t tell the allergies that it’s their season, because maybe they’ll forget and it will be too late then…

April 3, 2010, 10:10 PM

First of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft. This ought to be a fun weekend. I saw my friend Bergit in Charlottesville on the way down (that was a lot of fun), and then I’m spending tomorrow with the parents, then Monday I’m spending with Katie, and then Tuesday, back to DC.

The drive down here was kind of interesting. Usually I don’t hit traffic on a Saturday, but this time, the Beltway was awful. Almost as soon as we crossed into Virginia, pow. Slowed to a 10 mph crawl. Once I hit I-66, though, no problems, and except for some moderate congestion on US 29 through Gainesville, we were good. Smooth sailing right down 29 to Charlottesville. I noticed that they were expanding the Charlottesville Wal-Mart, and also noticed that an Exxon station at the corner of US 29 and Barracks Road had been demolished and seeded. Very strange seeing a vacant corner lot like that…

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“ZOID”?

December 30, 2009, 11:01 PM

Mom and I went to Roanoke today to get my outfit for Sis’s wedding that’s coming up in a few weeks. I’m the photographer, and we got a really cool black-on-black-on-black outfit for me. We got black dress pants, we got a black shirt, and the surprise: a black vest as well. Mom saw it and wanted to see it on me, and it actually looked pretty good. So we got it. Excellent. I’m covered for the wedding, and at less cost than renting a tux. Oh, and unlike the rest of the boys, I get to keep my new threads after the big “I do”. Plus I’ve got my Metrobus tie that Sis is letting me wear, and we’ve got it all covered.

Then afterwards, we went to Panera Bread for lunch, where the food was good, but a little pricey. Fun stuff, if you ask me. Then after that, we went over to Valley View Mall, mainly just to wander around for a bit. We spent most of our time in three stores.

First, we hit up Bath and Body Works, where Mom got various treatments to mask stinky air in the bathroom. There, they had these giant rubber duckies. I, of course couldn’t resist picking one up. I wondered if they were functional or for looks. So I squeezed it. It let out a squeak that just made my face light up. This was fun! Then I got Mom to take a photo of me with the duck. And here we are:

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Categories: Family, Mercury Sable, Roanoke

So it seems to be the case that the Waynesboro Wal-Mart is that special place where managers’ careers go to die…

November 27, 2009, 11:03 PM

So Katie and I had fun today, running around Staunton and Waynesboro doing part trolling and part shopping. After I picked Katie up, we first went over to troll the Waynesboro Wal-Mart, where we used to work. After saying hello to some of the people we used to work with, we also ran into the new store manager. The manager is now a guy named Nathan, and he looks like he should be wearing a pinstriped suit and a fedora rather than a Wal-Mart name badge. Seriously, he looked like a prohibition-era gangster.

So with Al Capone as the new manager, the question becomes, what happened to the previous manager, who was there when I was still there? Turns out that he is “no longer with the company”. In other words, he probably got canned, because when management types say that someone is no longer with the company and leave it at that, you know that someone’s career had a “fiery” end. Otherwise, if they left on good terms, people will generally say something like, “Bob left to take a new position at Company XYZ.” When I visited my ex-store not long after getting hired at my current job, I found out that the management at the store was saying that I was “no longer with the company”. I personally wish they would have just said that they fired me. Let’s be honest now, since I’m pretty open about it. Especially since in my case, they made stuff up and rammed it through a coaching process. Really ethical people over at Wal-Mart.

But anyway, that means that the Waynesboro Wal-Mart is three for three. Their current manager is number four, and the last three all did not leave the Waynesboro Wal-Mart with their Wal-Mart career intact. Thus the Waynesboro Wal-Mart seems to be the place where management careers go to die. No one’s career leaves there alive, it seems.

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