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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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Staunton Mall sold for $4.5 million?

March 15, 2014, 10:16 AM

So according to The News VirginianThe News Leader, and WHSV, Staunton Mall has been sold to a Delaware LLC for $4.5 million.  Little is known about the new buyer or their intent, however, according to The News Leader, “The sale includes permits for development and land rights and assignment of leases, rents, deposits, profits and other agreements.”  This makes me wonder if someone is finally planning to redevelop Staunton Mall into something better and/or more modern.  At this point, we can only speculate. That said, Staunton Mall does look pretty dismal right now, shown in this file photo from January:

Staunton Mall, from center court facing south towards JCPenney, January 2014

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Categories: Staunton

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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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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“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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Okay, I’m calling it – Staunton Mall is toast.

May 2, 2009, 1:36 PM

Okay, I’m calling it. Staunton Mall is a dying mall, if not already basically a dead mall. I was in there on Friday with Katie, and I believe there are now more empty locations than there are full ones. Steve and Barry’s, in an anchor spot, is gone. Books-A-Million is gone, in another large spot. KB Toys is gone, as part of the chain’s complete closure earlier this year. The former Piece Goods location has never been filled for any appreciable length of time since Piece Goods left. The old CVS/Pharmacy location is still empty after more than two years since CVS moved to a freestanding location nearby.

Additionally, Peebles, while open, is in deplorable shape, with visibly worn tiles, stained and worn carpet, and stained ceiling tiles. That location needs to be renovated badly, but I doubt that Stage Stores (which owns Peebles) will invest in it, considering that all they did when it changed to Peebles from Stone and Thomas was change the nameplate, change some interior signage, and wall in a gift-wrapping counter. Meanwhile, the Belk store in Staunton Mall has never been remodeled since I’ve been there, aside from changes related to when the store changed its nameplate from Leggett to Belk in 1997 or so. It, however, looks to be in better shape than Peebles, but partly because the lighting is somewhat darker in there, and thus it hides the aging. Still, it certainly says a lot about what a company thinks about certain locations when they don’t bother to ever remodel or update them, while remodeling and updating other locations, sometimes multiple times.

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Categories: Shopping, Staunton

And once again, I’m on the receiving end of an Amtrak transaction, this time in Staunton, however…

December 31, 2008, 8:23 PM

Yay, Sis is here! Mom, Dad, and I met up with Chris’s mother, and we all went to greet Sis and her fiance Chris as they got off the train in Staunton. We took the Sable. They took the Cardinal from Chicago, and we were there to meet them. So we all got to the train station around 3 PM, and in came an Amtrak train. We thought it was us, but the conductor then announced that this train was going to Chicago, and thus not the train we were waiting for. So we went into the tiny little waiting room to wait. Interestingly enough, the Cardinal has to single-track through Staunton, as the station is only served by one track. Sis actually got caught up in the single-tracking, as they had to wait for the westbound Cardinal to clear the single-track area before they could proceed. Let me also comment that I will never take Union Station for granted again, since that station’s all nice and indoors and heated and has things to do while you wait. It was very cold and windy in Staunton today, and so waiting outside was not fun. And then waiting in the little waiting room is dull because there’s nothing to do. Just some benches.

Then Katie texted me. As it turns out, my cell phone’s text message chime, which is four bell rings (think the out-of-time bell on Wheel of Fortune), sounds exactly like the bell on the Amtrak trains when they make a station stop. Thus my text tone got everyone’s attention, thinking that the train had arrived. After it was brought to my attention that lots of people were reacting every time I got a text, I explained to everyone that it was my phone. But eventually, the eastbound Cardinal arrived.

First, a photo of the locomotive, for the railfan in me. I left without my real camera totally without thinking, unfortunately, and didn't realize it until too late.
First, a photo of the locomotive, for the railfan in me. I left without my real camera totally without thinking, unfortunately, and didn’t realize it until too late.

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Categories: Amtrak, Family, Staunton

So Katie and I had fun yesterday…

November 26, 2008, 5:23 PM

Katie and I went out and about in Staunton and Waynesboro yesterday, and we had fun. I can’t believe it had been three months since last I saw Katie, but indeed that was the case. But of course, that doesn’t mean we had any less fun.

First thing we did was go over to the nTelos store, since it was just about time to upgrade Katie’s cell phone, and so we were seeing what the scene looked like. I think Katie’s going to get a really good phone this time around – one with an on-board camera, and one that can do all of the cool things that cell phones can do nowadays. And I demonstrated the picture feature on one of the demo phones:

Katie at the nTelos store

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As you can see, “moon shoes” are not exactly something we can balance on…

June 3, 2007, 10:19 AM

I don’t know if you saw the splash page or not yet, but it shows me balancing on “moon shoes”…

Balancing on moon shoes

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Categories: Amusing, Katie, Staunton

What a neat use for a hood ornament!

April 6, 2007, 12:47 PM

While Katie and I were at the mall yesterday, we saw one other thing that caught my eye. One patron of the mall had a Mercedes, and they modified the hood ornament on their car:

Mercedes logo turned into a peace sign

It almost makes me wish I had a Mercedes so I could adapt the hood ornament into a peace sign for my own use. What a great use, going from a corporate advertisement to a very relevant sentiment in this day and age.

Categories: Anti-war, Katie, Staunton

“Staunton” and “Augusta County” are mutually exclusive…

April 6, 2007, 10:47 AM

Katie and I went to Staunton Mall yesterday evening, and had a great time. Then we went to Applebee’s for dinner, which was fun (though we ended up having to sweeten the sweet tea!).

One thing that led to an interesting discussion was when we saw a Sheriff’s deputy’s car parked outside the mall. I made the comment about the fact that seeing that is a reminder that technically, Staunton Mall is in Augusta County, to which Katie replied, “Well, yeah, Staunton’s in Augusta County.”

My little ears kind of perked up on that one, and my mind with its background in public administration kicked right into gear. I was like, “Noooooooo… Staunton is an independent city, therefore by definition it is not part of Augusta County.” And being in the car and being on the Belk side of the mall made it much easier to describe, because the boundary roughly runs along the edge of the mall’s property on that side. What better place to have this discussion than right at the city limits, no? I was like, “We’re in the county right now, but that CVS over there is in Staunton. Therefore, if you call Staunton Police for an incident at the mall, they’re out of their jurisdiction, since that’s Augusta County. They’ll refer you to the Augusta County Sheriff’s office.

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What “abandoned former Wal-Mart sites”?

January 21, 2006, 11:17 PM

In the Staunton News Leader‘s January 21, 2006 house editorial, they discussed about the Frontier Culture Museum’s plan for using some of its property fronting US 250 and Frontier Drive for retail in order to help fund the museum’s programs (the museum itself is back and out of sight from the front of the property).

What made my ears perk up while reading this was this paragraph about the facility that anchors all this development:

Remember too that the retail leviathan that anchors the area is an aging Wal-Mart. Those who recall all the other abandoned former Wal-Mart sites around Staunton can attest that this chain is not the most faithful.

I question the accuracy of this statement. I am not even going to touch the issue of how “faithful” Wal-Mart is, because it’s immaterial to the discussion.

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It’s nice to just kind of go out on the town for a bit… the local town, that is.

January 14, 2005, 5:25 PM

It’s nice to go out on the town a bit. That’s what I did today. I had some errands to run, and went to both Staunton and Waynesboro in the process.

Note I say “local town”. You may recall that I go to Washington DC a lot, and spend a lot of time in that town, which hopefully will be my local town before too long. So I draw that distinction.

But anyway, I went out and about, which was fun. Went to Staunton Mall. I had lunch at “Hot Wok”, a Chinese restaurant in the mall. I’d never eaten a meal at Hot Wok before. It was good.

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Categories: Health issues, Staunton