We took exit 240 and began following three-digit state roads. Near an especially early looking farmhouse with its cut stone foundation and ancient barn we came to Mossy Creek, an area first settled in the 1740s. An aging historic marker told of the Mossy Creek Iron Works that was established in 1775. “The ironworks became an important industrial enterprise” that sold its products “throughout western Virginia.” A community grew up around it and “by 1852 the Mossy Creek Academy was established by Jedediah Hotchkiss,” who would later become the cartographer for Stonewall Jackson. Both the school and the ironworks closed around the beginning of the Civil War.
We drove on, passing large and tidy farms and we kept climbing…about ten miles from the interstate we reached Tall Oaks Lane and drove up toward a beautiful stand of oaks. There we found Grand Oaks, our friends Mark and Kathy’s home and Air B&B.
This was a far cry from their stucco-clad Arizona house set in the mostly untamed landscape of the Sonoran Desert with the occasional saguaro cactus standing stately and tall amid shaggy mesquite, palo verde and creosote. Oak trees surrounded and towered over their two-story home, creating a sun-dappled setting. Beyond the house and the trees were the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley. What a breathtaking setting…no wonder their guest suite had been filled steadily by people wishing to escape their urban environments and get away to such a peaceful and magnificent setting. #GrandOaks
The property came complete with a horse barn, which now houses Mark’s 1958 turquoise GMC pickup and also gives him ample room for his workshop and wood storage.
They have built a “red barn” that is a welcoming social center. The bar in the center of the barn was strongly influenced by their favorite cantina in Cave Creek, Arizona, and its shelves hold an impressive and colorful array of empty beer cans and bottles that Mark has been collecting since he was a teen.
It also holds another impressive collection. Mark has owned nine cars in his lifetime and six of them are on display here in the barn (you’ve already seen his turquoise pickup). The collection includes his first car…the ’63 Corvair he drove on their first date…and the white ’63 Oldsmobile that they drove away from their wedding…as well as a ’53 Pontiac, ’70 Buick Skylark, ’79 Camaro and a ’79 Shortbed Chevy Cheyenne.
The cars are moved outside when the space is being used for weddings and other celebrations. Don and I explored the loft area, which overlooks the cars below and is also a comfy place for guests who simply want to hang out here with its interesting collection of antiques.
The next morning we decided to do a little roaming around and Kathy suggested we stop at Valley Pike Farm Market, but before we could leave we had to talk with the “parking lot squirrel.” This chatty fellow seems to have taken great offence that we were parked under his oak tree and complained vigorously about it. I was thankful he didn’t take a few acorns from his winter supply and throw them at us. My respectful attention must have satisfied him because after he was done venting he scampered further up the tree.
There was a school bus parked outside Valley Pike Farm Market. The Old School Burgers must be pretty tasty because there was a growing line of customers waiting to order.
Inside the market, there was a wonderful array of products to consider. Local wineries were well represented with a broad range of wines on display. The chocolates in the candy counter were tempting as was their selection of old-time candy favorites.
The colorful jams, jellies, preserves, honey and syrups gave us lots of options to stock our pantry…and there were beautiful pottery pieces to use for serving these delights.
The deli counter was doing a brisk business building sandwiches and there was a Wet Whistle station for those who wanted to sample some of the local wines and craft beers. The decorated loft offered comfortable seating and a great view of the action below.
The Route 11 Potato Chip display caught my attention (the market is on Route 11, the old highway that carried traffic before the interstate was built). I have since discovered that the next time we are touring in this area we can stop at the Route 11 Potato Chip factory store in Mt. Jackson and view the frying operation.
We barely got a half a mile down the road and when we came to Rocky’s Antiques. This isn’t your ordinary antique shop. We entered into a large room filled with silver flatware and hollowware and an impressive selection of coins. In our search for sterling silver luggage tags, we were directed into the next room, which was filled with fine jewelry as well as costume jewelry. A sign directed us to “MORE ANTIQUES” and the next doorway led us into “10,000 square feet filled with antique furniture, glassware, signage and more.”
Our next stop was the Factory Antique Mall in Verona, which bills itself as the “Largest Mall in America and Still Growing.” With over 135,000 square feet there are miles of aisles to explore and it is a good place if you want a lot of walking. The aisles are filled with home décor, advertising, books, furniture, kitchenware and glassware and lots more.
Nearby Verona Antiques is “something to crow about” according to their sign. The shop isn’t as large as Factory Antiques, but this former roller skating rink is filled with good quality antiques, art and furniture. With it being so close to I-81, we marked it on our map as a place to stop when we are staying in the area or even just passing through.
Now, it was time for us to get back to Grand Oaks to meet up with Mark and Kathy for the next phase of our Virginia adventure.