Thursday, August 13, 2020

All the Way to Burke’s Garden -

Did you ever take the long way to somewhere -

Just because you could?

Just to see what you could see?

This was my day yesterday – knowing that rain would happen somewhere later in the day, but wanting to get out and see the beautiful morning while I could.

“Roads Less Traveled” are my favorite thing – and deep into mid August before leaves start turning was a great time to do it.

Coming upon this abandoned house along a quiet country road without another car in sight meant a quick pull over, a get out, and marvel.

As a child, I would have LOVED that hole in that tree.  what a great place to hide, or secure away childhood treasures!

That tree was meant for climbing.

And the texture under those eaves – so pretty!

Time stands still on Virginia back roads. 

See that pretty bit of gingerbread above the door by the tree? I would love to think this house was much loved in its day, and that porch welcoming and inviting to all guests that came up the steps.

I hadn’t explored Rural Retreat before -

A cute little town with an even cuter name – and a newly refurbished train depot turned community center.

Rural Retreat’s claim to fame?  In the early 1900s, farmers planted more than 600 acres full of cabbage, raising an average of more than 9 million pounds of the leafy, green vegetable per year. Around 1915, 14 million pounds of cabbage were produced in Rural Retreat, which had developed into the world’s largest cabbage market, earning the designation as the “Cabbage Center of the World.”

The restored depot is now a community venue and hosts events like weddings, birthdays, baby showers, meetings and more.

View from the depot platform.

Stately old homes – huge lawns.

Further up Walker Mountain -

Those clouds were gathering and the rain starting to fall – but the long distance views to the north were just breathtaking!  Oh, and the temp? About 70 degrees up here.  Almost too cool for shorts!

Old churches are another favorite!

Nebo Methodist Church.

Bastian, Virginia

Look at the difference between those two doors!  Someone put a more modern 1950s screen door on the right hand one. LOL.

Founded 1860 – Rebuilt 1931.

Another lonely country road – and I think of the Sunday sounds of singing that must have come through these two doors. Where are those voices now?  What were their lives like in this beautiful place?

Hauntingly peaceful.

And we are almost there -

Have you heard of Burke’s Garden, Virginia?

Getting here is a challenge. Steep descents coupled with many hairpin turns up and down the mountain keep you very aware that this is a special place. Burke’s Garden is a bowl-shaped valley scooped out of the rugged Appalachian Mountains in Southwest VA.

Discovered by James Burke in 1740!

Areal view-

With an elevation of 3086 feet,  Burke's Garden lies in a massive bowl formed by a mountain collapsing in on itself over time. 

This unique geology has formed a depression surrounded by mountain ridges which has led to the Garden being known as “God's Thumbprint.”

In fact, on our way down in – we had to pull over and back up.  There was a sheriff’s vehicle acting as pilot car for a couple of semi trucks that were trying to get back out of Burke’s Garden and the only way they could get back up the many hairpin turns was to take up both lanes.  And they did.  Wow!


There is basically one road in, and the same road will lead you in a circle and back out where you came from.

Stopping for snacks and Amish bulk foods before the storm comes!

And it is definitely coming!

And it’s about to be a doozy!

This guy better hurry – or he’ll be caught in it too!

And you thought these signs only happened in Pennsylvania?

Or Ohio?

Beautiful creek view – and what about that big boulder?

My takings home were simple.  Some peaches and tomatoes.  A bottle of clear vanilla extract for baking.  Some chocolate mint fudge I am squirreling away for just a small bite at a time. A jar of hot and sweet pickles.

And memories of wonderful conversations had with Elizabeth and her two daughters Martha and Alice who were working the store. We talked about peach canning.  And plant growing from impatiens, to hostas and the big and abundant coleus with gorgeous colored leaves that was growing there on the front porch of the store in a big pot.

Our lives are so very different, but in so many ways the same.

Other favorites from yesterday with no photos – Porches lined with “Amish wash” in all of the bright colors we’ve come to love about the Amish.

I love that several families have made Burke’s Garden their home just the next county over from me and are living happily side by side with their Mennonite and “English” neighbors.

Last views as we climb out of the “bowl” that is Burke’s Garden.

It was a great escape, and yes I wore a mask any time I was round people or inside buildings.

Dinner was leftovers when I got home because – TIRED!

2 more Hexie star blocks were appliqued to string block backgrounds and we are now up to 46 done!  Only 10 left to go!

The rain is supposed to continue through the weekend.  Perfect quilting weather – and I love the cooler temperatures.

You know where to find me – I’ll be at the QPO ALL DAY!

How about your Thursday ahead?

Oh – questions have arisen in the comments section about “Why do I get your blog a day late?” And the answer is simple.  You signed up for the email announcements.  It’s a digest of all things posted throughout the day, and it sends at the end of the day – so your email letting you know of this post is likely going to show up in your inbox when you get up tomorrow. The email notifications are not generated in real time as soon as a post goes live. it’s a digest.

if you want to be current with posts AS they are posted – please come directly to the blog (just give me a bookmark) instead of waiting for notification in your email.

I hope that helps!

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Look for the beauty, it is everywhere! I love this old and quite plain shoo fly quilt.

Humble little blocks, a wool blanket as batting and tied with red wool yarn. This quilt kept someone warm through many cold winters. Who made it? Who slept under it? What is the story behind each and every scrap?

There is so much love and beauty even in the simplicity of this sweet humble old quilt.

Look for beauty in the simple things today!


  1. Thank you, Bonnie, for your very interesting blog of your day’s adventures. So interesting as many will never have the chance to see things such as you have.

  2. My grandfather was born just north of Rural Retreat and ancestors in the area from 1790s. My side moved to Missouri in 1890's but we have visited a couple of times doing family tree stuff. love the area but didn't make it to Burke's Garden.

  3. Just sitting here drinking my coffee and reading about your day yesterday. I spent the day working on Adventure Blocks for my Quilt Guild. It was a peaceful day and I wish I could do it again today! Other work is calling me away...

  4. You are a great ambassador for our beautiful state of Virginia!

  5. There is a way to get today's blog post from the email: What comes up directly is the previous day's blog post, but on my computer if I click the "Home" button on the upper left corner, it refreshes the blog post so that today's appears at the top if it has been posted already. On my phone, I have to go to a different page (I usually pick "About Bonnie" because its button is close and it loads fast) and back to Home to update, but it still works.

  6. Beautiful country. Thanks for sharing and letting us see a glimpse of places we have never seen but would sure like to. Love the old buildings too. Everything is so green. We are in Oregon in the spring and late fall. Now back to ironing my quilt rows to stitch together. Have a blessed day.

  7. When I saw the picture of the house and tree I thought of the movie "To kill a Mocking Bird" love that old tree!
    Always enjoy your blog and all the quilts you do Just finished quilting Pinwheel Fancy just needs the binding.
    Thank you for all you do for us stay save.
    Colleen P

  8. I love the beauty in simple things. I love your drives to interesting places on the back roads of Virginia and NC. Thank you Bonnie, for feeding my soul.

  9. those amish buggy signs are in northern maine as well...up in the county, as aroostook is known...potato fields as far as the eye can see, and now amish residents...

  10. What a lovely place! Thank you for sharing with us.

  11. Three of my quilting buddies and I are having a backyard picnic. No quilting; just getting caught up on what's happening in all our lives. My sweetheart has offered his quiet and beautiful backyard/bird, chimpunk, squirrel-gathering-place and it has the advantage of having a toilet adjacent to the garage, unlike the local parks in which the "facilities" are locked.

  12. I live in Rural Retreat and yes it once was the cabbage capital, but its claim to fame is that it’s the home of Dr. Pepper. He was a pharmacist and his apothecary was across the street from the train depot. It had a soda fountain where his creations/concoctions were served. One of those concoctions is the soda named after him; Dr. Pepper. He had a young man training under him that wanted to marry Dr. Peppers daughter. The young mans request was denied. That young man packed up and moved to Texas where he began selling those concoctions created in Rural Retreat. In one final attempt to win the hand of Dr. Peppers daughter, he named the best selling concoction after Dr. Pepper. Unfortunately for him, Dr. Pepper still did not approve his request.
    The cemetery in Rural Retreat where Dr. Pepper is buried is visible from my house.

    1. Loved reading your story :)

    2. What a great story!
      Also Bonnie, thanks for taking us on another "discovering" adventure of beautiful mountains and Rural Retreat and the Amish community.I am no longer able to travel due to health problems, but some of your travels bring back such fond memories of living in NJ and going to Amish Farmers Markets.

    3. did Dr. Pepper's daughter ever marry? or did she stay a spinster? is she buried in the same cemetery as her dad??? such a juicy piece of history!!!!!

  13. Hi Bonnie, thanks for the tour of Gods Thumbprint. I didn't know mountains could do that. The picture of the vacant house with all the texture makes me thing it would be beautiful texture on a quilt (the upper edge of the end of the house)lovely...
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  14. Burke's Garden looks an awful lot like the caldera of a collapsed volcano.

    1. I thought the same thing and was tempted to holler, Run, Bonnie, Run! LOL

    2. That's what I thought too. It is a beautiful place. I would love to have been along with Bonnie and seeing all the beautiful places she took pictures of.

  15. What a great day you had, Bonnie! I love reading and seeing photos of all your adventures!!

  16. Well...don't care what day I get your blog - always enjoy your adventures. I would love to tour the countryside in some of the east coast and New England states (history) guess I'm stuck in Mo for now because I can't find anyone who wants to travel and explore

  17. We've been to Burke's Garden -- around 50 years ago! We lived in Blacksburg and have also lived in Clifton Forge (north of Roanoke) and for a semester in Floyd when I did my student teaching there. Southwest VA is definitely a love.

  18. The first time I went to Burkes Garden was during an annual festival. We had an amazing time. I hope we can get back to festivals and picnics next year. Btw, you must have traveled right past us, stop by next time. 😉

  19. We have those Amish buggy signs along the roads where I live in NE Nebraska too. Quite a few Amish have settled here. There would be more if there was more land available. They support the local businesses which might not be here anymore without them. Good, hard-working people.

  20. Anonymous6:59 PM EDT

    The amish buggy signs are seen on one of the county roads heading out of Hamilton, MO,home of MSQC. We were looking for a less traveled road after visiting MSQC. Only one car in an hour.

  21. Abandoned houses like that always make me want to move in and take care of them. Thank you for the tour.

  22. I used to get your facebook page and stay on time, but facebook kept taking you off, so I went with email. At east I get it every day...even of late. I love your posts.

  23. So beautiful I wish I could move right on into that abandoned house but not so easy as I’d have to apply to emigrate first.
    Love the area you visited the photos as always are beautiful, thank you for sharing
    Stay safe
    Love and quilty hugs
    Anne xxx

  24. Oh Bonnie - what a beautiful adventure! Thank you for sharing with us :)

  25. thanks for showing me a part of the world I have never seen!

  26. Love your tour. Thank you. You can add Wisconsin to your list of Amish and Mennonite signs. In fact the grocery store all have a tie down pole or two for the Amish who are grocery shopping. These were found mostly in Shawano County.

  27. Thank you to the person that asked the question. This post was great, loved seeing all the pictures.

  28. Thank you for sharing pictures of your lovely countryside! I live in central Texas where it's over 100 every day and there is no rain in sight. I feel cooler just imagining myself riding along with you. Were you singing John Denver's "Country Roads" as you drove along?

  29. Virginia truly is God's country. I love this state

  30. Bonnie thank you for your great blogs every day. Your back road travels tug at my heart.

  31. I love your adventures and photos of the beautiful scenery. My backroads partner would have loved this; he passed away a couple of months ago. Your quote for this day certainly fit your activities. Have a blessed day.
    P.S. if I posted this earlier, please delete one of them. I think I left the page before I hit 'publish'.

  32. I love to hear about your adventures to the back roads to the old sites. Next time when I visit my brother in Virginia. I would have to stop and visit the countryside and to Wilmington for some history.

  33. I use to live in VA. It is a gorgeous state. I now live in MS and have, in my possession, 2 quilts that my GG Grandma Portis made in the mid 1800's. They are very good condition considering their age. They have some of the brown spots that appeared due to being stored in a closet for yrs without being taken out and aired occasionally. I wish there was a way to send you pictures of the quilts.
    Her husband, JC, was one of our town's founders, town treasurer, minister, our first mayor, postmaster and a teacher. He built the first school, due to the distance some had to travel, it was an academy where students could live during the semester. Included in the tuition were meals that his wife would cooked for them.

  34. Thank you for taking us with you today (yesterday in reality) on such an interesting tour. Thanks also for the explanation why we get old news each day. It's still good news whenever it arrives. I just know it doesn't really pay to comment, because you don't go back and re- read old news. Will try and figure out, but the important thing is I get it.

  35. Thank you for showing us your part of the world... I live in the northeastern part of Vermont (called the NEK!) and we have those Amish signs everywhere here, too! Lots of nice Amish families live near me, and I've been to one lady's house to "view" all her quilts!!! Not to mention smelling the homemade bread baking in the wood stove!

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Thank you for showing the pictures of Burke's Garden. James Burke is one of my ancestors, family lore mentions a valley in Virginia named after the family. I live in Illinois and have traveled in Virginia but not to Burke's Garden. The buggy signs are in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Indiana also.

  38. I love seeing your photos and reading your stories of the places you visit. Of course I love your quilts too. You are a great inspiration.
    Anyway..... I read on another blog this morning a yummy peach pie recipe I thought you might like to try. https://funwithbarbandmary.blogspot.com/2020/08/just-peachy-you.html


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