1st Day Hike – Jan. 1, 2019 – James River State Park

Each New Year’s Day since 2014, we’ve visited one of Virginia’s beautiful state parks for their “1st Day Hike” event.  (We DID miss last year, however, since the day started out at 7 degrees and only got up in the teens!)

Our outing started with a drive down Rt. 29 South.  When we stopped for gas in Lovingston, it was still overcast, but already over 60 degrees!


Impulsively, we turned on Rt. 655 just after Colleen in order to follow the sign towards Lake Nelson.   We’ve been curious about this lake, and there was also a camping sign, so it seemed like a good opportunity to check them out.

We discovered that Lake Nelson is just past the community of Arrington.  It’s a nice-sized lake, and aside from some ducks, we were the only visitors.


The campground–or former campground–was on the shore of Lake Nelson.  I have no idea when it closed, but at one point there were at least 30 campsites, with water and electric hookups.  So sad to see it all abandoned and in poor shape!


After stopping by the lake, I thought we’d go back to Rt. 29, but the GPS suggested that we continue driving on Variety Mills Rd.  Always open to the exploration of new back roads, off we went.

And apparently this is what the road was named for: an old mill! I don’t know anything about this wonderful old stone structure, but it must have been magnificent in its day!


Further down the road, we crossed the Tye River just before its confluence with the James River.


I call this picture “Winter Colors.”  I kept seeing the bare trees as almost a lavender color against the deep greens. Beautiful!

The road we were driving on came out on Rt. 60, and we followed it a couple of miles east to Gladstone, VA and the turnoff for James River State Park.  The river was very high after all of the rain we’ve had!


The park is 7 miles from Rt. 60, and we always enjoy driving along the winding country road that leads to the park entrance.  We spotted a kestrel on top of a telephone pole, and right as I’d zoomed in to take a picture, it flew off.  It landed further away, so that really pushed the capabilities of the zoom lens on my new camera.


When we got to the park, we were surprised (and delighted!) to see all the cars at the visitors center!  It makes me happy to know that so many families enjoy Virginia State Parks on New Year’s Day. 🙂

Before going inside, I took some pictures of thistles and more of the “winter colors” trees.


When we were at James River State Park last spring, Wayne bought me a windbreaker in the visitors center.  Today I returned the favor and bought him one. :-)  While the sun was warm, the breeze along the river was cool, so he put it to use right away.


Time for a quick “selfie” on the banks of the James River….

Time, also, to “bless the James River….”


….And then wonderful, unstructured time to simply sit, relax, and savor the multi-sensory sights and sounds around us.



I mentioned that the river was running high, and these pictures give an idea of just how high it was recently; the picnic area was probably under water!


With other park patrons on the trails, we had this section to ourselves….



When we left James River State Park late in the afternoon, we turned west on Rt. 60, then made a right on scenic Rt. 657 (Tye River Road).  And yes, those are the BLUE Ridge Mountains!



This area has been extensively logged, and we’ve frequently see birds of prey perched on tall, bare trees in the clear-cut fields.  Maxing out my zoom lens again, I took a very distant picture of a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk.

After making our way back to Rt. 29 north, we turned left on Rt. 6 at Woods Mill, then right on Rt. 151 so we could stop by the cemetery to pick up the wreaths we’d put on family members’ graves for Christmas.

As they say, this was “Page 1 of a New 365-Page Book.”  We enjoyed today’s story. 🙂

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