The Piedmont Virginian Road Trip: the Camping Issue

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The Camping Issue

Where to stay and what to do: Eating, drinking and playing Why we camp: The lure of the outdoors How we camp: Insights from camping pros What’s for dinner? Recipes for around the campfire


Who’s coming: Taking your (four-legged) best friend along


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RV there yet? A short drive to a world away


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The Charms of the Piedmont

It’s Safe

Planning your adventure

The Piedmont area of Virginia, within a few hour’s drive from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, is a short trip to a world away where you can get lost in the bucolic countryside, do some hiking, and enjoy nature. Sounds good after the stress of the past few months, doesn’t it? Not only does the area feature some of the best outdoor experiences around, the Piedmont also offers an incredible selection of restaurants (casual to gourmet), wineries/breweries/ distilleries, historical attractions, all the arts in profusion, quaint small towns for shopping, and an almost endless number of outdoor recreational activities. Imagine hiking in the National Forest to gorgeous views of the mountains, fishing, or observing the wildlife. Of course, in the warm weather, tubing or kayaking on the rivers is not to be missed. There’s something for everyone here! And what better way to experience it than from your own cozy campsite and campfire?

Since the COVID pandemic started, camping has seen a huge rise in popularity as people embrace it as a safe, socially distanced way to have fun, spend time with family, and get out in nature. This year, veteran campers and campground staff are seeing a marked increase in the number of people and families camping, and sales of campers and camping equipment have skyrocketed. Warren Keely, owner of Road Trip Camping in Orange, says, “Our sales have doubled this year. We’re seeing a wide demographic, all the way from young adults to retirees. But probably the biggest increase in sales is by young families. Any family with kids is feeling pinned in because of the lack of social interface for children. So, many parents are feeling the need to get their kids out of the house and doing something active.”

This issue will introduce you to camping in the Piedmont with insights, reflections, and photos from local veteran campers. Our food editor Kaitlin Hill shares some delicious recipes to be prepared at your campfire, and our dog columnist Ed Felker reflects on the logistics of bringing your fourlegged best friend along. We are also providing a catalog to guide you in planning your adventure which includes information on area campgrounds with nearby dining/drinking/recreation recommendations. The Piedmont awaits! A view of the Blue Ridge from rural Rappahannock County PHOTO BY CAMDEN LITTLETON


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Piedmont Campers

Share the Joy

Alone or with friends and family, camping in the region makes life a little better. Several Piedmont residents who also are enthusiastic campers shared with us some stories and details on what kind of camping they enjoy. While they all camp differently, and for different reasons, there are some recurring themes: getting away, enjoying the outdoors, and spending quality time with family or friends. MALINDA FLETCHER grew up camping, and my fondest memories are about camping with my dad. He had a VW van we’d take out and camp in. My brother and I were so into it that we even pitched tents in the backyard and slept out there sometimes. I started looking for a camper a few years ago. My aunt and uncle had a vintage teardrop, and I just loved it. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I lucked out when this one became available. I fell in love with it immediately. One of the things I really like about it is its weight. It’s only about 1,000 pounds, and I can tow it with my little Lexus. It’s really easy to drive around and park, although it looks pretty comical at bigger campgrounds next to those huge RVs. I have a set up that lets me camp off-grid, which I love. The camper has a propane tank and a 50-gallon stainless steel water tank with an old fashioned pump sink. I have a changing tent, a compostable toilet, and a solar shower. A lot of things are battery operated, like the lights and fans. One big upgrade I would like to do someday is to add bigger solar powered batteries, that way I could also have air conditioning. I do just about everything with my little trailer. It can sleep three, and it’s really comfortable. I go to music festivals, wineries and breweries, campgrounds all around here, and even offgrid in fields. I really enjoy it, whether I go alone, or with my daughters, or with girlfriends. Each experience is different, but special. Camping in Virginia is the best: there are so many places to go. In Rappahannock, we are lucky, we’re so close to Shenandoah National Park. The scenery is always beautiful year round. The thing I enjoy most about camping is getting away from everything. Getting out in touch with nature helps me relax and rewire my brain. I like to camp in remote areas, where there’s no cell reception and no traffic. At nighttime there’s no light pollution so it’s so dark and quiet. It’s just me and the crickets. Then I really feel I’m away from it all.



The Camping Issue SARAH BLECH ’ve been camping for 30 years and enjoy the more difficult backcountry camping, hiking to the campsite with all my gear as opposed to driving. I camp in Shenandoah National Park and National Forests, but also occasionally take bigger trips out west. I camp to camp. I’m not looking for other activities or recreation that would distract me from appreciating the experience itself. For me, the draw to camping is being outdoors and on my own. My camping partners sometimes include either my boyfriend or niece, and sometimes my dogs, as well. I enjoy the exercise and challenging myself to accomplish a physical goal. It’s being away from everything. It’s a great way to separate myself from outside influences and enjoy the outdoors. It’s incredibly rewarding.


WARREN KEELY started my business, Road Trip Camping, selling quality lightweight campers that are towable with smaller vehicles, because of my love and passion for the outdoors, road trip travel, and spending real, quality time with loved ones. My big catalyst was 9/11. At that time of crisis, our thoughts were, “life’s too short!” So, we decided to get out and enjoy life as much as possible. We bought our first camper in July 2002. Here we are nearly 20 years later, and I have a camper-related business. And, with the pandemic, we’re dealing with another major crisis. It’s having a very similar effect on large segments of society as 9/11 did. I, too, am having introspective thoughts again as I see my customers making the same decisions we did back then. It’s refreshing and fulfilling to watch and be a part of because we’re helping to bring joy to many. It also makes me realize that I’m not stopping to smell the roses as much myself these days, but that will change. We’ll get back to it again.



ALLIE AND JASON LOUDERBACK e decided to purchase a camper this year after looking around for a couple of years. However, due to the pandemic, inventory was very low. When we were ready to look again and make a decision, all the lots were depleted. There were minimal options to look at. Dealers said campers and RVs are flying off the lots this year as people look for different vacation options. Camping provides a way to get away and make memories with your family without the same level of risk as busier locations. We ultimately decided on a Forest River Salem 26DBUD because it hit the “sweet spot” of layout, price, and size for our needs and wants. We have young children and we knew we would spend a significant amount of time in the camper, making it important to have enough space and bunks. Our primary goal when camping is to take a break from our fast-paced jobs, unplug, and enjoy the outdoors with the kids. We bought our camper with the intention of having an easy way to get away with the kids more often and not have to get dog sitters, but we also have plans to go with just friends and a couple’s getaway, too. We primarily look for campgrounds that are fun for small children and are known for being family friendly. We feel like these are going to be some of their favorite childhood memories. We’re by no means “roughing it” in our camper, but it’s definitely a simpler life. I think it's something we all need again: to get back to times enjoying family instead of all the rush-rush vacations that have been popular in the past.



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It also has an awesome outdoor kitchen, which is another thing we really wanted. It even has an icemaker. It’s turned out to be a great size for us, but at first it was a little intimidating to tow. We had to trade in our Ram 2500 because it just wasn’t powerful enough for it. The most important thing to us is to get away from our busy lives and spend time with our family. We enjoy traditional camping activities like fishing and hiking, and we also keep an eye out for wineries, breweries, and other fun stuff along the way. We’ve enjoyed staying at campgrounds in Luray and Louisa County and, a favorite: setting up camp on our property next to the Shenandoah River.

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DAWN AND CHAD PARSONS fter tent camping for years, we recently bought a Frost River Cherokee, a 37-foot pull-behind trailer camper. We’ve been talking for years about buying a camper when we’re ready to retire, and have been looking around. But with everything going on with COVID, we decided to go ahead and do it now so we could make the best use of it. We’ve had to be more conservative with finances and for a family, shorter, local trips are more economical. While shopping around, we wanted to make sure we got the layout and space we knew they would need. We chose the Frost River Cherokee because it has four bunks to accommodate the children and grandchildren as well as all of the other conveniences we need, like an indoor toilet, sink, and shower.

The Camping Issue

Really? Camping? A rookie camper goes all in BY CARLA VERGOT


he man never camped a day in his life. In our years-long relationship, it hadn’t once come up as an item of interest. Three years ago, when my husband first revealed his desire to camp, I wasn’t sure if it was because he just survived cancer or if he was having a good ol’ fashioned midlife crisis. Here’s what I do know—when those two things collide, all bets are off. So, the man who had never camped a day in his life researched teardrop trailers with a passion. When he throws himself into something you can either join in or be bulldozed out of the way. I learned this when we launched the Great Garden Experiment. I had grown up camping, or as he tells people, being perfectly comfortable sleeping on a rock. Truthfully, it had been a long time since I’d done any camping, and I watched with interest as he explored his options. When he found what he wanted, he ordered it from a mom-and-pop operation that built a custom product to his specs. It took forever, the company was under investigation, and people weren’t getting their campers. We finally got ours just before they went out of business, which seems to be a recurring theme with

these little companies specializing in the teardrop. Since the camper was designed to go both off-road and off-grid, he customized a Jeep to pull it. This would be the third Jeep in a family of two. As you can see, we made a fairly substantial investment in a hobby he had never even tried. Luckily, it worked out. He fell in love with camping, and I reignited my own love affair with the lifestyle I had abandoned years earlier. There have been amazing starry skies and perfectly toasted marshmallows. There have also been dinners that took so long to cook, we were a saltine away from turning into the Donner Party. There was the weekend where I got the best night’s sleep of my entire life, and there was the trip when it rained so hard that sitting under the awning was just a slower way to get thoroughly soaked. We discovered teamwork, fellowship, and ingenuity. We suffered smoke inhalation, chiggers, and cold feet. For every good aspect of camping there’s an equally crummy aspect, and the law of averages dictates that you’ll get a fair share of both. In the beginning, I was curious how my newly minted camper would handle the struggle, but he was…well…

incredible. He stuck it out through each adversity. And once we were back in civilization, he’d google a solution to the problem. Too many bugs? Here’s a screened enclosure to keep the mosquitos out. Not enough light once the sun goes down? Here’s a three-pack of LED lanterns. No hands to hold a flashlight? Try this headlamp. And he also threw himself into achieving certain levels of campsite aptitude. He looked for recipes we could try, modifying them to meet our needs. When he realized he had no idea how to build a campfire, he dove headlong into the challenge, assembling a fire kit with every tested and novel fire-starting trick since the first cave man discovered that wood burns. He even started training to give himself more strength and flexibility around the fire circle. I think he’s an extraordinary example of a non-camper-turned-camper. I don’t think this happens all the time. So, in the midst of the camping explosion the country is experiencing, I applaud everyone who decides to give it a go. I don’t recommend the route we took. Ease into it like you would slip into a warm bath. Maybe rent a camper or borrow a tent first. If it goes well, try it a couple more times before making an investment. Decide how many times a year you can/will actually camp and decide if that justifies a major purchase. Also, come up with a strategy in case there are members of the family who don’t take to it. Lastly, before you embark on this new adventure, take a first aid class. There will be bites, burns, scrapes, and cuts. It’s good to know how to handle them before you actually have to. Don’t be put off by the fact that every camper eventually needs a first aid kit. That’s a small price for the good medicine camping provides. The experiences, the fellowship, and nature itself combine for some very strong therapy.


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Planning Your Adventure! Campgrounds, dining, drinking, history, and recreation

Nelson County Devils Backbone Camp

30 Three Ridges Lane, Roseland

Fauquier County Sky Meadows State Park

11012 Edmonds Ln., Delaplane 540-592-3556; This hike in/pack in primitive camping experience with miles of hiking trails begins with a one-mile easy trail to the 15 standard tent sites and the 3 group tent sites. Campers can enjoy a beautiful hike on the Appalachian Trail which runs from Georgia to Maine. The park and its trails provide breathtaking views. Amenities include pit toilets, tent pads, picnic tables, bear-proof lockers, lantern hooks, a fire pit with a small grate, and one water pump.

Fauquier County’s Wildlife Management Areas CF Phelps (Sumerduck); Weston (Warrenton); Thompson (Paris)

Encompassing 71 acres, Devils Backbone Campground offers 25 full RV sites, 22 standard non-electric sites, and 24 primitive tent sites which are all dog-friendly. Luxury homes are also available for rent. All sites include a fire ring, grill top, picnic table, and access to the bath house. With the brewery and distillery on site, it’s been referred to as an adult Disneyland.

Montebello Camping and Fishing Resort 15072 Crabtree Falls Hwy., Montebello

Located high in the mountains near the Blue Ridge Parkway, this resort is a family-owned full service campground with beautiful views of the mountains and a private lake. Bring your tent, RV, or rent a cabin, and plan on fishing in the fee based stocked trout pond (no license required). The country store is an experience of its own, offering many unique gift items, memorabilia, camping & fishing supplies, fuel, groceries, and firewood. WHILE YOU’RE IN NELSON COUNTY... Where to eat: Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub, Mac’s Country Store, Basic Necessities, The Fountain Room at the Mt. Addy Inn

Another truly primitive camping experience, camping is allowed, but not organized, at the Wildlife Management Areas. Access permits are required. There are no amenities and no designated sites. The CF Phelps, Thompson WMA, and Western WMA areas each offer various opportunities to enjoy the outdoors from fishing and boating to wildlife observation and birding.

Where to drink: Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub, Brent Manor Vineyards, Silverback Distillery, Blue Mountain Brewery, Wild Man Dan Brewery, Afton Mountain Vineyards What to do: Discovery Ridge Adventure Center, White Rock Falls, Crabtree Falls, Swannanoa Mansion Crabtree Falls, Natural Bridge, Walton Mountain Museum, birding and wildlife trail Alternative Accommodations: Fenton Inn, Boxley Place Inn B&B

WHILE YOU’RE IN FAUQUIER COUNTY... Where to eat: Hunter’s Head Tavern, Ashby Inn, Claire’s at the Depot

Where to drink: Delaplane Cellars, Rogers Ford Farm Winery, Grey Horse Vineyards, Barking Rose Brewery, Wild Hare Cidery What to do: Hollins Farm pick your own produce, Historic Middleburg, fishing at Sky Meadow’s Turner Pond, horseback riding at Royal Horseshoe Farm, exploring historic Aldie Mill, Gold Mining Museum and Monroe Park Alternative accommodations: Ashby Inn, Chilton House, Inn at Kelly’s Ford, The Rooms Up There


Louisa County Small Country Campground 4400 Byrd Mill Road, Louisa

Situated on 150 acres in Louisa, Small Country Campground has a wide range of sunny, shaded and partially shaded

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The Camping Issue

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sites available, from primitive tent sites to RV sites and cabins and park model rentals available for those who want the RV experience but don’t own one. Amenities include a bath house, convenience camp store, laundry, wifi, fire pits, pool, mini golf, a 25-acre lake and lake toys, hiking, playgrounds, and boats and fishing. The campground is especially appealing for families with children who love the miniature golf course. A manor house is available for rent for those seeking a little more luxury.

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Located right next to one of Virginia's most popular lakes, Lake Anna State Park offers a number of recreational activities as well as a chance to explore history. The campsites are absolutely beautiful, with breathtaking views of Lake Anna, and are spaced out to ensure a relaxing atmosphere. Both lodges and cabins have rustic furniture, a complete kitchen, and access to bathhouses. The park has many lake-centered activities, such as swimming, fishing, and boating. It also has over 15 miles of trails that can be used for hiking and biking. Planned weekend activities are scheduled throughout the season.

Where to drink: Lake Anna Winery, Cooling Pond Brewery, Coyote Hole Ciderworks


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Shenandoah National Park

Albemarle County Misty Mountain Camp Resort

56 Misty Mountain Road, Greenwood This 50-acre resort offers the full range of camping opportunities, including cabins, RVs, primitive tents, bunkhouses, and glamping tents (coming soon). Sites include access to two modern bath houses with hot water, a fire ring, and a picnic table. One of the more bustling campgrounds, many recreational options exist for both children and adults. The resort is pleasant and calming, yet conveniently located near Shenandoah National Park.


he Park is arguably one of the best places to camp in the area and one of the best places to explore and enjoy the wilderness without distractions. With over 200,000 acres of protected land and 500 miles of trails, the Park is a quieter place to enjoy broad starry nights and breathtaking mountaintop views, as well as trails to waterfalls and other wilderness wonders. Opportunities for hiking and observation of wildlife and wildflowers abound. Backcountry camping is an option, as is tent or RV camping at one of the five campgrounds just off Skyline Drive. More information at Perfectly positioned on the Shenandoah River, this campground is known for its clean and peaceful sites. All 57 tent sites have a fire pit, picnic table, and access to public bathrooms. The campground is just minutes away from popular local attractions such as Shenandoah National Park and Luray Caverns. Canoe, kayak, and tube rentals are available very close by, as well as fishing and swimming opportunities. Polite, quiet, leashed pets are welcomed.

WHILE YOU’RE IN ALBEMARLE COUNTY... Where to eat: Crozet Pizza, Smoked Kitchen & Tap, Farmhouse at Veritas, Fardowners, The Green Leaf Grill, Sam’s Hot Dog Stand

WHILE YOU’RE IN WARREN COUNTY... Where to eat: Pavemint Taphouse, Front Royal Brewing Company, Truss’d, Talk of the Mountain Seafood

What to do: The Batesville Market, Virginia Discovery Children’s Museum, Chiles Peach Orchard, Shenandoah National Park, Waynesboro War Fields

What to do: River sports, Fantasyland Park (children), Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park, Skyline Drive

Where to drink: Pro Re Nata Brewery, King Family Vineyards, Pollak Vineyards

Alternative Accommodations: Wildmandan Beercentric Bed and Breakfast

Greenville Farm Campground

Gooney Creek Campground 14004 Shelter Lane, Haymarket

7122 Stonewall Jackson Highway, Front Royal The main attraction of this small, rustic campground with RV and primitive tent sites is its close proximity to the Shenandoah River and the northern entrance to Skyline Drive, as well as the restaurants and shops in the nearby town. Canoe, kayak, and tube rentals are available very close by, as well as fishing and swimming opportunities. The site is located directly on the creek, allowing campers to admire the relaxing atmosphere. Polite, quiet, leashed pets are welcomed. Low-Water Bridge Campground, 192 Panhandle Rd, Bentonville, VA 22610 10  THE PIEDMONT VIRGINIAN | ROAD TRIPS: CAMPING ISSUE |

Alternative Accommodations: Mountain Home B&B and “Cabbin”, Glen Gordon Manor

Prince William County

Warren County

Low-Water Bridge Campground

Where to drink: Front Royal Brewing Company, Backroom Brewery, Desert Rose Winery, Dida’s Distillery, Filibuster Distillery

Housed on a 200 acre working farm, this 43 acre campground is mostly wooded. The 150 sites range from primitive tent sites to RV sites with full hookup and include access to a bath house with hot water, picnic tables, fire pits, a camp store, stocked fishing ponds, and a swimming pool (closed this year). WHILE YOU’RE IN PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY Where to eat: Eugene’s Sausage and Fries, Byblo’s, Jimbo’s Grill Where to drink: The Winery at La Grange, The Winery at Bull Run, Solace Brewery, The Farm Brewery at Bull Run, Murlarkey Distillery What to do: Milla’s Playland (children), Leesburg Animal Park (children) Aldie Mill, Manassas Battlefield, Udvar-Hazy Center (Aviation Museum), Burnside Farms Alternative accommodations: Inn at Evergreen, Manassas Junction B&B

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The Camping Issue

Things to Consider

Clarke County

COVID Policies: This article includes features of the

Watermelon Park

campgrounds that are available normally; be sure to check websites carefully before visiting to check their COVID policies.

3322 Lockes Mill Road, Berryville Located on 27 idyllic acres on the Shenandoah River, Watermelon Park has spacious riverside primitive tent sites as well as full hookup RV sites. The property features a camp store, bath house with showers, and tube and kayak rentals on the Shenandoah River. This is the live music venue site of the popular annual Watermelon Park Fest as well as other live music events throughout the season. WHILE YOU’RE IN CLARKE COUNTY Where to eat: Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine, Horseshoe Curve Restaurant, The Village Market, The Berryville Grille Where to drink: Bear Chase Brewing Company, B Chord Brewing, Bluemont Vineyard, Twin Oaks Tavern Winery

What to do: Watermelon Park river sports, Shenandoah Valley Children’s Discovery Museum, Burwell Morgan Mill, Mackintosh Fruit Farm


threatens ash trees, many sites do not allow you to bring your own firewood but will have some on site for purchase. Bears: Be sure to research bear safety procedures for storing food

and trash, and for general safety information.

Comfort Level Expectations: Camping sites and campgrounds

can vary wildly, from extremely rustic to glamping, so research your destination carefully. For instance, some campgrounds have only outhouses or bathhouses with older plumbing that will disappoint if you’re looking for a facility that looks like a Kohler commercial. Another thing to consider is privacy — how close the sites are to each other. A good place to start research is on a community camping facebook group where you can ask questions and will find opinions from those who have been there. Consideration: Be sure to be considerate of other campers,

wildlife, and the natural environment. Take nothing but photos, and leave nothing but footsteps.

Alternative accommodations: Historic Rosemont Manor, Waypoint House Bed and Breakfast


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What’s for dinner It doesn’t have to be just hot dogs STORY, PHOTOS, AND RECIPES BY KAITLIN HILL


s weather cools and leaves change, many Piedmont Virginians load their packs and head outside for a weekend of camping in our region’s great outdoors. Whether hiking, fishing, or simply sleeping under the stars is calling your name, here are a few recipes you can cook at your campsite as fuel for your adventure. My Easy Campfire Chili, Cast Iron Cornbread, and Apple Crumb Foil Packets all come together more easily than assembling a tent, and can be cooked over smoldering embers or a portable propane stove. Or maybe you prefer to stay home and appreciate nature from your kitchen window. Don’t worry, the oven works too. If you are going to take these recipes for a hike, I recommend doing the prep work of chopping and measuring at home, so after a long day of outdoor exploration, you just have to heat your pan, mix the ingredients, and dust off your spork before digging in.



6 slices of bacon, chopped ½ yellow onion, diced 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped 1½ tablespoons of chili powder 1 tablespoon of cumin 2 teaspoons of garlic powder 1 teaspoon of paprika salt, to taste 1 pound of ground beef 3 tablespoons of tomato paste 1 can (14 ounces) of fire-roasted tomatoes 2 cans (14 ounces each) of pinto beans 2 cups of chicken broth Directions

Prepare ahead at home: 1. Measure out all the spices and mix together 2. Pre-chop the, bacon, onion, and jalapeño. 3. Store in easy plastic containers or ziplocks to transport to campsite.


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At the campsite: 1. If cooking outside, place a 10-inch cast iron skillet over still-hot embers; otherwise, over a burner set at medium heat. Add the bacon. 2. Cook the bacon until crispy and remove from the pan. Set aside and reserve. 3. Add the chopped onion and jalapeño. Cook for 4 – 6 minutes (depending on your heat source) until the vegetables are tender. 4. Add the pre-measured spice mix and a generous pinch of salt and cook for a minute until fragrant. 5. Put the ground beef in the hot pan and break it up with a spoon. Season with salt and cook until completely browned, about 8 – 10 minutes (depending on your heat source). 6. Add the tomato paste, fire-roasted tomatoes, beans, bacon, and broth. 7. Simmer the chili for 30 – 40 minutes 8. Enjoy immediately with your favorite toppings. Cook’s Note: If you prefer your chili on the milder side, just add a little less of the spice mixture or omit the jalapeño.

The Camping Issue

Cast Iron Cornbread

Apple Crumb Foil Packets

Ingredients 1½ sticks of unsalted butter ½ cup of maple syrup 2¼ cups of buttermilk 3 eggs 1½ cups of yellow cornmeal ½ cup of all-purpose flour 1½ tablespoons of baking powder 1 teaspoon of salt ½ teaspoon of baking soda

Ingredients: 3 – 4 small apples (I use Honeycrisp) 1 tablespoon of cornstarch 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar ¼ cup of brown sugar 2 teaspoons of cinnamon ¼ teaspoon of cloves Crumb Topping: ¼ cup of oats ¼ cup of all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons of cinnamon ¼ cup of brown sugar pinch of salt ½ stick of butter, cold and cubed

Serves: 4 – 6

Directions Prepare ahead at home: 1. Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pack together to take with you. 2. Pre-measure the buttermilk and maple syrup and store together in an airtight container. At the campsite: 1. If cooking outside, place a 10-inch cast iron skillet over still-hot embers from your campfire. Otherwise, place the cast iron on the stovetop over medium heat and preheat your oven to 350°F. 2. Melt the butter in the skillet, then pour it off into a large bowl and set aside to cool. Don’t wipe out the skillet, leave the residual layer of butter in there. 3. Once the butter in the bowl has cooled slightly, add the maple syrup and buttermilk. Whisk to combine. 4. Next, whisk in the eggs. 5. Add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. 6. Pour the batter into the cast iron, cover with foil, and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Baking time will depend on the heat of your embers, but check it at 20 minutes. It could take up to 35 minutes. If baking indoors, leave uncovered and place in the oven to bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden. 7. Cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Serves 4

Directions Prepare ahead at home: 1. Mix the cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and store together to bring with you 2. Make the crumb topping ahead by mixing the oats, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt together. 3. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat it in the dry mixture. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry mixture until it is the size of peas. Store this mixture in your cooler until ready to use. At the campsite: 1. Dice the apples and add to a large bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture and toss to coat. 2. Divide the apple mixture between four pieces of aluminum foil that are each roughly 12x18-inches in size. 3. Next, divide the topping into four equal portions and top each packet with a portion of crumb topping. 4. Wrap the foil over itself and tightly seal the edges. 5. If you are baking over a campfire, throw the packets on top of still-hot embers and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, turning every few minutes for even cooking. Otherwise, place the packets in a 350°F oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the apples are tender and the mixture is bubbling. 6. When finished cooking, remove the packets from heat, let cool slightly and enjoy with ice cream or whipped cream.


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Finally, your best friend can come along From travel trailers to pup tents, camping with your dog can be fun and rewarding! BY ED FELKER



| AUTUMN 2020


veryone who has a dog will eventually plan something and ponder, “Should we take him?” Even a simple outing by car to a nearby park requires planning, from vehicle safety to determining the basics to bring along for your four-legged pal. Make it an overnight trip even to the most dog-friendly hotel and considerations grow exponentially – food, sleeping arrangements, what to do with him if the humans go out to dinner – all need to be sorted out ahead of time. There are unknowns too, of course. A dog new to hotels may find it difficult to understand all the activity in the “house” they’re staying in. A busy hotel with doors opening and closing and people talking in the hallway can turn a relaxing getaway into a fitful night for all. “The addition of the family dog can add a new and fun element to camping so long as proper preparation occurs,” says Kelly Connoley-Phillips, long-time outdoor enthusiast, camper and dog mama. “Make sure you have all the things that your pet is used to having at home.” This includes food measured out for the duration of your camp plus extra, plenty of fresh water, bowls, leash, cleanup tools for waste, treats, towels, and toys. It’s

also a good idea to test out sleeping arrangements ahead of time, making sure your dog finds a tent, travel trailer, or sleeping bag as much fun as you do. Just because a campground is in the woods or at a park doesn’t mean there aren’t rules, of course. Animal trainer Charlotte Wagner Harvey offers some logistical considerations. “First, make sure the camp sites are dog-friendly,” she says. “In national parks, some protective wildlife areas allow human foot traffic but don’t permit dogs.” It’s every dog owners’ responsibility to know where their dog is allowed, and the great outdoors is no exception. Some campgrounds may have breed restrictions as well, so check before you book. When environmental educator and animal trainer Liz Thompson takes her Golden Retriever, General Lee, camping, she makes safety her top priority. “Most campsites require dogs to be on a leash at all times and many parks have restrictions regarding which trails dogs can go on,” she said. “These rules are in place for the safety of the dog, liability mitigation for the park or campground, and protection of wildlife and the environment.” But when camping on private property, as she did the first time she took along General, as he is called, she knew an absence of leash rules didn’t mean a free-for-all. “General already had great leash manners, and I knew it would be more Above: Finn, a pleasant for both of us if he could be offWirehaired Vizsla leash as much as possible,” Liz said. But owned by Ed Felker, poses by even well trained dogs have room for some the campfire. tune up. “In the month or so leading up

The Camping Issue


Camping is a natural for German Wirehaired Pointer Ripp who, like most hunting dogs, absolutely loves being outdoors. Ripp belongs to Shawn Story.

to the camping weekend, we spent a lot of time working on recall and other long distance commands.” Liz worked with him until she was confident in his recall. “I was not leaving things up to chance,” she said. Where leashes are required, make sure you have a spare, as well as one long enough to use as a tether at the campsite. If camping in a travel trailer, exercise pens can be a great option. “You can make a little yard for your camper,” Charlotte said. “Just make sure you block off below the unit as well.” But exercise pens and tethers tied to picnic tables are not an alternative to supervising your dog. Even the most well behaved dogs can run into trouble while camping. Kelly has encountered a skunk and an aggressive, unleashed dog that attacked her dog. But less obvious hazards abound at the campsite. “Make sure to use caution with foods that are harmful for your pet – especially s’mores,” she warns. “After dark it’s often easier to drop things that quickly become unintended pup snacks.” On that first camping trip with General, Liz felt she had thought of everything but was surprised when General had trouble grasping the concept of fire. “He was clearly very confused about why we kept putting perfectly good fetching sticks into the shiny pile of light,” she recalled, laughing about it now. “At one point he got up and, before I could make a sound, snagged a branch that was protruding at the edge and pulled, scattering ash and Kelly Connoleyembers everywhere.” Phillips and her Luckily the flurry of son Luke love sparks startled him camping with and he dropped the Kelly’s blue healer stick, and he was Roxi and new pup unharmed by the Scout, an Aussie/ border collie mix. ordeal.

A final word about safety while traveling with a dog, whether you’re backcountry camping or staying at a posh hotel: before you leave home, take a moment to look up the closest emergency veterinarian, and pack a basic canine first aid kit. But don’t let all the talk about safety and preparation and checklists and extra stuff to pack scare you off. When you’re out in the wilderness with a crackling fire in front of you, the stars above, and your best friend by your side, you’ll be more relaxed knowing you’re ready for anything. Years ago I was camping with my two Wirehaired Vizslas, Winnie and Finn, for the first time in a comfy truck tent parked on a friend’s property in rural Madison County. We ate like royalty and exercised like fiends and fished like our lives depended on it. The weather was perfect, the fire roared and I went to sleep full and happy and early. When I was awakened in the middle of the night by the chilling, yap-scream-bark of a nearby pack of coyotes, I was astonished that my dogs were already up and alert, staring silently out the window in the direction of the eerie menace. I joined them at the window and there we were, three of us on all fours, staring through the mesh into the black night and listening. I thought about why my dogs didn’t bark, and settled on the only explanation I could think of: they didn’t want to give away our location. We were always completely safe, and the experience haunted us for only a few minutes before we all fell fast asleep again. Although admittedly the rest of that night we all slept just a bit closer together. In fact, I think we’ve been a bit closer together ever since. Camping is not for every dog any more than it is for every person. But if you, your dog and a bit of wilderness are a good match, do the research, do the prep, make your list, and go. The company of dogs is richer outdoors, and the outdoors is richer with the company of dogs.


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Autumn Hikes in the Piedmont Get acquainted with what the Piedmont has to offer BY LEONARD M. ADKINS

The quiet beauty of Prince William Forest Park is all the more remarkable because of its proximity to heavily-populated Washington, D.C. In addition to picnic areas, campgrounds, rental cabins, and a backcountry campsite, it has nearly 40 miles of trails passing through a forest that has been maturing since the park’s 1936 establishment. The moderately easy terrain undulates by an old pyrite mine, two waterfalls marking the Piedmont’s passage into the Tidewater, and the old orchards and cemetery of a former farm site.


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Centuries before Lake Anna State Park (south of Culpeper) was created in the 1970s, the area was home to Native Americans and early settlers. Later, iron furnaces processed local ore, a gold rush lasted from 1830 to 1850, and plantations flourished before the Civil War. Numerous trails allow visitors to roam the 2,400 acres, discovering natural beauties and finding reminders of past human activity.

Fields and forests with elevation differences of 1,200 feet ensure abundant wildflowers in Sky Meadows State Park near Paris from winter to fall. Skunk cabbage appears by mid-February, and cutleaf toothwort and rue anemone bloom in early April, followed by violets, spring beauties, and chickweed. Soon afterward, wooded areas become their most colorful—pink wild geranium grows above corydalis’ yellow trumpets and mayapple’s white flowers droop below green foliage. In summer, jimsonweed dots road banks and daisies and crown-beard thrive in meadows. Touch-me-nots bloom in September and mullein adds bits of gold into October.

Depending on the source you consult, Crabtree Falls in Nelson County drops anywhere from 500 feet to 1,200 feet. No matter which is correct, know that this is such an impressive waterfall that the U.S. Forest Service has lavished much attention upon it. Graded switchbacks, wooden steps, and native stone observation decks ease the 1.5-mile ascent of 1,000 feet. If you’re feeling a bit lazy, the first cascade is reached within five minutes.


| AUTUMN 2020  17






$21,700,000 | Fleetwood Farm showcases the rolling hills and majestic mountain views that Virginia's Hunt Country is known for. Comprised of 26 parcels totaling 2,477 acres of mature farmland, this massive plot sits a mere 60 miles west of Washington DC.

$6,000,000 | Legacy Farm: 450 acres in Orange County Hunt's most prized territory. Build your dream estate amidst rolling, park-like fields, stone walls, a lazy little creek and framed by unmatched mountain views. The property is in a conservation easement and also a fox-hunting easement.

Peter Pejacsevich 540.270.3835

Peter Pejacsevich 540.270.3835

Scott Buzzelli 540.454.1399

Scott Buzzelli 540.454.1399



$1,800,000 | 120+/- acres of beautiful land with far reaching pastoral views in a peaceful, private location! Multiple outbuildings including a shed, run-in and barn. Cape Cod/Bungalow home with 2 full beds, 1.5 baths. An incredible opportunity! The property is in land use and conservation easement.

$950,000 | Build your ideal home in a super private Clarke Co. setting. 87 acres, partially wooded, open farmland, beautifully maintained. Small farm building exists on property (2017) w/ bathroom, good well & septic field for 3 BD, could be expanded. Spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Peter Pejacsevich 540.270.3835

Anne McIntosh 703.509.4499

Scott Buzzelli 540.454.1399

Maria Eldredge 540.454.3829



$399,000 | 11 improved acres in Loudoun w/ charming cottage, well & septic. Home backs to mature trees, providing a private oasis. 650 ft of road frontage. Great spot for a first time homebuyer! Opportunity abounds: you can opt to add on to the existing cottage or build a new home to suit your taste.

$379,000 | Completely renovated Cape Cod with mountain views and scenic vistas from the lovely front porch. Hardwood floors are found throughout, brand new paint, upgraded appliances & counters, newly tiled bathrooms, loads of storage basement. Enjoy the country and be close to commuter routes.

Mary Kakouras 540.454.1604

Mary Kakouras 540.454.1604

S I M P LY B E T T E R . | AT O KA P R O P E R T I E S . C O M MIDDLEBURG: 540.687.6321 | PURCELLVILLE: 540.338.7770 703.777.1170 | ASHBURN: 703.436.0077 18  THE PIEDMONT VIRGINIAN | ROAD TRIPS: CAMPING ISSUE || LEESBURG: | AUTUMN 2020 CORPORATE: 10 E WASHINGTON ST, MIDDELBURG, VA 20117 | 540.687.6321 | LICENSED IN VA + WV

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