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most memorable Since its inception nearly 10 years ago, the Laker has strived to maintain the principle stated on the cover – to be Smith Mountain Lake’s premier lifestyle and entertainment publication. That means finding and producing stories and photography that define the lake – its residents, recreational opportunities, homes, special events, charitable endeavors – and making them the primary focus of each issue. Looking back over the past decade and finding stories for a “most memorable” package was easy. Narrowing it down to 10? Not so simple. So, we cheated a bit. The magazine’s editorial staff opted to save the top homes, profiles and gardening stories for features of their own (to be published later in the year) and focus this retrospective on stories that represent the most unique aspects of life at SML and have elicited the most reader feedback and requests for back issues. We asked longtime freelancer Jerry Hale, who wrote many of the features selected, to take a look back and provide an update on these noteworthy SML stories. – Andie Gibson, Editor

To read the original stories, log on to smithmountainlake.com/10. SMITHMOUNTAINLAKE.COM

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A look back at some of our most memorable stories of the past decade By Jerry Hale

INAUGURAL SUMMER FUN GUIDE June/July 2003

THEN Popular with visitors and residents alike, the Laker’s Summer Fun Guide has appeared in some form every year since its debut in 2003. Initially, it included opportunities for fun in outlying areas. However, as the lake grew, the guide became focused exclusively on activities at SML. NOW The feature was redesigned into grid format, which made it more user-friendly and comprehensive. In addition to contact information, hours of operation, channel marker and map ID, the guide includes a list of services offered at some of the lake’s top spots for summer fun. Look for it again in the upcoming May/June issue.

THE ISLANDS OF SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE June/July and July/August 2005

THEN It took stories in two consecutive summer issues to showcase SML’s bevy of notable islands — the highest “hilltops” in the watershed when the lake was formed in the 1960s. Even with double coverage, there were a few islands overlooked. NOW Significant boat-wake erosion to unstable island shorelines has occurred, and a few islands are well on their way to becoming invisible underwater hazards at full pond. The most notable in this category include the smallest of the Lucky Island trio near marker B13 and what we called the lake’s “smallest island,” in the creek adjacent to Carter Island near the State Park cabins. It will be a pity to see them disappear.

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January • February 2011 | SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKER


(Local Highlight)

By Auburn Cecil

Shorelines

What About BOB? Now

Smith Mountain Lake has been known for many things over the years. While most people mention the beautiful blue water, the mountain, the striper fishing and friendly people, SML has gotten some national attention for its role as Lake Winnipesaukee in the Touchstone Motion Picture “What About Bob?” The 1991, film featured Smith Mountain Lake as a small vacation town in New Hampshire and starred Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. If you somehow missed this outrageously funny comedy, it’s a true Bill Murray classic. He plays Bob Wiley, a troubled but loveable therapy patient with a multi-phobic personality who is self described as “having problems.” After meeting with Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Dreyfuss, Bob feels like he has made real progress. However, when Dr. Marvin leaves for a quiet family vacation, Bob freaks out and follows him (to his lake retreat). Bob becomes an instant hit with the family, all the while driving the shrink crazy. The movie features beautiful scenes of the lake, shots of what used to be Downtown Moneta, and many scenes of a beautiful lake home. Over the years, the house has become somewhat of a legend around the lake. Sight-seeing cruises with friends and family usually feature a drive-by of the property and many people wonder just how much the

house has changed over the years. “Every time we took someone out on the lake, we’d always go by the ‘What About Bob?’ house,” said Judy Flora of Concierge & Errand Services, who now assists with care of the home. The home was built in 1986 on a gorgeous point lot. Just four years later, it was renovated for the movie, adding a screened-in porch and front porch. When the home went on the market in 2004, real estate agent Tom Fansler called one of his long-time clients who had been looking for a place with a great lake view and said, “This home has a spectacular view but it also has quite a reputation and that might be good, or it might be bad.” The view sold the house and the proud new owner promptly went out and purchased the “What About Bob?” video. He commented, “I didn’t remember having seen the movie at all.” While he wanted to surprise his family with the home, the movie gave him a way to test how much they would

like their lake setting. His wife’s reaction wasn’t quite what he was looking for – she fell asleep. However, his kids intently watched the movie and when he surprised them for Christmas with a trip to their new home, his 12-year-old was the first to mention that it looked a lot like the “What About Bob?” house. He denied it until she played the movie and announced, “Dad, this is the house.” For the rest of the weekend the kids watched the movie repetitively and re-enacted scenes throughout the house. The family has graciously allowed us to show just how much has changed… and stayed the same in this legendary home. From the original wallpaper in the bedroom to the bell that Bob obnoxiously rang on the back porch, much of the house has remained the same. In fact, things are so similar that it is hard to open a door without expecting to see Bob on the other side. The new owners have decided that the classic, country style that the house features in the movie is perfect, so they aren’t changing much. Of course, they say that the true draw of the home has nothing to do with the movie. “It’s a really special place. We have such a sense of peace being here and seeing the lake on three sides. We plan on keeping it in the family for many years.”

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“WHAT ABOUT BOB?” NOW June/July 2005

NOW The Kochs are now full-time lake residents. “We are grateful to be caretakers of such a famous home,” Robert Koch said. “We have made few changes to the original house; we really want to keep it much as it was in the movie. We have added a fire pit in the backyard, which we enjoy when family and friends are with us, plus a small cottage that serves as an office and music room. We strived to make it look as old as the original home, using lots of natural and reclaimed materials in the process.”

To read the original stories, log on to smithmountainlake.com/10.

Local Feature

Shorelines

THEN The story focused on the home that was the primary site of filming for “What About Bob?,” the 1991 Touchstone Motion Picture filmed at SML. Robert Koch and his family acquired it for a lakefront respite from the bustle of Washington, D.C. and the Maryland suburbs. When he purchased the house, Koch and his family had not seen the movie, which starred Richard Dreyfuss and Bill Murray.

by Jerry Hale

A Trek to the Top of Smith Mountain Is A Rewarding Natural High!

What’s Up There? One of Smith Mountain Lake’s best-kept secrets is hiding beneath tree cover. It’s the high trail along the ridge of scenic Smith Mountain—up where eyes always seem to travel but people seldom do. To get there, you’ll need a dry day and a capable vehicle. Leave the shiny sedan at home and take a 4-wheel-drive truck or SUV that shrugs off ruts, rocks, roots and a bit of a climb. Hiking boots are a good idea for tramping around at the summit, plus some bottled water and a cell phone in case of emergency. A pair of binoculars is great for scanning the view from the top or identifying birds. In summer, a snake kit is probably a good idea. Once you’re suitably equipped, head toward the Dairy Queen in Penhook. Turn north off of Rt. 40 onto Old Mountain Rd (Rt. 645) as if you were going toward The Water’s Edge. Take a right at the “T” onto Smith Mountain Rd. (626) for 1.1 miles, then left on Jasmine, Rt. 778. At this point you’re about 5.5 miles from the summit. Watch for a gated dirt road (gate’s usually but not always open, so have a Plan B for your outing) on the left that begins the ascent. We almost passed it by, but were lucky to meet Gary Cowan, Jo Smith and Stacey Hall offloading their horses for a trail ride. They directed us up through the gate, where a posting on the right indicated we were entering a VDGIF Wildlife Management area and that camping is allowed—just leave things as you find them. Groups of more than 12 require prior approval. Ours was a day trip, just to see for ourselves—and for Laker readers— what’s up there … and what is not. We encountered no spectacular log homes or mountain retreats. No fast food. No Stuckey’s (if you remember Stuckey’s, your visit will probably be a retirement

outing). Just a long gravel road, dust and native Virginia pines by the thousands. No one has cleaned up fallen trees and limbs on the mountainside, so there is plenty of fuel littering the forest floor — cause for caution with open campfires. Other than a couple of tight switchbacks, there aren’t many reference points along the ascent road, and it’s hard to tell from which direction you’re approaching the top…except that the mountain gives way to a green valley on the right and, as you near the ridge, you begin glimpsing the lake to the left through the trees. Then the road levels out and heads straight toward the first microwave tower, where we stopped to nuke our burrito snacks. Just kidding. The sign on the fence surrounding the installation says this is an FCC Emergency Communications relay tower. It’s the one visible from the Lake on the southern end of the mountain. We checked the altitude with a pocket GPS: 1,967 feet at the base of the tower. There’s a pole-mounted electric meter just outside the fence – no freebies on kilowatts, even up here! From this point, the road alternates between mild dips and climbs for 2.6 miles until it dead ends at the tower nearest the cut where the dam is located. This is a more substantial installation, a blockhouse building surrounded by barbed-top cyclone fencing. The sign here says this outpost belongs to US Cellular, confirmed by the multiple relay dishes bolted high on its uprights. The Smith Mountain Tower Cam (live images from this camera are shown periodically on Channel 10 News) is also visible about halfway up, pointing toward The View. This tower sits on land that is 1,865 feet above sea level (about 1,065 feet above full pond). It feels higher than that looking down, just as it looks a lot higher when viewed from a boat ride along the sloping shores that

plunge through the Lake’s surface. (Little known fact: The name Smith Mountain originally designated the lower peak at the northeastern side of the dam. Once the lake was flooded, however, casual usage attached the term to the more formidable ridge along the lakeshore.) Standing near the base of the tower, we find what we were hoping for: a wide break in the trees that reveals Saunder’s Marina to the right, Vista Pointe to the left, and Bernard’s Landing between them, slightly farther out. Beyond those landmarks, the Blackwater River snakes westward, with Christmas Tree Island looking considerably smaller than it does from the water. And the Roanoke channel meanders toward Bridgewater Plaza which, despite our vantage point, is hidden by distance and shoreline trees. A lone hawk circled lazily against a cloudless sky. Click, click, click! Lake photographer James Roney captured the image again and again, standing atop our Ford Explorer and thrusting his tripod-mounted camera yet another eight feet or so skyward in search of the best angle possible. The return trip backtracks along the same one-lane service road, but the views seem fresh due to the reverse perspective. Once we begin the descent from the first tower, we use low-low gear on the steepest portions to keep the truck sufficiently slowed without standing on the brakes. Beware of lose gravel at the switchback turns. All in all, the round-trip from the DQ can be done in less than three hours. Allow 4 to 5 hours if you plan a leisurely picnic and some hiking. It’s a great activity for when you have visitors…and still leaves time the same day for fun on the Lake. Water skiing, anyone?

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DRIVE TO THE TOP OF SMITH MOUNTAIN July/August 2005

THEN What is on top of Smith Mountain and how can I go see it? This story, which addressed and answered the question, has generated more requests for back copies than any other in the magazine’s history. Photographer James Roney and I went looking for a road up and, with hints from locals at the Penhook Dairy Queen, found AEP’s access road open on a sunny day in mid-March. “We chose that time of year mostly because we figured the trees wouldn’t have leafed out to close in the views. And the snakes wouldn’t be out yet, either,” Roney recalled. NOW Wayne Reynolds, real estate manager for AEP, confirmed that the gate to the road up the mountainside is open from September through midMarch to accommodate hunters and anyone else with a vehicle capable of navigating the precarious route. The switch-backed gravel road has exposed tree roots and is susceptible to rutting and wash-outs. “Best not to try it when things are wet or slippery,” Reynolds said. “Also remember that hunters are active in the area, and that fires are always risky.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 26 SMITHMOUNTAINLAKE.COM

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shorelines | 10TH ANNIVERSARY

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Laker Feature

Shorleines

by Ferne Hale

◄ Jumping off “The Cliffs” is a rite of passage for kids raised on Smith Mountain Lake

GROWING UP

LAKER

When kids vacation at Smith Mountain Lake, what’s the one part they really hate? Packing up to go home! Some youngsters never have to. They live here. Talking with Lakers, ages 8 to 25, let us in on what it’s like to grow up with the Lake in your backyard. Seventeen-year old Scott Rowe, a lifetime Laker, remembers swimming with his brother at an early age, back when their dock was the only one in a cove that now has 14. One of Scott’s favorite activities was (and still is) camping with friends on the islands, most often Lucky Island near Gills Creek. “We’d go by boat or jet ski,” he said. “You could pass a course and operate a jet ski years before you could drive a car. One summer I pumped gas at

Banana Joe’s on the Blackwater, and I got there by water. Awesome.” Scott had friends from school but had more in common with Lake friends as they got older. Despite living in a rural area, riding the jet ski gave him mobility. “You can get to a friend’s house in five minutes by water,” Scott said, smiling. Spencer Rowe, Scott’s brother, pumped gas at Foxport Marina and later worked at Crazy Horse renting boats. The Lake was a defining factor in Spencer’s athletic interests. Before leaving for college, he was often seen on the Blackwater and at wakeboard tournaments performing gravity-defying stunts. “Summer was always great because of the Lake,”

COOPER FAMILY: SKIING SISTERS

Lake-Area Kids Share Their Take on Being Raised at Smith Mountain Lake Scott said. “It’s easy to forget how special it is until friends from elsewhere visit and rave about it.” Another Blackwater brood – Missy, 15, Carrie, 14, Jessica, 11, and Johnny, 8 – love swimming, tubing, wakeboarding, and mostly just being here with family. “Summer is like going on a long vacation, but you’re already there!” The kids camp on the islands, swim far out in their cove, sleep on the boat, and like other Laker kids, love jumping off “the cliffs.” They relish visits by relatives and old friends but enjoy the slow pace of Franklin County. Their friends come from church, school, or are children of their parents’ friends. These youngsters regard the Lake as a nice fringe benefit of rural life that includes learning to drive on little back roads with minimal traffic. Downsides? “Not having a flat place to ride a bike,” Johnny said. “And having to truck all the way to Roanoke when you really need something,” groaned the girls. They love the new Applebee’s and movie theater in Rocky Mount, yet one of them predicted, “The area will stay beautiful. It’ll never be suburbia here!” Ryan Waters, 25, was two years old when his parents moved here. He would sit on his waterskiing dad’s shoulders at age 3, was kneeboarding at age 5, waterskiing at 7, and wakeboarding at 12. He especially liked having his cousins - instant friends - just 10 minutes away. In the summer, he would take the boat to work at the marina where his cousins also worked. Later, while in college, he noticed another big plus: “All the friends from campus want to visit you at the Lake.” He cited the negatives: “That really long school bus ride, nothing to do in the winter, and only Sun Trust, DeLong’s, and one other little place for businesses.” SML played a defining role in Ryan’s occupations. He ran a parasail business at the Lake for four years, got his

▲As a teen, Scott Rowe rode his jet ski to work at Banana Joe’s

May/June 2006

Captain’s license at age 18, bought the business and made enough money to pay for college. One of his parasailing customers introduced him to his first post-college employer. Eventually, he left that Dallas sales job to work on a yacht off the Maine coast. Later, he ran a parasailing business in St. Thomas. Returning to the Lake after seven years, Ryan was shocked at the change — but happy to see it. “You don’t have to drive for an hour to see a movie anymore.” He felt it was important to live away from the SML area during college and his first years of full-time work. Having seen the “outside world,” he wants to call SML home. He recently passed the Virginia real estate exam, got his agent’s license, and works for Realty Services, Inc. Ryan’s 23-year-old sister, Lindsey, was two months old when the family moved here. Their Lake home had a relaxing atmosphere. Activities centered around the boat, tennis, beach volleyball, and swimming. She also recalled lots of friends and family visiting. “Sometimes we’d sleep on lawn chairs on the dock,” she said. “Camping on the islands with friends and cousins was a blast.” “I definitely didn’t like the hour-and-a-half bus ride to school, and the mall was an hour away with mom driving,” she lamented. Lindsey worked last summer at a Westlake law firm and has decided she‘d like to settle here after law school. “With so many people coming here, I’d like to do real estate law,” she said. “I went to college in North Carolina and now attend law school in Ohio. I wanted to get away and see how I’d like it.” She found out: “Nothing compares to the Lake. It’s so beautiful, and growing up, I didn’t even realize it.”

▲One of the benefits of growing up Laker is plenty of water fun

THEN Many Lakers take to water skis as a favorite cool-off pastime, but our story introduced readers to the world of competitive water-skiing as practiced by Suzanne, Michaela, Randolph and Caroline Cooper, then ages 17, 16, 13 and 11 respectively. Encouraged, enabled and coached by their parents, Ashley and Lori Cooper, the girls had already racked up an impressive list of accolades at the state and national levels in slalom competitions.

▲Ryan Waters paid for college by starting his own parasail business

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NOW The Cooper sisters have continued their trainingintense pursuit of tournament medals, with Michaela becoming a three-time All-American water-skier at Florida’s Rollins College. She also won gold at the 2010 Junior U.S. Open, became the Eastern Regional Open Women’s Champion and skied to multiple national collegiate titles. Randolph won a national title in 2005, state and regional titles in 2009, and has worked at Coble Water Ski School in Lillington, N.C. for the past three summers. She hopes to compete at the collegiate level next fall. Caroline won the Junior U.S. Open in 2009, which qualified her to compete in the 2010 Junior Masters where she placed fourth. She also won state and regional titles in 2010. Suzanne, the Coopers’ oldest, competed for Alabama’s Auburn University where she now attends graduate school. She married Matthew Peters last summer.

GROWING UP LAKER November/December 2005

THEN Fascinated by the idea of having access to SML during fun-filled childhood years, writer Ferne Hale explored what it was like to grow up with the lake as your backyard. Among those interviewed was Gleason Scott Rowe, whose parents, Charlie and Becky, built a home in Morningwood Cove before Scott was born. Ryan Waters, son of Bridgewater Plaza developer Ed Waters and wife Linda, was also featured.

After graduating from James Madison University, Ryan Waters returned to the lake to work in real estate. In 2009, he married Katie Boor, a third-grade teacher at Dudley Elementary in Wirtz. The couple added the next generation to their Laker family when son Bolin “Bo” Edward was born last October.

Laker Feature

Shorelines

NOW Now 22 and a senior at George Mason University double majoring in global affairs and Spanish, Scott Rowe plans to work a few years in the Washington, D.C. area after graduation before heading to law school. “The community I grew up in, specifically my cove of neighbors, taught me how to interact with all kinds of people,” Rowe said. “Several neighbors are like family and have always supported and encouraged me. Even though I always planned on leaving to live in an urban area, the lake will always be home for me.”

by Jerry Hale

Serious Skiers The Cooper Family Raises Cows, Horses & Slalom Champions at SML

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January • February 2011 | SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKER

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HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE OVER SML September/October 2006

Laker Feature

THEN Few views of SML could be more breathtaking than one from the basket of a hot air balloon, a presumption my wife and I confirmed back in 2006. Ferne and I took off midway up the Blackwater near Boxwood Green. Our flight included the thrill of dipping the floor of the basket into the water’s surface several times and, of course, birds-eye views of favorite coves we previously had only seen at water level.

Shorelines

by Jerry & Ferne Hale

Hot Air Balloon Ride Over SML Awe-inspiring

Up, Up &

AWAY

The telltale “Whooosshhh!” from the sky creates a scramble on the ground: people spilling out onto their decks and stopping their cars to crane skyward for a glimpse of a brightlycolored balloon drifting effortlessly overhead. “Who’s up in that thing?” they wonder. Secretly, they think, “Someday….” Well, now your dream of a balloon adventure can come true right here at Smith Mountain Lake, just as it did for us one evening when the Endeavor Balloon Company drove over from Daleville to let us experience ballooning at SML first-hand. Captain Colin Graham has been piloting hot air balloons for more than 10 years and doing it commercially for the past five. With more than 600 hours of flight time, he’s been aloft above 20 states and one Canadian province. Balloon pilots must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration before they can carry passengers. Colin trained in Virginia and New Mexico. He’s required to get re-certified every two years to demonstrate balloon handling proficiency and safety procedures. And proficiency reigns at Endeavor Balloons. Friendly but

business-like, the captain and his three ground crew members meshed like components of a fine watch. “The captain explains everything,” said Winding Waters’ Joanne Steckline, who recently took an Endeavor balloon ride with husband Frank as a gift from their grown H E I G H T C O M PA R I S O N 1 3 6 ’ TA L L WESTLAKE WAT E R T O W E R

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children. “I don’t like heights at all, but this wasn’t one bit scary. And the views, looking down on Park Place and the dam, were just spectacular!” A trip’s departure point is determined in part by wind direction and speed. The Stecklines’ voyage

departed from their front yard; ours lifted off from a grassy point midway up the Blackwater. Endeavor operates daily and usually flies early morning or late afternoon when the breezes are light. About 70 percent of flights occur on their originally scheduled day and time; the rest have to be rescheduled for more balloon-friendly weather. Trips above SML are available in fall, winter and spring. Mid-summer days lack favorable breezes and are too hazy for brilliant sightseeing. While the pilot has little control over float direction, Colin showed us the precision with which he can manage altitude by skimming along the surface of a nearby cove. A quarter of an inch of water moistened the wicker basket’s floor as we made a wake in the glassy water. We waved assuredly to well-wishers who streamed onto decks and docks to greet us. Then, as the balloon climbed to clear the shoreline trees, we spotted Anne Carpenter, a Boxwood Green neighbor, out tending her flowers. “It’s Jerry and Ferne,” we hollered. “We’ll throw you a line, and you can

NOW Endeavor Balloon Company, which took us for that memorable flight, has relocated its operations to Colorado, and no hot-air balloon business has taken its spot in the market. However, flying above SML is still a possibility. SML Aviation offers sight-seeing flights over the lake from SML Airport. In addition, SML Parasail will resume operations on Memorial Day weekend from the former Virgil Naff Sea Doo rental dock at Parkway Marina.

 Bottom from left, laying out the gondola and canopy A motorized fan provides initial inflation Touchdown in a lakeside neighborhood

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DRIVE AROUND THE LAKE May/June 2007

THEN Can you drive around the lake at the dam end? Laker Magazine founding publisher Micah Gaudio and I decided to give it a try after hearing a number of people ask the question. We picked a spring day and set out from Bridgewater Plaza. We were surprised to find the circuit was little more than 60 miles, easily doable in an afternoon. However, we skipped a northern loop that would have taken us along Diamond Hill and Goodview roads, eventually crossing the upper Roanoke at Bay Roc Marina and returning to Virginia 122 via Hardy Road. NOW While retracing the route recently, I noticed a few changes – the small sign for Brooks Mill Winery along Virginia 834, a refurbished bridge where Climax Road crosses Round Pound, Anchor’s Family Restaurant in place of the original White House Restaurant, Mayberry Drive-In and Diner along Virginia 608 and, of course, the commercial/residential development Downtown Moneta/Mayberry Hills. The renovation of Bethlehem United Methodist is evident as you hit Virginia 122 where you’ll also notice a new Dollar General and Food Lion at Diamond Hill Road.

Shorelines

FEATURE

If you’re like most Lakers, residents and visitors alike, you’ve heard that a car trip completely around Smith Mountain Lake is either: A. Impossible B. Dangerous and foreboding (think “Deliverance”) C. A day’s journey D. Not at all worth doing STORY BY JERRY HALE

O

n a sunny spring morning, Laker publisher Micah Gaudio and I set out to drive “around” the Lake. Could it be done? Would it be worth doing? Would we ever return from such a reckless adventure? We indexed the car’s trip meter at the now-defunct Dick’s Market at the intersection of Brooks Mill and Burnt Chimney roads. Right now, take a guess at what the “full circle” mileage will be and write it down for reference later. My guess is: __________ miles.

Driving Around SML’s

Dam End  A view from above Halesford Bridge  Inset map highlights the route taken around the Lake

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If you’re like us, you guessed too high. More on that later. Here’s a bit of what we saw along the way. Just before the first mile of Rt. 834, we noted a nice vista on the left. Next we crossed a bridge over the Blackwater under which early Lakers claim they once water skied. Today, this up-river spot is silted-in and debris strewn — not pretty or navigable. But patience pays: another nice Lake vista did appear at mile 6.2. As we drove, we considered the tools at our disposal. Our basic plan was to put the snazzy dashboard navigation system to the test. In my lap was the backup: a worn Lake chart with the homes of the 2002 SML Charity Home Tour clearly marked, retrieved that morning from a boat glove compartment where it had acquired a bit of mildew to prove its vintage. That map became useless near Union Hall where Rt. 40 angles away from the Lake enough to drift off the edge of the paper. But it had shown a number of turnoffs that those unfamiliar with the Blackwater River’s southern shore might take to explore lakefront residential areas. Examples: Rt. 662 (Old Salem School Road) leads out to the point at the former Banana Joe’s; following Rt. 945 (Kemp Ford Road) at the Whistle Stop to Rt. 938 (Standiford Road) will take you to the new development at the Cliffs; Rt. 945 also

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leads to Rt. 663 (Dillard Hill Rd.) and access to Contentment Island and Pelican Point; Rt. 645 (Old Mountain Road) at Penhook heads toward The Water’s Edge subdivision as well as Vista Point. The Laker Visitor Information map shows these and other capillary roads quite clearly. Our timeframe, however, didn’t allow for side trips; we were charting the “direct” route. It had been 7.0 miles down Rt. 834 and another 6.8 along Rt. 40 to the Penhook Minute Market where we stopped for local knowledge (and a breakfast biscuit!). We asked customer Al Carter, who has lived in the area 50 years, the best route around the dam. He shrugged and said: “Never have taken the mountain road. No reason to.” Landon Holland, an 80-year resident having breakfast in the adjoining Dairy Queen, was a bit more instructive: “Eight more miles to Blair’s Texaco; turn left and just stay on the main road.” Back on the road, we crossed the Franklin County/ Pittsylvania County border a half mile east of Penhook. Another 1.5 miles turned up the sign for the SML Dam Visitor’s Center at Rt. 751. Blair’s was a few miles farther on the right, shortly after the Pigg River bridge and smack at the junction with Rt. 608 (Climax Road). A blue pole sign out front reads, “Pure Oil;” looking for a Texaco, we passed the turnoff, then backtracked and re-set the trip odometer. Locals apparently know Blair’s sells Texaco gas. Climax Road quickly becomes Toshes Road and the first good view of the back side of Smith Mountain is on the left about two miles in. At mile 2.5, Toshes Road branches left but Rt. 608 continues as Ridgeway. At mile 4.5, notice Burning Bush Holiness Church nestled on the left – no doubt one of the area’s smaller parish buildings. Mile 5.6 features a bridge over Leesville spillway where a sign introduces Bedford County. The road changes to Toler’s Ferry (yes, thankfully, the navigation system was noticing the name changes!) and gets more serpentine. Still, all of

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shorelines | 10TH ANNIVERSARY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 28

LAKE LANDMARKS May/June 2008

THEN The idea for this story was to identify several notable points at the lake, all approachable by water, thinking readers might be intrigued by the prospect of cruising to all of them during the boating season. Feedback indicated a number of them did and that others singled out particular landmarks they had yet to visit for cruise destinations. NOW All 14 landmarks mentioned in the original story still make great boating destinations. One continues to be particularly newsworthy – the Cliffs, a popular upper Blackwater destination where residents and vacationers used to jump from a bluff into 70-foot-deep water. The Cliffs became private property and various notrespassing signs were erected, some of which have been defaced or torn down. A sturdy version of the shore-side sign was re-erected late last fall, ready to remind people this year that the favorite pastime is now illegal.

DAM LAGER May/June 2010

THEN The Laker was the first to announce the release of a locallybrewed beer called Dam Lager, a brand created by lake resident Jerome Parnell to have special appeal to residents and vacationers. Crafted by talented brew master John Bryce in the tanks at Roanoke’s Railhouse Brewery, and sporting a label that pictures the face of the Smith Mountain Dam, the new suds selection became popular on taps of numerous bars around the lake, including Jonathan’s, Benjamin’s at the Pointe and Portside Bar and Grill. NOW Parnell is currently conducting negotiations in hopes of expanding the brand’s visibility and availability for the upcoming summer. He said he expects to announce more details prior to Memorial Day weekend.

Shorelines | FEATURE

BREWING up something new

Jerome Parnell will introduce a lake-inspired beer this summer -/",9ĂŠ 9ĂŠ ,,9ĂŠ ĂŠUĂŠ*"/",*9ĂŠ 9ĂŠĂŠ " Those who enjoy a cold beer on a warm day are in for a real treat this summer when a new brew is released from taps around Smith Mountain Lake. Dam Lager – named for the structure that created and retains SML – is the brainchild of lake resident Jerome Parnell. "Our goal is to convert lite beer drinkers to enjoy beer that is locally brewed and hand-crafted," said Parnell, who grew up spending summers at the lake with family, and whose mother, Rory Parnell, helped open The Little Gallery at Bridgewater Plaza in 1986. "We hope to have Dam Lager at several establishments around the lake beginning Memorial Day weekend. As production ramps up, we will be expanding distribution throughout the summer," he said. For Parnell, an executive for International Bio Resources, a biopharmaceuticals ďŹ rm headquartered in Louisiana, the beer business is a hobby/occupation. "My job requires a lot of travel," he said. "I kept noticing that many places have a microbrewery and a following for its local brews. Southwest Virginia was lacking in that regard," he said. Parnell also had a craft-brew inuence in his own family. While

ď ° SML resident Jerome Parnell is working with Roanoke Railhouse Brewery to a hand-crafted beer dedicated to Smith Mountain Lake. 5 2produe May • June 2010 | SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKER

a student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, he gave his dad, Jerry, a home-brewing kit as a Father’s Day gift. "The ďŹ rst beer was a disaster," Parnell recalled, "but Dad stuck with it and often shared his home-brewed beer with family and friends on holidays and here at SML." Three years ago, Parnell began talking to Steve Davidson, president of Roanoke Railhouse Brewery, about producing a hand-crafted beer dedicated to the lake area. Learning that Davidson was wrestling with the question of how best to distribute his local brews, Parnell formed Lakeside Imports and Distributing, LLC. Based in Roanoke, the company is licensed to sell beer wholesale throughout Virginia. It services more than 80 taps at restaurants and pubs in and around Roanoke and Blacksburg. Lakeside is the exclusive distribution agent for brands produced by Railhouse and two other local brewing companies. "We’ve had excellent response to locally brewed beers," Parnell said. In fact, Railhouse, located in the Wimmer Tire building on McClanahan Street, is currently doubling its production. Lakeside has plans to add more trucks, personnel and regional coverage this year as the craft beer revolution gains further footing in Southwest Virginia. CONTINUED ON PAGE 54

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January • February 2011 | SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKER


Smith Mountain Laker Magazine Jan/Feb 2011