Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 46
It's a Friday afternoon in October,
and I'm motoring across Montgomery County, Virginia.
Coming to Christiansburg, I marvel at the fluffy sugar maples staging
a blaze-orange show on the lawn
outside the Montgomery Museum
and Lewis Miller Regional Arts Center (montgomerymuseum.org).
Or I can blast into Blacksburg to
see the Hokies strut in burnt orange
and Chicago maroon when the Virginia Tech football team takes the
field on game days at Lane Stadium.
For the weekend, I set up a comfortable camp at the Homewood
Suites by Hilton (540-381-1394),
just off I-81 in Christiansburg. Then,
for breakfast, I slip into Shawsville,
following U.S.460 east to Hale's Restaurant (540-268-9809).
Established in 1967, this easygoing eatery serves tasty tomato-andonion omelets plus advice on where
to see the color-changing of the
leaves: Keep east on U.S. 460 and
enter the "Elliston Straightaway,"
says Hale's Restaurant manager Selena St. Clair. "You've got the mountains in front of you and to the side.
It's a two-mile stretch."
While also in Shawsville, check
out Camp Alta Mons, the site of an
old spring resort off Crockett Springs
Road (altamons.org). You can hike a
couple of miles to see the 40-foothigh Stiles Falls. But, beware-you
might also hear of Willie Jack, once
a camp caretaker and now a ghost;
some say he's good, and some say
Following U.S. 460 west to Blacksburg, I head for the Historic Smithfield Plantation (540-382-4647),
built in the 1770s. It was originally
the home of pioneer settler William
Preston and now "history heaven,"
says Smithfield's director, the affable
And when is the best time to visit? Why, autumn, of course!
"There's something special,
magical about fall. I don't know
what it is," Danner says. "But, in
the fall, you just become absorbed
Rolling to Riner, I lunch on a
roasted beets and baby spinach salad
plus grilled tuna tacos at the White
Barrel Winery (540-382-7619) on
Childress Road. Then I tour nearby
Sinkland Farms (540-382-4647) on
Riner Road, the site of a familyfriendly Pumpkin Festival with a
corn maze and hayride as leaves
turn colorful and crisp.
"We have festivals every weekend
in October," says owner Susan Sink.
"I don't know a heck of a lot about
commercial agriculture, but I know
how to throw a good party."
Back in Christiansburg, I wrap up
my weekend with a delightfully decadent feast of frog legs, gator bites,
fried flounder and Rappahannock
oysters at the Fatback Soul Shack
(540-251-3182) on Roanoke Street.
Outside, you can see neon-esque
portraits of soul legends Sam Cooke
and Otis Redding on the windows
and, on the menu, read the motto,
"It ain't easy, bein' greasy."