Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 48
With sunset in sight, I board a cruise
on Stonewall Jackson Lake, just off
I-79 in Roanoke, West Virginia. And
I'm laughing as the boat takes off,
hearing the speakers blast The James
Gang's "Funk #49"-a wild tune for
what really is a mellow ride.
Nightly, up to 90 passengers
at a time can ride on the 75-footlong boat, dubbed Little Sorrel; the
50-minute cruise is free for lodge
and cottage guests at Stonewall Resort. And it grows especially popular in the fall when you see "the
reds, the oranges, yellows," says
the Little Sorrel boat captain, Adam
Stonewall Resort is an upscale
state park. It contains a golf course
plus fine-but-fun dining and drinks
at Lightburn's: I used a "West-Virginia-Politan" (moonshine, cranberry juice and pineapple juice) to
wash down a "WV Ramp Dusted
Rainbow Trout," served with fried
potatoes and a 50-degree egg.
Near the resort, I also tour Lewis
County's Trans-Allegheny Lunatic
Asylum, claimed to be the largest
hand-cut-stone building in North
America. Here, you can learn about
decades of medical history in the
treatment of the mentally ill. And
you can hear of the many ghost
tales that surround the structure
Just after dawn, I check out
Lambert's Winery (304-269-4903),
a popular site for weddings in
Weston, then head east to Elkins
along U.S. 33. There, I stop to see
the Stirrup Gallery-with its Civil
War artifacts-on the campus of
Davis & Elkins College. And I taste
the Drop Dead Trout Spread at the
recently opened Smoke on the Water (304-636-9669), where the owners are, indeed, fans of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" song.
Still in a rock'n'roll mood, I book
a night at Graceland-not Elvis Presley's house but the overnight inn
and dining hall operated by Davis
& Elkins College (gracelandinn.
com). This mansion was built in
the 1890s and offers a grand view
of Elkins. Here, too, I try yet another trout, served by Chef Melanie
Campbell, who also teaches hospitality courses for the college.
Come morning, I make way
to meet the mayor of Elkins, Van
Broughton, who shares a table at
The Lunch Box (304-591-4575) for
a breakfast of eggs and oatmeal.
Then I wrap up my West Virginia
journey with some beer. And delicious dark beer, at that-perhaps
the best dark beer I have ever tasted. It was so smooth and so refreshing that I broke a no-beer pledge to
sneak just a few more sips.
"That's the nitro sluice dry
stout," says Sam Mauzy, co-owner
of the Big Timber Brewing Company (304-637-5008) in Elkins.
"It's really light, really thin, easy to
drink. And, instead of carbonating
it, we nitro-genate it. And it makes
a really creamy and smooth and
silky head on it."
Like a melted malt milkshake.
It's a smokin' Friday night at Jim
Oliver's Smoke House, a Tennessee
landmark with a beer bar and a family atmosphere. Here for the weekend, my 10-year-old son, John, and
I check out Greg Hall, billed as "The
Best Guitar Player in Comedy, or the