Take The Train – Do it for Your Sanity.

Seriously, take the train. Today we had meetings in New York City at 3 p.m. with a client.  We jumped on the Amtrak train at Kemper Street Station @ 6 a.m. – just down the street from our house. We arrived in NYC on time and less than a block from our meeting on 34th & 7th with time to spare. Here were the highlights:

1) Only $80 for ticket from Lynchburg to New York, Penn Station
2) We arrived 10 minutes before our train – Not 2 hours – and no one made me take off my shoes.
3) Leg Room – lots of it. We had 3x that of a puddle jumper out of LYH.
4) Room to Work – we had electric plugs and plenty of space to work. We completed our entire presentation, including art, on the train and uploaded it to our iPad for display purposes at our meeting.
5) No layovers. We never had to leave our train. They brought new engines to us in Washington, DC.

I used to make the drive from NYC to Lynchburg every other weekend when Johanna and I were dating in 2002-2003. It was 8 hours constantly, if I was lucky. And most trips left me stuck in traffic at some point. What a beatdown. And I have flown from LYH to JFK, Newark and Laguardia. All three have the same result – a connection flight in ATL or Charlotte. I despise dealing with airports – time, security, sitting and waiting, waiting and sitting, all to wait on the runway. Okay, I digress. The train is the way to go if you’re headed North, up the East Coast to DC, Philly or New York. Period.

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Winter Wonderland

Seasons. We have four distinct ones in Lynchburg. All four have awesome outdoor sports opportunities in our area. When it snows, we ski. There are a couple options within a one to two hour radius. This weekend, we made a 2-day getaway at Wintergreen Resort with six great friends (another reason we love Lynchburg – the people). It was awrrresome! The mountain had seen about 6-inches of fresh snow the week before and all winter, it’s been  cold enough to make some serious snow, so the slopes we nice and powdery.

We rented a cabin on the top of the mountain called Perpall’s Perch from a super nice guy named Ron. It came complete with firewood, towels and hot tub! We hopped the shuttle down the mountain and met several friends from Lynchburg. Plus, we got the hook-up on lift tickets from Play It Again sports in Forest – we saved $12 per lift ticket. Yes, I paid $55 bucks to punish myself.

I’m definitely NOT an expert snowboarder but thanks to guys like Ryan, Kyle, Derek and Super-G my skillz greatly improved. I spent less time picking myself up off my frozen face this year – a plus. My legs feel it today. But man, what a great time!

Food? Of course the chili and beers always taste better up here but for dinner we went down the mountain to Devil’s Backbone Brewery. Highlights included the Strawberry Bourbon Wings and their own brew – The Kilt Flasher. Dark as diesel fuel, it’s one of a dozen brews they make in-house. If you’re a fan of hops, this place will make your tastebuds dance.

All in all, the weekend felt like a mini-vacation, and the travel time–or lack thereof–makes it even more attractive. Great slopes, brews and a cabin retreat just an hour from home? Yep, it’s just one more reason we love living in Lynchburg … and visiting Wintergreen on the wintry weekends.

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Cupcake Heaven

Today, I celebrated my birthday. One of the many highlights was the cake, well the cupcakes, rather. Beth Baxter has created a cupcake & confection heaven called Taste Selects. This sprinkled bit of magic was from their cover shoot this year for Lynchburg Living.

Taste Selects, located on 9th Street (soon to be on Main Street) has quickly become part of our lives. Our birthdays. Our celebrations. Our Saturdays. Their cupcakes are their flagships, but their cookies, cakes and brownies are also amazing. Beth has a way of making icing an art. It’s always so buttery and smooth. And if you like stuff dipped in chocolate, check out their dipped strawberries, pretzels or macaroons. Yup, macaroons. This place has become an irresistible sweet spot in Lynchburg.

Look for their move just around the corner to 908 Main Street this Spring.

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Piedmont Flour Mill – Update

They are working.

And it’s not to tear it down. It’s to build it up. The partners of Lynchburg Mill LLC are continuing the reconstruction of the Piedmont Flour Mill – even in the coldest part of the year. You can see C.L. Lewis workers atop the scaffolding in temperatures around 20 degrees. The mill is at least 130 years old, but historical records are unclear about the exact year it was built. The group bought the mill and the two adjacent lots on Horseford Street in efforts to create 52 apartments and a 3,000-square-foot commercial space. In addition, the group wants to turn the silos behind the mill into apartments too–an idea that has been bounced around for decades but has not actually come to fruition. With the potential of the James River Place condos starting this year, along with 50 Washington Street and the Bluffwalk – the riverfront may finally come to life after years of dormancy. We’ll keep ya posted…

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50 Washington Street

Lynchburg is in the midst of a 25-year renovation project in downtown. But the majority of it has really happened in past 8 years. When we moved back in the Fall of 2003, we saw the Amazement Square, the Depot Grille and Main Street Eatery as really the “new” life of downtown; folks who had rehabbed old buildings that once lay dormant. They breathed fresh life into their bricks. Eight years later, we are watching that wave continue.

Enter 50 Washington Street. Tony West is leading construction CPR on a property that has changed hands several times. Hands that did none or only part of the work required.

West and team seem to have a clear vision and the strength so see her to completion. Take a look at these latest pics of the project. As you can see, they have added a new level to the building, which had terrible fire damage to the top level. This building will no doubt find value as it is the end-cap to the Jefferson Street revitalization plan.

As with any project in the midst of revitalization–the pregnancy stage, let’s call it–we eagerly anticipate it’s outcome: the birth of a new life for one of Lynchburg’s old, but history-rich buildings. Keep you posted…

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Shoemakers – Savory food, Stunning Environment

Yes, more food. Like I said, if you’re a foodie, you will love Lynchburg. I thought over the next couple posts I would expose you to some of the best eats in town. Let’s start with my favorite place to get a steak. Or a crab cake. Or a burger. I digress. Shoemakers has amazing food, presentation and environment.

For me, the mood of the place I am eating is sometimes as important as the food. Shoemakers does not disappoint in that area. They are part of the Craddock Terry Hotel complex off of Commerce Street in downtown Lynchburg. Their interior feels warm and calming. The textures of the old brick walls, the large wooden beams all coupled with the sizzle of steak just makes me happy. If you’re looking for a great date night, this is a good place to start. Its low light and leather make for a warm setting that can keep you seated and talking for hours.

A few of their signature dishes include:  their jumbo crab cake, the fillet, their HUGE burger and their New York style cheesecake–all fantastic. They also have a cool bar with a  large, top-shelf selection of bourbons. My buddy Sam loves them because they serve Booker’s.

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The Cav

Honesty – its a good policy. Truth: We don’t have a lot of great shopping options in Lynchburg. But what we lack in retail, we makeup for 10 times over in restaurants. One thing is certain – we eat well in the Burg. Several places around town are “institutions.” They are local joints that offer a flare for a fare all their own. One of our favorite dives is located just down the block on Rivermont Ave – the Cavalier. Check out this video and you’ll see why we love it:

People really thought tomatoes where poisonous? Really? I guess the world was flat too.

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