Dateline September 3, 2019: Wondering through Virginia

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We started driving towards Virginia, our next planned stop was to be Janice’s cousin,  Kathy and husband Eddie, house in Williamsburg Virginia. We were a few days out so we could drive maybe 5 hours, so we headed for Grayson Lake State Park in Kentucky. This was a great find beautiful area lovely sites with a golf course. We did not have time to play the course but  we had dinner and a greatly needed rest. Early in the morning, we headed out picking a golf course we could play in Virginia that was on the way to Kathy’s house and we picked the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech in Radford, Virginia. 

Pete Dye Course River Course of Virginia Tech

View from Clubhouse

The course was on our list to write about and was also listed in the “Top Five” golf courses by the Virginia State Golf Association.  We contacted the PGA Pro, via email, and were given a 1:30 tee time.  When we arrived the pro was not there but we were set up and headed to the first tee.

First Tee
“Postage Stamp” Greens!

There were a number of young college golfers from both Virginia Tech and Radford University playing ahead of us.  It was their day off but since the weather was so wonderful they decided to play. Those kids could hit the ball! As we played one thing you could tell for sure that Pete Dye had his hand in the course. Small pot bunkers, if you were long and the green was by the river there was always a small bunker to save the ball from it’s watery grave, but not a simple save!  Unlike many of his courses, the greens were very small and relatively flat, we learned later the story behind this. Even when you had a relatively short shot into a green it was very difficult to stay on the small surface.

The 18th hole was a wonderful finishing hole with the clubhouse in the background, a great day of golf!

Meeting the Golf Pro, the History

The River Course originally was designed by Ault, Clark, and Associates and was built in 1998-1999. The Virginia Tech Foundation acquired the course in 2002. The Foundation’s members thought the 2.5 miles of the well-designed course on the scenic New River had significant potential.  Tech alumnus and philanthropist Bill and wife Alice Goodwin asked their friend, Pete Dye, to consider revamping “The River” into a world-class course. After visiting, Dye outlined his ideas with a revised plan for the course.

Janice and Head PGA Pro John Norton

The course was wonderful down and around the natural landscape along the river. When we completed our  round of golf we headed to the clubhouse to meet the head pro. John Norton was there and he told us about the construction and some great stories. Construction began in 2003 with the formal dedication and renaming on June 5, 2006 to The Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech.

John had the pleasure of meeting with Pete Dye many times during the renovations and shared some of the stories about the design and how Dye approached the design.  John laughed and said it is truly Pete Dye’s “Revenge”

“Pete’s Revenge”

You wonder “Revenge” for what?  John told us the story about the first time the “PGA Tour” played Pete Dye’s new Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  The story was not about Jerry Pate winning but the complaint’s the players had about the new course, which had supposedly been built in their honor.  “It’s a Star Wars, designed by Darth Vader!” according to Ben Crenshaw.  When asked if the TPC suited his playing style, Jack Nicklaus replied, “No, I’ve never been very good at stopping a 5-iron on the hood of a car.”   J.C. Snead called the course “90 percent horse manure and 10 percent luck.” Over the following year, Dye tweaked the course, making the greens less severe and replacing several bunkers.[14][15][16][17] After the changes, the course became far more playable. “Now it’s a darn good golf course,” Crenshaw said of the improvements.

River Course Sign

Many of the greens at “The River” have postage size areas and a long shot or one towards the water seemed to be lost to “The River” but alas Dye added some of his signature tiny deep bunkers so most of the balls are below the green just short of the river. John told us the story of hole # 8, John took Pete out and hit a drive and then had an iron shot into the hole.  He hit 8 shots without leaving the ball on the green!  He told Pete, this needs to be adjusted, Pete laughed and said: “just hit it into the bunker!”  No change to the hole!

Turns out John was friends with Michael O’Brien, the GM at Fort Lauderdale Country Club and a good friend of ours, back in the day and so for over an hour we listened to stories and laughed about times past, it was fun!

Since it was late we decided just to sleep at the Walmart in town so we headed over the Walmart to pick up a chicken and some veggies for dinner, and stayed in the parking lot for the night. Up early we decided to take the by-ways to Kathy and Eddie’s house.

Appomattox, Virginia The Civil War Ends April 9, 1865

Emma and her Father Wilson Hix, owners of the Tavern

One of the greatest benefits about traveling with our Roadtrek is staying off the Interstate Highway System and take the bi-ways.  One of the great advantages is you don’t “fly-bye” which could be a fun or interesting stop.  This happened about 9:00 AM when we saw the signs for Appomattox, this is where Lee surrendered to Grant and was the “official” end of the Civil War.  We decided we had to stop and visit. What a great surprise.

Our love for history kicked in. We walked up the path towards the visitor center, which was the old courthouse,  to get the information about this historic place. We read the history displayed around the walls of the building learning much about the surrender. The man that wrote the surrender documents for Grant was Lieutenant Colonel Ely Parker, an American Indian.

From The Courthouse Display – Tribute from General Lee to Ely Parker

When Robert E. Lee and  Ulysses S. Grant met at Appomattox, Virginia, on the momentous morning of April 9, 1865, Grant insisted on introducing his staff members to Lee individually. Among the men in Grant’s entourage was Lieutenant Colonel Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian. Lee hesitated upon meeting the swarthy Parker, apparently mistaking him for a freedman or mulatto;  Lee  realized his error and extended his hand to Parker with the comment, ‘I am glad to see one real American here.’ Parker accepted the proffered handshake,  responding, ‘We are all Americans.’ 

Parker was educated as a lawyer but could not take the bar since Indians were not considered Citizens at that time.  Parker met Grant in Illinois years earlier and had become friends. Grant was impressed by Parker so when he put Parker on his staff. Parker was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General after the war. Parker wrote the “Surrender” document and was there at the signing of the surrender.

The story of Ely Parker is amazing and worth the read on

The National Park Rangers told us about the tour and buildings that we were able to visit.  The tour was in ten minutes we could meet with a local resident. You see there are actors in a costume that are around the property and you are taken back to two weeks after the surrender on  April 9, 1865.

Clover Hill Tavern

We were taken, by the ranger to the Clover Hill Tavern and we were introduced as travelers from the train station here to meet the people and town and hear stories of the past weeks. The person on the porch was  Emma Hix,  the daughter of Wilson Hix the owner of the tavern. We sat on the porch of the tavern and asked questions and she told us the stories of the past month.  The fighting was going on by the train station and she and her family had hidden

Emma Hix Telling us about the War and Surrender

 down in the basement of the tavern waiting for the shooting to stop. When the surrender of the northern Virginia army occurred,  the agreement was signed by Grant and Lee at the McClean house,  it was Sunday

and the courthouse was closed.  Grant then ordered pardons for  30,000 of the south’s Virginia calvary and it was at the tavern that 30,000 pardons were printed for the soldiers of the confederacy. Emma went on to tell us that southern ladies of Appomattox stayed away from the Union soldiers, except for her sister.

Grant Accepts Lee’s Surrender at McLain House

Only about 6 of the 600 soldiers from Appomattox survived.  She spoke about a “reckless” General Custer, that had gone to the train station and secured the food for the Union Army, that had been amassed for General Lee’s Army.  She commented that it wouldn’t surprise her if Custer would find himself in trouble later in life! It was wonderful to see a presentation like this, wow!  The local buildings are mostly rebuilt, destroyed after the end of the war.  We left the tavern and walked over to the McLain Home where the surrender actually took place.  We were surprised by the opulence of the home.  The upstairs bedrooms where two of his stepdaughters had their rooms, were large by today’s standards. We walked out the back to the summer kitchen and the slave quarters

Emma made a point of the comradary of the defeated Confederated soldiers and the Union soldiers after the surrender.  The war was over and it was time to come together, and they did.  Emma also pointed out to us that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated only six days later on April 15th.  Historically we were never taught the two dates were so closely connected! This was a terrific history stop and should not be missed!

We continued on the by-ways heading to Total Wine to find some “commie rum”, the Flor de Cana from Nicaragua.  Well seems only the southeast has liter bottles at a great price so we bought a liter.


We arrived later in the afternoon at Janice’s cousin Kathy and Eddie’s home.  It was an interesting evening of conversation as Kathy had just lost her mother, Helen, the week before at 92. We talked about the past and looked at the Photo Story and memorabilia  from her life.

Helen’s Photo Story of her Life

In the morning we went over to the old village of  Williamsburg and walked the streets at the Saturday Farmers Market.  Janice had participated with a stand at the Flagler Beach Farmers Market some years ago so we do love farmers markets.  There were many stands that catered to the “cuisine” of the current generation, Vegan, organic and just flat out expensive.  It was colorful and fun with all the families and their dogs.

Our Husky Friend – How Big Will He Get


Here is a little 16 weeks old husky, must say that we are getting the bug to buy or adopt a little friend.  Must be greater than 2 pounds and under 50 pounds.

We happened by the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church and walked through their annual book sale so looked at a number of books.  We were told that the church was a dedicating their new organ on Sunday, so we planned on going to the 9:15 service.

Yorktown for the Concert

Saturday evening the Virginia Symphony Orchestra was playing an outdoor concert in Yorktown at the Riverwalk Landing at Yorktown Beach. 

We arrived early to get parking, found a place to leave our chairs and went back to the Yorktown Pub for an early dinner.  The pubs’ food was excellent and a fun environment.


The beach was full of people with it being Labor Day weekend,  and people continued to arrive for the symphony which started at 7:30 pm.

The theme for the symphony that evening was music used in cartoons, the music from the theme for the Flintstones Cartoon was used to bring the conductor to the stage in a  handmade “Yaba Dabba Doo” car, all of the music was from our past watching cartoons as children.  Part of the evenings activity was a contest for who could have the best picnic dinner presentation,  A couple in front of us won “Honorary Mention” for their Crab dinner and presentation. the desserts were fabulous, they shared them with the four of us.

Bruton Parish Episcopal Church

Sunday morning we went back to the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church with Kathy and Eddie for the 9:15 service and dedication of the new organ.  It was a beautiful service and the organist out did herself with the wonderful music. The church is one of the oldest Episcopal Churches in the United States.

Colonial Williamsburg

Following church, we took a stroll into the Colonial Williamsburg Village. You only need passes to enter the buildings so having done the full tour in the past, we enjoyed the walk through the streets until it became obvious for whatever Eddie and John did in the past.  It caught up to them and they were forced to pay!!

Finally Caught and Punished!

Kathy was talking about the old windmill that had been taken down in the village and moved over what was to become a working farm for tourists to visit on the other side of  Williamsburg.  That got us in a conversation about windmills and the tragedy of what happens after they no longer are operational and just rust in place.  At least in Williamsburg, they are working to make it operational so we can see how they were used in the past to serve the community.  We thought that the following picture is an interesting contrast.

Golf at Ford’s Colony Country Club

We had the opportunity to play the Marsh Hawk Course at Ford’s Colony.  Kathy’s father Bud was a member there for years, so it was fun to play his old course.  We also had the chance to write about the course, which is always a pleasure.  After about three holes, the course backed up.  There was a single behind us and we asked if he wanted to join us.  He had just moved to Williamsburg about a year ago and was a member of the club.  We had so much fun playing with Terry Moran.  A few years ago, the group he worked with  gave him “improve” lessons and he was funny as can be.  There wasn’t a comment made that he didn’t have a great comeback too!  We enjoyed the afternoon so much and asked if he ever got to Florida, please let us know and we would be thrilled to play golf with him.

We had a nice dinner with Eddie and Kathy, they are doing plant based foods to improve their health and it is not bad!   We enjoyed a lovely evening and started our trip to North Carolina in the morning.  A great time and looking forward to their visit to Florida this winter.



  1. Mark Ouellette

    From the looks of it 9d love to play the River Course, As always the Wilson’s had a great time, what else is new.😎 hopefully we can get together soon to tee it up.

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