We made a last-minute decision to go to the Shenandoah Valley this weekend for the annual “Yard Crawl” — 43 miles of yard sales and flea markets. The sales start in Winchester,Va., but the official starting point is Stephens City on old Rt. 11, and it runs down to historic New Market, Va.

This is our third year going, and the fun part is you never know what you’ll come home with. Where else in the world would you find a boot made out of license plates? (And why would you want one) Ha. Anyway, that and an old mule shoe are now hanging on our shed as our latest addition of “shed art.”

It’s called a “yard crawl” because traffic is so heavy you don’t move at more than a crawl, but the scenery is so beautiful that it’s nice to slow down and enjoy it. There is a lot of starting and stopping and walking, but that’s all part of the great hunt.

Among the “treasures” I came home with are a riding helmet, oval standing mirror, old mule shoe, slow cooker, a rug, and a homemade sweet potato pie.

I also got to see where Partisan Ranger Captain John McNeill was mortally wounded. It’s near an old covered bridge that I’ve visited before, but I didn’t know the story of the skirmish that happened there. McNeill was a lot like Colonel John Mosby, the partisan leader that the lead character in my historical fiction novel is based upon. McNeill was mainly active in West Virginia, so I was surprised that he also operated in the Shenandoah Valley.
The photo at left is an old stone building located along Rt. 11. As you can see, it is dry-laid with no mortar. It’s an amazing piece of work. It stood beside a larger building that was once a hotel and restaurant with a great view of the mountains. Both buildings are in disrepair now, but would make a great Bed and Breakfast or antique store.
I’ll be going back to this area in September for a book signing at the Edinburg ‘Ole Time Festival. This is a great small-town festival with a wonderful parade that I’m looking forward to seeing.
As I’m writing, the locusts are humming. I can feel summer waning and have so much more I want to do and see before winter. I’d love to hear about places others have visited or places they are looking forward to visiting!
Hope everyone is having a great summer!
Jessica James


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