Saturday, July 25, 2009

After the Homestead debate ...

McDonnell Campaign Video: VBA Debate Highlights

Bearing Drift: Debate Update and Audio

I took a leisurely drive west from my front door early this morning, up and over Warm Springs Mountain to the Homestead for today's gubernatorial debate between Bob McDonnell (R) and Creigh Deeds (D). The morning fog had not burned off on the mountains and in the valleys as I drove through the national forest and farm land and thanked God for being able to live in such a beautiful place. Now home, I'm working through my thoughts of the day's events.

I've gone back over my live-blogging posts to make spelling corrections but haven't read the content yet to clarify strung-out thoughts. My fingers were flying over the keyboard trying to type responses as I heard them ... I'm a fast typist but sometimes I just wanted to stop and listen to what the candidates were saying. There was no way to get absolutely everything down so I tried to catch the highlights as much as possible. I let spelling errors go until now because it was too time-consuming to go back and correct them while trying to keep up with the debaters.

The media set-up was excellent. Many thanks to the Virginia Bar Association and to Kim who coordinated it all. The room was packed with media of all types and the result was a debate that was covered from every angle possible. For those who were not able to be in Hot Springs, the live-stream through help keep them in the loop.

Even my mom, sitting in front of her computer in Chesterfield County, was watching. There were a few glitches in the feed but those are the hiccups in a new process and will be ironed out by the next event. Mom emailed to say she enjoyed the debate and the blogger live posts and was reading mine as they came out.

I neglected to point people in the direction of Bearing Drift and for that I apologize to JR who said he was going to live-stream the debate which may have not had the glitches of

There were a few regrets. I missed a few photos that would have been gems. My fingers couldn't fly fast enough to get the full context of every issue that was discussed. There were people I'd liked to have talked with afterwards but missed because I was wrapping up at the laptop.

Bob Stuart with the Waynesboro News Virginian was there as he is each year along with Brian McNeill, a reporter from the NV's sister paper, the Charlottesville Daily Progress. Enjoyed talking with them before things got going.

Before the debate began, I stopped by a nearby media table to say hello to Tyler Whitley with the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Bernie Niemeier from Virginia Business.

I met Bob Brown, photojournalist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, later in the afternoon as I stood out front waiting for my vehicle to be brought from the parking lot. He was waiting, too, with cameras and equipment weighing him down. I struck up a conversation because I've seen his photos for years in the RT-D but had never met him ... told him I grew up in Chesterfield and the R-TD was my hometown newspaper. He said he grew up in the Valley so we laughed that we had switched living locations. I asked if he ever missed the Valley and he said, "Oh, yes." What an interesting man and nice to now put a face with the name I've seen credited under photos for years.

I will say that I absolutely love being there in the midst of those mountains. The Homestead is a beautiful place with rocking chairs on the porch and seating areas around the grounds. It was warm today so not as cool as it could have been but the afternoon clouded over and cooled down, and thunderstorms rolled in late in the day. Before leaving The Homestead, I strolled around the area and took photos of the flowers and green lawns and just enjoyed looking at the mountains.

After leaving, I drove the back roads all around Hot Springs, Warm Springs, and even West Warm Springs, taking photos and just enjoying. I stopped at the Jefferson Baths and took photos and walked along the stream; stopped in another area where I could smell the mountains ... that kind of moist, fresh, green smell that is hard to describe. At another place the smell of wood smoke hung in the air. I lingered ... not wanting to leave ... not ready to cross over the mountain heading back to Augusta until the very last minute.

My last stop was the Dan Ingalls overlook at the top of Warm Springs Mountain on Rt. 39. It is tradition. Every time we leave The Homestead, we always stop at the top of the mountain to take in where we've been and look at where we're going. In the winter the wind is so cold it is difficult to stand outside for long. Today it was hazy over the mountains east of there with dark storm clouds overhead moving in from the west. As I stood enjoying the breathtaking scenery and clicking photos, rain drops began to fall.

I left the overlook and rain drops behind as I headed east and, after driving through Goshen and Craigsville, stopped at Buffalo Gap High School to take some photos (by then I was only three miles from my house). As I took pictures of the surrounding area, the raindrops caught up to me again along with a rumble of thunder ... so I continued on to my house. Before I could get out of the car, thunder was rumbling and rain was beginning and the wind was kicking up.

Perfect timing.

Safely home ... and it's been raining ever since and the weather radar shows it will continue for a while. Now I have photos to upload and post as time permits because SWAC Daughter is on her way home with pizzas and we're going to have family game night!

What a great day!

A last thought ... go, Bob, go!

Bob McDonnell for Governor 2009

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