Monday, September 30, 2013

The beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 30, 2013

Government shutdown? Skyline Drive & Blue Ridge Parkway would close -- UPDATED

 Mabry Mill would be closed during a government shutdown.

Come on, people ... Republicans did this in 1995 and had our behinds kicked to the curb by the American people who blamed the entire government shutdown on the GOP. Do we really have to repeat history?

Apparently so, for those who were not around back in the day. If you don't know history, you are bound to repeat it.

So what would be shut down?

Just as the east coast approaches leaf season when millions hit the roadways to admire the changing colors of fall, the Blue Ridge Parkway could be a victim of the shutdown. That trickles down to hotels, gas stations, restaurants, attractions, and other tourist-related businesses that clearly benefit during leaf season.

The Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Smokey Mountains would close under a government shutdown. That includes bathrooms, visitors centers, camping and picnic areas, concessions operations and backcountry trails.

The Mountain Press reported:
The last time the government shut down, in the mid-1990s, for 27 days, closures cost park-dependent communities an estimated $14 million daily, according to a report from the National Parks Conservation Association.

“When our national parks closed in 1995-96, I received an outpouring of calls from gateway communities alarmed by the situation,” said Phil Francis, the recently retired superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway.

“The potential shutdown adds insult to injury because these communities are already concerned about the recent cutbacks in funding for national parks that have harmed the Park Service’s ability to serve visitors," Francis added. "No one expected these cuts to happen again. Now we’re looking at not only a potential shutdown, but the likelihood of another round of cuts. If that happens, there’s a good chance it’s going to be even harder.”
The Asheville Citizen-Times weighed in:
The parkway, which only recently reopened after a giant crack caused by a landslide was repaired, means a lot to tourism-related businesses in Asheville.

If the shutdown happens, and lasts into the fall leaf season, small businesses could feel the pinch.
The Roanoke Times laid it on the line:
The Blue Ridge Parkway and many of its attractions will close during its peak travel season if the federal government shuts down on Tuesday.

All national parks will be forced to close if Congress does not agree on a spending bill by midnight Monday. If a shutdown happens, park rangers have been instructed to close the parkway.

“The plan is to close up all operations and shut the gates for the most part,” said Leesa Brandon, Partnerships & Community Outreach Coordinator for the parkway. “I am still hopeful that there will be a resolution and it won’t come to that.”
Last week's journey down the Blue Ridge Parkway would not have been possible this week if the shutdown goes through. All the places SWAC Husband and I visited are slated to be closed:
Although many details will still need to be addressed, the Department of the Interior’s plan seems to instruct parkway attractions such as Mabry Mill, the Peaks of Otter and other privately managed venues on parkway property to close. Even if those places are allowed to remain open, however, travelers in automobiles would have limited access.

Likewise, should a shutdown occur, the Blue Ridge Music Center will be forced to close and its daily bluegrass and old-time mountain music events will be canceled.
No leaf looking along Skyline Drive ... Shenandoah National Park closed ... no taking Polly to lunch at Skyland Resort as we had planned. The shutdown would close it all and, again, affect businesses along the way.

NPR senior business editor Marilyn Geewax commented:
"... tourism could take a big hit. Consider if you owned a restaurant. I talked to a guy who owned a restaurant out - just outside of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Early October is the leaf peeping season. That's when people are out there, driving around. If the National Park is closed, the Skyline Drive is closed, that's a real hit on all of that tourism industry out there. So restaurant owners worry, stores worry and, you know, the entire really travel industry is concerned because passports won't get processed.

"So people may not plan various trips. So we're not really talking about an airport shutdown. Air traffic controllers will be deemed essential. TSA workers, they'll be essential. But it's all the things around traveling. Yes, the airport may be open, but if Yosemite Park is closed, what's the point of going on your vacation?"
Glad we made our trek last week when we were able to see Peaks of Otter, Mabry Mill, Explore Park, the BRP Music Center, and all the other sights along that meandering American byway.

UPDATED 10/1/2013: A last-minute decision on Monday by the National Park Service will allow the Blue Ridge Parkway to remain open during the government shutdown. Political reporter Bob Stuart has the latest today in the News-Virginian.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Almost heaven ... views of Grayson Highlands State Park

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 28, 2013

U.S. House schedule for Monday, September 30, 2013

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business.
First votes expected: not before 11:00 a.m. Last votes expected: TBD.

One Minute Speeches

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 3174 - To authorize the Secretary of Transportation to obligate funds for emergency relief projects arising from damage caused by severe weather events in 2013, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

2) S. 1348 - Congressional Award Act Program Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Sen. Thomas Carper / Education and the Workforce Committee)
Further consideration of H.J.Res. 59 - Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Harold Rogers / Appropriations Committee)

Special Order Speeches

Rules Committee meeting on “H.R. 992, Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act; H.R. 2374, Retail Investor Protection Act” (Monday, September 30th, at 5:00 p.m.)

Printable PDF

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The mountains are calling

"Going to the mountains is going home." --John Muir

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Youth and Apprentice Deer Hunting Day for 15 and under

There's excitement in the air this morning for young hunters 15 and under....

Youth and Apprentice Deer Hunting Day

September 28

  • Statewide.
  • Resident and nonresident youth hunters 15 years of age and under and holders of a valid apprentice hunting license, when in compliance with all applicable laws and licenses, may hunt when accompanied and directly supervised by an adult who has a valid Virginia hunting license or is exempt from purchasing a hunting license. Nonresident youth of any age need to have the appropriate licenses.
  • Deer of either sex may be taken.
  • Antlerless deer taken on the youth and apprentice deer hunting day are in addition to an antlerless deer taken under the youth antlerless deer regulation and on either-sex deer hunting days.
  • Deer harvested by youth or apprentice hunters count against their daily and season bag limit.
  • Blaze orange requirements and exceptions for firearms deer season are in effect (see General Hunting Regulations).
  • Deer hunting with dogs is prohibited, except that tracking dogs are allowed (see Hunting with Dogs).
  • Adult hunters accompanying youth or apprentice deer hunters:
    • do not need a bear, deer, turkey license.
    • shall not carry or discharge a firearm.
    • shall maintain close visual and verbal contact with and provide adequate direction to the youth or apprentice hunter.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Early morning reflections at Mabry Mill

I was able to capture the early morning September sun as it shimmered on the tops of trees and was reflected in the mill pond at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. From visiting as a child to visiting with our own children to visiting post-children, I never tire of this iconic reminder of life as it once was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Seamans' apple orchards ... pick your own in Nelson County

Seamans' Orchard in Roseland, Virginia, offers pick your own apples. The three big ones in this picture are from Seamans and the small one is store-bought. Apple season continues....

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hay season

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Blue Ridge Parkway: Lunch at Peaks of Otter

 Peaks of Otter at MP 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can get lost in the history of this scenic area of Virginia. The dining room is nice place to meet friends and enjoy the beauty outside the ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking Sharp Top and the lake.

 I tried the Peaks Quesadilla with cheddar jack cheese, onions, peppers, cilantro, and served with fresh salsa ... one of the best I've had.

 Classic BLT on toasted white bread with steak fries.

 The meal was very reasonable. The view of Sharp Top was priceless.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Foggy fall morning at my house

Early morning fog moved through the Shenandoah Valley Thursday morning but burned off and turned into a beautiful day. Looking toward the mountains that are obscured....

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 26, 2013

Chili pot is going

Chili pot is going and noodles cooking for a macaroni and cheese casserole, enough to share with a neighbor.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Signs of fall

 SWAC Husband has been busy. He cut down a huge 60-foot dead locust tree in the back yard and then sawed it in lengths, split it, let it season out, hauled it, and now is getting ready to stack it. This is one pile ... there's two more like it of oak, maple, and ash that will need to be stacked.

Time to rake!

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 25, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blue Ridge Heritage: Polly -- growing up in the shadow of Shenandoah National Park

Polly looks from Big Meadows Lodge over the valley where she grew up.
It was hazy on the warm September day that we visited Shenandoah National Park.

The Great Room of Big Meadows Lodge.

The terrace overlooks the Page Valley and is a good place to sit and enjoy mountain breezes.

The dining room doors were open to let cooling mountain breezes in while we ate lunch.

The white oak basket making class was meeting as we ate lunch. The next class is Thursday, September 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., as local basket artisan Clyde Jenkins shares his talent of basket making with techniques handed down through the generations. Beginners to intermediate, price of $50 per person includes all materials to make one basket. Reservations suggested. 877.847-1919. Here's the listing of other activities at Big Meadows and Skyland.

The heat from this fireplace feels good on cold days.

The gift shop sells local wines, post cards, SNP clothing, snacks, Christmas ornaments, and more.

I once said of Paul Galanti that I was talking over iced tea with living history. Recently I broke bread and had iced tea with a walking, talking pint-sized history book.

Polly Yager Campbell is a bundle of energy in a small package, and she's no pushover. Youthful for her age with a memory as sharp as a tack, she knows the land around Shenandoah National Park like the back of her hand. She should. She grew up at the foot of the mountain beneath Big Meadows Lodge in Page County. She is a Virginian from a long line of Virginians. The Yager family migrated to Virginia in 1717 and settled in "Germanna Colony," an area on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

On an exceptionally warm day for September 12th, Polly and I met in Elkton, and drove up Rt. 33 to Skyline Drive. Our destination was lunch at Big Meadows Lodge.

At Milespost 51, we turned left at the field known as Big Meadows and slowly drove the one mile to the lodge's parking lot, scanning the woods and open areas for wildlife and commenting on the lush green of trees and grasses after an exceptionally wet summer. Perhaps it was the warm temperatures that day but we saw no wildlife in the usual places other than birds.

There were a few mid-week visitors. We walked across the parking lot to the lodge that was build in 1939 from stones carved and transported from Massanutten Mountain, a lodge Polly's father helped build in the 1930s. In 1997, this mountain getaway was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Polly and I made our way through the lobby area to the Great Room, pausing to look out the large ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking the valley, and then stepped outside onto the flagstone terrace that extends along the entire length of the valley side of the building.

A haze caused by the late summer heat partially hid the Page Valley below as Polly and I stood at the terrace railing and gazed over the tree tops, searching for landmarks. Polly smiled as a memory came to mind and shared that, as a child, she could look up the mountain at night and see the lights from the Lodge. Wow, I thought ... can you imagine growing up and being able to see Big Meadows Lodge?

The cool mountain breeze rustled her hair as she stared into the valley thinking about her childhood on land in Page County that had been in the Yager family for five generations. As she shared more memories, I couldn't help but wish there was a way to record her thoughts. They are a part of her ... but they are also a part of the history of Virginia, the park, and the mountains.

She spoke of her family -- father, grandfather, mother, grandmother, and siblings. She talked about tragic events and family members who had passed on. She remembered the seasons -- October is her favorite time of the year and the month of her birth -- and being caught in a big snowstorm once while at Skyland with her husband, eventually escaping before they became snowed in.

She talked of traveling the back mountain roads, and told about a time when her uncle had driven to pick up her dad at Big Meadows. They met a truck approaching from the opposite direction in the middle of the narrow, steep road and, when they tried to pass, their car hit the soft, unstable shoulder, causing the vehicle to tumble over the side of the mountain. Polly was inside with her mother and siblings. With a quiet chuckle, she said two little saplings stopped the free-fall or they would have gone all the way to the bottom. She was calm in the retelling ... no, no one was seriously hurt, she said, although they were shaken and bruised when the backseat came loose, as the car rolled over, and all the tools fell on their heads.  She was holding her baby sister on her lap, and her arms were still wrapped tightly around her when the car came to a stop, and she was able to climb out. Her mother had a broken arm. So there were occasions when vehicles went over the mountainsides, I asked. Oh, yes, she replied, and it sounded like something that was more common than not.

I could have stood at that railing all day and listened but, after a while, we went inside and walked around the Great Room of the Main Lodge with its rustic chestnut wall paneling and beams, huge stone fireplace, and the bank of paned ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking the Page Valley. Chestnut trees, valued by early settlers for their durability and used for all the wooden interiors of the main lodge, were plentiful in 1939 but, due to disease, are practically extinct these days.

Polly's eyes took it all in, sweeping across the room, perhaps remembering her dad in that place looking at his handiwork of decorative chestnut touches or special add-ons. Perhaps she was remembering as a child climbing into one of the rockers that faced the windows overlooking the terrace. Perhaps she was just lost in thought. Only one patron was in the room with his laptop taking advantage of the WiFi, a nod toward the realization that, while visitors enjoy the mountain isolation, they still like their modern electronics.

On to the Spotswood dining room, named for Governor Alexander Spottswood who led his Knights of the Golden Horseshoe to explore the area in 1716, a large space with walls of windows, chestnut wood paneling, a huge stone fireplace, and tables with ladder-back chairs that added to the rustic feel. A friendly young man seated us at a window table overlooking the terrace and Polly's valley. Perfect! The breeze coming through the screen door had the faint scent of the outdoors, green like the mountains.

We sat across from one another and ordered our meal and then, over glasses of iced tea, the conversation turned to politics. Polly has crossed paths with too many politicians to count so there we were, two political junkies, veterans at the game, eagerly discussing the people, places, and activities of politics at all levels.

There was a lot to talk about since we had both been Republican volunteers and members together on the State Central Committee. A long-time volunteer in statewide politics, Polly's blue eyes teared up at the memory of the changes in the party; and her service of 44 years as Secretary of the Republican Party. She also served as Young Republican representative for several years before her election as Secretary. It is evident from talking to her that she is profoundly proud of the commitment of her time and means to the building of the Republican Party and honored by the opportunity to have served and be touched by so many lives.

And then her eyes flashed as she recalled more than 50 years of hard work that included countless Republican losses in the early years, remembering when the Democratic candidates would win yet another election and call out to the defeated Republicans, "When you going to give up?" Polly would respond, "There's another election next year." Then she and her colleagues would go back to the drawing board, help recruit more candidates, roll up their sleeves, and get back to work.

She paused ... and then smiled at the thought of the jubilant victory in 1970 when Linwood Holton -- whom she knows and calls Lin -- became the first Republican governor in Virginia in 100 years. That's a long, dry run, and the win whetted Republican appetites for more. It was the beginning of the Republican comeback in Virginia after years of dominance by the Democratic Byrd machine. Those not familiar with Governor Holton may be familiar with his son-in-law ... former Governor and now U.S. Senator Tim Kaine.

Polly talked of attending the first ever Republican Advance, as well as subsequent ones, at Ingleside Resort in Augusta County, of seeing George H.W. Bush there when he was running for president, and seeing his sons, George and Jeb, while working of their father's campaign. She smiled at the thought ... they were called the Bushie Boys, she said. We discovered we're both Bush family admirers.

I soaked in every word as she shared historical political facts, my brain absorbing it like a sponge. Back in the Byrd days, Republicans were scarce. Polly's family was Republican, and it sometimes affected jobs. Her father was a carpenter, self taught, and worked for the construction company that built Big Meadows and Skyland Lodge. He also helped build the Byrd Visitor Center at the entrance to Big Meadows, a job he was working on in 1965 when, at the age of 59, he died of a heart attack.

I shared with Polly that my parents had honeymooned at Big Meadows so, in a sense, our parents' paths had crossed in that historic, rustic resort. Since she had grown up living there, I was all ears, listening, asking questions, and imagining what it must have been like to have Shenandoah National Park right outside your door.

For employees of the park who live in the Page Valley, there is a gated gravel road that climbs up the mountain to Skyline Drive just south of Big Meadows. Nowadays, only those with a key can access that shortcut but when Polly was a little girl it was still a public road that ran beside her house. In 1936 when she was about five or six years old, she and her family walked the five miles up that mountain road to attend the dedication of Shenandoah National Park. The ceremony, attended by President Franklin Roosevelt as well as other dignitaries and many visitors and locals, took place in the big meadow. She didn't know it then but President Roosevelt was the first of many high-ranking politicians she would rub elbows with in her lifetime.

Spending time with Polly was a reminder of how much things have changed during her 50 years in politics -- from not winning, to that first taste of sweet victory, to today. She was a Republican pioneer at a time when the GOP began to effectively chisel into the long time Democratically-controlled government.

We finished our lunch, took one last stroll around the lodge, and finally headed to the car to begin the journey down the Drive and back to Elkton. I left richer for having heard history on several levels, and grateful to know Polly a little better through her window on the world. Her memories are rich and laced with historical facts. They need to be mined -- recorded and heard -- before that generation is gone.

Polly and I have a date for lunch at Skyland in October. I can't wait....

Charlottesville: Trump Winery's Eric Trump nominated as rising star

There's celebrating going on at the Trump Winery, located in the shadow of Mr. Jefferson's mountain outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Eric Trump, 29-year-old son of famed real estate mogul Donald Trump, familiar face from NBC's "The Apprentice," and president of the winery, is in no danger of hearing the words, "You're fired!" anytime soon. He's up for a prestigious wine industry award.

Since acquiring the 1,300-acre vineyards in along the historic Monticello Wine Trail two years ago through the bankruptcy of Patricia Kluge, Trump Winery under the leadership of Eric has defined and perfected the art of marketing a Virginia wine. Distribution now covers twenty states and Trump wines can be found in such unexpected places as the Loft Mountain gift shop in Shenandoah National Park. They also export to three countries.  Along the way they have picked up gold medals and top awards at international wine festivals and even received the highest rating ever of a Virginia wine in early 2013.

All that detail has not been missed by those in the industry. He has been nominated by Wine Enthusiast magazine for the 2013 Rising Star award to be presented in January 2014 in New York City.

Governor Bob McDonnell, who was at Trump Winery for its grand opening in October 2011, and has been a big supporter of Virginia's wine industry, noted Eric's nomination:
“Eric Trump is truly a rising star in the global wine industry and could not be more deserving of Wine Enthusiast's Rising Star Award nomination.  We are very pleased that he and his family decided to invest in Virginia's wine industry.  It was clearly the correct decision for both Eric and the Commonwealth.  In just two short years, Eric has significantly expanded the distribution of Trump wines both nationally and internationally, while elevating the overall integrity of the wines.  I'm confident that Eric and the team at Trump Winery will continue to raise the bar for Virginia wines in the coming years.  I wish him good luck at the award ceremony in January.”
Eric's plans are to continue building and widening Trump Winery's reach, commenting on the website:
"We're going to continue to grow; we are going to continue to plant vines, we are going to continue to expand our distribution. People love the Trump brand and our wines. They love what we stand for, what we're doing, and most importantly, we're having a lot of fun doing it. There is a lot more to come from Trump Winery."
I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's good to have the Trumps in Virginia's wine country.

U.S. House schedule for Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....

On Wednesday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
One Minute Speeches

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.Res. __ - Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R. 527, Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, with an amendment (Sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings / Natural Resources Committee)

2) H.R. 1961 - To amend title 46, United States Code, to extend the exemption from the fire-retardant materials construction requirement for vessels operating within the Boundary Line (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

3) H.R. 3095 - To ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of individuals operating commercial motor vehicles for sleep disorders is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Larry Bucshon / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

4) H.R. 2600 - To amend the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act to clarify how the Act applies to condominiums (Sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney / Financial Services Committee)
Special Order Speeches

Printable PDF

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I-64 over Afton Mountain to receive improvements

For years I-64 over Afton Mountain has been a foggy gap through the mountains in bad weather as well as icy, snowy, windy, and every other weather condition possible. Since it was completed in 1972, this interstate that connects the coast of Virginia westward to the mountains has been used by millions of travelers. It's gentle grade and curves made crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains far easier and safer than in the past, and in good conditions it's a breeze to drive.

That is, until bad weather hits, and one particularly nasty deterrent over the years has been fog that can be as thick as pea soup, literally limiting visibility to about as far as the front of your vehicle. With eyes squinting to see through the thick, opaque haze, it can make for a white-knuckle, heart-stopping drive as you go up against Mother Nature.

And then there's the other drivers. That's where Russian roulette comes into play because some drivers feel completely safe continuing at the 65 mph posted speed limit even though they can't see beyond their noses. Others slow down ... but how much? Some almost stop while others feel safe at 55 or 45 or 35. That's a dangerous mix on foggy or wintry Afton.

For years those living in the area have suggested that a variable speed limit would be helpful under such conditions. Improvements have been made as far as automatic fog lights that outline lanes making it easier not to drive over the side of the mountain, and electronic signs with messages warning of inclement conditions. But the speed limit issue was still there. And pileups still happened even with the improvements.

Thankfully, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a new phase of improvements is going to be put in place and, included in Phase 2, will be the variable speed signs:
The variable speed limit would allow VDOT to not only detect inclement weather or changing traffic patterns but automatically alter the road’s legal speed limit to prepare drivers for the conditions.

In Afton, Shiley said, “we looked at crash types, not just number of crashes, and it led us to this solution: We really need to have something to get motorists to slow down when we have fog conditions or winter weather conditions.”
Afton is legendary for the pileups that have occurred over the years:
In April 1992, state police responded to a 60-car pileup that resulted in two fatalities. In April 1998, a 65-car pileup sent 40 people to area hospitals. Then, less than three weeks later, the road was the site of an 18-car collision. In all three incidents, police reported that fog was a major factor.
The new improvements will be welcomed. Now if we could just get climbing lanes....

Forbes, Wittman, Rigell: 'Sequester impact on military a disgrace'

By Reps. Randy Forbes, Rob Wittman, and Scott Rigell
The Daily Press

If you were told that your son or daughter was going to fly on an airplane that had only 70 percent of its required maintenance, or whose pilot had trained for less hours than optimally required to maintain proficiency, would you allow him or her to get on the plane? Of course not. Yet thanks to sequestration, the U.S. military is facing a situation where our sons and daughters are being asked to do more with less training, less maintenance, and less modern platforms. Today, the military is experiencing the greatest readiness crisis since the Vietnam War. Should the president and Congress fail to find a solution to our nation's budget woes, readiness will likely degrade even further. Forced to find immediate savings, the services have curtailed training and deferred maintenance in ways that threaten to damage our national security for decades.

Sequestration's roughly $500 billion in defense cuts over the next decade have come on top of the administration's already substantial reductions to national defense spending. Accordingly, the services have chosen to absorb the majority of these cuts by reducing their near-term readiness, which generally means less training for the men and women wearing our nation's uniform.

For Army and Marine units, other than those scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan, this means substantially less time firing live ammunition and fewer opportunities to train with the vehicles they may eventually take into combat.

Read the rest of this article here.

Eric Cantor's Republican Roundup -- October 5th

It's only about 10 days until Eric Cantor's 2013 Republican Roundup. Every year thousands turn out for this free event in the far west end of Richmond that features BBQ dinner, children's activities, vendors, and lots of politicians, all hosted by Congressman Eric Cantor and the 7th Republican Congressional District headed by Chairman Linwood Cobb. It's a great opportunity to catch up with Republicans from all over the Commonwealth. Be sure to RSVP at the website for your free tickets to this year's event. Here are some photos from past years.

Our Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives

Charlie and Polly
Congressman Cantor and 7th District Chair Linwood Cobb

Mike and Judi
Bloggers Row
Christy and Davis

Our Governor and Bill

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell