For those of you who have found your way to me, Go Blue Ridge Travel has kindly led you to what will hopefully become a broad spectrum of entertaining content in the coming blog entries. You see, I not only live, work and play in this swath of the Piedmont. I do so as a long rooted fine artist, photographer, writer and poet. But I’m also a long time motorcyclist, who loves the incredible roads and scenery, good food (don’t we all?), wine and music and I’m connected to many other goodies!
While I was born in nearby Washington, D.C. and raised in Maryland, I’ve called myself a Virginian for more than a quarter century. Long enough to have my feet become the roots of an aging tree, with a mentally youthful mind. In short, having the Blue Ridge Mountains in sight is important to me and as fellow Virginian and actor, Robert Duvall says, “Virginia is the last stop before heaven.” “Bobby” lives in The Plains, VA. where my wife, Linda and I have our gallery Live An Artful Life and I’ll take his word for it. This area is a piece heaven on earth.
As for me, I’m a professional artist and have been for many years. Using the big fish in a little pond metaphor, I’m fairly well known as a landscape painter here … oils on canvas and my paintings of this region have been taken home to many other parts of the world. Visitors come here from everywhere and they bask in its beauty. When my wife, Linda and I visit places like Provence or Tuscany, we do so knowing there are those from other places in the world that think where we live is just as nice and to be frank – it is! I’m going to do my best to give you the textured feel for our area and hopefully reasons to visit.
Let’s be clear though, folks in the country visit the city for culture, and city and suburban dwellers visit the country for peace and quiet and to lower their blood pressure. This by the way is why I always think it’s funny and actually sad, when they want to stay, but then quickly find out that those of us who live in the country don’t really care about convenience. We care about a slow pace, no traffic, quiet time to think and a little nature at our doorstep. We like a good view, one with tall old trees, a cool lake and pastoral view of the Blue Ridge mountains.
In the past four months I’ve spent at least two occasions with bald eagles, I’ve watched divine sunrises and sunsets and looked up at stars. You can’t do this in the city and we love the city and don’t want it to change, but that’s also how we feel about country life. This wonderful area, within an hour or so of Washington D.C., or even less from Dulles Airport, is meditative. It is kind to you and your soul. It wants to heal you, but you have to take deep breaths and leave your city pace behind.
Now that said, this is not all log cabins and coonskin caps. We have five star ratings, excellent restaurants and inns that will rival any place. We have gardens, picturesque wineries and frankly even a little culture of our own. You can get lost in plenty to do, or you can just plain get lost in a maze of long and winding country roads. Come and see us and hey, make your first stop Live An Artful Life Gallery, exit 31, in The Plains, Virginia and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Live An Artful Life, Tom
Go Blue Ridge Travel is delighted to have Tom Neel become part of our blog family. From the artists perspective as well as from a motorcyclist enthusiast, you will see the Blue Ridge Piedmont Shenandoah Valley thru another set of eyes. Thank you – Tom. We look forward to publishing your monthly articles.