backyard discovery day

Our church had planned a trip for the kiddos to Tweetsie Railroad today and I was bummed when we couldn’t go due to LOTS of rain and potential flooding. But, then I remembered we have an animal park just a short drive from our house, and I convinced my husband that we should take our son today.

So, we set off on our adventure, and our son fell asleep on the way. This was good, because he’s happier after a nap! Neither one of us had been to the Shot Tower, even though we’ve lived near it our whole lives, so we took turns going up to the top while one stayed with the sleeping boy in the car. It was neat and educational.

Then, we traveled on. We thought we’d let our son sleep a bit longer, so we went to what used to be the neatest local shopping mall in the 90’s. It had a “Nothing over $10” clothing store that we all loved, plus tons of other outlet stores. We drove up to that mall and it was absolutely closed! We were so bummed. It was like the end of an era. However, on the way to the outlet mall, we discovered a diamond in the rough!

I’ve always seen this mansion on the side of the road, but now it’s open for tours and has a neat restaurant in it. The restaurant is called “Key Ingredients” and has a lot of fresh, local food. The cook didn’t claim to be a chef, but he was darn good at preparing a delicious lunch. And, we finished it off with a brownie sundae that was out of this world. It was topped with local, jersey cow milk ice cream. Yum! We didn’t do the mansion tour, but I’m sure we’ll go back another day for that.

We finally made it to the animal park and we had a great time. We were a little saddened to see some of the monkeys and birds in cages, but I’m glad they were outside with fresh air and sun. The bus safari ride was neat, because we got a private tour. It included zebras, camels, wildebeests, ostriches, water buffalo, pot bellied pigs, and a ton of turtles! We really enjoyed that bus ride.

All of this took place in big, old Fort Chiswell, Virginia. When we tried to 4-1-1 the number to the animal park, it came up as Max Meadows, VA. If you have a chance and are traveling through southwest Virginia, make a stop. It’s worth it. And, there’s a fish hatchery on the same road as the animal park, but we didn’t make it. That leaves us an adventure for another day!

Next time you’re “bored” or don’t have something to do, check out your own “backyard”. You might be surprised what you discover!


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