Monday, October 24, 2011

Dancing....Of the Not So Dirty Kind

Along the Virginia Creeper Trail
Abingdon, Virginia - October 15,2011

Mr. B and I danced our way through his fall break last week and had "the time of our lives" doing it.  If you haven't detected a theme here, just wait!  We began celebrating his fall break somewhere in Virginia several years ago because it is just enough north of us that the fall color is generally spectacular.  As you can see from today's picture, this year did not disappoint. 

In the absence of any great inspiration for today's post, thought I'd just share some pictures from our week.  Our path went from the peaceful to the silly, but we went places we'd never been, saw things that were stunningly beautiful and by george, I checked one more thing off that silly bucket list!  My Outrageous October just keeps on keeping on and my record of doing something new every day is still very much intact!!

We spent the first part of the week in Abingdon, VA about two hours northeast of us and one of our favorite go-to places.  It is the ending point of the 34-mile Virginia Creeper bike trail and home of the Barter Theatre, one of the most famous Community Theatre Venues in the US.  It is a typical Virginia town with many reminders of it's colonial roots.  There is more beauty around every street corner.

We stayed here in the Mary Connelly Penn House, took long walks on the Creeper trail, visited Abingdon's very busy farmer's market, enjoyed a couple of treats from the Wild Flour Bakery, drove to Damascus, Va (mid-point of the Virginia Creeper trail and famous Appalachian Trail town) and spent LOTS of time rocking in these front porch rocking chairs......................

looking across the street at this..........................

and this..................................

This is what we saw while in Damascus..........................

Ah, but it was time to move on and boy, was I ever excited.  Okay, bear with the silly little teenage girl still very much a part of me who at the ripe old age of 32 (in 1987) along with the rest of the female population fell in love with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray as they Dirty Danced their way through the summer of 1963 at Kellerman's Resort (supposedly in the Catskill's).  Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the dancing (which I absolutely CANNOT do, am way too uncoordinated), maybe it was the forbidden love story.......who knows, but for some reason, I totally fell in love with the movie, have seen it more times than I care to admit and can sing every single word of every single song. 

A few years ago, in my travel research, I stumbled upon the fact that most of Dirty Dancing was filmed at Mountain Lake Resort in Pembroke, VA and Lake Lure, North Carolina.   I made my pilgrimage to Lake Lure a few years ago, but now it was time to visit Mountain Lake Resort.  Less than 150 miles from Abingdon, we headed that way for a few days pretending we were Johnny and Baby.

But my anticipation at seeing Kellerman's (aka Mountain Lake) for the first time did not mean I didn't enjoy the drive there because oh my, just take a look at what we saw on the way.....................

This is one of five original covered bridges in the state of Virginia currently being maintained by VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation).  This one was in Giles County, VA just a few miles out of our way and well worth the time we took to find it.

Sinking Creek Covered Bridge - Giles County, Virginia

And finally we were there....................

And my word, with very few changes, it looks just like it did in the movie.  

Mountain Lake does a great job (IMHO) maintaining its identity as a resort all on its own while continuing to capitalize on the Dirty Dancing theme.  Most people who arrive there in 2011 come to see where the movie was filmed and the subtle reminders are all around beginning with the Dirty Dancing Walking Tour brochure you are handed at registration.

The place was virtually deserted when we arrived on Sunday afternoon, but the previous weekend had been one of their Octoberfest weekends and the staff was still breathing a sigh of relief to have that behind them.  We noticed that other groups arrived during our stay and the best that we could tell they were there to do some birdwatching and hiking.  We stayed in the Lake Cottage.......................

....................which was just beautiful.  Unfortunately, Mountain Lake has not received some of the best reviews on Trip Advisor, so our expectations were not very high.  We weren't there for a stay in a 5-star hotel and were very aware that the hotel is old.  However, we were pleasantly surprised.  The Lake Cottage was absolutely wonderful - we have no complaints whatsoever and would gladly stay there time and time again.  We experienced no poor service from any staff at any point.  I simply don't know where those complaints originated or what it is that people expect.  We will concede, however, that the food is mediocre at best.  Both dinner and breakfast are provided with your room and it is very much in the older vein of cooking and serving.  But hey, we made do and loved every minute of it.  I mean how can you NOT, when you are sitting at the very table looking out the very window where the Houseman's ate their meals in the movie?????

The one disappointment is a unique geological phenomenon that is very interesting, but does distract from the mystique of being where the movie was filmed.  Thankfully, we were not caught off guard as I had read about the fact that the beautiful mountain lake featured so prominently in so many scenes is GONE!  Read about it here.  Here is what it looks like now...............

This is looking back at the resort across the non-existant lake.  We hiked all the way around the lake while we were there.  Not a very long hike, but a beautiful one.  Mountain Lake Resort is well worth a visit with or without a love for the movie.  When the lake was full, I can't imagine there being a more spectacular setting anywhere!  It would have been stunning.

I cannot end this post without a tribute to Patrick Swayze and a reminder to all of us that cancer takes away those we love and it takes away those we admire, but never knew personally.  Patrick Swayze was a talented actor, singer, dancer who fought a very brave and public battle against pancreatic cancer.  Mountain Lake Resort remembers Patrick's life with this beautiful memorial stone just outside the gazebo that played a prominent role in several scenes from the movie...................

We enjoyed out drive home traveling 263 miles through the mountains of western Virginia and eastern Tennessee without ever getting on an interstate.  We stopped for a lunch break in Tazewell,, VA and a visit to the Historic Crab Orchard Museum which we enjoyed very much.  

Did we have a good time??

Yeah, I'd say we look pretty happy! 
In front of the Martha Washington Inn - Abingdon, VA
October 15, 2011

You would not BELIEVE what I've been up to since we got home!  Stay tuned!

Have you ever visited the place where a movie or TV show was filmed?  What and where?  I'd love to know.


  1. Shhh, I'd like to keep the beauty of western Virginia and the highlands a secret! :) It looks like it was especially pretty this year. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time! (Pity about the lake, though.)

    Most of the film places I've visited have been in large cities--NY, Chicago, LA, etc. Even Memphis, with The Firm and other movies filmed here. The biggest surprise was The Alamo, which I expected to be outside of a city, not Downtown surrounded by buildings!

  2. I love that photo of you on the rock:) Interesting that Cammy mentions The Alamo because I've been twice and never thought about the movie! On a trip to Hawaii we saw a place that was used in one of the Indiana Jones movies and also where they filmed Tropical Thunder. Oh - my very favorite - where they shot scenes from The Sound of Music! I was silly over that:)

  3. After reading this post, I feel like I have been riding and hiking along with you two. Beautiful fall foliage and beautiful countryside. Makes me want to make a trek out to your neck of the woods!

    I don't think I ever visited a place because a movie was made there, but, because I am from LA, whenever a movie is filmed there I feel back home. One of my favorite movies of all time is Midnight in Paris (still out in theaters a little). I know you know I was in Paris this spring. Well, it was fun to see it again after Paris and note all the places that I had visited while in Paris. I especially love the very short scene that takes place near the Shakespeare Book store. We had coffee/tea outside that shop with Ellery!!

  4. You are with Dirty Dancing like I was with Grease!

    Can't think of anyplace I've been where a movie was shot. Actually I know I have been, but it didn't make a big enough impression on me for me to remember it...

    Gorgeous pictures. You guys are traveling fools! Well, not fools. YOu know what I mean?

    So, did you dance??

  5. What a blast!! Oh, the sights you and your hubby see. So envious, especially during peak leaf season. It looks like you had great weather as well; thank you for sharing the photos of your journeys. I love to live vicariously through you, Sharon :)

  6. What a great post! Thank you, thank you! I'm so jealous of the beautiful fall colors you saw. Being in New England, we usually have some spectacular trees, but this year it's kinda meager, since I'm in southeastern Connecticut, right on the shore, where most of the beautiful maples got burned by Hurricane Irene.

    But speaking of towns where movies are shot, I live in Mystic, where the movie "Mystic Pizza" was filmed. To this day, you have to stop short sometimes when an enthusiastic camera bug is standing in the middle of the street, taking a picture of the kids under the Mystic Pizza sign outside the shop.

    Thanks again, Sharon, for your wonderful blog!

  7. Oh my, these pictures are so beautiful. I wanna go there!!! *hoppingupanddown*

  8. What a beautiful week away you had. I enjoyed your recap and I felt like I was right there with you! What a shame the lake is gone.

    We saw where The Sound Of Music was filmed when we were in Austria - it was beautiful!

  9. I don't think I have, but sure would like to! You do look happy!

  10. My gr gr grandparents had land where the movie was filmed on Mountain Lake. I suppose they could tell some wonderful stories. Wish I had met them.
    Thank you so much for posting the photos. I love, love, love your blog!