Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV)

Friday, June 30, 2023

Back in the USA for almost a full month, we paid a visit with friends to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) in Winchester, Virginia.  By car, the Museum complex is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Reston Town Center, but it feels like a different world. Reston Town Center is decidedly urban; Winchester Virginia, next door to where the Museum is located is rural. Instead of high rises, it and the surrounding area is a mix of rolling hills, working farms and vineyards. 

A photo of a pond situated in the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

The Museum has periodic exhibits and various types of activities. (For a schedule of events, exhibitions and directions see In addition to the Museum gardens we saw an exhibition entitled Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects ® Made with Lego Bricks ®. The exhibition celebrated nature with a display of various wildlife animals, all constructed with Lego ® Bricks. 

Photo of a polar bear and cubs constructed entirely from Lego bricks

The animal statues were actually pretty difficult to photograph because the temptation is to get up close to take a picture. But that is like getting a close-up view of an impressionist painting. You wind up getting a view of the individual bricks (or dots of paint or pixels) while missing the overall effect. And the overall effectis pretty amazing. 

Beyond the animal statues were the gardens, which were immaculately laid out and maintained. There were walking paths, flower gardens, streams, a pond and park benches to sit on and just observe the surroundings.

Wide angle photo of a park bench in a seating area in the garden of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
Photo of Black-Eyed Susan flowers in the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Photo of a stream running through the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
A wide angle photo of a walking path in the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

All in all, the MSV was pretty impressive and well worth a visit if you are in the area. 


Autumn in the Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley, with its spectacular vistas is a wonderful place to visit in Autumn as the trees begin to change colors. There are small towns and farms to visit as well as B&B’s wineries, breweries, campgrounds and RV parks. We prefer to do our camping in hotels with nice bars, so the campgrounds are not in our plans. 

We recently took a short trip to Shenandoah Valley and stayed in the Iris Inn. The Iris Inn describes itself as a luxury retreat overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.

The Iris Inn

It’s an apt description. We stayed in the Main Inn for a night so we could walk around the various paths in the woods of the valley. Unfortunately we were met by pouring rain, so that idea was scotched. Nevertheless we did see some of the spectacular sights of the Shenandoah Valley and will return someday. 

Here (below) are a couple of landscape photos from the trip. 

A landscape photo taken in the forest in Shenandoah Valley on a rainy morning,
Photo of Ttees in Shenendoah Valley as they begin to shed thier leaves in Autumn.


The Outer Banks

Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak our travel plans have changed quite a bit. The 2 month trip to Florence and Rome—well that didn’t happen. Three cheers for British Airways and Road Scholar for promptly sending us refunds after Italy shut down the country. The same can not be said for Hotel Adriano in Rome. After initially promising a refund, they tried to back out until we reported them to American Express. After that they saw the light. 

On a happier note, we traveled to the outer banks and stayed in Duck, North Carolina for two weeks. What a spectacular place–for instance, see the image below.

A beautiful pastel colored sky reflects soft morning light onto the beach in Duck, North Carolina

The Outer Banks are a series of barrier islands located between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound. There aren’t any cities on the 100 miles + of the Outer Banks. Instead the islands are mostly populated by small seaside villages and towns. It is a favorite vacation spot, attracting visitors from the Northeast as well as Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. 

We rented a house for a 2 week stay in Duck, a tony village with plenty of gorgeous beaches, fishing spots and restaurants.  That’s right. Restaurants you can actually go to and sit inside and have cocktails and dinner. Or you can get a table outside and relax over food and drinks. 

There are other places to go to as wee—for instance Kitty Hawk, where Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first historic flight in their flying machine back in December 1903. And then there is Corolla Park with the architectural masterpiece Whalehead and its Museum. 

If you get a chance, visit the Outer Banks and the town of Duck. You’ll be glad you did. 

Here are a couple of photos from our trip (below), taken with a Leica Q2 camera. Click on a photo to enlarge it. They can be licensed at Evocative Photos.