Monday, December 1, 2014

A Touch of Culpeper Christmas

It certainly seems like Christmas goods appeared early this year.  I read several places that people were complaining about Christmas displays and advertising starting before Halloween.  I kind of feel the same way, but I asked my wife to give me her read on it and she said that she loved it.  She loves the Christmas season and would be happy if it was six months long.   Well, that is probably an exaggeration, but this can be such a fun time of year.  Culpeper is a great place to be at Christmas.  I read in the paper that our town was among the "top ten holiday destinations" in Virginia.   Let's check out some holiday people.   

Here is a Christmas song I wrote and sing.  It is called
On That First Christmas Day
The video was conceived and produced by
Gabrielle Crowley


Lowe's had their artificial trees out real early and I saw these two pretty ladies in the store and asked if I could take a picture of them in the trees.  They were both most gracious.  This is Megan Burrows (mom) and Lily (daughter)  Megan works at Plow and Hearth.  Interestingly her husband owns Shenandoah Spice Company.  

Just as I approached these guys I heard the man say, "Let's get the big one."  What a cute family this is!  The little guy in the middle... Jacob, has tons of personality.  Before I get ahead of myself I should introduce the rest.  Dad is Steve; Mom is Tricia:  Jacob I already introduced; baby is Joshua.  They are the Kiblers.   Steve is a software engineer and accounting executive.  They were doing some early Christmas wreath  shopping at Target and they did buy the big one.   

The first snow of winter falling on the Christmas tree lot on the corner of Ira Hoffman and Business 29.

 The Star Exponent had just run a picture on their front page of Cameleer with the statement, "Cameleer on East Davis Street always has the prettiest Christmas displays."  They certainly have one of the best, anyway I headed down there to see who was shopping.  These folks, Kathi and Kees Dutilh, are very new to the area, actually Sperryville, and were looking at things Christmasy.  They have moved down from Northern Virginia.  

This was taken on a very cold day and we were all bundling up.  I was at one of my favorite stores, My Secret Stash, when I met Gayle Wilson who was shopping.  What a delightful person!  She had already purchased some candy (the main reason that I go there) and was checking out some Christmas items.  I learned that Gayle is an artist and that her pottery and handwork is on display at the Loft Gallery.  I saw some pictures of her work and it is impressive. 

One of really nice things about Culpeper is that the streets are decorated for special occasions.


City sidewalks busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style.  In the air there's a feeling of Christmas

Davis Street is a treat during this season.  The window displays remind me  of "back in the day."
Let's check some out.

Top and bottom, My Secret Stash

Top and bottom Cameleer 

Green Roost

Lollipop Station

Clarke's Hardware


There is a brand new Christmas tree lot just south of town towards Charlottesville right next to the Old Country Store.  The day I went by it was pretty busy.  I met these guys and grabbed their picture.  This is Peter and Norma Nelson with their daughter Ella.  Obviously they were selecting a tree.  They run an assisted care facility in Riva.  That is taxing and important work.... they must be good people.

I have to admit that for a long time I had my eye on this spot in
Cameleer for one of the shots for this Christmas blog 2014.  One day  I stopped in with my wife for just at few minutes and viola (!) here were two perfect subjects.  They are left to right, Kaitlin Rousell who is a hairstylist apprentice and Suzanne Wood who is a Head Start teacher.  I really respect teachers!  Merry Christmas you two and thanks for letting me photograph you.

That's going to do it for this season.  As this is my final blog of 2014 I want to sincerely thank all of the people who have appeared in my Faces of Culpeper blog.  You have all been great and provided a lot of interest for lots of people.  This blog has now been visited over 35,000 times!
Also don't forget to check the Culpeper Times every single week for my, "Rich Crowley's Snapshot of Culpeper" piece.


Friday, November 7, 2014

miles of smiles



                                         This grandson makes me smile!

Where has this year gone?  Oh, sure I know we still have almost two months left, but it seems like just last month I was posting my blog on tattoos (extremely successful and wide-read btw).  That one added a lot of new followers.  The last blog was the summer one and now we are well into a rainy, but beautiful fall.
Time to move on with the year.  Thanks to everyone who has appeared in my "Faces of Culpeper" over the last four years.  I think about 600 of you have graced (frankly I think that "graced" is a dumb word when you really mean "appeared"  She "graced the cover of People Magizine."  Not so much in my opinion. ) my blog pages.  This is far more about pictures than words, so I am going to quit with the words so that you can get on with the pictures.

Here we go.........

BJ's Ice Cream moved this summer and nobody told me.  One day  I had my mouth all set for the  creamy stuff and drove over to an empty lot.  BJ..... a sign that you moved would have eased my angst.  They are out by the new Old Country Store.  I decided that I was going to do pictures of smiles for this blog and thought what better place for great smiles than BJs.  Amber Taylor  (left)   Heather Helmick, obliged me big time.  Nice happy faces to lead off a blog about happy faces.  Both of these young women are recent high school graduates and are either going or planning to go to Germanna Community College.

This is the same store in a new place.  Being in the open makes it look more bright and shiny and smiley than ever before!

Sometimes I just get lucky.  I had gone downtown to get some "smile" pictures and immediately ran into sisters Jennifer Richardson and Jillian Peatross.  Good luck on my part and amazing smiles for this blog.  Nice people and pretty to boot!   Jennifer moved away about a year ago and was back to the Pepper for a visit.   Jillian is a resident who manages the Best Western in Ruckersville. 

                                              Ok!  I have seen the store on Davis Street called "Taste" for a long time, but had never gone in to see what was there. Surely nothing that would appeal to me , I thought.  Actually it took a friend of mine in Fairfax who has been my barber for 25 years to motivate me to go in.  He had been to Culpeper and been to "Taste" and was blown away by how cool it was.  So I went in and talked with George Farrar, who is the owner,  and Corey Deighan, who is his assistant.  Really nice guys and a most interesting establishment.  George owns another in Fredericksburg plus a "chocolate" store that just opened there.   I can tell you that you have to experience this store to appreciate it.  You will love it.  I am so sure of it, that I will give you a free 8x10 picture of George and Corey if you don't....... just kidding. 

KANAKLES!!!!  Just the mention makes my mouth water.  On most of my visits downtown I use the parking lot behind Kanakles.  Then I torture myself by walking on the brick walkway that runs right alongside of the bakery.  It smells like heaven and I always want to dash in the back door, grab a pastry (any will do, they are all delicious), and make a run for it.  Naw.....I always want to go in and buy something. Occasionally I do just that.  Kanakles is one of thosse few places in the Pepper that is known way beyond beyond the city limits.  People come from far and wide just to get a taste of their products.  Here are Stephanie Jones and manager Beth Whitt who will help you and always greet you with big smiles.  They are a part of the "Miles of Smiles" for sure.  Their motto is visible on the wall behind them: "A Balanced Diet Is A Cookie in Each Hand."

My wife took her sewing machine to the 145 Art and Design Studio for an evaluation.  There I met 
Noreen Smith who is the owner.  This studio is all about sewing and I thought Noreen was a most pleasing person to meet.  She took care of my wife very nicely.  Noreen is a most skilled and talented seamstress and quilter etc. 

Culpeper Chamber of Commerce
Before and

I can honestly say that I have never shot anyone for my blog or for my, Rich Crowley's Snapshot of Culpeper,  that are anywhere near as fun as these three.  What a trip!  First I told them that I wanted a picture of them for my blog, Faces of Culpeper, and the result was the first picture above.  Then I advised them that the theme of the blog is, "Miles of Smiles" and they started mugging.  What a cast of characters!  Here is the thing..... these ladies are amazing professionals who do a great job at the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, but they do know how to have fun.  They are: Linda Dodrill who is the Social Media Coordinator; Martha Snider (in black) who is the Membership Coordinator; and far right in back is Debbie Stohlman the Acting President/CEO of the Chamber.  

Not far from my house is the Jiffy Lube franchise for Culpeper.  I generally get my oil changes done there and sometimes a couple of other things.  I have intended to include this crew in one of my blogs for a long time and my "Miles of Smiles" theme was perfect.  The really big problem is finding them when they are not busy.  It took me several visits to find the right time to get this shot. They were a good bunch to work with although it appears that a couple of them did not get the "smile" memo.  They have one young woman, Jessica, who works there and I regret that she was not working at the time I was able to get this picture.  The manager, Mike Huffman is on the far right on the back row.  The others in no order are:  Ed Klaus, Danny Wright, Jason Newcomer
Shawn Sawyer, Dane Rinehard and Ryan Zorich.

This was a tough one!  Even since I moved to the Pepper, I have enjoyed eating at the China Garden. In my opinion they have a great buffet and they stay very busy.  Sooooo, I went in to get a picture of a couple of the waitresses and almost all of them ran for cover.  Shy bunch... all except the tall young lady pictured here.  In fact in order for me to get two employees in my shot they went into the back and found the other lady to get in the picture.  Whew!  I try to be low key, but we had quite a show going for the patrons.  My angel helper is Crystal Lin here on the right....however, they told me that I probably would not be able to understand the other woman's name.  So I suggested that they try me and after some confusion they told me it is Fanny.  That one I get, but I know her real name is much more complicated and is not, Fanny.  Great place and great Chinese food.  If you have not been there then be sure to go. 

A friend of mine, Jenn Clubb, suggested that I check out the newest dance school in Culpeper where she works.  So I made an appointment and went over to talk with the owner of  Marie School of Ballet,  Ms. Amber Marie Daigler.  It was an interesting visit.  First I waded through about twenty feet of young girls who were eagerly and excitedly waiting for their lesson.  Then up the stairs to the studio and office where Amber and I sat down to chat. Amber Marie comes to us from Nevada.  As an adolescent she was accepted into the Nevada Ballet Company and she left home for Las Vegas to study and dance.  She subsequently danced on many stages in Las Vegas.  She brings all of that skill and background to our town to teach our children.  Amber is nothing if not ambitious.  She has in the works, a presentation of the Nutcracker this December.  The community is welcome and can purchase a seat or a group may purchase a table for the evening.  By the way, the school has open enrollment and is still taking students.  You may want to check it out.

I am going to have my big finish be a family of some of the nicest people in Culpeper.  Everytime I enter their restaurant I am greeted with great smiles, and since this blog is my first about smiles and the happy people of Culpeper, there was no way I could not include these guys.  Lately there has been a great deal of attention to the new food businesses that have opened in  town...and that is big news.  However, many of the very best places to eat have been here for a long time.  For example, Pete's opened February 6, 1976... if my math is correct that makes 38+  years.  They told me that their place is the  "longest established restaurant under one owner in Culpeper."  That is pretty cool.  I will tell you this:  Not only do their pizzas taste great, but in their  case a "large" pizza is really a "huge" pizza.  AND the Philly Cheese Steak is the best in my opinion.  So who are these people?  They are the Katrakilis family, Pete, Eleni and daughter Georgia.   Check them out ... you won't be sorry.

So ends my first blog of the smiles (miles of them!) of the happy people of Culpeper.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Please visit my "facesofculpeper" Facebook site and "like" it.
Every week I have a photo feature on the inside cover of the Culpeper Times called "Rich Crowley's Snapshot of Culpeper."  All of the faces shown here have been featured there.  Hmmm
You can contact me at:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer 2014 in Culpeper, Virginia


This summer seems to have flown by faster than most.  I guess I was traveling for a good part of it and the school year is beginning earlier, so maybe those are factors.  Anyway, a lot went on in Culpeper and I grabbed a glimpse of some of it.  The Fourth of July is always a treat and then as an added plus, I got to meet new people who are doing fun things.  The Crowleys had a family reunion and I will show all of us together in this blog.   Earlier in the summer I posted my blog on people in the Pepper with tattoos and if you have not viewed it, just go to the next blog down after you read this one.  So let's look back a little on the summer past and  let's meet some new faces.  


Fourth of July

It may be a bit difficult to see exactly what this is, but it is a colonial color guard marching up  Davis
Street and through the car show audience on the Fourth of July.  It looks like there might be a couple of extra stars on this flag, but having these guys representing patriotism was pretty darn cool.

This year's car show on July 4th was especially fun for me.  I asked this handsome couple (Lesley and Chris) to pose by the 1956 stretch Cadillac for  me.  I was really excited to see this particular car and to see that it is not restored, but  in original condition.  Emmaculate is the word for this car.  In the sixties I was in a band that had a few regional hits in the Northwest part of the United States.  We bought this exact car only black and white and played throughout the Western states endlessly.  This car was totally dependable and was way ahead of its time.  Everything on it was power; power brakes, power windows, power antenna etc.  just an amazing automobile.  We never carried a penny of insurance on it....whew!...dodged a bullet on that one.  We were a five man band, The Fabulous Chancellors, and we had a driver and towed a trailer.  Great memories. 

Hats off to these guys who served to preserve our freedom.


......And I am excited about it!  Tanom Motors of Culpeper is manufacturing a new motorcycle like vehicle that goes from 0-60 in under four seconds!!.  It is a reverse tricycle called the Invader.

They advertise this vehicle as a "Three wheel adrenalin rush" and I'll bet it is.  

The bodies will be manufactured right here in Culpeper and then they will be married with a hot hot Yamaha engine.   The plan is to eventually employ 300 people at the plant and produced four thousand Invaders a year.

Here is Chris Hall who is the plant manager.  He was most patient with me.  I really wanted shots of the Invader and I called him again and again until they had a couple that were ready for prime time.  These sweet babies start in the $50,000 range so I won't be getting one this month, but I love seeing them out on the road and certainly have pride in the fact that they are manufactured in Culpeper.

It's summertime and the livin is easy

Well sort of......... I carried my camera almost everywhere for a solid week and saw lots of interesting and fun things.

If I am purposely looking for photos, Mountain Run Park is usually worth a drive-through.  On this day retiree Leon Hurt was fishing away.  He says he does that a lot and always eats what he catches.  He was a great guy to talk with.  He worked for forty three years for New England Stone as a stone mason and that is hard work.  Now he spends some of his hard earned retirement time in this beautiful spot fishing and relaxing.  He reminded me of the line from the song, "Summertime."  It goes like this:  "It's summertime and the livin is easy, fish are jumpin and the cotton is high."

Gregg Deal is a relatively new member of the Culpeper community and quite an artist.  Although Gregg has skills in lots of areas and does great work as a portrait artist, I chose to put a couple of pictures that are near and dear to him.  These are paintings of Native Americans.  Gregg is a Native American himself who is from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Northern Nevada.  He is an outspoken advocate for American Indian rights and is often a spokesperson on the issue of the name of the Washington Redskins football team.   Gregg is also a performance artist which is quite fascinating.  Google him to get a taste of exactly what that is.
I find Gregg to be an interesting guy.  We had a chance to visit quite a bit when I visited his studio.  I want to remind you that he is an excellent commercial artist who has fine art work for sale.  He also accepts commissions.  Now, full disclosure ....... I had a wedding and portrait photography business in Fairfax County for lots and lots of years.  It turns out that I photographed the wedding of Gregg and his cute wife, Meagan several years ago, but it took us a while to figure that out. 

Dudes building decks!   I think the economy is recovering..... at least in the deck building part of it.  This summer seems to have been a great one for people adding decks to their homes.  I saw these three guys building one in my neighborhood and stopped to chat and get a picture.  These guys are serious workers.... they hardly looked up.  Every day I pass the deck that Enrique Marshall, his brother Desmond Marshall and Daniel Theis built in our neighborhood.  It is attractive and looks very very solid.  BTW.... they work for True Built Construction.

You would never know that big black clouds were rolling in and thunder was rumbling when I took this shot.  You might figure out however that I was standing out in the middle of Davis Street  in order to get the angle.  It is times like that when I think,  ROAD KILL!!!!  On the way to an appointment, I saw this guy  sitting in front of the Raven's Nest and really hoped he would still be there when I came back in about a half an hour but honestly did not hold out much hope.  What I did not realize is that Chuck Bowen was in no hurry.  He likes to come down to the Nest, get a cup of coffee (or something), and settle down in this chair on the sidewalk with a good book and spend some serious reading time.  I would never be able to read like that and not be totally distracted by the traffic and who was driving by.  Chuck seemed to be handling all of that very nicely.   He is a free lance writer and seemed very content. BTW, that is a plant behind him and not some crazy hairdo.  Not very good camera technique.

Lenn Park

This year I have become very attracted to a Culpeper park on the outskirts of town called Lenn Park. We became acquainted with it when Andrea was looking for a place with fire pits for a cookout with grandkids.  There are several at Lenn Park plus baseball fields, a covered area for group gatherings, a model airplane field, a sweet playground, a beautiful stream, historic Civil War sites  and more.  It is just a fun place. My picture with my grandson, Chase, at the top of this blog is taken near one of the fire pits at the park.  My wife, son, daughter in law and their four kids had an old fashion wiener roast followed by smores.

I think that this portion of the stream running through the park is so fun that I asked our friend Brooke Clubb to pose in the middle of it for me so that I could share the beauty of both Brooke and the stream with all of you.  This spot is great for wading.  Brooke is going to college in the West in a little town in Idaho that is my mother's hometown, Rexburg.  BYU Idaho is there.  It is in an area that is not too far from West Yellowstone and the Idaho side of the Teton Mountains are clearly visible just outside or town. 

This couple was walking on the trail that goes from the entrance of the park for almost exactly one mile.  It is a nice two mile walk, or hike, or bike.  These young people  were so cordial and stopped and chatted with me.  They were just enjoying each other and the beauty of the park.  Karie Kovacs and Jarrett Sites are students at Germanna Community College. 

Ok, so I really do see the most unique things and meet the most interesting people.... I admit it.  I had a guy at the Culpeper Times say to me:  "So do you just carry your camera around and run into interesting people?"   I said, "Pretty much."  This is one of those people and something that you simply don't see every day.  Once again I found something a bit unusual and interesting.   I saw this man with this gear and I am pretty sure that he was bent over with his face in the water....maybe it was just very near the surface of the water.  I was driving up the trail in Lenn Park to the part of the stream where I planned to shoot Brooke (above) when I saw him and I hoped mightily that he would  be there when I came back.  A half an hour later I returned to the spot with little promise that he would still be there..... but he was.  This is Jason Stanley and he has a metal detector in his hand.... must be waterproof... and he was busy in Mountain Run Stream looking for Civil War relics.  He had worked his was downstream a half a mile and had not discovered anything yet, but that area is so rich in Civil War history that I can't imagine that he did not find something that day.  It was enjoyable talking to him.  I found out that he is an electrician, is married and has four kids. 

Now to a whole different part of the park.
I mentioned earlier that Lenn Park has baseball diamonds along with other features.  One day I saw that a group was gathering near the ball field and went over to see if there was a photo op there.  When I handed one man my card he handed it right back and said, "Yeah, I know you.... you are the photographer guy."  I love it when people know who I am even if they couldn't tell you my name,  because it  makes everything easier.  Of course the fact that I was carrying a camera may have had something to do with the recognition also.    Sooo I learned some things from these guys.  They play in the Culpeper Church Softball League which has been in existence for over thirty years. There are ten teams in this league.  From left to right they are: Nate Viar, Marvin Hinchey and Kevin Pope.


The depth and breadth of the industries in Culpeper amazes me. Lately I have seen a number of large freight trucks with massive loads of hay.  Generally I have seen them on Route 29 somewhere in the vicinity of Southern States and Martins.  I have not been in a situation where I could follow them to see where they were going, but I have wondered.  Some of them have the newer big round rolls of hay but some still go with the kind on this load.  I obviously could not flag them down and hold up traffic while I tried to get my shot .....  can you imagine?   So I was pretty happy to be driving down Rte 666 and see this big old  rig coming at me.  I turned around at the first opportunity and chased them down.... to what I assume is the Payne farm.  The driver was Steve Ankrom and the truck belongs to Payne Hay and Straw Inc.  This load was destined to a "large horse farm" in North Carolina.  Apparently this company services the entire Mid Atlantic region. Steve educated me a little and told me that this is a family business and it is run by a father and son.  I should note that he says the Paynes are "very very fine people."  I believe him!

It is not everyday that you see a guy walking around dressed like this on a 90 degree day, but I saw this one.  Antonio Yates is a personal trainer turned hair stylist.  His new shop located in Hilltop Plaza has been open for about seven or eight months and business is good.  He not only does haircuts and styles, he offers shaves and "the latest trends."  He is a life long resident of Culpeper and would love to see you drop by.

Ok, here comes the big finish, the piece de resistance, the crown jewel etc.

Here we are in all of our glory... the Rich and Andrea Crowley family!  I love them all! 


Well that's it for this time.  Hope you enjoyed it.  You can direct comments and/or suggestions to:

Don't forget to check out my weekly feature in the Culpeper Times.  We call it, "Rich Crowley's Snapshot of Culpeper."

For the next blog I will be looking for smiles so get yours ready.