A native of Augusta County who knows its wildlife and terrain, Dwight Wood recreates a simpler time—a time when cowboys rode horses up the mountain trails, ate steaks seared by the campfire, and jumped into a hot tub before going to bed. Granted, that last part is only available if you stay overnight at the bunkhouse, but the Wood family's horseback-riding trips are otherwise historically authentic.
Riders meet at 9 a.m. on the ranch, where they're paired up with a trusty and well-trained steed before trotting out into the wilderness of George Washington National Forest. Dwight guides the trip over water, up slight inclines, and past breathtaking views of mountain country, leading the pack to some of the highest points in the region without the help of cliff-side escalators. He also keeps each trip small in order to better answer questions and provide a personalized experience for each rider. Guests can saddle up for a half-day, full-day, or overnight excursion, and look forward to a cowboy-style supper on longer trips.
Fifth Season Gardening specializes in hydroponics, homebrewing, and organic gardening. Complete hydroponic systems can help hobbyists grow plants in any type of environment, and organic gardening supplies such as fertilizer and composters can maximize produce yields. Customers may also browse a wide selection of urban D.I.Y. products. Aside from serving as a go-to spot for garden items, Fifth Season Gardening boasts must-have supplies for homebrewers of all skill levels, from fresh hops and yeast, to cleaning accoutrements and educational books.
Terrence Morris, owner of Morris Lawn Care & Services, shows up on every job to oversee his technicians as they perform lawn-maintenance, snow-removal, and power-washing services. In addition to one-time visits, Morris also offers monthly and yearly maintenance contracts.
The staff at Adam's Tree And Landscaping harnesses more than 30 years of combined experience to carefully remove unwanted trees, plow snow, and clean up storm damage from residential and commercial properties. Adam’s design and installation professionals also mastermind landscape transformations, replacing carnivorous triffids with bricked patios, sidewalks, and new plants to create eye-catching outdoor areas.
Sown since 1919, Johnson's Orchards' 200 fertile acres buttress the Blue Ridge Mountains foothills and checker the landscape with thousands of apple trees. Patrons hand-select 10 pounds of nearly 200 varieties of apples, ensuring the fruits suit specific standards for weight, hue and doctor-repelling abilities. After stocking up on apples, visitors are welcome to meander the foot trails cutting through the orchard, while tots encouragingly pat the heads of amiable farm animals. Visitors can also tipple cold cider straight from the press and weigh down restless hot air balloons with jellies, relishes, and 25 different fruit wines from the on-site winery. A picnic pavilion affords idyllic views and a space to dive into vitamin-packed feasts.
At the age of 5, Helen Messenger decided to run away. It wasn't the lure of Hollywood stardom or the call of the big city that drew her: it was the gentle demeanor of a horse pulling a wagon full of goods for sale. After that first encounter, Messenger's passion for horses melded with her eventual career as a pediatric nurse working with children and adults with special needs. As the president and founder of Mesa Vista Therapeutics (MVT), she introduces people of all ages and abilities to the joys of horseback riding. Messenger has partnered with veterinarian Dr. Courtney Belden, equine enthusiast Caitlin Woolwine, and massage therapy and acupuncture practitioners who cater to the needs of both horses and humans.
At MVT's SAS Center—a riding facility with an outdoor arena, indoor ring, 20 stalls, and two viewing areas—instructors train people with and without conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and spinal-cord injuries in the basics of riding. Therapeutic lessons help to improve riders' range of motion, muscle tone, balance, and self-confidence. The MVT program has participated in Special Olympics Virginia and Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia horse shows, and is a North American Riding for the Handicapped Association–certified center.
The team also offers advanced instruction in hunter-seat, dressage, and Western riding, as well as boarding services for horses or motorcycles with active imaginations. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the compassionate team relies upon the generosity of volunteers and community donors.