The Calm After the Storm

03/06/13 7:55 PM


Yesterday as I was driving home from the Bridal Show in Fredericksburg, I got surprised by a very bad thunderstorm. I took Port Conway Road, which is a shortcut from Route 3 (Kings Highway) back to Highway 301 (James Madison Highway) to get back to the plantation. As I was driving the wind really picked up. This road has allot of overhanging trees, so my main worry was not getting hit by one coming down.

Port Conway Road is really a very nice road and it cut some of our plantation acres in half. Just as I was about to the end of our plantation, lightning struck some trees. The trees had to be no more than half a football field’s length from the road. I first saw the flash of white light and then saw bright red sparks flying everywhere! It took my breath away! I was so glad it didn’t hit my car! I didn’t stay long to see if the trees fell or not. The wind was too high and the rain was coming down too hard.

After I got in, I settled down to writing my post about our Bridal Show while the thoughts were still fresh in my mind. The wind started dying down, but the rain kept coming in small squalls. Around 9:30 (eastern) as I was just finishing up adding all the pictures, the lights went out. Okay, now I have to tell you, it kind of freaked me out a little. I mean think about it. A heavy rain storm going on with a clash of thunder every now and then. A huge old house in the middle of a plantation. No lights…anywhere. I think you get my meaning.

Thankfully I had my “safe guard” nearby. I have started carrying a flashlight lantern when I go to and from the house and car during the night. You never know what is moving around in the dark. So I grabbed it and turned it on. With what was left of my battery on my computer, I finished the post and published. Then hunger struck.

I headed out the door, yes at 10:00 to get something to eat. I decided that I would head to Horne’s in Port Royal. This is one of the greatest late night diners in the area. As I headed down the lane to the highway, I caught sight of what I thought was a black and white cat. But something struck me as odd. The legs were too short! That is when I realized what it was. We have a skunk on the plantation! Let’s hope Hurley doesn’t find out!

After dinner, I headed back to the house. That is when I realized we were still without power. By this point, my cell was dying so I sat in the car and let it charge while I kept Brett up. I know I was really stalling because I didn’t want to go inside without lights, but really it was a little scary to think that I would be all alone in this dark house with no way of seeing what was making any of the sounds. And believe me, it was dark! Both inside and out. Brett just told me to go in and go to sleep. I told him to just call and get me a hotel!

I didn’t want to just sit there so I headed back down the lane. As I pulled out onto the highway, I saw the lights at the small church come on. So I turned around and headed back in. Sure enough all the lights were on inside the house. Whew…. I got inside and pretty much crashed until this morning.


Bright and Early

We have been having contractors coming to make minor repairs over the last week. Mainly it has been the plumbing company. But this week, we got the handyman repairs started. It should take but a week or two to get things done, but looking at it you would never thing so.

I woke up at 6:00 and tried to drift back to sleep. It didn’t happen. As I lay there snoozing, I heard Dolly, our osprey. I knew it! I looked out the window and the handyman guys were here. It was 7:30. I jumped out of bed and dressed quickly. I didn’t care how I looked. I was just glad they were here and were really to go!

After everyone arrived and they got going, I headed back over to King George to make some copies. Wow, the storm was really bad last night. The first thing I saw was the wheat in the field. It was all bent down and laying on the ground. I told Brett about it and I have to say I love his response!


“Alien landed and left crop circles”

Then I headed down Port Conway Road to see if I could see the trees. Oh wow! They really did take a good hit! It was amazing that they didn’t look worse! What was more amazing was that they didn’t fall or hit me!


Back at the plantation and I was running around the mansion taking pictures of the work going on. I have to document this to add to the Belle Grove Plantation History! But these guys (and one girl) were amazing! They got so much done today! Chris Haller, owner of Lakeside Services (the handyman) told me that it would take two weeks total and I wasn’t sure if that was going to be right. But looking at the way they busted things out, I think we may get it down right on time!

Chris Haller of Lakeside Services

Chris Haller of Lakeside Services








Jason and Cheryl from Harries Plumbing have also been great! They have work so hard to make sure the water system was up and in great condition. They have flushed out all the hot water heaters, checked the bathrooms, check and turned on all the ice makers (we have two), install four water facets outside and even gotten into the crawl spaces to check all the pipes. They are so great!


Around 4:00 I got a call that our banner was ready. I ordered a banner to place at the end of the lane near the highway to use as a temporary sign until we can get ours installed. I am going to have Brett put it up this weekend. If you are driving down Highway 301, you should be able to see this weekend!


As I arrived back at the plantation, I got a wonderful thrill! You know how I just love the wildlife here. Well, as I entered the lane, I was greeted by a groundhog at the start of the lane. But just down about half way, I could make out the head and ears of a white tail deer laying in the wheat fields! It was amazing. As I slowly moved up, a second one appeared! She was just grazing on grass with her cute white tail flickering back and forth. Sadly they heard me and moved on into the wooded area. But then as I came into the bowling green, there sat two sweet rabbits nibbling on grass. How sweet to have them all greet me as I return home.


And just when I didn’t think it could get any better, I got surprise guests. Sarah and Dave, from Gloucester stopped by. They are moving a friend in the area. Sarah brought me another cookie! This one is from Ginger Snaps and is her daughter’s business. This cookie  is too cute to eat! Since I got to eat the last ones, I have decided to take this one to Brett. I know he is going to love it! Thank you to Sarah and Dave for the wonderful surprises!

Now I am off to eat dinner and get ready for the “Evening Show”, our sunset. The clouds have parted and the sky is almost clear. Maybe with the few small clouds this afternoon, we might get a few sun rays for the sunset. Either way… it has been a great day at the plantation!

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 33 Comments »

33 Comments on “The Calm After the Storm”

  1. Terry Says:

    What a beautiful post you have given to me. I loved it all from the scary darkness to the quick work of the handymen. I have always felt like I am there with you through all of your restoring Michelle.

  2. Terry, you have been! As I walk around doing the things I need to do, I thing about each of you and try to remember to preserve the thoughts and pictures to share with you later! It is also the support from all of you that keeps me going!

  3. belocchio Says:

    My goodness girl – you have had some experiences. And, I don’t blame you one bit about the dark house. Everything is coming together. I am so excited for you and your husband. It has been an interesting journey to say the least. Again kudos to you both for having the courage to embark on this great adventure. Virginia

  4. Thank you Virginia! It has been an amazing journey. And we appreciate all the support from our blog family!

  5. Dianna Says:

    I can’t say that I blame you for not wanting to stay in that house alone in the dark….!

  6. It was so funny. Brett was saying go in and I was saying you must be crazy!

  7. The place looks bloody marvellous, Michelle! We live in a thunderstorm area, too, and they can be very scary things. But, gee, can’t see the need for reassurance when Hurley is around. Surely? Have to confess that our now departed Golden retriever, Arrow, was a big girlie and she’d freak out more than any of us! Don’t know who got more out of patting her in the dark – she or us!

  8. Haha! You know Hurley isn’t really afraid of the storms. He is more afraid of the dark! He won’t walk into a dark room until you turn on the light!

  9. John Says:

    Wow, glad you got home OK! Lightning struck a tree 75 foot from our home when we lived in Michigan. It was the same bright white light AND the huge explosive thunder at the same time. Welcome to Ground Zero. I see it did the same thing to your trees – blew the bark off. The trees will slowly wither away now. The colors inside the house are excellent! Bright and cheery. Do you and Brett have a storm cellar to get underground in for the bad storms?

  10. Well we now share the tree strike in common. You know I was amazed that the bark was all gone. It was such a sight to see. We have a full English style basement that has steel beams that are married to the original floor joints. So we will be safe.

  11. John Says:

    Good! Break the easiest path, stop the flow of electrons.

  12. 🙂

  13. p3farm Says:

    Beautiful interior pics! Love the color, the arches… I love old woodwork!

  14. Thank you. I can’t take much credit it for it though. It was already like this when we first came.

  15. I always keep candles in candlesticks handy for power cuts. candle -light is beautiful especially in an old house..

  16. We would love to do that, but with the age of this home and the importance of its history, open flames are discouraged.

  17. […] was reading  “The Calm After the Storm” over at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast’s blog by my blogging buddy Michelle.  She […]

  18. Thank you so much for sharing our blog! We really appreciate it!!

  19. Lynda Says:

    Wow, what an adventure the past 24 hours have been! Glad you are safe and that the workers are doing such a good job! You have answered a question for me about what happened in the wheat fields around here. I have seen these flattened areas in most of the wheat fields around here too! 😉

    You are so close to the big day!

    (Our repairs start next week. It is just under 1,000 sq. feet, but they are monumental! But then, it is all worth it in the end. Isn’t it?)

  20. Thank you! We are all safe and sound here at Belle Grove. Yes, we are getting there… fast! Good luck with your repairs! I know they will go well.

  21. Lynda Says:

    Thank you!

  22. Glenda Ennis Says:

    I am glad you considered a hotel room with the lights out. You are amazing! Thank you for the progress reports – I love reading of your adventures.

  23. Thank you so much. Brett didn’t think it was such a good idea. But I waited and got to sleep in my own bed. Good thing too because the workers showed up early!

  24. becky6259 Says:

    The plantation is looking fabulous, and it’s so good you had a great day after such a spooky night! It was no wonder you wanted to linger in the truck for awhile!

  25. Haha, it was fun though. We will have to see if there is anything really spooky here.

  26. What a day but oh, such treats. This comment is also to let you know that I’ve given you two awards: Very Inspiring Blogger & One Lovely Blog. Enjoy!

  27. What a scary storm! And let’s do hope that Hurley doesn’t find that skunk!

  28. It really was a bad storm. And yes, we don’t need Hurley find that shunk!

  29. I really enjoy reading this post. It’s very interesting. I also find inspiration with the blue and white paint of the house. It looks so refreshing. Indeed, very calming.

  30. Thank you!

  31. Thrills and chills! Everything is looking great. When we visited D.C. recently and were staying in Virginia, I so wanted to try to connect with you, but we were on such a tight schedule. Hopefully, next time! Cheers.

  32. sarahlouisek Says:

    What lovely paint colors. Love ’em.

  33. Thank you!