Ron and Hazel's 'Travels with Nuggie' travel blog

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

The road to Schuyler was unlike any we'd ever traveled.

Earl Hamner's childhood home.

The home is restored and in beautiful condition.

The museum recreates the sets used in the TV series.

The actual kitchen was similar, but smaller.

We almost expected the Waltons to walk in the door.

John-Boy's desk.

As we crossed over the Virginia border, heading for our evening stop at Stoney Creek RV Resort in Greenville, Hazel was looking at the map and said "Ron, it looks like we'll only be about 50 miles from Schuyler, where the Walton's lived". This was an opportunity, one of those "Bucket List" things we could cross off. Our kids grew up watching The Waltons every week on television, a rare show that both parents and kids enjoyed. I remember many times, after the show was over and our several children (I lose track) would be off to bed, I'd hear "Goodnight Glenn-Bob", "Goodnight Annie-Bob", "Goodnight John-Bob", "Goodnight Dave-Bob", "Goodnight Jim-Bob", "Goodnight Joey-Bob", and then the kids would all laugh and go to sleep. What a fond memory that is.

So, we decided to stay two nights, not just one, unhook the Oldsmobile, and drive the 50 mile trip on Saturday. We left about noon and headed out, the weather was overcast and rainy. "Lola", the lady living in our GPS took us on a scenic back roads route that included "Plank Road", one of the most amazing stretch of wooded, winding, up and down roads we'd ever been on. Driving it was almost haunting, a trip to Brigadoon, or Shangri-La, spooky almost, you'd have to drive the road to understand what we felt.

Arriving in Schuyler, there was hardly anyone there. A couple of cars in front of the grade school, now the Walton Museum, and a short distance away, a single car in front of the shed on the Hamner property. Now a small store selling Walton memorabilia, it was the outbuilding where Earl Hamner began his writing career as a young man. Inside, Hazel bought a book about Hamner, and I purchased a DVD "The Walton Legacy", a one hour PBS program. Up the hill was the house, the young man behind the counter gave us a key, and off we went to check it out.

A few years ago, a local woman purchased the home at an auction, and proceeded to completely restore it to original condition, and she did an excellent job. I noted an air conditioning unit on the side of the house, the only visible modern improvement, but the rest of the house seemed to be right out of the 1930's, fully furnished, neat and clean, and just the way you would picture it. The television version on the Warner Brothers back lot in California was bigger, with more rooms, but I felt I'd been here before.

Hazel and I went up the hill to the museum, we were the only ones there, other than the man who welcomed us and took our $8 each for the admission. On the wall were photos of the grand opening in the 1990's, with 6,000 people standing in the parking lot, and the cast of the television series, along with members of the Hamner family, up on a stage. But today, it was just Hazel and me.

The museum had recreated all of the inside movie sets, right down to the smallest details. They even had the Baldwin Sister's still, for making "the recipe".

I asked if many people still came here, the old fellow said they'd had 16,000 visitors last year, but it was down substantially from years past, where they would get many more times that number.

Hazel's prized DVD copies of the television show were lost last year, when her parent's home was destroyed by fire. My in-laws loved to watch those old episodes, nothing on current television could compete with them. But, Mother's Day is coming, Hazel, and complete sets are available on eBay.

A few years ago, the Roy Rogers Museum in Branson, Missouri closed because people lost interest in the cowboy movie star. Not me, for sure, but it had no appeal to younger tourists. I hope this won't happen to the Waltons. Go to Schuyler, Virginia while you still can.

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