GATE CITY — Tara Fisher’s initial goal wasn’t to write a kids book detailing the best destinations the state of Virginia has to offer. In fact, her book de ella was born out of a simple goal to find adventure with her family de ella in each corner of the commonwealth.
“I didn’t think of writing the book until after we went to all these places,” Fisher told the Times News. “It never even crossed my mind. A friend suggested it and said, ‘You’ve visited so many places you ought to write them down and put them in a book.’ So when we went to all these places, I had no plans of writing a book. But I wanted to kind of share our adventures and what Virginia has to offer.”
Fisher’s book, “Virginia is for Adventures,” focuses on the landmarks, sights and destinations throughout the state as Meg, a fictional 10-year-old girl from Wytheville, goes on a 10-day scavenger hunt across the commonwealth with her friends.
The book features well-known sites such as Arlington National Cemetery, Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg, among others. However, the book starts by highlighting Scott County’s “outdoor treasures” — specifically the Devil’s Bathtub — in the first chapter, titled “The Heart of Appalachia.”
“What stuck out to me were the outdoor treasures,” Fisher said about her family’s experience in Scott County. “The Devil’s Bathtub is magical. We had high expectations before we went to the Devil’s Bathtub and it met all of those. When we got there, the sun was setting and you could see it through the trees. It was just magical and such a great family experience.”
In the book, Meg and her friends trek across Little Stony Creek and cross the ridge laden with rope handles to get to the blue-green natural pool that is said to be cool enough to chill the devil himself.
The book also highlights other Scott County destinations such as Natural Tunnel State Park with its chairlift down to the tunnel through which trains still travel. Fisher also included the Clinchport swinging bridge set over the Clinch River in Scott County.
The book doesn’t just serve as a guide to places to see and things to do in Virginia, though. It also supports the state’s fourth-grade curriculum, which emphasizes the commonwealth’s history, characteristics, and more.
“I thought if fourth-graders are spending an entire year studying Virginia,” Fisher said, “it would be a good opportunity to share some of the areas of Virginia they have read and learned about and some areas they might not have been.”
Since the book’s official release in 2020, Fisher has delivered more than 100 copies to schools throughout Virginia and has visited various schools for book readings and talks with students. The favorite destination, Fisher said, is often the Devil’s Bathtub found at the beginning of the book.
“I did an author visit at a school here in Northern Virginia, and they were all so interested in the Devil’s Bathtub,” Fisher said. “They thought it was crazy that there is a place called the Devil’s Bathtub. After I read the book, they asked me what my favorite place was. I told them the Devil’s Bathtub was probably my favorite. That’s why I made it the first chapter of the book.”
That outdoor destination, however, wasn’t the only aspect of Scott County that resonated with Fisher.
The author’s family started their adventures by searching for the “Love” signs throughout Virginia, including the one at Gate City. When on the search for the Gate City “Love” sign, they contacted Scott County Tourism Director Pam Cox for directions.
“She got back to me so quickly,” Fisher said. “I was so impressed with how dedicated she was and how much she cared that we reached our destination. That really stuck with me.”
It seemed that hospitality was a theme the Fisher family experienced throughout Southwest Virginia, which also helped inspire the character Meg and her Southwest Virginia roots.
“I felt like she represented that friendliness that we especially experienced in Southwest Virginia,” Fisher said. “You go to a coffee shop in these small towns, you talk to the people that live there and they are so willing to talk to you and tell you about their town. Southwest Virginia especially had very friendly people.”
Fisher said she also chose Wytheville as Meg’s hometown to highlight the lesser-known areas throughout Virginia.
“We all know about certain cities and landmarks in Virginia,” Fisher said, “but there is so much more in this state than just the Arlington Cemetery or Monticello.”
Fisher made a point to hand-deliver her book throughout schools and libraries in Virginia, including the Scott County Library. But as kids across the state go on literary adventures with Meg and her friends de ella, Fisher said she hopes that mostly readers see all that Virginia has to offer, from the shores of Virginia to the mouth of the Devil’s Bathtub in Scott County.
“I hope that when they open this book, they get excited to see their own region highlighted and say, ‘I’ve been there’ or ‘That’s where I live!,’ Fisher said. “But also I hope it opens their eyes to all of the other regions and all that Virginia has to offer.”
“Virginia is for Adventures” is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and at virginiaisforadventures.com. The site also features writing prompts, educational tools, games and more.
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