Down here in the south last week, we were on spring break. My friends in Australia were on fall break! How cool is that! Whichever break you were on, I hope you had a great, relaxing time! It’s nice just to sleep in a little and hang with the family! Enjoy it with your school-aged kids because it won’t be long and all that will change. The kids will enter college and have a different spring break; or even better, they will graduate from college and get a job (a good thing) and won’t be able to get away (a bad thing). Times, they change, so enjoy each moment as they unfold!
A very popular place to visit over spring break is the beach! We always loved going to the beach as a family! There’s nothing like the warm sunshine on your skin and the sand beneath your feet! But since things are different now, kids in college and working, my husband and I decided to head north! I have to say, we had a truly enjoyable adventure!
We had pretty basic accommodations: no footed bath tubs, no 1000 thread count sheets, nor eggs benedict delivered to our door. (am I dreaming or what?) Instead we stayed in our 19′ by 5′ van. We call this thing “The Vehicle.” It was a basic Sprinter cargo van (Fed Ex truck) which we made some modifications to. My hubby is really talented at things like that! We added a queen size bed, microwave, toaster oven, propane heater, hot water heater, solar panels to run the stuff, and all the basics you could think of that you might need on a road trip, including a bike hitch!
So we decided to do something a little different and head north to Virginia. We picked a town called Damascus, VA. We had heard good things about the town and of course I’ve read about it in all my Appalachian Trail books. Damascus is one town on the AT where the trail goes right through the center of it. I actually walked on the AT (Haha) We fell in love with this small, friendly town! We immediately were checking out houses to see how much real estate went for. (If you know us, you know this is the norm.)There are many hostels and B& B’s in town so no worries if you don’t have something like “The Vehicle.” There’s lots of tent camping too, if that’s more your thing!
The cool thing about this town is the trail there called “The Virginia Creeper Trail” which is about 34 miles long. You can ride, walk, or horseback down from White Top Station.There is a shuttle service that will take you to the top of the mountain and drop you off. All you have to do is ride down hill. How awesome is that?! The cost of renting a bike and being shuttled up to the station was only $27.00 each. They equip you with a bike, helmet, and water. We used www.blueblazebikeandshuttle.com. There were several outfitters in town, so take your pick, or bring your own!
There are places to stop along the way as you’re heading down the trail. There are restaurants and restrooms. It follows the White Top Laurel River down the mountain and uses the old railway path; we crossed over 32 trestles as we came down. It ended up taking us about 5 1/2 hours since my husband fished along the way. We picnicked and just enjoyed the day. We stopped our journey in Damascus, which is the 19 mile mark down hill. We decided to do the other part of the trail another day. Most people only take about 3-4 hours to complete the section we did.
That evening, we took a journey up the mountain and ended up at Grayson Highland’s State Park. There were many trails, camping, fishing, and the AT crosses through this park too! We camped up top on the mountain and the next day we walked on a few trails and came across this sign below. We did see many hikers out and about and I spoke with several, which of course fueled my ambition to make a plan to get started hiking the AT! Anybody with me??!!
There are over 17 trails in Grayson Highlands State park that you can walk, horseback ride, or ride bikes. One trail that’s a favorite is called the Rhododendron Trail, also known as the Massie Gap Trail. This is a short walk (15-20 minutes) and you can see wild ponies just hanging out. They were very sweet as you can see, they look like pet dogs. Hikers from the AT actually walk about 3 miles on this trail within the park too! I picked up some information about the upcoming festivals and It sounds like there are many throughout the year. If interested, check it out at the highlighted link below!
If you like to get outdoors and enjoy nature, I highly recommend that you try The Virginia Creeper Trail, as well as Grayson Highlands. We went up to Massie Gap about 9:30 one night and saw the most beautiful display of stars we’ve ever seen! It was like we were in a planetaria! There was no ambient light and no moon, so I think we saw millions of stars! If you are a star gazer check out this link. I wish we had discovered this adventure when the kids were smaller. They would have loved it! I can tell you though, we will be taking them back up there to try it out because no matter what your age, you will love it too!
One last thing this week, check out some new music from a local West Virginia boy. His name is Christian Lopez and he stars in the Christian Lopez Band! The band was named one of the top newcomers by Rolling Stone in 2015! He is adorable (no I’m not being a cougar) and talented too. You’ll also love his banjo player and drummer! He will be coming to Atlanta on Friday, April 22nd at the Variety Play House with Sister Hazel, if you want to check them out locally! We saw him in Athens, GA and it was a great show! Listen to him below!!
Have a great week and make sure to be kind to someone!