Karen's Blog

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Road Trippin’

If you are looking for a no pressure weekend away…keep reading.  My son and I were headed to Damascus, Virginia a few weekends ago and the last thing we wanted to see was an interstate.  We were looking for a weekend of adventure and gorgeous scenery.  So, we set the GPS to avoid highways and off we went.  This time our GPS lady did not disappoint!  It was such a wonderful weekend, that I wanted to share the route and the sights for a perfect weekend away.

We were leaving from Atlanta, and making a stop in Martin, Ga so we opted to take I-85N  before turning on to US 25N.  It was nice to be driving away from the city. The morning was crisp with expected rain. Taking a turn onto 276N, it was easy to note the lack of people and the beautiful drive on the Greer Highway.

As we intersected with Hwy11, we noticed a unique little place called Marci Jo’s Olde Country Store. Since it was nearing lunch time, we opted to make a stop. We were in for quite a treat! Joe greeted us with a warm smile and lots of options for lunch.

There were hot dogs with unique toppings, collard greens, red slaw, baked beans, yummy barbecue, ice cream, tiny cupcakes, giant cupcakes, and lots of other goodies to choose from. The red slaw and collards were divine!


The ambiance was laid back with a country store vibe. We were invited to take a selfie with the props and then to leave our mark by signing the wall. Even though the store has only been open for a year or so, there were already signatures from as far away as Australia!  We left our signatures on the wall and made our way to the payment stand.


When we made payment for the delicious food, we learned that we were actually standing in the old Post Office!  The building has been revitalized and saved.

As we left Marci Jo’s, the sky began to pour, but the weather man promised blue skies ahead.  We were headed to hike Max Patch near Hot Springs, North Carolina.  I’d never hiked to Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail and this seemed like a good day to try it.  We traveled through some gorgeous scenery even though most of it was in the rain.  Somehow, it didn’t matter. I was just hoping for a dry hike. We took the road less traveled on a bumpy dirt road to get to Max Patch and the pot holes let us know that rain had been taking place for quite a while. 5 mph! After some slow going, we finally reached the parking lot to begin our hike.  It was pouring rain!  Ever the optimist, my son said, “Let’s give it 15 minutes and see if the rain will stop”.  That was a prophetic statement.  The sun came out and we had the most beautiful hike to the top of Max Patch. The mountain views went on forever!  It was glorious! Pictures could not capture the beauty.


We made our way back down the mountain and headed for Damascus, Viginia.  Damascus is a quaint little town where everyone knows everybody and everybody is friendly and kind.  In fact, it is known as the “friendliest town on the Appalachain Trail”.  Trail Days was taking place and the sleepy little town was abuzz.


We stayed at a River Trail Cabins with the balcony overlooking the creek.  Our two rocking chairs and swing got quite a bit of use as we chatted and enjoyed the roar of the creek and the view of the mountains. The Virginia Creeper Trail ran right along the creek where bicyclists enjoyed their ride. We enjoyed biking on the Creeper trail which is actually where the old railroad ran. It goes all the way to Abingdon, VA.


Our dinner was enjoyed at the Old Mill where we dined outside along the water and enjoyed a game or two of Corn Hole.  Of course, Trail Days was fun as we met folks from Ireland, Scotland, Australia and the UK hiking the A.T. right alongside the Americans.

Leaving Damascus, we traveled to Abingdon, Virginia in search of the Barter Theater.

In 1933, the country was in the middle of The Great Depression and spare money for a theatre ticket was not easy to come by. Robert Porterfield, founder of the Barter Theatre, devised a solution to allow locals to see the shows.  Patrons gained admission by bartering food, livestock or other goods rather than using traditional money. For 40 cents, or the equivalent in bartered goods, anyone could see a show. The idea was to bring together hungry actors and the farmer who grew much needed produce. The Barter Theatre is one of the last year-round professional resident repertory theaters in the U.S.


Many well known actors got their early start at Barter Theatre including Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal, and Gary Collins. Steel Magnolias is playing during the month of June and I would love to take a trip back to Abingdon to see it.

Across the street from the theatre is the historic Martha Washington Inn that served as a hospital during the Civil War and also as Martha Washington College. It is worth a visit just to see the beautiful display of antiques


Our weekend adventure came to a halt as we made our way back through the mountains and into Atlanta.  We didn’t take the beauty for granted as we let the car windows down and let the breeze blow through our hair. It was a weekend filled with great memories and beautiful scenery.

If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away, I highly recommend our route. It was easy, beautiful and a great way to re-energize your life. The bike ride on the Virginia Creeper trail and the hike to Max Patch are both energizing and fun!  Take a good road trip buddy and it makes the trip even more special!






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