Saturday, May 16, 2021
The Farmer’s Market in Abingdon is as good as any we have seen, and there are many temptations. Every booth offered good things; fruits, vegetables, farm eggs, goose eggs, duck eggs, meats, ciders, yummy Greek pastries, cookies, cakes, coffee, donuts, honeys, jams, canned goods, crafts and more. We all loaded up with different things. I enjoyed talking with a man who made cutting boards, serving trays and other things. A retired prison employee, he had some good stories. The Greek pastry guy was the best salesman who had wonderful things – all fresh. His mother works all night making them.
We drove to Damascus to check out Backbone Rock, “A tunnel was drilled through the rock in 1901 to allow railroad access between Shady Valley and Damascus, VA. Motorists pass through what is known as “The Shortest Tunnel in the World”. There is a beautiful recreation area on Beaverdam Creek, where the fishing is supposed to be good. We climbed up and over the tunnel, down the other side and back again just to get some exercise. then we drove north on Rt. 133 to check out the stream and see what’s ahead in “Cherokee National Forest, a large National Forest created in 1920 encompassing over 655,000 acres.” https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/cherokee/recarea/?recid=34934
We drove through Shady Valley and headed up a mountain toward Johnson City, Tennessee, but we came upon a bike rider who was having some trouble, so we stopped. Garrett had a broken spoke, so he would have to walk back to Damascus – 11 miles away. We loaded his bike in the back and took him back to Damascus. His wife sells Farm-to-Feet socks all over the country. They were here for Trail Days, and Garrett thought he would get in a good ride. He had recently taken a spill in a race, where the bike was likely damaged. Garrett offered to tip us or at least retrieve some socks for us, but we declined.
As we got back to the Airstream rally, we had two famous visitors, who have done so much for the Virginia Airstream Club over the years. I did not know Bill and Betty Patton, but it was like old home week with the other members. They were very nice and still enthusiastic about the club, even though they had sold their Airstream.
Martha wanted to visit Tumbling Creek Cidery, so wee walked uptown. We were seated at the end of the bar for a tasting session. A young lady was also tasting. John did a great job of explaining all the ciders, made from different apples and adding flavors or sweetness. His family has a farm where they grow apples. A blight has made it difficult to grow heritage apples in the area, but through Virginia Tech, they are making strides to correct the problem. They have also developed ways of pruning the trees that make it easier to harvest the apples. It was quite interesting listing to this well-educated young man. We sipped the four ciders until they all tasted good, and then got into a conversation with the young lady who is studying physical therapy. She is on a 4-week rotation here, and obviously working very hard. She told stories about the effects of Covid on her work and studies. She hadn’t been out much in the three weeks she has been here, not even to ride the Creeper Trail. Crazy times have big effects on people. She will no doubt be great at her chosen profession.
There was an antique car show in the parking lot, so we went over to check it out. There were some cool cars and even more interesting people. It was fun. Then we headed across the street for a Greek salad. We met Randy and Xan there and had a nice talk, despite noisy traffic on main street.
Abingdon is such a great town with lots to do, especially if you like outdoor activities. The countryside is simply gorgeous, and the people are very nice and welcoming. I hope we get to do it again next year.