Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2014-08-31 Labor Day Weekend Getaway

On the Road to Damascus
Jack and Amy's Labor Day Weekend Getaway
With my Brother Bill and His Family
Damascus, Abingdon, and Grayson Highlands State Park, VA
August 30th, 2014 thru September 1st, 2014

Amy and I met up with my brother Bill and his family for a little Labor Day weekend getaway.

 Group Photo at our cabin near Damascus, VA

The Appalachian Trail, Virginia Creeper Trail, and the Iron Mountain Trail all pass through the little town of Damascus, VA.  The town is famous for it annual Trail Days Celebration every May.  I have never been to Damascus, but suggested it as a good centrally located place to meet up for our weekend getaway.

Amy found and booked a nice (3) Bedroom Cabin located between the towns of Abingdon and Damascus.  Since we could not check in until 3:00pm we decided to meet up for Lunch in downtown Abingdon, VA.

Amy and I arrived a bit ahead of my brother and his family, so we stopped off at the Abingdon visitor's center to pick up some information, maps, and get a restaurant recommendation.  We decided on the Peppermill Restaurant which turned out to be an excellent choice!

After lunch, we took a walk through downtown Abingdon, stopped at a few little shops, and then made our way to the Wolf Hills Brewing Company.  I always enjoy visiting local craft breweries and Wolf Hills is definitely one of the better ones!  My brother and I each enjoyed a flight so we could sample most of their offerings!

 The Wolf Hills Brewing Company

 Me and my Brother Bill enjoying flights at the Wolf Hills Brewing Company

 My brother Bill enjoying a flight at the Wolf Hills Brewing Company

After that, we walked the mile or so back to our vehicles and headed on over to our cabin.  The cabin was located on the top of a hill offering up some excellent views!  It was also the perfect size for our group and I was very pleased to find that it had (2) big screen TVs with Direct TV and DVR, so I could record my Hokie game to watch later in the evening.

 Our Cabin on top of the hill

After settling in to our cabin, we headed on into Damascus to visit our second craft brewery of the day, The Damascus Brewery!  Again, my brother and I each enjoyed a flight of local craft brew!

 My brother Bill enjoying a flight at the Damascus Brewery

After the brewery we headed on over for dinner at the Damascus Old Mill, which is probably the nicest restaurant in Damascus, but still reasonably priced.  The food was good, but nothing to go out of the way for.  Abingdon beats out Damascus in terms of restaurant offerings!

We returned to the cabin and enjoyed a relaxing evening watching my Virginia Tech Hokies beat William and Mary!

I got up early Sunday Morning in hopes of catching the sunrise.  There was too much cloud cover for a sunrise, but the low lying clouds were still pretty cool.  There was also a heard of cows hanging out just beyond the fence of the cabin's property.

morning view from our cabin

Liam on the Back Porch of our Cabin

Cows outside our cabin

Liam checking out the cows

For Sunday we thought about renting bikes and doing the Virginia Creeper Trail, but heard that the trail gets very crowed on Holiday weekends.  Instead we decided to head on over to Grayson Highlands State Park!  It is only about 30 miles from Damascus, but it takes about an hour as the road is very curvy!

Amy and I visited Grayson Highlands several years ago and knew that the kids would really enjoy seeing the wild ponies!  Plus there is some good hiking with spectacular views!

 Me and Amy on the Rhododendron Trail

 Bill, Liam, Marielle, and Michelle at the trailhead

We started at Massy Gap and hiked the Rhododendron Trail.  Shortly before we reached the intersection with the Appalachian Trail we ran across a herd of about (20) wild ponies!  I was right, the kids really did enjoy this experience!

 Liam and Marielle with one of the wild ponies

 Liam with a wild pony

Wild Ponies at Grayson Highlands

We continued on to the Appalachian Trail and turned right towards Maine.

 Liam and Marielle hiking the AT

The first part stayed out in the open offering up some excellent views before gradually descending below the tree line.  The shade of this section was a welcome relief from the sun.  We probably hiked about 3 miles before deciding to turn around and return back the way we came.

 Marielle and Michelle taking a break in the shade
Michelle, Liam, Marielle and Bill having fun at Grayson Highlands
Note:  White men can't jump!

After our hike, we returned to our cabin for a little while before heading into Abingdon for dinner at a great little Mexican Restaurant called Los Arcos.  We all agreed that it was some of the best Mexican food we have ever had!

 Michelle, Bill, Marielle, Liam - Downtown Abingdon, VA

After dinner, we decided to visit the Abingdon Winery for a little wine tasting.  For $5.00 a person, we all got to select (6) of their offerings to sample.  The kids enjoyed playing in the creek that runs alongside the vineyard while the adults enjoyed the wine.

 Liam and Marielle playing in the creek at the Abingdon Winery

The rest of the evening was spent just hanging out at the cabin enjoying each others company.

Group Photos at our Cabin

 Liam and Marielle enjoying their I-Pads on the Porch Swing

The next morning we enjoyed an awesome breakfast before heading on our separate ways.

It was a very enjoyable weekend getaway!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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