The sound of farm animals is a pleasant noise to wake up to, sometimes it’s just too early. The mules were up and active early in the morning, waking us up in time to share a quiche and coffee with Steve. Thanks Mules! Breakfast finished we all got in the car for a driving tour of Damascus and Abingdon for a drive-by tour of the two small towns.
In Damascus Steve advised us that the town mainly serves as a rest area for the several bike and hiking paths that cross through the town. The economy is lacking with the exception of the bike shuttle services for the Virginia Creeper Trail. The township park was nice and decorative, but the lack of any grocery, general store or decent eatery was a dead end for us.
Further west we made it to I-81 where we headed south to see an art collective. South of downtown Abingdon was a building dedicated to showing and selling the art and pieces produced by the artist and artisans of Southwest Virginia. From the collective we drove into the town where we got the passenger window tour of the town: theater, restaurants, and fancy inns. The town seemed to cater to an older and refined crowd. Steve needed to pick up coffee so we stopped by the coffee roaster where we tried an iced-coffee on nitro. Yum!
On the way back to Steve’s house we stopped for groceries as we were unsure of how and when our next opportunity would be. It was a circus of us grabbing a little of everything, while debating whether of not it would all fit in the panniers.
The groceries did fit, but made riding the heavier, unbalanced bikes a bit more of a challenge. Goodbyes and contact information was exchanged, back on the bike we started to make our way back to the Christmas tree farm to start our jobs. Although we pedaled back up to the general store and got back on US-58, we decided to try a different way home in hopes of minimizing the climbing. Following Steve’s directions and turning off the main road to follow Helton Creek did just that. 12 miles of downhill coasting before we had to pedal up a minor hill. A few dirt roads and riding past numerous farms of every variety and we at our temporary farm home, ready to face tomorrows adventure.