Winding Our Way Home

Virginia Creeper Trail
First signs of Fall
Oct. 9, 2011     Moving south at a faster pace than the norm for us, we will be climbing the stairs to our own place in less than a week.  But we wanted to take advantage of our proximity to Damascus, VA to take a ride on our favorite bike trail.  The Virginia Creeper Trail, the 17-mile ride from Whitetop Mountain to the town of Damascus was starting to show the fall colors.  A week or two from now it will be dressed in its’ fiery fall finery.  We moved slowly down the trail, taking time to enjoy pausing at the bridges, appreciate the varied palette of the trees and even did a little fishing in the river.  Unfortunately, by arriving midweek we were unable to track down any of the “Crooked Trail” music that the area is famous for.  The closest venue I could find was about 60 miles away, which in the mountains means at least a 2-hour drive one way.  Not something we’d want to do for an evening show.  On our next visit we’ll be sure to time it so we can make it for the Monday night Smyth County Jam.

Marshes at James Island
Heading over to the coast, we decided to explore the city of Charleston, SC.  We’ve driven through this way before and had experienced some of their famous low country cooking, so this was something I wanted to partake in.  The collards, black-eyed peas, cheddar cheese grits, okra and tomatoes, all foods that I had eaten as a child growing up in the south but just don’t prepare now.  This is good food and worth going out of the way for.  With almost 500 restaurants in the city, there are plenty of good places to choose from.  Just look for the locations with the lines out the door and the happy customers departing. 

Horse drawn carriage at the City Market
One of Charleston’s most popular stops is the City Market, first built in 1807, this four block area of shops has a variety of vendors including artists, jewelers, clothing and, perhaps, the best known, the sweetgrass baskets by the indigenous Gullah population of this area.  The Gullah are descendants of former slaves living in coastal South Carolina and Georgia.  They speak their own language; have their own cuisine and have cultural influences based on their African heritage. 

Wandering the streets, we enjoyed the architecture, the smells wafting out from the restaurants and the sight of the numerous horse drawn carriage moving through the inner city providing tours.  Fortified with crab cakes, red beans and rice and cheddar cheese grits, we wandered the streets a bit more.  I think there are as many gift shops as restaurants, so no problem buying a quality Charleston souvenir.  There are also a number of museums, galleries and restored antebellum homes in the area to explore, much more than we could begin to fit into our day.  Heavy rain and winds are forecast for the next few days, not good for sightseeing, so we might as well venture on back toward home.  But, we’ll be out on the road again soon.

Fishing along the Trail

Biking down the Creeper Trail

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