…And we’re back to the fall vacation recaps. This time we’re traveling to the very small town of Damascus, Virginia — less than 1,000 people live there. Why oh why did we decide to stay in such a small town? Damascus is called Trail Town USA because U.S. Bicycle Route 76, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, and the highly popular Appalachian Trail (AT) converge there. Obviously, we’re fans of the AT, so David thought it would be good idea to break up the 12-hour trip from Manassas, Virginia (where we stayed the night after our backpacking trip ended) to Charleston, South Carolina and stay in Damascus. A theme throughout the trip soon became: why not since we’re here?
We left Manassas on Monday morning, September 23, and drove about 6 hours to Damascus.
Once we got to the bed and breakfast we were staying at, we found a note saying the owner had gone to lunch and would be back. We took the opportunity to drive through the small town and checked out the library/tourist center.
We came back to find that she still wasn’t there, so we walked around town. It didn’t take us long at all. I had wanted to rent bikes and ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, but we had arrived a little too late to tackle the 16-mile downhill bike ride.
To pass the time, I brought along my camera to try and take some artsy pictures.
The AT goes straight through the town. Obviously, we’re a little obsessed with the AT, so we took all sorts of pictures associated with it.
We also met a couple of characters here. One of them greeted us before we stepped foot into the mountaineering shop in town. He looked weathered, but he was very friendly. David asked how he was, and he replied with: “If I was any better, there would be two of me.” Interesting response, huh? We also met his little white dog, Dee-Oh-Gee, you know like dog, only you pronounce each individual letter. She was quite dirty, but we soon learned that he and the dog actually live outside by a nearby river. I told you he was quite the character…
After walking the entire town, we headed back to the B&B. Third time was the charm! The owner was back — turns out she had made a trip to Sam’s Club (obviously, in a different town) while she was out. Once we signed the guestbook to check in, we made our way upstairs to our room.
This is the first time I had ever stayed in a B&B. I didn’t realize how antique-y they are.
Our room included a couple of photos of her son when he was a baby and some outdated Time magazines in the bedside table (we’re talking about 2004 or earlier).
Before heading out to dinner, we decided to read on the hammocks outside.
Unfortunately, I got a headache from reading while the hammock was rocking. Lame. So we moved to the wrap-around porch instead. This is where we met the second character — the owner’s son. He was quite the talker. He talked about all sorts of things — how black bears have been known to walk down the main street; how some people in town fell in and out of love with South Africans, but always came back home to Damascus; and how Momma invites the whole church over for Sunday lunch. The way he said “Momma” and talked of such simple things as the area and family reminded me to enjoy just where we were at — a small town smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Once we were able to pull away from the owner’s son, we headed to dinner. We had wanted to go to the Old Mill Restaurant, which was about a block down from the B&B, because we saw a sign on the building that said something about Monday night football, so we figured they’d be open. After checking three different doors, we found they weren’t open after all. We ended up at the Blue Blaze Cafe and ran into the guy from the mountaineering shop again. This time I saw he had a lazy eye. Again, he was quite the character! He recommended everything on the menu and told us that we should move out to Damascus or at least come back the next week. That would be such a long drive from Kansas City… At least you could definitely tell he loved his town!
David got the thai chili buffalo wings and I got the buffalo chicken sandwich. Looks like we were both wanting buffalo-flavored food.
We didn’t see any AT hikers while we were in town. Then again, that’s a good thing. Thru hikers should have been closer to Maine by then. David and I did see a poster on the wall of the bar, though, that had all the signatures of AT hikers that had made their way through town this year. This, of course, prompted David and I to seriously talk about doing the AT and how it would all work. We even went so far as to say if we completed it, we’d get tattoos that said “AT.” Mine would be very small. Oh the conversations we get into!
The breakfast we had the next morning did not disappoint. I chose this particular B&B because one picture they have on their website is of a bunch of hikers huddled around the table and there’s a quote about how extensive the breakfast is (as it should be — it’s a bed and breakfast). She made: blueberry pancakes; biscuits and gravy; scrambled eggs; bacon; sausage; baked spiced apples; baked pineapple with a sugary crumb topping; baked cheesy grits with a bread crumb topping (where has this been all my life?!); homemade fig jam and homemade apricot jam; and a fresh fruit tray with pineapple, apples, pears, strawberries, cantaloupe, and honeydew. I was hoping to hear some good AT stories since I’m sure they’ve seen a lot of hikers, but we didn’t talk at all about them. The Virginia Creeper bike trail is more popular in the area, so the other couple that was staying there told us their story on that trail.
Looking back we could have skipped Damascus, but we made the best of it. And we told them we’d be back if we ever hike the AT.
Have you ever stayed in a bed and breakfast before? How was your experience?