Spur-of-the-Moment Trip South

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Julie Smith
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

Spur-of-the-Moment Trip South
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The purpose of this blog post is to capture the photos we shared on Twitter during our trip south -- Tuesday, September 7, 2021, through Wednesday, September 15, 2021.


Tuesday,  September 7, 2021 - Productive Travel Day

While driving south, we finished a blog post, which we published the next day:



Wednesday,  September 8, 2021 - Florida Orange Juice Welcome and Hurricane Swell!

Be sure to see the photo of the rainbow over the surfer! Stuart did some work for Cleveland GiveCamp that evening.



Thursday, September 9, 2021 - Tweeted about Cleveland Week Blog Post and Florida Sights!


Florida sights!



Friday/Saturday, September 10-11, 2021 - Cleveland GiveCamp Weekend Virtual Event

See blog post about how Stuart participated in Cleveland GiveCamp Weekend from Florida:



Saturday, September 11, 2021 - Cleveland Chalk Festival

See our tenth Chalk Festival blog post:



Sunday, September 12, 2021 - Cleveland GiveCamp Closing Ceremony Video Conference

See more in the blog post:



Sunday, September 12, 2021 - Savannah, Georgia



Monday, September 13, 2021 - South Carolina Palm Trees



Monday, September 13, 2021 - Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia



Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - Exploring Sights Along the Virginia Creeper Trail & Appalachian Trail in Southern Virginia

Damascus is known best as Trail Town USA, where seven nationally known trails intersect within our borders, but we are so much more! We are a place of stunning natural beauty, where the hills and peaks of the Appalachian Mountains and the murmuring or our creeks inspire you, whether your calling is outdoor adventure, or simply living in an authentic small town.

We cherish the lifestyle that this affords us. The Damascus lifestyle is adventurous and creative, yet laid-back and well-paced. It’s a place where you can be super-active, or where you can reconnect with nature, rejuvenate, and find your inner peace. Most importantly, it’s a place where you can find your own path.

We cherish this lifestyle, and know you will too!

We visited the Appalachian Trail where it enters Damascus, Virginia — Trail Town USA!


The Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail is a 34.3-mile rail-to-recreation trail, traversing through two counties from Abingdon, Virginia, through Damascus, and ending just past Whitetop Station in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, at the Virginia-North Carolina border. Today, the trail corridor lies half on federal land managed by the US Forest Service and half on property owned by local governments. In the 34 years since its opening, the Creeper Trail remains one of the country’s premier rail-trails, honored as the inductee into the 2014 Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Hall of Fame and a recipient of numerous local, regional and national accolades.

We rode our bikes on part of the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, Virginia. The first part of the Virginia Creeper Trail, leaving town, is also part of the Appalachian Trail going northbound.


“The Place” is the oldest backpacker hostel in Damascus, Virginia.


Beartree Recreation Area.


Green Cove Station. See cat photos!


Whitetop Mountain is the second highest summit in Virginia. We saw a historical marker about the White Top Folk Festival on Whitetop Mountain.


The Whitetop Mountain spring on the Appalachian Trail is unique among all the springs along the over-2,190-mile A.T. Be sure to listen to the water gurgling as it gathers above the spring before it gushes out the pipe below. The day we were there, the wildflowers in were in full bloom.


Views from road up to Whitetop Mountain.


Spectacular views for motorists and a prime trailhead for hikers and horseback riders, Elk Garden is one of the most popular trailheads in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. From this location, visitors can access the Appalachian Trail, Virginia Highlands Horse Trail, and the Elk Garden Trail. The trailhead is a short drive from Whitetop Mountain Road, the highest elevation public road in Virginia.

Elevation: 4434 ft.
Elk Garden is named after the now extinct eastern elk that once roamed throughout this area along with timber wolves, mountain lions, and bison. Today, none of these animals exist here, but black bear, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey are common throughout these woodlands. Entry to three trails can be found at Elk Garden: Elk Garden Trail, the VA Highlands Horse Trail, and the Appalachian Trail (AT). The AT to the west leads to Whitetop Mountain and to the east, Mt. Rogers. The Elk Garden Trail leads to a valley in the shadows of Whitetop Mountain. Elk Garden is a scenic area, with rocky outcroppings and expansive mountain balds surrounded by deciduous hardwood forest. Neotropical nesting birds of this area include songbirds such as Vesper’s sparrow, common raven, various hawks and several species of warblers. Visitors who take the AT trail to Whitetop Mountain can see how the dynamics of elevation and habitat affect songbird diversity. This is a really intriguing area where one may find a large diversity of avian summer residents. The mountain balds are also conducive to hawk-watching in the fall. During summer, common raven, turkey vulture, red-tailed and broad-winged hawks might be seen patrolling the area.

Elk Garden Trailhead.



Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - Arrived Home to “Kudo Box” from @CleGiveCamp


Related Blog Posts

We always like to end our blog posts with a list of related blog posts, so you can learn more about places we enjoy exploring. Here are our "Travel" blog posts:

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Submitted by Stuart Smith on Sat, 09/25/2021 - 09:45

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