If you are just joining us for our fall Anniversary ride, you can go back and read the series from the start here.
Our last full day in Abingdon, we slept in, and as we were heading for breakfast, we got a text from our friend J that he was bound for North Carolina. He had some business in Black Mountain and then home to Georgia to prepare for his Dad’s 92nd birthday celebration.
We had a leisurely breakfast and then began a short loop south on VA 75 to check out Knob Overlook park, which we had seen on Day 1. This one shot included only a hint of the trailers and RVs that covered the hillsides of the lake around the park. We gathered that people parked them and used them as ‘lake homes’?
Anyway, we checked the GPS and found that Knob Overlook Road headed south and east to US 421, The Snake, so we took it in order to loop back on Denton Valley Road, a road we had missed coming into Abingdon the first day. But first, we stopped to take in the view of South Holston Lake. I have always loved lakes surrounded by mountains, and this view was no exception!
Denton Valley Road was a pleasurable ride on mostly unmarked, one lane pavement, which dove from 2000+ feet in elevation, down to lake level, and through beautiful farms and homesteads. We started out in the thick, fragrant forest, with leaves literally raining down on us, and ended up in a lovely sunny valley. Eventually, the road took us back over South Holston Lake, where we stopped for the first of three construction delays we encountered this day for bridge replacement. A quick jaunt through Abingdon and we headed down US 58 South. We saw signs for The Abingdon Vineyard and Winery, and thinking they would be a great stop for later that afternoon, took a quick detour to see if they were open. Sadly, it was Monday, and they were closed. We would have to find another Virginia winery to sample the local grape on another day.
US 58 is a fabulous motorcycle road, and the sweeping (and some blind) curves held our attention, especially in the area near Grayson Highlands State Park. The forecast called for rain later in the day, and we had miles still to travel, so we skipped a visit to the park this time around. The southwestern Virginia area is literally home to hundreds of Christmas tree farms, and this view just past the park begged to be captured.
We stopped for lunch in Volney at a combination store/restaurant, where there was no cell service and no internet access. It was a step back in time, and we talked to the waitress about her experience moving there and being truly disconnected. As a blogger, I find that hard to imagine, but she seemed really content.
After lunch, we continued east on US 58 and stopped to photograph a touch of rural America that I can hardly resist: the barn sign. These signs, known in rural Pennsylvania as Hex signs, or barn quilts, originated as Pennsylvania Dutch folk art in the mid-19th century. Some schools of thought attribute superstitions to the signs, others find them purely decorative. In any case, I think they are just lovely and could have driven my husband mad had I stopped to photograph all of them! And hopefully, this barn’s owners will forgive my trespassing!
For the remainder of today’s ride, we had again created a custom route that combined parts of two routes from the 7 Appalachian MC trails called ‘Cana to Flat Ridge’ and ‘Flat Ridge and Old Bridal Creek’. We left two-lane US 58 on Old Bridle Creek Road, another ribbon of asphalt that was barely one lane wide, and it took us over hill after hill of gorgeous horse and cattle farms, more Christmas tree farms, and even a few giant pumpkin fields! Then we connected with Flat Ridge Road, which contrary to its name, was decidedly NOT flat. As we made our way carefully up, down, and around the ridge, it started to rain. It was 3 pm, and we smiled to ourselves, as it was a full hour later than the weatherman (and apps) had predicted! The hard rain, combined with the wet leaves all over the road and intermittent fog, made for an interesting, but still fun, ride as we connected with VA 16 into Marion. It was now late afternoon, and we chose to take US 11 west, rather than the I-81 super-slab, back to Abingdon. It was no longer raining, just misting, so we relaxed and enjoyed seeing the homes and old businesses that gave a glimpse back to a time before the interstate highway system.
Back at “The Martha”, we got the bikes covered in preparation for a rainy night, donned our rain jackets and strolled down the street for our last evening meal in Abingdon, this time at The Peppermill restaurant. The cuisine was varied and interesting, the cocktails were just what the doctor ordered, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this restaurant in an historic home.
We had very much savored the luxury of not having to pack each day during our three-night stay in Abingdon, but this night we ventured back to the hotel to ready everything for our departure the next morning.
To read about our migration from hotel luxury in Southwest Virginia to a cozy cabin in West Virginia, go here.