TN-VA-WV: Stop 2, Draper, VA

Monday, July 5, 2021

Saturday morning we left Crossville, TN driving east on I-40 and then north on I-81 to Draper, Virginia.  A new state for us.  We don’t fill in a state on our RVing map until we have spent the night in the RV there.  Saturday night qualified us to count Virginia.  Draper is a tiny little community just off I-81.  Draper Mercantile is a Harvest Hosts (HH) site and was a delight.  We wanted to get there before it closed at 3:00 pm because they announced after we made our arrangements that they would be closed on Sunday for Independence Day, and we wanted to visit all the shops and restaurant.  We arrived about 1:00 which gave us time to have a quick lunch at the Mercantile restaurant and then explore.  We each had hot sandwiches which were very good and added some of their chocolate/caramel/pecan fudge for dessert.  We love to find out of the way, interesting places that we would have never known about.  Harvest Hosts is a great resource for finding those locations.  Of course, most of the hosts have shops where you can purchase some of their products – produce, jellies, alpaca wool socks etc. and we always like to support the local small businesses so for us it’s really not free camping. Here we bought some fig jam and some of their branded salsa.  We parked at the Merc Farm about ¼ mile from the restaurant and shops.  At the farm there was a labyrinth, a fish pond surrounded by wonderful Adirondack chairs for relaxing, and some chickens that provided us some fresh eggs.  The farm sits up on a hill and the views from there are so beautiful. The people were all so welcoming and fun. Sunday morning we visited the Draper UMC and have never received a more warm welcome and from a church with less than 20 in attendance.  Sunday was also their first Sunday with their new pastor.  We had a great time visiting with the mostly elderly congregation and meeting their fairly young new preacher.

After lunch, we got our bikes out and road 8-9 miles on the New River Trail State Park.  This is a 57 mile rails-to-trails Virginia State Park.  The park goes right through Draper.  We rode from the farm less than ¼ mile to the trail.  The section we road runs along the bank of the New River for most of the way.  It is a mostly smooth crushed gravel surface that is shaded almost all the way. Very clean and well maintained.  It may be our new favorite rail trail.  Really nice ride!  What a fun and relaxing time we spent in Draper.  We do hope to return one day.

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