Like we've said, travel adventures can happen in a plethora of ways. On our way back home from taking our daughter to the airport in DC for her study abroad semester, we decided to hit the backroads through Virginia. Honestly, I was feeling a little extra sad, and Stick knew a trail was what we both needed. We spent the night in this brilliantly quaint and perfect home we found on Airbnb, located in Orange, VA, walked through the main street of nearby Culpepper, and came upon a local farmer's market and wonderful local shops (the owner of La Bee da Loca was delightful to talk with and the food at Natraj Indian Cuisine was authentic. Our waiter was so friendly as well). Coffee Shop winner of this adventure was Raven's Nest Coffee. Awesome atmosphere, delicious coffee... plus we have this affinity for ravens.
Talking with the employees at The Thyme Market as we connected over our mutual love for hiking, we got the names of favorite trails and off we went. The views were AMAZING!! Babbling water, lush green trees, and mighty boulders surrounded us the entire way.
Granted, the Shenandoah National Forest could be a book all it's own, as far as hiking is concerned, however, we fully agree with others' opinions - The South River Falls Trail off of Skyline Drive in Standardsville, VA is a treasure.
After hiking, we continued our road trip home and as we entered the town of Boston, VA, we passed this little store and I said, "Did that sign say CHOCOLATIER?" Of course, a u-turn was made and we were introduced to the world of Cocoa Manna. Karen, the owner, is a pool of knowledge about cocoa beans and their health benefits as well as supportive of small-farm (many woman-owned) cocoa farms. Cocoa Manna roasts its own beans right there in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I refuse to admit how many beans we ate.
As a side note, if you are ever in the town of Harrisonburg, VA, there is an outfitters store called Walkabout Outfitters. The employees were more than helpful and we enjoyed great conversation about hiking the AT. Plus, they have great deals! :)