Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Johnson City, Tenn.

My trip to Johnson City, Tenn., was a quick one. I did not get to visit Pal’s, as I had hoped. By the time I got to the hotel, settled in, and found where I needed to be the next morning, I didn’t have any light left for wandering around.

I spent most of my time up and down State of Franklin Road. This area of Tennessee used to be called State of Franklin in the last 1700s.

Johnson City is much larger than I expected it to be. The population is more than 60,000. There are lots of big box stores, so if you like shopping you’ll feel right at home. The area also has lots of trails and outdoor activities. Asheville and Boone, N.C., are just over an hour away. That means Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the AT are all nearby.

Some of the places I would recommend visiting are Warriors’ Path State Park, Historic Jonesborough, which is Tennessee’s oldest town, and the International Storytelling Center, where the National Storytelling Festival is held every year. If I make it out that way again, I wouldn’t want to miss them. Chris has always wanted to visit Warriors’ Path. He couldn’t come with me on this last trip.

Suggestions for things to do in Johnson City, Tenn.

Last week I asked Facebook friends of things I should see and do while in Johnson City, Tenn. I am planning a trip there in a few weeks and was wondering what I shouldn’t miss.

Besides warnings about zealous traffic cops, one friend suggested Pal’s for hotdogs and fries. I’m hoping to get a few more ideas before I head there in a few weeks.

Appomattox, Va.

The next morning, we went to the Town of Appomattox to eat breakfast and use the WiFi at the local McDonald’s. After catching up on work and other email, we headed to the Historic Downtown of Appomattox to walk around. The historic area features galleries, gift shops and hardware stores.

First stop was an old courthouse that is now a theater. There were also war memorials, cannons and a couple of other buildings in the same lot. A building to the right and behind the old courthouse housed the county historical museum. There weren’t any signs explaining what it used to be and the museum wasn’t open. It looks like it is undergoing renovations and there was a construction permit in the window.

Appomattox courthouse

Appomattox courthouse.

A few blocks up, we stopped at a multiple-home yard sale. From one woman, I bought a 50 cent Tupperware sandwich container and a cute change purse she had made out of a metal tape measurer and quilting fabric. The fabric is pink and gray with cupcakes on the front of it. It’ll make a cute Christmas gift.

I went in to check out Hanny’s Sew’n Basket, which is a tiny quilting and notion shop. It is at the corner of Atwood and Church. It featured a lot of Christmas fabrics and gifts the owners had made, including Kleenex package covers and placemats.


On our way back to the car, we checked out Appomattox Arts and Crafts, which features 36 artisans from across the state. There were all kinds of handmade gifts, from soaps and crocheted blankets to sewn purses and toys. One adorable item was a Burglar Bear. He had on a black eye mask and shirt. One toboggan looked like a wig of red hair with braided pigtails.

Appomattox Arts and Crafts

Next was Baines Books and Coffee. It is the best locally-owned book store I’ve seen in a while. Up front was a sitting area with checkers, Sorry and other board games. Upstairs were more books and an area used for performances with a podium and several tables. Here, we bought three books: children’s book Frederick by Leo Lionni, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson, a follow up to Three Cups of Tea. The guy behind the counter said the book store will celebrate its 10th year.

Baines Books

Baines Books and Coffee

Baines Books and Coffee

A sitting area in the front section of Baines Books and Coffee.

Appomattox is a quaint town and a nice stop along 460.

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National Gallery of Art, East Building

After our tour around Georgetown, we dropped Sidney off at the hotel and caught the Metro back to the National Mall area. Our first stop was the National Gallery of Art‘s East Building, which houses the modern art.

Beth and Matisse

There’s lots of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse pieces and other paintings and sculptures. There are also Andy Warhol pieces, mixed media and shadow boxes.

One gallery, located in the tower, also featured a contemporary artist — Kerry James Marshall. He deals with concepts of African American experiences. Marshall’s paintings are very colorful and many contain similar images, such as a red cross. His exhibit was one of my favorites at this museum.

Before we left, we checked out an exhibit called Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes on the mezzanine. It featured lots of beautiful costumes and films of Russian ballets. Lots of rich colors and textures.

I like Richmond’s modern art museum better. It has more contemporary and interesting pieces and I enjoyed it more. The national museum, however, should definitely be on your to-do list. It does contain many good pieces.

Sweet Water Tavern, Falls Church, Va.

Sweet Water Tavern was where we spent our evening on a recent Friday. It turned into an early birthday meal, which was a great choice. (My birthday was the next day.)

I had a glass of pinot grigio to go with a mahi mahi, cheesy polenta and vegetables.

My meal

Chris had a salad, mashed potatoes and a 12 oz. ribeye.

Chris' meal

Dessert was a white chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream (Chris) and a chocolate waffle (which chocolate sauce in between the two halves) and vanilla ice cream and whipped cream (me).

Chris' dessert

My dessert

I almost finished this before remembering to snap a photo for you. Oops! It was that good.

Great atmosphere and food. Lots of people were there with their kids. The place was busy, so it appears to be a favorite among the Falls Church residents.

The waiter, Kunal, was also celebrating a birthday in August. He and the staff made me a birthday card, which I though was really sweet.

Happy birthday!

Hope you had a good one, too, Kunal!

Café La Ruche

Café La Ruche is a small French cafe on 31st street in the northwest section of D.C. During our visit to Georgetown, we stopped here for lunch.

Across the street are some quaint buildings.

Neighborhood of La Ruche

The menu features several brunch items. Chris picked out sausage, eggs and a croissant for lunch.

Chris' lunch

I got an avocado and shrimp salad with eggs, beets and onion. We also shared a mimosa.

My brunch

Sidney wasn’t left out either. The owner brought her a bowl of water.


Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

We walked a little ways on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail (C&O Canal Trail) in Georgetown one morning. This portion is known as the Cow Towpath.

Section of the C&O Canal Trail through Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Section of the C&O Canal Trail through Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

We were a little disappointed in the trail. We were expecting a greenway, but  it’s more of a dirt path. It’s a heavily used trail, though. Because of the large amount of bikers, walkers and fishermen, we had to walk single file for the majority of the walk. Chris suggested we walk around the Georgetown community instead.


Georgetown Market

We really like the Georgetown area. It’s very quaint and filled with lots of restaurants and shops. Very walkable. Lots of greenery. Lots of beautiful buildings.

We found Rock Creek Park along the waterfront. There were people boating, biking and walking along the water. Kids played in a water fountain.

The Georgetown Waterfront

The Georgetown Waterfront

Water Fountain

Back on the main streets, we found the Old Stone House, completed in 1766. It is the only remaining  pre-Revolutionary building in the capital. It is also part of Rock Creek Park.

Old Stone House

This house (1766) is the only remaining pre-Revolutionary building in D.C.

The large backyard of the Old Stone House.

The large backyard of the Old Stone House.