Take Advantage of Fall with a Fun-Filled Road Trip to Abingdon, VA

first_imgArrive in historic Abingdon, VA and explore the charming brick sidewalks of Main Street. Abingdon was founded in 1778, and the entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places. Self-guided walking tours are available from the Visitor Center. If you want a deeper dive into history, line up a tour with History Alive! Tours. Costumed, in-character tour guides will take you to the most significant sites in Abingdon history, including the Abingdon Muster Grounds, where patriots mustered to confront the British forces in 1780. Inside tip for wanderers: Always “know before you go” and check the official websites for parks and trails. Many visitor centers are closed currently; plan to bring plenty of water and snacks. Have a backup plan in mind if the parking lot is full. If you’d rather skip the hassle of doing your own research, consider a guided hike from White Blaze Outdoors – specialties include a Waterfall Tour or Salamander Hike for families. Day Four Day One Allow plenty of time for meals in Abingdon, as you eat your way through the “Best Small Town Food Scene in the Country” for TWO years running! With over 30 independently owned restaurants, Abingdon has more eateries per capita than New York City. Whether you want to sample hoecakes or haute cuisine, you’ll find it in Abingdon. Just off the trail in Alvarado you’ll find Abingdon Vineyards, a gorgeous farm winery along the banks of the South Holston River. Enjoy a flight of wines and live music on the lawn. Rent kayaks at the Vineyards or bring a picnic blanket and just relax! This winery combines the sophisticated palate of Napa Valley with the unique terroir of the Appalachian Mountains for a style of wine the owners call “Nappalachian.” With a beautiful covered patio and riverside picnic tables, it’s a perfect outdoor venue for socially distanced entertainment. The Virginia Creeper Trail is considered one of best rail-trails in the country, famous for its scenic vistas, tumbling creeks, and 47 original trestle bridges. The trail runs from Abingdon (mile marker zero), through the tiny town of Damascus, where it intersects with the Appalachian Trail, and on to Whitetop Station on the Virginia/North Carolina border. Hikers, bikers, and equestrians of all ages share the crushed-limestone and hard-packed dirt trail. Experience the nostalgic charm of a night at the drive-in. Barter Theatre, the state theatre of Virginia, offers live performances at the historic Moonlite Drive-In. Take in a live show from the comfort and safety of your car. Even better, the experience is completely touchless, featuring electronic tickets, and programs delivered to your smart phone. Before heading home, explore Abingdon’s public art trail, including 3 of Virginia’s famous LOVEworks. After all, Virginia is for Lovers! After a day of exploring, enjoy dining al fresco in Abingdon. Pick your favorite patio experience. For a luxurious step back in time, enjoy a glass of vino from the award-winning wine list at Sister’s American Grill at The Martha. The grande dame of Abingdon has now added intimate outdoor dining, as well as tables on the front porch overlooking Main Street. Plenty of Abingdon eateries also offer patio dining, from innovative fine dining, to family-friendly joints.  Pick up a picnic lunch at Bonefire Smoke House or JJ’s Restaurant, and head out for some sightseeing on the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway – aka “the road to the wild ponies.” The Abingdon area is home to Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. Stops along the way include the highly instagrammable ponies of Grayson Highlands State Park and the charming town of Damascus, VA, known as Trail Town USA. The Martha Washington Hotel & Spa in Abingdon, VA on Saturday, October 20, 2012. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnettecenter_img Day Two Numerous outfitters are ready to provide bikes and shuttle services to the trailhead, making it accessible to even novice riders. Start in Abingdon or take a shuttle Whitetop Station for an all downhill ride, or challenge yourself with the full 34-miles! Day Three Abingdon is your jumping off point to explore the curvy back roads and tiny towns of Southwest Virginia. Hikers can tackle the trail to the Mount Rogers peak, an approximately 8.5 mile out-and-back trail that starts in Grayson Highlands State Park. The park also has plenty to offer less ambitious hikers, with many of the shorter trails in Grayson Highlands loaded with iconic Appalachian vistas. The easily accessible Twin Pinnacles Trail begins at the park’s visitor center and takes hikers on a 1.6-mile loop with sweeping views of Wilbur Ridge and Mount Rogers. Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same this year, you can still indulge your love of travel with an epic road trip to Abingdon, VA. This small mountain town is located in the southwestern corner of Virginia, just a few hours from the metro areas of Charlotte, Asheville and Knoxville, TN. The 34.3-mile Virginia Creeper Trail was named after the steam engine that once creeped up the rails into the Iron Mountains. By the 1970s, many railroads were abandoned, so in 1986 the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy began converting old railroad beds into trail systems for hikers and bikers.Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org last_img read more

Groups call for pandemic flu vaccine ‘master plan’

first_imgOct 4, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Public health and infectious disease experts today called on the United States to develop a “master plan” for development of pandemic influenza vaccines in order to translate scientific advances more rapidly into improved pandemic preparedness.The recommendation was one of seven pandemic policy suggestions made by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonprofit public health advocacy group, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).”The United States must expand and accelerate research efforts and ensure we rapidly translate scientific breakthroughs into real-world practice to prepare for a possible pandemic,” Kathleen Maletic Neuzil, MD, coauthor of the report, said in a news release. She is chair of the IDSA’s Pandemic Influenza Task Force and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.The two organizations also called for streamlining the licensing process for pandemic flu vaccines, developing a nationwide system to track the use and effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccine, and relieving states of cost-sharing for the nation’s stockpile of antiviral drugs, among other measures.The recommendations are part of a 26-page report, “Pandemic Influenza: The State of the Science,” released by the two groups today. The report discusses the threat posed by H5N1 and other avian influenza viruses and outlines the status of efforts to develop vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic techniques for pandemic flu.”An effective US vaccine research and development strategic program must be much larger in scale than current funding permits, in addition to being multinational in scope,” the report states. It describes current vaccine development efforts as a “patchwork” that may not produce rapid progress.The groups called for a “Pandemic Vaccine Research and Development Master Plan to systemize and greatly enhance the current U.S. and international vaccine research and development strategies, bringing together the knowledge of government and private industry scientists.”The master plan should include an inventory of all relevant issues and all activities already under way, the report says. The plan should state which sectors are responsible for completing each activity, list funding needs, and provide benchmarks for measuring progress.The vaccine effort would require a “substantial” increase in funding, the groups say. But in a news teleconference today, TFAH Executive Director Jeffrey Levi declined to name a figure, saying the plan must be developed before its cost can be estimated.”We recognize that Congress over the last year has invested more than $5 billion toward improving pandemic preparedness,” but that is only a starting point for vaccine development and production, Levi said.In response to questions, Levi said he was uncertain if any legislation would be needed to pave the way for the suggested master plan. In working on HIV and AIDS, he said, “Government found a way to convene the academic community and patients and the private sector to talk about issues and share information without violating intellectual property rights.”Levi and Neuzil were asked if they could say which vaccines now in development are most promising. Neuzil responded that it’s difficult to assess the vaccines, because many vaccine trials have been described only in press releases so far, and even scientific journal articles don’t always give full technical data.”From my perspective it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges, because the data I have on each vaccine are in no way equivalent,” said Neuzil.But what is clear, she said, is that “with H5N1 it’s likely we’ll need more than one dose of vaccine, and we’ll need either a high concentration of antigen or we’ll need an adjuvant” (a general stimulant of immune response).The two groups endorse the US government goal of stockpiling enough doses of antiviral drugs to cover about 25% of the population (81 million treatment courses), but they take issue with the funding mechanism. The federal plan calls for buying 50 million treatment courses, but making the states responsible for buying the other 31 million courses, with a 25% federal subsidy.Levi said the federal government should pay for all 81 million courses. “We need to make sure that every state has the right amount, and not every state is going to be able to afford that,” he said. “We believe this is a federal responsibility, and therefore the federal government should purchase it and stockpile it.”The TFAH-IDSA report also makes the following recommendations:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should implement a nationwide, real-time system to track flu vaccine efficacy, distribution and redistribution, uptake, and impact.The United States should boost surveillance for novel flu viruses by expanding working relationships with other countries, especially in Southeast Asia, through the World Health Organization.The nation should embrace policies to increase seasonal flu vaccination in order to reduce the toll of flu and to stabilize vaccine manufacturing capacity. This should include developing “standardized templates for conducting mass vaccinations and countermeasure distribution.”The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should streamline the licensing process for pandemic vaccines, using a different approach than with season flu vaccines.The FDA should adopt criteria for accepting foreign clinical trial data for registering flu vaccines in the United States.An additional recommendation, listed in a news release but not in the full report, is that Congress pass the proposed Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act to improve public health capabilities and support private-sector innovation.The report was written by Levi and Neuzil with Marlene Cimons, an adjunct journalism professor at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.In preparing the report, they drew on interviews with 14 leading experts on flu, pandemics, and infectious disease, including Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The group also included Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of the CIDRAP Web site.See also:TFAH-IDSA news releasehttp://healthyamericans.org/newsroom/releases/release100406.pdfFull TFAH-IDSA reporthttp://healthyamericans.org/reports/fluscience/FluScience.pdflast_img read more