Well, we did escape to the mountains of western Virginia – not WEST Virginia, but Highland and Bath counties which are in western Virginia. I’d always driven through those counties on Routes 39 or 250 but hadn’t really stopped there to see some of their charms. The last time I drove back from West Virginia (where I’ve done quite a bit of exploring), I swore I’d return to the “drive-by” portions of west Virginia.
And so we did. The top photo is of Veeka seated at our B&B, a paper airplane on the table. She learned how to fly one of these contraptions during our stay, an accomplishment that delighted her to no end.
The bottom photo is of Veeka posing at a mountain pass near the entrance to Highland County near where Confederate troops dug in for a nasty winter until the Union guys dislodged them. Didn’t know that this region was a major thoroughfare for troops back then as there was a road through those parts that ended up in Parkersburg, WV. Then we came to our place for the next three nights: Laurel Point Bed & Breakfast just outside of Monterey, a very small town that is the tourist center for the county. My goodness, what a stunner of a B&B. We pulled up around the curve on the gravel road leading up to the place only to see a 180-degree swath of gorgeous blue ridges. Folks I talked with in town told me the B&B has “the best view in the county” and I think they’re right.
Mike and Lorraine White, the hosts, were as nice as could be and the first night, I woke up at some ungodly hour and decided to go out and look at the stars, which of course were gorgeous. Couldn’t sleep so sat out on the patio to watch dawn arrive, accompanied by the family dog. As the day progressed, Mike took Veeka and I on a tour of this lovely property on 104 acres to show us the Scottish highland cattle (furry beasts with quite a rack of horns) next to his large garden. Eventually we set off to explore and got lost, ending up at a charmer of an Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd a few miles north of Monterey in the tiny village of Blue Grass. (See photo of church with red door). So we wandered in and got to do Morning Prayer, as there’s no regular priest within miles – nearest one is 2 hours away in Harrisonburg. The natives were friendly and everyone liked Miss Veeka who behaved rather well.
We drove some more, ending up near the Homestead, a large resort in Hot Springs. We decided to go high culture, attending a chamber music concert at Garth Newel, a high falutin music center just north of the Homestead. Again, Veeka was very good sitting through some of the weirdest compositions I’ve heard in a long time. They had all the esoteric stuff that Sunday but at least lemonaide and cookies were served. On the way back I got lost on a country road in a thunderstorm but finally landed on a road along the Cowpasture River in the early evening twilight.
After a second night at the B&B at 3,000 feet, we met one of the couples from the church at Evelyn’s Pantry – the local hangout – for lunch, then headed for some water. Eventually ended up at Lake Moomaw, a great mountain lake nearly on the West Virginia state line. Took forever to get there but Veeka loved dashing into the water and there was almost no one else there. I noticed this quite a bit during our three days in the area. Highland County is not exactly awash with tourists. Our first night there when we had dinner at the Highland Inn, only two other tables were occupied. However, as I looked for maps of the area and brochures on things to do, I found both hard to find and not well organized. Local road maps were very approximate. There was no staffed chamber of commerce office that I could find anywhere. I had to use several maps to find my way around country roads in these places and I got lost more than once. Plus, especially on Sundays, restaurants in Monterey just shut down and we had the worst time finding dinner. Finally Veeka and I had to just make do with Dove Bars found at the local BP gas station.
Our final day, we had a delightful visit to the Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs, which are large octagonal buildings over hot springs. Thomas Jefferson supposedly spent time here which seems astonishing when you realize how isolated this area is. It took me many hours to get here by car. I can’t imagine trying to get there by horse. Anyway, Veeka had the greatest time splashing about and actually getting her swimming strokes down with the help of a floatie stick. She did not want to leave. I wished we had stayed there, as a thunderstorm followed us nearly all the way home. No matter whether I drove east or north, I battled hours of nasty, heavy rains almost until I reached the Beltway.