Thursday, January 6, 2011

Home Sweet Homestead

After a year like this one, the last thing on my to-do list was live it up in town for the big-27. In fact, I have been on quite the cool it down kick. And after logging over 66,000 jet miles, the thought of hopping on another flight was about as attractive as poking myself in the eye with a ruler.

So when Linds and I kicked around ideas for the birthday weekend, we broke out the big book. (1,000 Places To See Before You Die) and sure enough it didn't disappoint.

Just 4 hours west from Arlington sits The Homestead; one time playground for presidents, now family friendly retreat.

Talk about spontaneous – with a week, we were packing up and heading for the Allegheny Mountains. Just minutes after dropping our bags (and putting our wine outside to chill - al fresco style in the 20 degree weather), we were off to tour the campus. It took us an hour just to hit the highlights; there is just so much history (and lounging equipment).

After a little Christmas ornament shopping and huddling around the fire (next to the ice skating ring) we headed over to the spa. As part of our Divine Duo package we each had an hour long Swedish massages and as much Spa time as we could stand.

I have to say, it was one of the best massages ever - I was sore the next day..but in a good way. There was nothing frilly about it, no special potions or smelly shiny things- just lotion and a solid, strong, deep rub down, followed by some reading, tea-ing, and jibber-jab time in the Serenity Room. (Apparently we were the only ones who thought serenity equals chit-chat because within 10 minutes, we were the only ones left.) Also good to know - they serve Harney and Sons so of course we helped ourselves to a few extra tea bags for later (but fyi if you’re trying to be discreet - only 4 fit in each pocket of the robes).  BONUS!

Once thoroughly numbed we switched back into our adventure gear (yoga pants and all stars). We had booked ourselves for a little hayride with all the kiddie pops to see the Christmas lights. Our tractor carriage was certainly more entertaining for us then the sippy cup crowd as 90% of the ooing and awing came from Team Chez Copa. The kids were more focused on the cheerio distribution system on board.

But shivering five minutes later, we wondered what grade of crack we were smoking when we signed up for this cry-wagon - and then the tractor hauling my heavy-ass screeched to a stop. Seriously?

Too far (and too cold) to walk back , I started considering our options as snow bunny hitchhikers, when the driver (operator, captain, whatever) starts opening the latch to let everyone out. Not one to assume lemming status (or follow rules for that matter), we stay seated and make our best confused puppy dog faces – while everyone else pops out, with zero hesitation. Hello –we’re in the middle of nowhere – and we’re all popping out why? To check the tires – come on people…..Then el Cap-i-tan practically hand signs it to the smug Washingtonians….SMORES (you idiot).

Clearly we didn't get the memo! We weren't broken...we were all getting gooey marshmallows! You would have thought we just won Oprah's favorite things! It was the best birthday surprise EVER – even for Linds!
Also part of our package was a fancy shmancy dinner and waiting back in the room (well technically outside the room) we had our bottle of wine we smuggled in. Not one to waste - we cracked that sucker open while we dressed up.

I am a terrible day-of packer - despite what I tell myself the night before - and forgot a few of the biggies - as did linds. So dressing up was more of a wish than reality.
Two glasses deep we checked in for dinner. The very American pre-fix dinner was delicious salmon, crab soup, and apple pie, but tack on another Pinot Gris and I couldn't fight the red-faced giggles followed by the sneaky-sleepies. By 11 I had arrived to ZZZ-ville Population-1.
Sunday morning we slept in (-ish) - and although dinner may not have been fully digested - we hit the breakfast buffet anyway. All the classics were also in attendance - eggs, bacon, waffle station, grits, and so much more.

The last thing on our agenda was the Jefferson Pools before heading home. The resort offers a free bus ride to the historic baths, but we figured it was five miles up the road so we might as well check out and make the trip ourselves.

Once we hit the five mile mark with no mineral springs in sight, we figured we missed something. Pulling over and ducking into the Pit Stop, a delightful and helpful shop-owner gave me what I assumed to be directions, which I can imagine it was supremely difficult to manage with so few teeth. After a few minutes of gumming, I mustered my best doe-eyed beauty pageant smile, and started to back out slowly. Luckily his daughter popped out and translated for me.

We still managed to mess up the simple directions and it took another 20 minutes to go a mile. In our defense, it had started to snow, and we were expecting a few signs.
What we saw was a rapidly deteriorating shack. But under the shack are the hot-spring pools and for $17 bucks you can strip down to your skivvies in 20 degree weather and jump into the 100 degree sulfur reeking natural springs for an hour.

The getting in is fine - the water is actually very nice (although the healing properties are debatable) it's the getting out that becomes the issue. It's like polar bear swimming in reverse. But if it's good enough for 200 year old presidents (Jefferson) who are we to be denied the opportunity? You'd think after 27 years of surviving ...I'd learn a few things...

Once we finally restored our core temperatures to habitable - it was back on the road...and reality.

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