Thursday, June 4, 2009

a weekend in Virginia

My mom treated me to a wonderful weekend in the mountains of Virginia, and my cousin Greg's wedding. It was a sort of "destination wedding" because they decided to get married at the Homestead, a famous resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, a beautiful little town near the Blue Ridge Mountains. And not only were the guests invited to the wedding, but we were all invited to the rehearsal dinner, to a "welcome parlor" before the wedding, and then a "farewell breakfast" the morning after the wedding.

Here is a shot of the Homestead. The grounds outside were just as immaculate and showy as all the lounges and ballrooms inside!

Here is a shot of the surrounding countryside, and a bit of the gardens - I'd forgotten how impressive rhododendrons and dogwoods are in full bloom!

Here I am standing in front of one of the hot springs pools, adjacent to the Spa Garden where the marriage ceremony took place. Mom and I came back here after the reception and soaked our feet for a good long time.

Here is Mom basking alongside one of the lush gardens.

And of course, a picture of the bride and groom during their first dance in the Crystal ballroom.

A picture of our lavish table and place settings - I have never seen a table so cram-packed with china, silver, cyrstal, flowers, and all sorts of other goodies. I sat between my mom and my cousin Audra.

We stayed in a bed-and-breakfast that had been remodeled from an old mill. One thing I just loved about this part of Virginia was how old everything was. Most of the buildings were from the 1800's, and yet so well taken care of. The Homestead itself was founded in 1766.

On Sunday after the farewell breakfast, Mom and I went for a walk up the lane from our B & B, alongside an old stone wall, graced with fragrant wild roses and shaded by huge old oaks. It is such a different world from the West.

Then we took off for a drive through the mountains. The winding roads were full of blooming mountain laurel and rhodendron. We were oohing and aahing the whole way. We stopped in the small town of Eagle Rock, where my Grandmother was born and lived until she moved to New York in the 1920's. I called a cousin of mine (once removed) who still lives in the area but he was out on his Sunday excursion too.

Next we headed up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, a beautiful drive along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We had to stop at almost every overlook! We also had to stop and feast on fried green tomtoes at the lodge at Peaks of Otter.

I am including this picture because the stream at the bottom of this ravine reminded me so much of the creek at the back of our farm in West Falls, NY (I lived there from 1991-1994, before moving to Wyoming).

The hillside along this creek was blanketed with mountain laurel, like God had decided to do a bit of His own wedding decorating, too.

On our last day, we decided to take a different route back to the Dulles Airport and we drove through Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. This is one of the colleges I applied to (and didn't get accepted!), but it was fun to go back and see it again. The University was founded by Thomas Jefferson, and he designed the original campus and many of the buildings. We did a brief walk around the Rotunda with its marble balustraded balconies and colonnaded walkways. The fronts of all the buildings on the campus (even on frat row) have a signature four white columns (but the Rotunda has six columns). Very majestic.

Ahhh... back to the real world now.

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