Another side trip (a trend I wish to continue). This one a Christmas present to ourselves. The plan, when T made the reservations a month ago, was to spend two days cross country skiing at White Grass in Canaan Valley. Alas, no snow is hard to ski in. They had a pile not much bigger than a cow pie out front of the lodge with a sign in it, selling it for $120 an ounce.
No matter. No matter even that it rained all weekend. We hiked and explored and read and ate well. No crowds to contend with. Met a lot of nice people, too.
Harrisonburg, Virginia. Courthouse Square in the distance.
Grilled lettuce anyone?
We left straight from work Friday night, stopping for dinner in Harrisonburg in a loud hip place full of young people. Good food and good local beer, though.
Driving in the dark and the rain into the Allegheny Mountains, steep winding two lane roads switch-backing up thousands of feet, long dark tunnels of tall trees, Terri kept making whimpering noises from the passenger seat, asking me to slow down, and slow down more. It was not quite 9pm by the time we rolled into the little town of Davis, and it felt much later.
Lobby of the B&B.
A cozy dog-eared B&B, the kind of place where you let yourself in with a key left in the mailbox, then find your own room, furnished with antiques picked up at yard sales, benches made of old snowboards. After the white-knuckle drive I am too twitchy for sleep, so we drop the bags and go in search of a night cap.
Davis is about the same size as our home town of Scottsville, which is to say not big, little more than a block long. With no snow to bring crowds from the cities, the only three options in town – a bar, a bar/burrito place, and an italian cafe – closed up early. We did a little Googling and decided to try for the next town, also small, only 5 miles away.
According to Google, there is a small brew-pub on the way, out on the edge of town, also closed; but as we drove past we saw an “Open” sign still glowing in a window, and two pickups parked out front. It has the look of a rough roadhouse pool hall, pretty dark, but with few other prospects I convince T it will be fine, and promise to forego the knife fights, fists only.
Just so happens the place was just bought and reopened days ago by a group of young guys, excited to share their big plans for renovating the place. Yes, yes, we’re supposed to be closed, but come on in. You want some food? You like Sriracha? We make our own Sriracha pickles!
Big room, all but empty. Pool tables, car auction on the TV; but a warm fire popping in the stone fireplace makes it feel cheerful. And everyone is happy to see us.
Ski shots, three hours after closing time.
All downhill from here.
Having our car out front draws the attention of other folks driving by, it seems, also looking for somewhere to go (maybe because it’s a Prius, not another a pickup with a gun rack?), and soon there is a small festive crowd inside. Before long, a group of young women starts doing shots off a wooden ski prepared specifically for the purpose. The folks in the bar are mostly friendly ski instructors, adventure guides, restaurant workers off work, who are generous with local knowledge of things we should see and do. We hang around past midnight, a full three hours past closing time. The little party was still going strong when we left.
In the morning we discover the little diner downstairs is the only breakfast place in town, and a favorite with the locals. Good basic food, better than expected, and good coffee.
But is it art? Photo by T.
Strange West Virginia coffee maker.
Mapping out the drive. Photo by T.
The owner chatted with us, shared a little history and, knowing we had come for the non-forthcoming snow, just the days of rain in the forecast, she draws out on the back of a menu a route for us to explore the area by car, some of it way off the beaten path. If driven without stopping it would take little more than an hour.
We spend six.