Our plans, this summer, were to spend about 10 days in the Midwest. A few in Illinois and the majority of the time in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. However, neither of our teenage offspring wanted to spend that much time (and that far away) from home. Dean suggested a beach house — we used to spend a week or so each summer in Chincoteague, but since Andrew just returned from a trip to the beach with a friend and Clare doesn’t much care for the beach, we looked to the mountains for our 2010 summer family vacation.
I did a search on cabins in the Blue Ridge mountains, and I think the one we ended up staying at was one of the first I saw. I sent Dean a link, he liked it and suggested we talk about it with the kids that night. We didn’t talk that night but within a couple of weeks did decided to try to rent that house — although I was pretty sure it would have already been rented for the week we wanted to go.
I was partially right — the owner of the house said that it was available for some of the week we wanted to visit, but not for most of it, but he had other cabins available to rent — furnished nearly identically. I talked to Dean and he said that would be fine, and emailed the owner again. He replied that the guests who were going to stay in the original cabin didn’t mind moving to another — we could have the one we wanted, so we booked A Blue Ridge Haven for a week.
Once I had the address of the cabin (after sending my payment to the owner), I did some Internet searching and discovered that it was in a resort, owned by a former motivational speaker who was at one time, according to Wikipedia, involved in a pyramid scheme along with Ben Gay and Jerry Booz. On the Web site of the resort is a sort of weird mission statement:
[Our] mission…is to have at the core of every endeavor that is instituted on or through our facilities a family oriented emphasis bringing families closer and protraying Peace, Tranquility, and Love to all who come to know us.
The cabins were also much closer together than I expected. I was beginning to have some reservations about staying there, but it was too late for a full refund. Our cabin was the closest to the river, so I figured we could spend a lot of time on the front porch and not look behind us. I also found a newspaper article about the resort that poked fun at the owner and his big ideas.
We took two cars so we could do separate things if we wanted to (or if someone needed a quick escape back to Bethesda). The drive was quite pretty — we’d planned on stopping at the Walton Mountain Museum because, as a child, I was a fan of The Waltons and Earl Hamner‘s books, but we were hungry by the time we got close to the museum and there was no hope of food in the town where the museum is located, so we drove on and stopped for lunch. After lunch the GPS told us to go west on a narrow country road for quite some time. We ended up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was slower than the route we’d been on before our Walton Mountain detour, but at spots, breathtakingly scenic. About 20 miles after our lunch break Clare and I spotted a bear cub running towards the road. It stopped and turned back into the woods — probably because its mom was calling it. It was my first bear sighting.
Closer to the Meadows of Dan, where the cabin was located, we drove through dense fog. We could barely see the lights on the rear of Dean’s car much of the time. Clare loved it though — she said, once when we slowed down so we couldn’t see Dean’s car ahead of us, “This is what nothing looks like.”
We finally made it to the Meadows of Dan — a tiny town off the Blue Ridge Parkway and home to Nancy’s Candy Company. The resort is a few miles out of the Meadows of Dan — and hard to miss with its large sign, carousel and noticeable white buildings. The house looks just like advertised — and was spotless. We took the main floor bedroom and the kids took the loft. The rest of the cabin was a “great room” with connected kitchen and a bathroom. Quite cozy, but also big enough for the four of us.
I’ll write about the week later — it turned out to be quite idyllic, if you ignore the fact that I worked for 3 days. Everyone got along well and everyone seemed to have a good time.