On the Road Home

When I last checked in we were on our daughter’s farm in Fleischmann’s, NY. Cool morning temperatures in the low fifties were a wonderful change of pace from Florida’ s heat and humidity. This was peaceful, quiet, green and serene. It was wonderful to spend time with family and to relax in the true peace and quiet of the Catskills region.

We spent several days there before heading out on winding mountain roads to Buck Hills Falls, Pennsylvania where The Dow Jones firm developed a former Quaker property for their executives. They built individual “cottages” purchased by executives with enough room to fit at least four of my Boca Raton sized home inside each cottage. There was an inn for lesser employees to visit and vacation, but it burned to the ground and has not been rebuilt. Three golf courses, a tennis complex, equestrian stables, corrals, a children’s day camp, lawn bowling and resort size community pool provide the outdoor amenities for residents and the few lucky seasonal renters.

My brother and sister-in-law rented a home for the summer which did not permit pets inside, so we rented an AirBNB home nearby. We dined on their deck each night watching the large August full moon and a meteor shower while enjoying sweater and sweatshirt weather. Spending time with our family while helping plan our nephew’s wedding scheduled next summer, and bemoaning our beloved NY Yankees major slump, occupied our time. I wish I had planned more time with my brother, but it was time to head south.

Our adult children were adamant that we keep the driving to five or fewer hours. Our next stop was a bed and breakfast on a working farm in Fairfield, Virginia. It was “pet friendly” and five hours southwest. Their advertising “app” and email instructions were clear check in arrival was 4-7PM. The owner proprietors texted us the morning before our arrival asking when we expected to arrive. We estimated between 5-6PM. We stopped every few hours to walk the dogs and use the rest room. Major truck accidents slowed down every leg of our trip.

We arrived at 5:45PM only to learn the hosts had left for a concert and we were left an instruction letter and room key. We expected to be in a first-floor facility separate from the main inn. We were instead on the second floor of the main house accessing our accommodation by climbing a wood lumber steep exterior staircase. Carrying our luggage and a paralyzed pooch up and down the steps was great exercise and the equivalent of a cardiac stress test. The staircase was so steep that our three-year-old dog was afraid to climb or descend on it.

The property was breathtaking in the Shenandoah Valley surrounded by mountains. horses, chickens, fruit and vegetable gardens and hummingbirds. Young deer, rabbits and foxes were abundant and visible just as they had been at our stops in Maryland, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, upstate NY and Pennsylvania.

There were no food provisions or dinners or lunch available on the property . With no one to greet us we were on our own with Waze to guide us on poorly marked northern Virginia country roads. We found Frankie’s Pizza and dined on pizza and beer on our second-floor deck one night and hoagies the next.

We met our host and hostess the next morning at a sumptuous breakfast made with eggs, cheeses, butter, vegetables from their farm . The breakfast was luscious. Before arriving, we received strict written instructions to keep visiting pets off the deck, so we left the dogs in the room. When we finished introductions prior to being seated for breakfast, the hostess asked us to bring the dogs down.

As I carried Gigi down, she had a rare urinary accident on the wood deck outside. I offered to clean it up but instead received a stern lecture on the value of the items in each room and their concern about them being ruined by an incontinent dog . I was charged a daily pet cleaning fee in advance and signed a pet form guaranteeing responsibility for any damage as well upon arrival.

We were meticulous inside our accommodations at every stop with the older dog wearing two diapers lying on a waterproof mat placed on a waterproof doggie bed. I suggested she list her property as “pets tolerated” rather than pet friendly . It was the only negative incident over the course of the trip. This bed and breakfast is well worth relaxing at without pets or young children. The host and hostess were actually quite nice once you spent time with them, so we chose to overlook the previous days harsh lecture.

After two nights we drove south six hours to Asheville , North Carolina. The drive on I81 south then 26 east took us into Tennessee and through the mountains. I have been to Big Sur, the Pacific Coast Highway and the Amalfi Coast all wondrous and dramatic. The Tennessee mountains were far greener and more beautiful than anything I had ever seen.

Asheville reminded me of Boulder, Colorado or Venice, California with wealthy long haired seniors and street people. It was a great outdoors activity, sit outside and drink a beer from a microbrewery type of town. We were down the block from the Biltmore Estate and the Mission Hospital complex, a huge medical center I had never heard of. Patients from the south used it as a referral Center of Excellence.

With trendy stores, restaurants, pubs and activities I learned firsthand why it has become a retirement and vacation hub. I understood the allure of Asheville but it was not our cup of tea.

Our next stop on the trip south was Jekyll Island, Georgia. Beautiful natural beaches, with protected dunes and limited development made it a unique beach town. Inclement weather induced us to leave a day earlier for the six-hour drive home.

As we pulled into our residential community I was struck by how pretty and well maintained it was. Traveling up and down the east coast I saw impressive residential areas, but I still love my neighborhood.

Despite the divisiveness in the nation, most people we met were polite, civil and warm. We wore N95 masks when indoors in public places and most shopkeepers asked us if we wanted them to don a mask when we approached them. We refrained from asking them to put on a mask.

The vacation was long overdue and certainly recharged my battery. But it’s always good to be home.

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