Then a few days at Mountain Lake, in Southwest Virginia.
After that we headed to Snowshoe Mountain, WV, where I'd always wanted to stay. LOVED IT.
Upon leaving Snowshoe we made a pit stop at Cass Scenic Railroad, also in West Virginia. Mostly we stopped there for a yummy lunch, but also for a train ride to kill some time and thrill my three year old. Because he's 3 and a boy. So trains rock his socks off.
We headed from there to my favorite place on earth--Spruce Knob, West Virginia, where Rave Run #3 happened.
Spruce Knob means the world to me. I went to The Mountain Institute as a student during the summer of 1998, then again as staff in 2000 for a program called Scholars Academy (which no longer exists). For a month we learned about the economic and cultural landscape of West Virginia, we camped hiked, spelunked, and wrote a 75-100 page autobiographical thesis. I've been back many times since, often for the annual reunion of people who went through the program I participated in. I love these people and this place. I would never have known how to love West Virginia without this experience, and I wouldn't have gotten into my specific field. It felt so good to go home. I wanted to stay forever.
Saturday was Mr. Joanna's birthday. Another Scholar alum brought cake and another made an amazing dinner. It was absolutely perfect. Did I mention that I wanted to stay?!? But we had other places calling our names. On Sunday morning we headed back down the mountain to Seneca Rocks to meet up with my BFF Jamie.
Let me tell you about Jame. I've known her since we were 12. She's as close to a third kid as my parents ever got. We get each other, and we are both openly, completely ourselves with each other. We've spent the last 12 years living in different states, and that hasn't slowed us down one bit. I swear, she knew my old commute as well as I did because my commute was the only time I reliably had to talk. She's outgoing, Irish, and crazy. I love this girl. And it was fantastic to see her.
We stayed in a ridiculous little cabin. They look cute from the outside, and then you step in to this utter weirdness. I'm pretty sure the picture doesn't even do it justice.
We hung out for the evening and went our separate ways on Monday morning. Mr. Joanna and I waaaaay miscalculated driving time and ended up on a wild goose chase all over West Virginia just so I could go to the Tamarack before we caught our flight back out. I LOVE the Tamarack. It's upscale, beautiful rural gorgeousness. It's a center where handmade products (and some manufactured goods) from around the state are sold and beautiful food is offered. I was hoping to find an art glass accessory for our master bedroom. Some of the women in my family worked in the potteries in WV during the war, so that industry in general has a huge place in my heart. I kind of knew what I was after--I wanted a new piece of Blenko to add to my collection. And I found it! It's being shipped and should be here in a few days.
We had just enough time to pick out the new Blenko, grad some sandwiches to eat in the car, and hit the road back to the airport to fly home. Coming home was like waking up from a dream. A long, amazing dream. I can't wait to do it again.