Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hot Springs, VA

This town is the Homestead, a place very serious about the year 1766, so serious about it that they shave a bush for each numeral. Fortunately I'm a sucker for topiary. Otherwise I might find this number worship a little strange. The Homestead is old enough to expect a major fire to be part of its storied past and lo and behold a fire is commemorated on its old walls. Once you come out of the trees, the Homestead stands as a massive edifice, the Virginian version of The Shining hotel. The hallways are wide, the ceilings high; the prices match the largeness of scale.

For a little break from the stuffiness, we visited Lindsay's Roost on the main street. BBQ, check. Soap operas in the background playing above the bar, check. Overheard conversation about how a woman wondered why she was gaining weight until she woke up with a banana in her mouth, check. Must have been that darn Ambien.

The highlight was the guided tour of the Cascades, a gorge kept temperate by its constant flowing warm spring. Orchids live there. Having gone in February we missed all the flowers. Spring is supposedly the time to go. I was leery of a guided hike, but the guide was good. He peppered the stops with scientific curiosities, such as the allergy fighting ability of honey.

I am skeptical of a place so wrapped up in moneyed trappings, but having found myself there for a meeting, there is a lot to embrace and love about this place.