We succeeded at having an amazing babymoon at The Homestead, but (in the grand tradition of most trips I plan) failed at actually relaxing much.
But first, some highlights of last week, pre-babymoon:
- Dinner at The Roosevelt with the Blanchards. It was kind of like hanging out with a teenage couple because they were so! excited! to have a night out with other adults. As always they cracked us up and our time together felt way too short.
- Root beer floats (featuring homebrewed root beer made by me) with Jenny O F, and I got to meet little Clarabelle for the first time. She was sweet and small and the only thing I could think when I picked her up was how Sophie weighs twice as much as she does.
- Kristin’s birthday dinner at Rappahannock, where we rolled deep and pulled off the surprise and where I had a fancy mocktail. Seafood cassoulet was pretty good, but must not have been what I was in the mood for because for some reason it just wasn’t satisfying. Plus I already heap breadcrumbs on top of mixed-up seafood and call it dinner, so maybe I shouldn’t have ordered something from such well-worn territory. But, a fun time anyway.
Then finally, after what seemed like the longest wait ever, the babymoon was here. The whirlwind, bulleted:
- A stop in the West End for breakfast at Silver Diner, which we both really enjoyed. A diner with crab benedict? Sign me up.
- A lovely, gray drive up to Lexington, where we poked around in some shops (like the fancy beer place Washington Street Purveyors) and were dismayed to find out that the Stonewall Jackson House is closed in February.
- Checked out the Lee Chapel, which was gorgeous inside and out, and which held a really neat museum in the basement. Learned a lot on this return visit (I hadn’t been since Magen and I went to Lexington several years ago).
- A very productive antiques shopping experience at Duke’s Antiques Center. Seriously, we checked several things off of our list of antiques to look for. I am finally the proud owner of a stereoscope.
- Beer time for Dan at the Devil’s Backbone Outpost Brewery.
- We got to enjoy a little snow and a lot of curvy, wooded roads in the dark on our way up the mountain to The Homestead.
- Wandered the halls of the old hotel, just exploring all the various wings and libraries and ballrooms until we were quite exhausted. Then we had a quiet drink at the lobby bar.
- A delicious room service breakfast, with the star being the hotel’s own homemade doughnuts. So glad my sister recommended these, per the ravings of her mother-in-law. An absolute must if you’re ever there.
- We went on the Homestead’s “history tour,” where a guide takes you to the hotel’s little movie theater and shows a slide show and talks about the hotel’s history, then guides you around to the different rooms and discusses each of them. Super interesting stuff, and I particularly liked the story about the Duke of Windsor trying to dip out on his hotel bill.
- We took a little drive around the surrounding area, with a visit to Ashwood School Antiques, then Falling Springs (a beautiful waterfall with an overlook on the main road, rt. 220). We stopped in Hot Springs proper for some cold medicine for Dan, and then lunched at a little italian place up the road.
- Back at the hotel, it was time for tea. High tea in the Homestead’s Grand Hall, that is. It’s such a simple, obvious ritual — getting a hot cup of tea and sitting in a comfortable chair — but one I don’t observe often enough.
- A long walk around the grounds finally satisfied my need to take photos of everything, and I’m so glad we did it. This was one relaxing part of the journey, just shuffling along in the crisp mountain air while I clicked away and Dan smoked a cigar and sipped a scotch.
- We put on bathing suits and walked down to the Allegheny Springs area behind the hotel, where currently there’s an ice skating rink and a spring-fed heated pool and hot tub. Of course it was like 30 degrees so any time you were out of the water, even for an instant, you were miserable. But the water was so warm and comforting, and the feeling of weightlessness in the water was a pregnant lady’s dream. Entirely relaxing. I hope I remember the sight of the steam rising off the pristine pool, with the mountains in the background. So beautiful.
- Then it was time to clean up so we could make it to our dinner reservations in the Main Dining Room. I think this may be the only place we’ve ever had dinner where there was a dress code (suit jacket for the men, no denim). Everything I ate was delicious, the lighting and furniture were beautiful, and it was fun watching some of the older couples get up to dance to the band that was playing on the room’s stage.
- After a long day, neither of us was feeling too great so we watched some Downton that happened to be on TV and passed out early.
- After a sumptuous buffet breakfast in the Main Dining Room, we checked out and were off. On our way out of the mountains, we stopped in Warm Springs at the Jefferson Pools and walked around taking pictures of the springs where TJ soaked.
- More beautiful Virginia countryside!
- We stopped in Staunton for some more antiquing at Staunton Antiques Center and Jolly Roger Antiques. The first one I’d recommend highly; the second requires a little digging. At Staunton Antiques Center I got some good deals on large blue-glass Ball jars, which I’m going to use to replace the canisters on the kitchen counter. These are way more legit than their outgoing Ikea counterparts. #thingsonlytesscaresabout
- We continued our drive and stopped in Charlottesville for lunch at Beer Run, which has great food for a place that’s essentially a beer store. Dan found some fancy brews apparently, but I was too interested in my soup and sandwich to look around much.
- As much fun as we had, it felt so good to come home to our house and our kittycat and everything we love here.
All pictures are here.
Overall I’d say the Homestead is a great place to vacation if you want to get away (seriously, to the middle of nowhere) but stay within reasonable driving distance. It’s also just a great chance to sample the way that rich people have vacationed for a couple of centuries, and if you’re anything like me this will be a totally foreign thing to explore. Just go in the dead of winter and take advantage of those Groupons / Living Social deals, and it’ll be about the same amount as staying in a run-of-the-mill hotel in a big city, only you’ll be getting spoiled beyond belief.
I was super tired when we got home but the Junius guys were in town, so I went to Strange Matter to see them play. Then they stayed at our house, and we breakfasted together in the morning. One of my favorite bands, and also just a bunch of really nice guys. But Saturday night we were truly exhausted from the trip and then houseguests, so we just kind of hung out in bed and talked and read some from Bringing Up Bebe, and I finally felt refreshed after that little bit of down time.
Work continues to be stressful and I’m just trying to balance that out with enjoying other things as much as possible. Today I did all the household chores, cleaned out those new blue jars for use in the kitchen, cleaned some silver, and went for a walk in the park where I sat on a bench and read for a while. Then I came home and made crispy tofu and broccoli stir-fry for dinner, and we watched the last episode of Downton. Kind of a disappointment, and I felt like the ending was super rushed. But loved the show in general.
As far as baby news goes, there isn’t much. I’m 23 weeks along, and still feeling great. I’ve been continuing to crave bread (like usual), yogurt, and sweets like ice cream and chocolate. The most surprising thing though has been root beer. I used to hate it when I was a kid, and in recent years only drank it when I would randomly be in the mood for it. Now I’m in the mood for it all the time. It’s kind of a bummer / stroke of luck (depending on how you look at it) that it’s caffeine free.
On Sunday I had a private yoga session with an acquaintance who’s a yoga teacher and who also happens to be pregnant, and we went over a bunch of stuff and she showed me a lot of modifications and substitutions I can do in regular yoga classes. It was fun to have an also-pregnant example to watch on the yoga floor, and validating to get compliments on my strength, balance, and flexibility. I want to try to keep up with yoga as much as possible even though my schedule is hectic.