Monday, February 18, 2013

My Parents Went to West Virginia and All I Got was . . .

well, nothing.  West Virginia doesn't exactly lend itself to souvenirs.  Unless you count the cans of creamed possum we saw at the restaurant where we ate breakfast on Sunday morning and, let's be clear, I don't.

Mike and I decided we needed a little break from reality.  We originally planned on going to Hocking Hills, but being the poor planners we are, we decided to go on the weekend immediately following Valentine's Day, and waited to make reservations until every place in the entire region was sold out.  So, we started casting about for something interesting within a two-hour drive. 

A couple of years ago we took the kids to North Bend State Park in West Virginia for Memorial Day weekend.  We took a day trip to Blennerhassett island, a really cool place nearby that has a rebuilt pre-Civil War era mansion.  While killing time waiting for the ferry, we saw a beautiful old hotel in downtown Parkersburg, WV.  This one:

After doing a little research, we discovered they had some pretty cool packages available for the weekend, and we made a reservation.

Friday afternoon I actually left work early!  We were going to get on the road early!  Except I ran out of gas and had to wait for an hour for a tow truck.  Typical.  Got that taken care of, came home, loaded up the bags and the dogs, and headed south.  Dropped the furry ones off at the kennel, which Duke loves.  He practically dragged the poor girl checking them in back to his weekend accommodations.

Our hotel was amazing.  We got a two-floor suite with a large sitting area on the first floor, and a bedroom on the second floor, with a pretty view of downtown and the river.  It was perfect.  I was actively plotting some way to wedge the door shut and just stay there permanently.

I'll preface the rest by saying that we had a fantastic time, and the entire objective of the trip (to relax) was 100% achieved.  The execution of the details, however, was pretty much our usual luck, a.k.a., none.  Friday night, I wanted to go to the Trans Allegheny Bookstore.  It's a renovated Carnegie Library that has amazing glass floors and ghosts!! 

It's also closed.  Apparently the owner died and the family has been fighting over it for two years. 

When that didn't work out, we just wanted someplace to eat.  The restaurant in the hotel was hosting a large loud party, so we went out looking for something else.  The place next door closed an hour earlier.  The place across the street, although advertising itself as a pub, really was just a bar that also sold hot dogs (?).  The place we saw on Mike's tablet a couple of blocks away was just plain vacant!  So, we got sandwiches from Jimmy John's and watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy in our room and read. 

Saturday I slept in until 10am.  Go ahead, be jealous!  We went out to find a non-chain place to eat breakfast, but ended up at a place called Cheddars that only had a lunch menu since by then it was like, 11:30.  It was really good, though. 

Then we went to the Fenton Glass factory.  I was hoping to take a tour.  For the most part, their stuff isn't really my style, but how could you pass up a chance to see glass being made?  [You see where this is going, don't you?]

They weren't actually making glass that day.  So, no tour.  But, I was happy to learn that they have hand-made glass beads that are compatible with my Pandora bracelet!  And so pretty!

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I picked two.  Mike was happy to be released from QVC land, and we headed to downtown Marietta for the Mid Ohio Valley Blues Jazz & Folk Music Society River City Blues Competition.  We stayed a few hours and listened to around 8 20-minute sets, quietly mocked the awful ones, and enjoyed the good ones.

Afterward, we returned to our hotel, changed, and went downstairs to the hotel restaurant,  Spats, for dinner.  It was lovely.  Mike had duck, and I had a chicken dish.  Our in-flight entertainment was provided by the table next to us, at which was seated an older couple, their twenty-ish son, and his girlfriend.  The two kids looked totally out of place, wearing ripped jeans and hoodies, and the girlfriend positively paled when she read the menu.  She must have stared at it for twenty minutes. 

The next morning, I asked the front desk clerk for a breakfast recommendation.  She told us about a place nearby where we could get something "you just can't find anywhere else."  The menu was indeed remarkable.  Pancakes, biscuits, gravy, eggs.  Apparently that stacks up as exotic by West Virginia standards.  Maybe she meant the guy working the cash register sporting mutton chop sideburns.  I bet he does civil war reenactments on the weekends.  That would be the place we saw the canned 'possum, though, so maybe she was right.  I'm fairly certain you wouldn't find that at your average Bob Evans.

All in all, it was a great weekend.  I haven't slept that much in years, and over the course of the weekend I read two books, cover to cover.

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