I spent the weekend of my 57th birthday in the beautiful Allegheny Valley in Virginia, not West Virginia as my choice of song may imply. (I gather that quite a distinction is made between the two states.) The Allegheny Mountains, which are part of the vast Appalachian mountain range, serve as part of the Virginia – West Virginia state line. To get there we drove south west from DC, over the Shenandoah River, with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, through the impressive George Washington National Forest and up and over three extremely winding, scenic mountain passes.
As I headed in to the home stretch of my holiday I was thrilled to learn that James’ parents, Jim and Jody, were flying up from Miami and that we were all going to spend the weekend with Susannah and Mike (James’ aunt and uncle) at their beautiful farm in the Allegheny Valley. And what a wonderful weekend it was. Susannah cooked us the most amazing gourmet meals and we managed to polish off a lot of wonderful wine. Jim and Jody made my birthday special by taking me to the very posh Homestead Hotel in Hot Springs for high tea – what a treat. I then had a memorable dinner with my simpatico American family. I have to say I have never eaten so many delicious meals in one weekend, ending off with yummy cheese grits and bacon for breakfast on Monday morning before we began the 4 hour trip back to DC.
We are so very lucky that our daughter has married into such a warm, generous and compatible family. It feels like I’m visiting old friends when we all meet up and there’s no need to be on one’s best behaviour, which is just as well because the wine sure do flow! And, as you know, I sure can drink it. As we said our fond farewells we were already planning our next holiday together! Jim is originally from Louisiana and everyone seems keen on his recommendation of New Orleans as our next rendezvous destination.
Before Kiera moved to the States, I had never really considered it as an ideal holiday option. It is, after all, so bloody far away and expensive for us South Africans with our rand being such a weak currency against the dollar. And even when Kiera settled there, we considered our first trip as something we had to do in order to see her. However, since that first visit to America and meeting the “in-laws”, I have grown very fond of the USA and its people and am eager to return to experience more of it. Yes, it is still expensive for us South Africans but one has to cut one’s cloth accordingly, like not drinking wine when eating in restaurants! However, reasonably priced accommodation is not hard to find and one certainly gets better value for money than here in SA, especially when Kiera is making the reservations. So hopefully a trip to New Orleans will not be out of the question in the near future.
I’m home now – the goodbyes were painful but I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things here. Life goes on.