Monday, September 12, 2011

The Sabbath Experience -- Four days of rest -- our anniversary getaway

It's been a busy month. With the blogiversary giveaway and Labor Day, I never did get around to blogging about Bill and my 20th anniversary getaway last month ... a wonderful four days of rest and renewal. And a little bit of falling in love all over again.

Toad, the elephant, at Bathkeeper's Cottage

We headed to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia on Aug. 18th, where we spent four glorious days at a quaint little place called the Bathkeeper's Cottage.

When I say little, I mean little. When we first arrived, I have to say, we were a bit disappointed. The place was small. We're used to staying in cottages that give us a little bit more breathing room, but by the end of the four days, we were so sad we were leaving. The place enchanted us.

Was it what I expected? Not at all. Which made the enchantment all the more wonderful.

Before I go on, I should explain Toad, the elephant to you.

Ten years ago, my daughter, Bethany graduated from high school. What did she want as a graduation trip? A vacation with just me. How wonderful is that? I can not tell you how much that has meant to me throughout the years.

We headed to Savannah, Georgia for a week. While we were there, a rather large toad 'adopted' us. So we brought him in to our hotel room where he happily stayed in our bathtub for a few days. We named him Friend, because that's what he was.

On one of our last days in Savannah, we were browsing in a small shop and I came across the most adorable little stuffed elephant. His eyes begged me to share secrets with him. His incredibly soft fur invited caresses. I simply had to have him. This little elephant traveled with me everywhere from that day on. He listened to me cry when bad thing happened and he danced along when I was singing. Bill and I even took him with us on vacations and enjoyed taking pictures of him in various places. I know, we're a little bit nuts ... maybe that's why we're a good match. Anyway, because the elephant became such a good friend, I named him Toad, after the 'friend' Bethany and I made in Savannah.

Bill and I took Toad along to Berkeley Springs. Thus, the pictures you're about to see.

The area is largely focused on natural healing. After all, it is the location of the mineral springs known for their healing properties. Bill and I experienced that firsthand. On Friday, we decided to do the Roman baths, something I thoroughly enjoyed. Bill ... not so much. However, he benefitted from in a strange way.

The private bath was about 18 feet long, I think, and it was filled with the mineral spring water heated to a temperature of 102 degrees (which is what Bill did not enjoy). Soaking in the waters is said to draw impurities out of your body. For Bill, that is exactly what it did. Ten days prior to our vacation, a bee stung him on one of the knuckles on his right hand. It swelled and continued to hurt, with the pain intensifying in the middle of the night following the Roman bath. He woke up and went into the bathroom to discover the bee's stinger sticking out from his knuckle! It has been festering in there all that time! The mineral water drew it out.

In addition to the Roman bath, our cottage was spring-fed, which means we bathed, showered and drank it the whole time we were there. The result? We felt fantastic. My fibromyalgia pain was gone, and we both felt really healthy (something I don't feel often). It was enough to make me want to move to Berkeley Springs ... well, almost.

A little park was just two blocks from our cottage. The springs ran through it and on any day, we could find children playing in them. How refreshing that there were no 'laws' or 'rules' against it!

The springs leading to the Roman bath house

 The town is full of new age kind of shops with crystals and other 'healing' components. I did enjoy the natural and organic food store, but stayed away from many of the other shops that tended to lean toward the occult. My spirit sensed it the moment we set foot in some of them.

I was excited to learn there were two antique malls in the town, but my excitement dwindled when I discovered one was out of business and the other was so ridiculously overpriced. Even the local Goodwill had prices that were 30% higher than the ones here in Pittsburgh!

However, Toad seemed to enjoy some of the novelties in the overpriced antique mall ... particularly in the taxidermy area!

What a brave soul he is! Speaking of brave, Berkeley Springs brought out the daredevil in Toad, much to Bill's dismay, who truly worried about what would happen if Toad fell:

On the bridge over the canal in Hancock, MD

On the footbridge from our cottage to the street
Ahhh. Safely across!

Yes, Berkeley Springs brought out the frivolity in me. What can I say?

Getting ready for dinner at the cottage

Breakfast at the Fairfax Coffee Shop
While we did eat most of our meals at the cottage, one thing we really did enjoy in Berkeley Springs was the restaurants. On our anniversary, we headed to Lot 12, a restaurant that served amazing food from local farms, albeit at a rather steep price. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend you eat dinner there.

Grilled Filet Mignon~gorgonzola, potato croquette, port wine demi-glace, herb butter $32

During a rainstorm, we ducked into the Ambraehouse and enjoyed drinks and appetizers at the bar. Awesome. And for a quick lunch, one day, we stopped at Temptations where I thoroughly enjoyed a stuffed scallop appetizer and a delicious crock of French Onion Soup. Highly recommended!

One place I definitey do not recommend is The Troubadour Lounge. Let me tell you, you haven't experienced karaoke until you've experience it in West Virginia. That's all I have to say about that.

The path to the right of the cottage

The thing we enjoyed most about being in Berkeley Springs was the peacefulness. Everyone needs to get away from time to time to relax. I don't understand people's need to go on vacations that are so packed with activities, that when they return, they say, "I need to recuperate from my vacation!" That makes no sense to me. As I've stated over and over in my Sabbath Experiment/Experience posts, God created us to not only to work, but to rest as well. And that, we did.

The path to the footbridge to the left of the cottage

I find it much easier to relax when surrounded by beauty, and that, we were.

My handsome husband crossing the footbridge
We spent Saturday in nearby Hancock, Maryland, where we walked along the canal, enjoyed the views along the Potomac and let Toad 'play!'

Playing hide 'n seek
Toad made a friend at the bike shop in Hancock

I can't tell you how difficult it was to pack up to head home. Our 'fairytale getaway' was over and we had to come back to reality. As we drove back on Route 30, we stopped near Somerset, Pennsylvania to watch the wind turbines. Toad even enjoyed that.

See the affection on his face! Toad is a huge fan!

 No, I didn't lose my mind in West Virginia. Just a little bit of my heart.

Longing to go back to a place where make-believe was simply a whole lot of fun!


1 comment:

  1. Oh, I loved this for so many reasons. Getting the backstory on my new friend Toad was a delight. I am so glad he was with us for adventures on our getaway this weekend.

    This place looks so idyllic- and I'm already "homesick" for the farm and having a hard time slowly adjusting to the real world.

    Thank you for sharing this!


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