Because the world would end if we actually stayed home one weekend and didn't go on a motorcycle ride, we decided that we'd head up to see the Cass Scenic Railroad this past weekend. Bryan has a list entitled PLACES WE MUST GO ON THE MOTORCYCLE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and this was one of them. Happily, my brother and sister live on the way to Cass, so we stayed in Warm Springs on Friday night and saw them for a bit on Saturday before heading up to the ol' railroad.
While my four years in Bath County were some of the worst of my life for reasons I won't get into out of respect for those involved, I'm finding as I get older that I can look at it a little differently. I haven't forgotten the awfulness, but I now recognize that I learned some very, very important life lessons during that time. Some of them are things like "don't ever marry an asshole," but others are simpler things, like being able to identify vegetables in a garden, or knowing what it's like to float down a creek and just be. And so now I can go there and not want to cry. And that, my friends, is a milestone in my life.
Of course, it helps that we always stay at this lovely place called The Inn at Gristmill Square. Sure, the county is better known for the fancy Homestead, but The Gristmill has a certain country charm that's hard to find elsewhere. In the morning, you call down when you're ready for breakfast and they bring you hot, fresh breads and coffee and juice in a little picnic basket. It's heavenly.
Lunch with the sibs was in Marlinton, WV, the closest "town" to where they live, which is about 25 minutes away. We had some good old fashioned country food and got to catch up on what Victoria and Zechariah are up to these days. Vic is eagerly awaiting her departure for college in August, and Zech has gotten a job on some dairy farm which is, in his words, "basically being a slave." Apparently he spent five hours weed-eating on his first day...
We had booked tickets for the Fiddles & Vittles dinner train at Cass, so once lunch was over we hustled down the road. The weather was a bit dodgy, so instead of having our buffet dinner up the mountain, the train took us up and brought us back to the town to eat in their restaurant. Perhaps not exactly the same atmosphere, but there were some gray haired dudes playing some great bluegrass, so we enjoyed it all the same. :)
Sunday morning we got up early and headed over to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Lots of research is done here about the universe, and as astronomy geeks, we really enjoyed learning about it and seeing the gargantuan satellite dish, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty and almost as tall as the Washington Monument. Apparently you can "see" a lot more stuff out in space with radio waves than you can see with the naked eye (or a telescope-enhanced eye). They used to look for signs of other intelligent life there, but I guess they've moved that operation out to New Mexico or somewhere--you know, where the aliens already like hanging out. ;-)
The afternoon was spent on another train ride, this one up to Bald Knob. The day was perfect, and it was a nice, relaxing trip. If you go to Cass, though, we would recommend only doing one train ride. We really did the dinner train because there was nothing else to do in Cass, but one or the other would have been enough. Not that we didn't enjoy ourselves, just that, well, the woods you pass through all kind of look the same after a while. :)