img_4814We have just returned from 2 days at The Homestead, a prestigious resort and spa nestled in the George Washington National Forest, in the mountains of Virginia. Friday, my husband and I went to celebrate my birthday. Honestly, it was a good reason to get away to a place far outside our normal vacation options.img_4788

Celebrating its 250th birthday, The Homestead calls itself “America’s first resort.” In 1764, George Washington gave one of his army captains 300 acres of virgin wilderness for his service in the French and Indian War. The captain built a lodge, settled the area with the men under his command, and birthed a tourist destination that would attract celebrities and dignitaries, including 23 U.S. Presidents. And regular people like us, who want to upset their everyday reality.

The Homestead has taken the idea of healing mineral waters and developed it into an extraordinary healing experience. I am enormously sensory. This makes every destination an opportunity for me to smell, taste, see, and just plain breathe the atmosphere. It’s what I do to unwind. I’m a breather. Fortunately, my husband knows this about me.

At The Homestead, everything is beautiful. Everything is excellent. (And everything is expensive.) There’s cake and tea every afternoon. Live jazz in the main dining room. Rocking chairs on the veranda. Together with hot springs, mountain vistas, and historic surroundings, The Homestead transports us into world of serenity and rejuvenation. We leave our laptops in our bags. We take a yoga class. We try a hammock under a tree. We snap pictures. We go for a walk.

img_4786After all, it’s autumn in the Appalachians–what could be more refreshing than that?

The resort charges extra for the pool, for tennis, for the springs, for wifi (really, they charge for almost everything). But the surroundings have called to us. We hike the trails, rock on the wide veranda, and savor dinner under the crystal chandeliers. Our weekend here was a planned luxury, but it has become an unplanned escape from the frenzied life we’ve chosen to live most of the year.

Everyone pays for serenity, one way or the other. How will I pay for it, for the rest of the year, so I can have it at my own little homestead? How will you?

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