Thursday, February 12, 2015

A snowy 20th

20 Years.  Yes, 20, married to my best friend.  We never got to do a honeymoon after we got married.  We were both full time students and I had an exam on the Monday after our wedding.  Soon after, we started our family.  We still haven't had a honeymoon or any other significant "just the two of us" vacation in those 20 years.  This year, we actually left town though after my folks offered to keep the boys, get them too/from school.  Mom didn't have to twist my arm and I made a reservation at the Cooper House (a bed and cocktail in Thomas, WV).  When you get married in February, you expect winter weather, so we went to where the is a solid winter, Thomas, just minutes away from Canaan Valley.  We have been there before to take Brock camping or to ride mountain bikes, but this would be our first trip during the winter.

We left Athens after grabbing a quick breakfast at the Fluff and drove across the double lane covered bridge in Phillipi, WV on our way to Thomas. Thomas is a hip little town with a main street lined with Tip-Top (coffee/cocktail shop), art and antique galleries, the Purple Fiddle (restaurant, band venue, hostel), and the Cooper House.  Our first stop is always Tip-Top for a good cup of coffee.  Much to our surprise, they are closed on Wednesday.  In fact, half of the town is closed.  Instead, we grabbed a sandwich and cup of coffee at the Purple Fiddle before checking in to our guest room.


We were greeted by Joy and her dog Scruffy at the Cooper House, who will instantly make you feel like you are visiting a friends home rather than staying in a hotel.  She showed us to our room, we settled in, and headed over to Blackwater Falls to see the frozen falls.  The lower set of stairs was closed (due to them being covered in ice and snow) but we still got a view of them with a little hike through some snow.



Back at the Cooper House, we enjoyed chatting with Joy beside a fire while locals trickled in to visit.  We were invited to grab dinner next door at Salud, where the owners were preparing tacos.  (I never turn down good tacos).  It really felt like we were crashing the locals hangout.  Everyone was super friendly though and we enjoyed the food before heading over to the Tip-Top who had opened for a couple musical acts that would perform.  (I got my cup of coffee after all).



We woke the next morning to cold.  Highs were single digits with windchill in the negatives.  It had also snowed about 3-4 inches over night.  We tried to get breakfast at the Flying Pigs, but we were surprised to find them closed.  Luckily Tip Top had bagels and we had coffee and a light breakfast.  From there we made the drive out a snowy route 32 to Whitgrass with every intention to rent XC ski gear and spend some play time in the snow.  When we got there, the wind chill was -4.  We headed in to the lodge only hear about how dangerous and cold it was out, and that was from folks in proper cold weather ski gear.  We just had layers on, not proper snow clothes, it hurt your face to be outside.  Instead of skiing, we hung out a bit, had some soup from the cafe and watched the hard core folks head out.




Back in Thomas, we warmed up at the Cooper House and then went out for a short, easy hike on the Blackwater Canyon Trail to see the beehive coke ovens and Douglas falls.  The sun was out, the temps had risen to the low teens but the valley trail was largely protected from the wind.




From there it was time to get ready to see the Black Lillies.  They were in town to play at the Purple Fiddle.  Luckily Joy had recommended we get our tickets in advance as the show was sold out.  The show also filled the guest house with others, in town specifically to see them perform.  We had some drinks and lovely bread/sausage/peppers and visited with the other guests before heading next door to a crowded show.  The show started a bit late, but they really made up for it.  These folks have a lot of fun playing and the energy is shared with the crowd.  They ended up playing for about 3-1/2 hours after playing one more song about seven times.  It has been a while since I have watched some good live music and even longer that I was out past midnight, and except for having to move away from the hip-hop, honky-tonk young couple dancing without a care in the world, I'd do it again.


Friday, we got up early since we needed to be back to get the kids from school.  Again, we found the Flying Pigs closed, so we grabbed a cup of coffee, loaded up the car and head out to Elkins for some eggs and toast on our way home.

If you are looking for a fun place to stay in the Canaan Valley area, I would highly recommend you give Joy at the Cooper House a call.

20 years isn't enough and neither was 2-1/2 days alone with my wife.
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