Dobson, NC to Hot Springs, Virginia
You can get from Dobson to Hot Springs in a bit over a couple hours, but we make it an all day excursion (on purpose).
First stop is Mount Airy, the birthplace of Andy Griffith--a thirteen mile drive from Dobson, through rolling hills covered with cows and soy bean fields. Carol and Burt warned us about Mount Airy, but we had to see the inspiration for Mayberry ourselves. Replete with every trapping of a tourist trap, the town turned out to be a very short photo op stop. The charm is long gone. The guy who does tours in a 1950s police car just like Andy’s was not nearly so smiley and cordial as Andy would have been when we unknowingly parked in “his spot” out front of Wally’s Service Station.
From there it is just a short hop onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a national park, so all the roadside facilities are closed. We are thinking that perhaps there might be more color along the high ridges here, but find that Fall, alas, is just barely blooming here. A stop at Mabry Mill, a year-round photographer’s paradise, validates our decision to sample the Parkway, but we are ready to hop off and make some time at the next opportunity (especially since our only rest stop options on the Parkway involve hugging trees).
We end up in a general store in Floyd for lunch. Most of the display cases and racks are on wheels so they can move them out of the way for the Friday night concerts on the stage in the back of the store. Charming--so authentically totally not Mount Airy.
Then we wind our way through the mountains to The Homestead in Warm Springs, arriving just in time for a spot of afternoon tea served in elegant lobby, The Great Hall, as they call it here.
We stroll the meticulously landscaped grounds--so many lovely spots to sit beneath an arbor or by a running thermal spring or pool. A group of women in white robes chats around a fire pit in the spa garden. There is a bush with purple polka dotted berries beside the croquet court that makes me think of a scene from Alice in Wonderland. Every view here seems like it could be a postcard.
Shortly before dinner, Dick realizes the dress code for the evening requires not just a coat, but also a tie. He launches a search for a loaner tie from The Homestead. Alas, there is no loaner tie, but the head bellman offers to loan Dick his tie. Dick demurs and heads for the men’s shop, where he learns that the cheapest tie there costs $85. Having at least fifty ties at home, and cherishing a lifestyle that requires wearing a tie only a few times each year, Dick cannot bring himself to drop $85 on a tie for just one night, and he turns to the head bellman, who, being a good judge of character, has followed him to the shop. Dick accepts his offer of a loan of the tie, and gives him a $20 tip, then the bellman teaches Dick how the tie works. Technically, it does not tie at all--it has a zipper. You slip it over your head, then zip it up. Voila! Sure beats those old clip-ons!Our club’s private dinner is perfectly prepared and served, the conversation is lively, and no one but me looks askance at Dick’s tie. Our Fall outing is off to a roaring good start.