What a fabulous time to be in ”wild, wonderful West Virginia”! The leaves were at peak and the weather was perfect – light jackets in the day time and a fire in the lodge at night. Three turn-outs gathered for the trip: Caroline & Bertrand Collomb with her four in hand of Haflingers, Carl and Caroline Cox with the “Black Boys”, and Al and Vicki Baturay with their pair of Haflingers. Good friend and fellow whip Grace Vance came up from Aiken to be with the group, as did the Cox Lead groom, Molly Savage. We all stayed together in a well restored lodge just a few feet off the Greenbriar River Trail. Our horses had the option of stalls and/or turn-out in spacious paddocks and it was a simple matter each day to tend them, harness, hitch and GO. The Greenbriar River Trail really needs to be experienced by everyone who loves carriage driving; the footing is excellent with imperceptible grades (it is a reclaimed railroad bed), and, for most of its miles, it lies right beside the sparkling Greenbriar River. Yes, there are places you can leave the actual trail and travel over dirt roads. At one point we took such a detour and ended up hundreds of feet above the river – the views were beyond description! It was one of many great places we stopped to rest the horses and enjoy our lunch and, yes, the Champagne that fits so well in the floor cooler.
The lodge was amply equipped – large kitchen, huge sitting area, nice private bedrooms and plenty of bathrooms. Very clean, very comfortable and it easily accommodated the entire group. We especially enjoyed breakfast together in the kitchen before we went out driving and cocktails on the wrap around porch when we returned. Dinner was always fun as well, if not somewhat problematic. We were pretty much in agreement that, beyond frying a few eggs, etc. in the mornings and opening packages of chees/crackers/pate and bottles of wine in the evenings, nobody really came there to COOK. Obviously, thought we all, we’ll just go out to eat for dinner each night…..well, once again, this was “wild, wonderful West Virginia” – mountainous, untouched by civilization, right? Right! Consequently there were NO restaurants within miles and miles, and those that we eventually found had odd hours at best. OK, so let’s go grocery shopping and we’ll dine in the cabin…..not! Grocery stores were distant and scarce. All’s well that ends well, however, as we did find 2 restaurants. They were a bit of a drive, up/down a mountain. The ”Fiddlehead” was the one we liked the best. It served a nice combination of steaks, pizza, fried chicken, burgers, quesedillas, and Thai salad. Hmmmmm, Thai salad? Those who ordered it said it was delicious, and obviously very authentic, as we learned that this quaint restaurant nestled in the West Virginia mountains was owned and operated by some lovely Thai folks! The other restaurant didn’t serve or allow alcohol. It was crossed off our list.
So, if you go – and we hope you will – plan to spend several days exploring the 80 miles of trails in your carriage (including tunnels which we never reached!), and plan to cook your own meals (at least on the evenings that you don’t go to the Fiddlehead Restaurant.) Plan also to stay and board your horses at EJ’s Cabins, in Dunmore, West Virginia (check out his website). You’ll be made welcome!