My staycation (stay-at-home vacation) morphed into a bonafide travel VAcation last week, when I took to the road with three other friends, Simone Paterson, and Chico and Ellen Harkrader. We headed for a small town in West VA called Berkeley Springs, the country's very first spa, where we were booked for two nights at a B&B called Maria's Garden & Inn, with statues and paintings of the Virgin Mary everywhere.
Things got off to a somewhat patchy start, when Simone arrived at my house on Wednesday to pick me up, and her car freakishly locked itself shut, with the key, and her luggage, both inside. We stormed the barricades for several minutes, to no avail: the lock did not respond to curses, jiggling, or my own car-key clicker. There was no choice other than to head back from Blacksburg to Simone's house in Christiansburg and secure a duplicate key. I fretted all the way on the ride back, worrying that if the fault was somehow electrical, even the replacement key might not work. But then, it did. We arrived in Roanoke only about an hour late to the Harkrader's house where, after a rapid transfer of gear into their car, we finally set sail. (Have you ever tried to sail in a car? Skillful use of language allows you to do that, even if real circumstances do not.)
Just before we arrived in Berkeley Springs, Ellen announced that she had called the Inn to confirm our reservations, only to be told they were closed on Wednesdays--so, nobody would be around to greet us. Our room keys were in an envelope taped to the door. The inn turned out to have a lot of doors, but after some serious scrounging, we finally found the elusive keys. Our room, with two twin beds, had a dingy look (I thought), straight out of a Carson McCullers' novel. But since none of my fellow travelers had ever heard of Carson McCullers, this smarty-pants observation promptly fell flat on the thick Elvis Presley carpet. Our bathroom was in the hall. It had no shower, just an uninviting bathtub designed mostly for midgets. The good news, however, was finding out that there was a TV inside the room. Simone and I were both wildly keen not to miss both nights of the grand finale of our favorite program, "Dancing with the Stars." As it turned out, my own favorite contender, Janine, won the title of America's favorite dancer--a rare happening, since I am not usually in sync with the rest of the general public. Because of the TV show, however, which took up our two evenings, we failed to visit the vintage 1940's movie theater, still going strong with "The Transformers."
After tossing luggage into our respective rooms, we went out to investigate the town. Berkeley Springs is a tiny oasis in a confusing world; walking around, you will soon find the public baths where you can take the mineral waters in tubs large enough for up to three people. You will run into an acupuncture clinic, and a homeopathy lab where someone in a white coat is making homeopathic remedies behind a large pane of glass while you watch. You will visit a myriad of small shops, an antiques mall, and an ice cream parlor with sensational chocolate chocolate chip ice cream cones, have a massage, and finally come to rest in a local bar, whose drop-dead margueritas are among the best anyone ever had. Then, evening having arrived, you will dine out on seared tuna, while sitting outside on the porch of a restored house built in 1913, in a world-class restaurant with the funky name of "Lot 12." The restaurant is up three flights of stairs, high on a hill, and definitely not to be missed. Pricey, but worth every penny.
On Saturday, back in Blacksburg but still in residual party mode, I went to see "Julie and Julia," extending for another day the Tinkerbell effect of what was surely a magic holiday. Now, it's Monday, and back to business. Tomorrow the President will appear in person at a Town Hall rally in New Hampshire to answer questions about health care reform. However, as Nancy Pelosi wrote in USA Today, it is evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics, as have been reported, have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted "Just say no!" drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.
I have to wonder at what point our country will start taking the terrorist threat posed by conservatives seriously? Recently, NBC News got access to a memo about tomorrow's meeting, sent out by the New Hampshire Republican Volunteer Coalition to their supporters:
"NHRVC members and others,
Barack Hussein Obama will be arriving in Portsmouth on Tuesday to hold a STAGED "Town Hall Meeting", where he will essentially hand pick who the guests will be and what types of questions will be asked of him.
A MASSIVE protest rally is being organized just outside of the facility where Obama will be holding his "Town Hall Meeting" to promote his plan for a government takeover of your healthcare decisions.
There will be news media from all over the world at this event and it will be the ideal opportunity for us to tell the rest of the country exactly how NH voters feel about Obamacare (taxed/rationed healthcare). It will be the most important pro-liberty event of the year in NH and it is critically important that every one of us attend.
If you can, bring a sign that says something like, "OBAMACARE=TAXED/RATIONED HEALTHCARE", etc.
Come anytime between 8am-4pm (peak time will be 11am-4pm"
Now, in the oncoming dog days of summer, the lies are back like a plague of locusts--and I am wondering how will we all survive this escalating nihilism that permits anything and everything? My gut tells me we are going to sizzle in the fires of hell--because, when aggregated, these meetings are looking more and more like the dark edge of Dante's Inferno. Concern about health care reform begins to seem like small potatoes compared with the real threat of evil that is stalking our country, howling and sneering down the aisles, in desperate hope of creating as much chaos and destruction as possible.