Thanksgiving gone wrong: How an escape to Winchester, Virginia led me to happiness

This is the first of a 3-part series.

Discover Old Town Winchester
Discovering Old Town Winchester

Let’s see now.  You’re in the beginning stages of a relationship.  The” past the coffee, dinner and getting to know you” but way before the “I want to swoop you up and spend the rest of my life with you” stage.  Or you’re married, committed but a diversion could help “bring the kettle back to boil”.

“Wrong! You’re way off target,” you say or,

“I’m perfectly happy flying solo.”

Okay then.  But maybe a little R & R, a jolt from the well-traveled rut doesn’t sound too bad?

The remedy for these could be as simple as a quick Getaway weekend far enough from the madding crowd but not moon-shot distance away.

Consider tiny Winchester, Virginia.  Packed with pleasures it could prove to be the right antidote for a lot of what ails you. It certainly was for me when I first headed there during a Thanksgiving weekend not too many years ago.

For weeks I had researched, planned and salivated over the idea of a two-night break for me and my honey.  Like the hostess who hunts for the perfect Turkey dressing recipe in the hope that, this year at least, it won’t resemble the Sahara so I searched for the perfect Bed and Breakfast location.  I was obsessed.  I wanted this weekend to make my babe say: “Hon, this was the best thing that happened to me since my Uncle took me to the Philadelphia Eagles game and then surprised me with seats at the 50-yard line. Center front! Home line! Right behind Reggie White.”

But like the overcooked Turkey that goes “poof” when you cut it, my beautiful plans deflated.   Instead of visions of romantic Us walking, exploring and hiking we had a major fight over something I can’t remember now.

What to do.

Well, first I cried buckets of tears, ranted and raved, a lot like an over-excited coach at the crucial moment in the game.  Once the storm passed I resolutely “picked up my big girl panties” and moved on.  The morning after Thanksgiving found me driving. Alone. To Winchester. To pause, breathe, and temporarily escape.

Vera the Cherub
Pouting gets you nothing but ugly

I hoped that Winchester, about 80 miles from Washington, DC and nestled in the Shenandoah Valley would offer me refuge and ample diversion.  I read that history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, shoppers, gourmands and art lovers all find reasons to visit.  What initially drew me was music.

I’m a music buff and Patsy Cline is one of my favorite 50’s crooners —and she once lived in Winchester.  When I stumbled on this and the fact that a museum was in the works, I knew I had to walk her old haunts.  Draped in the shroud of romantic disillusionment I ran straight into Patsy’s loving arms, as good a salve as any.

All photos courtesy of Valerie Carter

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