Tag Archives: Luray

Four corners and three sheets to the wind

Weddings, I’ve discovered over the years, are as varied as anything—wildflowers, thumbprints, coffee stains. In my life, I’ve been to many, many weddings, including:

  • An actual shotgun wedding in which the bride’s father really had a rifle nearby
  • A last-minute wedding of two friends whose parents had discerned were about to elope
  • A wedding for a friend who had very recently converted to Jehovah’s Witness—still my personal record holder for longest sermon ever
  • A Minnesota wedding in which a few of the guests showed up in sweatpants
  • A wedding in which my siblings and I got so rip-roaring drunk the maitre’d asked if he could cut us off
  • A lesbian wedding held at the infamous Salahi’s Oasis vineyard in Virginia—yes, those Salahis

Then of course there’s my wedding, and we all know what happened there. In case we don’t know, it was a splendid, oppressively hot day and in the middle of the reception, I blew out my left ACL. Apparently, this is a common event, so don’t mock me too badly.

We received word that our friends were going to get married this summer and immediately, reflexively, my mind ran through all of my prior nuptials experiences, culminating, unsurprisingly, with the Why I No Longer Dance to Billie Jean moment. I was ready to move on, as I’m sure everyone else who knows me is, too.

These good friends fall solidly in the “hippie” category of person. What kind of wedding would we see?

We heard from the bride-to-be, who is, among other things, an interpretive dancer, that there would be interpretive dancing. I remarked that their wedding may be the gayest ever we’d seen, even gayer than the gay ones. But the dancing turned out to be lovely. Choreographed by the bride, it highlighted what we were about to experience from the ceremony itself, which also had an original song written by the bride’s father, burning sage and a pagan-lite blessing, a communal turning to the four corners, and a linked touching thing or other, in which we all put a hand on the person next to us, all the way to and including the couple. This would have been a sweeter activity were it not for the 97-degree daylight beating down on us and making the majority of our skin sweaty and damp. The bride and groom accepted our love and support even if it came with some measure of perspiration. We were touched by the sentiment, nonetheless.

The ceremony took only about 40 minutes, meaning that it failed to beat the time of the longest ceremony I’ve experienced, which went for more than 2 hours. People would have died of heat stroke if we’d had to sit out there that long. We made our way to a cocktail hour, sipped at some cool beer, and then seated ourselves for dinner, which was a tasty barbeque buffet. This meant that Susanne ate three pulled pork sandwiches in two days. Suffice it to say she won’t go anywhere near a pig product for a while.

One guest ran up to us, half-drunk, asking if we could locate any empty tin cans so she could attach them to the couple’s car. I looked over and saw that there were already six balloons taped to the windows. I smiled and made a note not to let intoxicated people decorate my car.

After the sun set it wasn’t long until Susanne noticed a bright light at the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. How obnoxious, she exclaimed. Then we realized it was the moonrise. Score 2,000 points for this wedding, the first I’ve attended with its own moonfreakingrise. Our friends stood outside, watching it and feeling whatever overwhelming emotion they must have noticed at that moment.

Their friends who are in a zydeco band struck up a set and people danced and drank, danced and drank, until the guests, en masse, were snockered. There came a point at which my own level of sobriety became incompatible with theirs—I could see that they were having fun, but we were on different planes of existence. We hugged our friends and wished them well. They were getting ready to settle in for a few days at a resort in Mexico. We were headed back to our B&B and a nice bath with water jets. Same difference, I’m sure.

Cavern of luxury

We’d received warning of the Beetlemania 2010 at our hotel, so online Susanne and I scoped out other options and landed on a B&B. We memorized the Google maps screen, tossing aside any notion that pen and ink would serve us better than memory after being on the road for more than 3 weeks. Who needs things like ink? It was just too 17th Century for us. So off we went, traversing Route 66 through Haymarket, Virginia, Front Royal, and down a smaller highway into Luray. We knew we’d arrived too early to check in, so we met up with a friend for lunch at her hotel, a former hospital during the Civil War. Which side it housed we didn’t know, although our waitress explained that Luray was a Union-held town for much of the war. I appreciate getting a history lesson with my meal.

After lunch, we made our way to Luray Caverns, where we strolled through a large bey of stalactites and stalagmites, and the most amazing, Dream Lake. I couldn’t believe my eyes—the almost-still water reflected the ceiling perfectly, making everything look like we were on the inside of a gigantic clam shell. We curled around the walkways, taking in the formations and enjoying a break from the stifling late-June heat, but it did get a bit crowded in the caverns. This is what I dislike about traipsing through nature: there are too many damn tourists. I don’t have a leg to stand on, given that I’m a tourist, too. It’s not the same as being a resident of DC and feeling some moral justification in condescending to everyone in shorts and Teva sandals.

After the caverns we attempted to find our bed and breakfast. Susanne thought it was on Court Street. This was light years ahead of me, who didn’t know where in the hell it was, having looked for too long at the Google map the night before. We pulled up to the building, finally, after asking a lady in the Luray Visitor’s Center, who thankfully knows the location of each and every standing structure in town. Knocking at the door, nobody answered. Fortunately we knew that this B&B was part of a small conglomerate, so we made our way to one of the other three inns and hoped someone would be around.

Susanne caught the innkeeper just as he was heading out. When she inquired about how we checked in to the other inn, he punted. Just stay here instead, he said, as they didn’t have any guests for that night signed up. Really? I was surprised. He told us the rooms were nice, he wouldn’t charge us any more than we’d already booked for, so heck, we hauled our bags to the second floor and were astonished to receive the keys to “The Boudoir Suite.” Ooh. Boudoir. I hadn’t seriously thought about boudoirs since a senior colleague asked me to meet him at his boudoir, thinking it was a synonym for “office.” I attempted to correct him, but he would have nothing of being told he was wrong.

Inside, we were greeted by a four poster bed and a two-person Jacuzzi in the next room. Not too shabby! We’d lucked out and strangely enough, had beetles to thank for our good fortune. I hoped that this suite wouldn’t be plagued by frogs.

We geared up for the rehearsal dinner by enjoying a 2007 Chateauneuf de Pape wine with Dr. Wine Aficiando, Jody. It was tremendously good, and we compared notes, which Jody took the time to write down, not wanting, heh, to rely on memory alone. What a smart woman. Things go more easily when we write them down, don’t they?

At the rehearsal dinner, which had nothing to do with a rehearsal, we dined on some barbeque and Susanne ate her second pulled pork sandwich of the day. This was not going to end well, I figured, especially since the next day, the wedding day, came complete with barbeque buffet. It may be a while before Susanne heads anywhere near a pig.

Welcome to Luray!

goat on a treeOur trip to DC ends this weekend with a visit to Luray, Virginia, for our friends’ wedding, which is on some kind of animal farm. I have not yet made any jokes about this and promise I will refrain from any undue humor, at least until the nuptials have concluded. But I do wonder if late June is not on a collision course with animal dung in a very foul-smelling way. I suppose I’ll see on Saturday.

Hopefully the text messages we received last night from other wedding guests who’ve trekked out there a few days early are no oracle of doom. For apparently there is a beetle infestation at the hotel where the room block was made. I suppose we should have realized that we weren’t going to get the greatest hospitality experience for $62 a night.

We went online to find another place to stay. Unfortunately for us—and probably the tax base of Luray—there are not a lot of hotels in the town. We didn’t have many options.

Now then, without knowing anyone from the town, and having never set even a toe upon its soil before, we really only had the pictures supplied by each hotel, which we know from prior experience are visual manipulaitons, like Stalin cutting former allies out of his photos, and user-generated reviews, like Yelp and Yahoo!. Here is a sampling:

  • This hotel is very run down, out dated and dirty feeling. I’m sorry, dirty feeling? Did you rub something between your fingers, like grit? Or did you “feel” it was dirty by looking at it?
  • Two weeks later, there was this missive, of the same hotel—Rooms were being renovated, and ours smelled of paint, but not badly. No more whining about dirty feeling rooms. Whew!
  • The food at the Victorian Inn left little to be desired. Breakfasts were delicious and included an assortment of fresh fruit. Val made certain that no one went away hungry. This seems like more our speed! No gritty rooms, no paint offgassing, and best of all, no beetle infestation! Sign us up! But just to be sure I kept up my legwork on the potential pit stop.
  • One review for a cabin was so rip-roaringly funny, in a “oh that must have SUCKED” way that I really can only link to it in its entirety, but trust me, it’s worth the three minutes of reading time. We hadn’t been planning on renting a cabin, so no worries there.
  • The bathroom was old and smelly and a cockroach ran across my arm while I was lying in bed. Hmm, I thought, I may actually prefer a beetle infestation to a cockroach using any of my limbs as an Autobahn.

Overall, the reviews weren’t helpful. The majority of them were positive, but the ones that were negative were so awful they brought down the average rating. And I didn’t want to have to do a regression analysis just to pick a hotel. So we picked the hotel with the Jacuzzi tub, hoping we wouldn’t find a wad of hair floating in it.

We relayed our change in plans to our friend, who replied via text that she’d seen some really bad reviews of the place online. We did not impart to her that we had already read them. It seemed a little like asking the scare crow which was the way to Oz and getting a crossed arm, “both ways” reply.

I shall take copious pictures while I’m in Luray, during my first-ever spelunking expedition. But I’ll note how it goes at the hotel/B&B. So I can add to the din of confusion, of course.

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