Christmas 2012

An inci­dent packed Yule­tide in the Blue Ridge High­lands in the South West of Virginia.

Published: 25 January 2012

 Blue Moun­tains SW Virginia

Usually, we head south to the Low Country to escape the cold and wet around here at Christmas. In 2012, with memories of a 3200-mile slog to and from Texas still fresh, we elected to seek out someplace closer to home.

We had been impressed by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Highlands when we drove through them some time ago. It was an easy 300-mile trip through some lovely country to get there. We found a property near Meadows of Dan in the far South West of Virginia but high up on a mountainous ridge with a commanding 220-degree view. On a clear day, one could see seventy miles away to the North East from the deck.

The house was lovely, but the weather turned out not to be. We arrived in a storm raging down from the Arctic. The place was warm and welcoming, with underfloor radiant heating and forced air. We soon had the SUV unloaded and a Christmas tree collected from a friend of our house's owner who farmed them nearby. When we organised ourselves, walked the dogs and decorated the tree, it was time for dinner and a bottle of wine. Bed ensued earlier than it usually does.

After that, things didn't go so well. The LPG gas tank that powers the heating ran dry the following day. This was put right quickly, but a further misunderstanding meant that the hot water supply to the master suite wasn't restored until the next day. None of it was life-threatening, but it all impinged on the tenor of the holiday.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were incident-free and clear-skied, but an ice storm in the early hours of Boxing Day brought down a large tree on the access road to the property, and we were stranded up there until that was cleared in the afternoon. As it grew dark, still in the grip of the ice storm, electrical power went down in the area. A standby generator provided some light and cooking but didn't power up the gas-fired radiant and warm air heating units. So it was a fantastic night to go to bed early.

Still waiting for mains electricity in the morning, we packed up and headed home a day earlier than scheduled. Once we got off the mountain, the roads were passable, so it took no time to get back home. The holiday wasn't a disaster; we had a great Christmas and met some charming people. We would go back to the area like a shot but perhaps try and choose a better time of year to be so high up there.

 Ye Wee Blogger

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