When my boyfriend, Jared, found out he was deploying right before the autumn and winter holidays, our first thought was: road trip! (Well, my first thought was, "DON'T LEAVE ME!", but the shock eventually subsided.) He was lucky enough to get some time off before he left, so we decided to spend a long weekend in the mountains.
Our drive to Hot Springs was lovely. After getting off the interstate near Staunton, we drove through winding roads overlooking green pastures and lush mountains. Our journey took over an hour, and the landscape was stunning. When we arrived to our AirBnB, we were delighted by the quaint decor and the breathtaking scenery right outside our bedroom window. It was a breath of fresh air (literally!) to have four relaxing days together, without any interruptions or obligations.
Hot Springs is right smack dab in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains. It's a tiny town (population: 738), and the "downtown area" is comprised of a few small buildings that line a single street. There are only a few restaurants in town, and the nearest major grocery store is an hour away. Barns and farm animals are abundant, and cell phone reception is spotty. Basically, it was an excellent escape from real life.
Our time in Hot Springs was a perfect mixture of crisp mountain air, refreshing nature, rich history, and a feeling of peaceful contentedness I haven't felt in a long time. We soaked in the ancient mineral waters of the Jefferson Pools, hiked Bear Loop Trail (which is located right near Ingalls Field Airport, the highest airport East of the Mississippi), took pictures at Lake Moomaw, absorbed the breathtaking view of Falling Springs waterfall, explored the historic Omni Homestead (where 24 U.S. Presidents have stayed), watched the sunset on Deerlick Trail, and had a delicious, romantic dinner at Waterwheel Restaurant (which served as a flour mill from 1900 to 1970). It felt like a dream, honestly...from the small herd of deer that timidly approached us while we were hiking, to the bright pink sunset that we pulled over to photograph after jumping up and down in a tiny food market because they carried gluten-free bread (it's the little things, guys).
And it wouldn't be a true travel experience without a few epic fails. We got lost af on the way to Lake Moomaw, missed a turn on Bear Loop Trail and walked two extra miles in the wrong direction, and became hangry on multiple occasions. But overall, the trip was a success. It was our first experience traveling together, and we had a wonderful time.
P.S. Shout-out to Jared for driving to a gas station at midnight to buy me chocolate because I told him I was craving some while I was half asleep, hahah. When he got back, I woke up to eat my Milky Way...and then I passed right out again. I love him (and miss him) so much, and I love our adventures together. I can't wait for him to come home.