A couple finds time to reconnect and experience new things in West Virginia
The densely forested hills surrounding the course were the deepest shade of green I had ever seen. They looked even more incredible set against the clear, blue sky. Everything about The Arnold Palmer Signature Course at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia, was remarkable. I was waiting for one of my clients to tee up and swing when I got the idea. Riley and I have wanted to getaway somewhere. Maybe we could find a slice of just her and me time right here. I snapped back to reality when I heard the thwacking sound of a driver hitting a ball. I complimented his shot, and couldn’t help but smile as I put my own ball on the tee.
Lazy mornings. Wine tasting. Aimless wandering that leads to new discoveries. These were all things Riley and I did on our honeymoon years ago in Italy. Even though we couldn’t get away for more than a few days, we could still do some of the same things right here in West Virginia. Besides, I didn’t want to replicate our honeymoon, but rather reconnect while doing things reminiscent of that magical time when life wasn’t pulling us in a million different directions, and make new memories at the same time. Using one of Stonewall Resort’s suggested itineraries as inspiration, I booked a cottage with a lake view for our anniversary and officially started planning a romantic getaway for two. Riley was thrilled when I shared the idea.
When we arrived Friday evening, we had dinner at Lightburn’s Restaurant, one of Stonewall Resort’s onsite restaurants. I let them know ahead of time we were celebrating a special occasion and they had a window seat waiting for us. From our perch above The Palmer Course, we had a spectacular view of the lake and grounds. I pointed to Riley exactly where I was struck with inspiration for this trip, and we enjoyed watching deer come out of the trees at twilight while we waited for our food to be served.
How was the food? Amazing. My Halpern’s Black Angus Ribeye with roasted shallot butter was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Riley raved about her WV Ramp Dusted Rainbow Trout so much that I had to steal a taste, and agreed whole-heartedly as soon as the herb-buttered flake of fish hit my tongue. Both dishes were flawlessly prepared, highlighting the fresh ingredients to create refined yet robust combinations.
But all of this was nothing compared to the twinkle in Riley’s eyes as she smiled and said, “This is perfect.”
I raised my glass and she met it with hers. “Happy anniversary.”
Being the first night of our first true vacation in years, we weren’t ready to go to our room after dinner. We were filled with a renewed sense of energy; ready to experience new things together like we used to do before family and work obligations became the main drivers of our lives. We heard from other guests about an old hardware store (now pub and restaurant) in downtown Weston that had rustic charm and craft beers, and decided to take an impromptu trip to Thyme Bistro
From the moment we walked in, the whole place was like a jovial reunion of friends and family, who were just hanging out with a glass of wine or craft beer and some live music from a local band. The brick building and chalkboard specials added to the welcoming charm of what seemed like a neighborhood place. The best part of the night was the simplest: Sitting at the bar while we chatted with a few locals, and out-of-towners like ourselves, learning about their favorite things to do, or had done so far, in the area.
After a leisurely breakfast the next morning, we headed to the resort’s Mtn. Laurel Spa, where we surrendered our stiff muscles to the soothing hands of the masseurs performing the Stonewall Signature Massage in a private spa suite. We hadn’t realized what a workout we got from dancing the previous night until we woke up with sore feet and calves. We were pleased when the masseurs told us they would start with a foot massage and hot towel wrap then move on to a full-body massage that combined Swedish techniques with hot stones and soothing scents. Pure bliss.
That afternoon we headed to Lambert’s Vintage Wines, north of the resort, to add a little flavor to our extrasensory day. Everything about this family-owned establishment exuded charm—from the strap hinges on the arched, wooden doors on the stone building to the hand-shaped birdbath sitting next to an informal flowerbed. Without taking ourselves too seriously, we acted the part of sommelier as we swirled vino in our glasses, and deeply inhaled the bouquets of white, red and blush wines. Afterward, we sat on the patio to enjoy the atmosphere a little longer and discuss the interesting flavor notes we tasted, from blackberries to spices. Other wine tasters trickled in and joined us, and while Riley was deep in conversation with another couple, I snuck off to buy a bottle of her favorite Pinot for a later surprise.
But before I sprung my surprise, we made the short drive to the West Virginia Museum of American Glass, which was on our way back to Stonewall Resort. We spent about an hour wandering around in this free museum located in downtown Weston, admiring the translucent displays. The artistry revealed the craftsmanship, the artist and the process behind each glasswork. We marveled at the various colors and shapes—everything from toadstools to orbs and table settings—and especially admired a series of blue bowls, one of which reminded us of the Murano glass centerpiece we bought in Venice on our honeymoon. It was so interesting to learn about the history of glassmaking in West Virginia, as well as see our country’s glass heritage come to life.
Remember that surprise for Riley I mentioned earlier? On our last evening in Lewis County, we went on a sunset hike—nothing too ambitious, just a quiet walk where the trees are tall, the air is cool and the company warm. As we sat on our blanket waiting for the sun to drop below the horizon, I pulled the bottle of Pinot out of my pack to surprise her.
“What? How?” she asked with a beautiful, carefree chuckle that I absolutely adore.
We toasted our anniversary again and watched the daylight slip away as we reminisced about the past couple days, and decades.
“My favorite part of this whole trip is how we didn’t make set plans. We just discovered along the way together, like we used to,” Riley remarked with a grin.
I smiled and chuckled as I remembered the fun we had. “Yeah, it was pretty fun, wasn’t it?” I replied.
Later that night, we found ourselves relaxing at the resort’s TJ Muskies Lounge. The drinks were cold, the atmosphere casual, and the food fresh and excellent. We shared a chicken pesto pizza, savoring every string of mozzarella. Still feeling adventurous, we each tried a signature cocktail. Being the golfer in the family, I went for The Ambling Arnold, a bourbon and iced tea drink created in honor of famous golfer (and the designer of the resort’s course), Arnold Palmer. The bourbon is made by Smooth Ambler Spirits in Greenbrier County, and added a comforting note alongside the refreshing taste of lemon juice. Riley went for something more tart: Jackson’s Way, a rum drink with Sprite, lemonade and raspberry liquor.
As we made our way back to our room—calling it an earlier night than last time since we had to leave in the morning—we made plans to take more trips like this: just the two of us exploring our home state. We had not only discovered a way to reconnect in Lewis County, but made memories in a welcoming community filled with new discoveries.
Reconnect, explore and discover new things in West Virginia’s Stonewall Country.