Howdy folks, I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
I’m once again coming at you from IGE HQ, aka my living room, as we’re finally back from celebrating belated Christmas and New Years with Ben’s family at a log cabin in Virginia – so Little House on the
Prairie Mountaintop, right?!
Two days after Christmas, Ben, Lincoln, and I hopped a plane to Washington DC, where Ben’s parent’s live, to join his two brothers and his brother’s girlfriend, who had all traveled in for the festivities. I’m always anxious to fly with Lincoln as each age brings a specific hurdle to overcome – this time it was a mobile toddler whose afternoon nap coincided with the plane’s takeoff. That said, he did great thanks to nonstop iPhone video watching (obsessed with watching himself,) an amusing 2 year old girl across the aisle, and lots of popcorn and mini Larabars. NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT ‘EM!
We spent the night in DC then the next day headed southwest towards Virginia and the Wintergreen Resort located in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, which would be our home for the next five days!
We arrived via pitch-black, windy mountain roads in the evening and were all excited to wake up and see exactly where we’d be staying the next morning. Wintergreen is a ski resort with condos and lodging, but they also have lots of privately-owned homes like the one we rented.
The Cabin at Wintergreen was constructed over 25 years ago from logs used in a 150 year old home, with two fireplaces and every convenience you could ask for from a modern home…except internet. I had no choice but to unplug for a week, and I’m kind of squirming thinking about doing it again, but once the initial panic died down I didn’t miss it a bit. Ok…maybe a little!
Like I said, the cabin is privately-owned by a couple who, as far as I can tell from all the pictures on the wall, enjoyed many, many summers and good times at the cabin with their children and grandchildren. I loved getting a peek at the years of memories the family has made at the house, and was excited to make a week’s worth of our own.
Looking at the rustic, 1850’s-looking outside of the cabin, we had no idea what to expect on the inside. Cozy, winter warmth with touches of farmhouse, mountain-side lodge, and overall fabulousness. This was anything but roughing it!
Although there was 8 of us, including Lincoln, the house was roomy and I never felt like we were walking all over each other. They had pre-installed baby gates a the top and bottom of the stairs (thank you, LORD,) and Lincoln liked looking for birds out the window above the reading nook, and chasing Grandpa around the kitchen.
The family dog did too! ;)
Our first day there we didn’t even leave the street as the mountain fog was so dense you could barely see 20 feet in front of you. Honestly we had no place to be, and nothing to do (hello, vacation!) so we only ventured out for a foggy walk in the afternoon.
Truly I’ve never experienced fog quite like that – it was as awesome as it was eerie.
The next day was bright and sunny so we took an off-road adventure, literally peeling down the side of a rather unused mountain trail in our cars, to check out nearby Crabtree Falls. The falls are well known in the area, and the family is always down for a good outdoor adventure, so we strapped Lincoln to Ben’s chest and started uphill.
I can’t even handle this kid!! And before you think we have some miracle toddler, he lasted about 30 minutes in the carrier before squirming to be let out and run around the parking lot at the bottom of the trail. ;)
The falls were beautiful – and kudos to Ben’s brother for taking some killer shots of ’em with my camera.
The trail is a couple miles long, and then connects to even longer and more extensive trails. The rest of the family went on a bit while we headed back down. Although it was a short hike, it was a good one.
We pretty much picked one big thing to do a day, and the next day we did a wine tasting at Veritas Winery. Apparently this area in Virginia has a big winery, brewery, and cider company industry, which, hello, I was massively pumped about! Veritas is plunked in the middle of a green valley with gorgeous views of the mountains. Sigh. I had no idea how picturesque Virginia could be. I’ve been a handful of times but never to the mountains in this area. I can’t imagine how wonderful it’d be to sit outdoors on the patio in the summertime!
The inside of Veritas is very luxe-feeling with leather, wrought iron, stone, wood, and long, luxurious drapes.
The thing I loved most though? The enormous “LOVE” sign made with corks that was hanging above the tasting bar. How cool, right? Probably have enough to make at least the L and O with the amount of wine we drank this holiday season. ;)
Ben, myself, his brother, and girlfriend all did a quick tasting flight of Veritas’ juicy wines. I loved their sparkling wine, and cabernet blend which we bought a couple bottles of to enjoy the rest of the week. Would totally recommend this winery to visitors.
The group headed to nearby Bold Rock Cider next, but we had to get the little boy back for nap time, so they brought us some vintage dry cider back. LOVED it! Hard cider is great because in many, if not all, cases it’s gluten-free, but usually it’s like drinking coca-cola syrup. Not Bold Rock – it’s refreshing, lightly sweetened and dry-crisp. Yummy.
While our side trips were great, we had just as much fun spending time at the cabin. There were many games lost by yours truly including memory (seriously when in the HECK did memory get so hard…)
And puzzle-offs. I am not good at many things, but I am good at puzzles. Apparently not good enough to beat the rest of the people in Ben’s family when timed though. SOB!
It took about 20 minutes to get from the cabin to the valley below, so several nights we cooked dinner instead of going out. Since the cabin is privately-owned it’s stocked with anything and everything you’d need to make a meal, compared to a resort-owned property which would have come with, like, 4 mugs and a toaster oven, know what I mean?
One night it started serendipitously snowing in the evening so Ben and I made a big, cozy pot of my Smoked Sausage and Chicken Gumbo for the family to warm up with. Have you made it yet??? We’ve had it three times in just as many weeks. Cannot. Get. Enough.
On New Year’s Eve we made a rib-stickin’ meal of meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. <<< Those potatoes?? NO WORDS. We even left out a whole stick of butter (I know,) and oh my gosh I will be making them forever they were so incredible!
Anywhere in front of the fire was my favorite place in the cabin, which has two fireplaces including this very grand stone one in the main family room. I may have even slept by it one night…!
Family, roaring fires, good food, great memories – I know many people were ready for the holidays to come to a close, and get back to a normal routine, but this was one vacation we did not. want. to. end.
Alas, if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be as sweet. Ben, the family and I toasted to a wonderful trip, and to 2015 on New Year’s Eve, then headed back to DC the next day. We miss it all already. ‘Til next time, Virginia!
join the conversation
Had to comment on this post! I’m from and currentl live in the D.C. area, so Wintergreen, the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the rest are so familiar to me. It was great to see it on your blog. My best friend even got married at Veritas – gorgeous vineyard! Love this post and your chicken and sausage gumbo sounds delicious!
Annette Hoffman 01.11.2015
This looks so idyllic! Thank you for sharing!
Malerie D. 01.09.2015
What is the name of this actual cabin rental you were in?
It’s actually called “The Cabin at Wintergreen” :)
Tom H. 01.09.2015
Ugh. I always struggle if I had to choose between a beach house and a mountain cabin for a getaway…and seeing a post like this definitely tilts the scales towards the latter. Thanks for sharing; with it being so close to our east coast fam too, I’ll have to keep WG in mind for future travels!
I’m so happy you enjoyed it! We just built a home in Wintergreen, so we could get away from crazy life in Northern VA. We really love it! Hope it’s a new tradition for your family!
I haven’t been willing to let the holidays go quite yet so reading this was a lovely little gift. Looks idyllic and perfect.
Erin @ Sometimes-Homemade.com 01.06.2015
Wow, I feel like we should book our next vacation and go to the Blue Ridge Mountains! Gorgeous pictures. I feel relaxed just reading about your trip.
Danielle Codling 01.06.2015
You take such amazing pictures. I recently bought a Nikon D3300 based on your photography post from a couple years back; Is there a book you used to help you with taking such beautiful pictures? Thanks in advance! – Danielle
Hooray – that’s awesome! I learned everything I know by trial, many errors, and practice. That said, the manual is very helpful at learning the ins and outs of the camera. There’s also a “Nikon D3000 for Dummies” book (which I think should generally apply to your 3300) that breaks down the manual into more user-friendly copy. I hope that helps!!
Nikki @ Monday Morning Mama 01.06.2015
Looks like you had an amazing and restful vacation!
It is nice to see your post about VA, I live in Charlottesville and adore how many wineries and breweries are around. The pretty mountains and views aren’t half bad either. Next time you should try Pippin Hill Winery (my fave, King’s Family, or Blenheim which is owned by Dave Mathews. Glad your year is off to a good start!
Cheryl Armstrong 01.06.2015
Thanks for sharing your family time with us all. As I mentioned in an earlier post Wintergreen is in my backyard. We have an overwhelming number of site-seeing adventures in the area. Not to mention all the wineries and breweries. I try not to take the opportunities around me for granted. Please come visit again.
Jeri Wendzel 01.06.2015
Memory is hard because you have a child now. Your brain is mush. Just be glad that Lincoln is alive, well fed, and dressed (most of the time). I’m amazed at the stuff my brain forgets. Yup, it doesn’t get any better if you have more.
Bahahaha, spot on, Jeri!! ;)
How funny! I grew up in Cedar Falls and now live in central VA. My in-laws have a place at Wintergreen, and we were there around the New Year as well. If you are in the area again during warmer weather, there is a lot of fun stuff to do with small children. We love Hilltop Berry Farm, which is just a couple of miles away from Veritas. Blackberry picking plus wine tasting with incredible views – fun for parents and kids! Lake Monocan has canoe rentals and a trampoline in the water. The Nelson County Farmers Market has live bluegrass/folk music and children’s activities on Saturday mornings. Such a great area!
Each year my husband and I take a one week trip in which we turn the cell phones off – and leave them off. Virginia has now made my list!
Also, I’ve been ranting about that gumbo all morning. Your recipes never fail me and soon I will have to rename my pinterest “Food” board to “IGE Foods.”
It just hit me, looking at your pictures, that I spent a weekend at the Cabins at Wintergreen! It was before the snow started, and they were actually getting ready to spray with fake snow to start the skiing season. It was still awesome, and SO beautiful!! I would recommend this vacation spot to anyone!!
I never do this and I will apologize in advance for giving unsolicited parenting advice; however, I felt I couldn’t ignore a safety problem in this post. I noted you gave Lincoln popcorn. I’m a pediatric respiratory therapist and the pulmonologists I’ve worked with always recommend waiting to give children popcorn until they have all of their teeth and can grind food properly, usually around 4 years old. It’s a high risk food for aspiration. Just FYI.
Jeri Wendzel 01.06.2015
I agree. I freak out if someone suggested giving my oldest popcorn before she was 3 (at three she had all her teeth and had mastered the art of chewing bacon…she was ready) and now I have a 15 month old and practically quarantine her when we have popcorn night.
Malia @ Small Town Girl 01.05.2015
I love cabin getaways with family and friends. It’s been eons since I’ve got to do that. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed your story :)
What an amazing trip and you captured it so beautifully, Kristin! Those foggy mornings look so incredible. I just did my first international flight with my two 8-month-olds and I can already see how every age will have its own challenges just as you say. Our next big flight will be around the time they’re Lincoln’s age – popcorn and mini Larabars will be on the packing list – ha!
Stephanie @cookinfanatic 01.05.2015
I love everything about this post! I was just up at Wintergreen a couple months ago and still can’t get enough of how beautiful it is there. It’s super close to where I went to school too (JMU) so the mountain scenery makes me slightly nostalgic :) Veritas has some stunning scenery and some lovely wines, so happy y’all checked that place out. If you need any more Va winery visit ideas (or drinking companions) on your next visit down you know where to find me!! :)