Saturday, November 22, 2008

When Innkeepers take a break

Many guests ask us what do innkeepers do when they go away? Or do we ever get to go away? Well if we don't we stay and work work and more work.

So we just did and this is what we did - We went to Pix-boig via West Virginia! Of course the mercury fell straight down to the brrrr and very brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr but we loaded up the truck and we headed on out to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.

West Virginia is the next state over and in fact a few years ago used to be part of our state of Virginia. But we went straight up the middle of the state - Tony called it "the scenic route" I called it the white-knuckle-white-out route. 38 inches of snow covered the entire central mountain region and gave a good base to the ski slopes there.

As we passed on by Snowshoe Mountain we vowed we would come back an
d play on the slopes one day soon! It was about 2 hours total drive time from The Claiborne House B&B in Rocky Mount VA to Snowshow Mountain. Not a bad drive at all!

From Snowshoe we hea
ded North to a little place lovingly referred to by my inn-mate Kathleen as "Podunk" West Virginia, AKA Shinnston WV. Kathleen Panek owns and operates Gillum House in Shinnston. It is open every day of the year, and in fact if you are longing for an old timey meal - ask Kathleen about her 18th Century feasts. She also has many packages available from rails to trails to covered bridge tours. Here is a blurb from her website to get you started:

18th Century New Year's Eve Celebrate New Year's

Eve with a traditional 18th Century Frontier dinner (turkey w/sage dressing, venison roast, homemade rolls, homemade cranberry sauce, and all the trimmings) served at about 9pm New Year's Eve by your hosts attired in 18th Century period clothing. Toast the New Year with West Virginia Sparkling cider in your souvenir hand-blown West Virginia goblets. New Year's Day, sleep late if you wish. Bike or hike the rail-trail or your host will create a routing personalized for you. 2-nights lodging with special dinner, Midnight toast, packed lunch New Year's Day, and full complimentary breakfast each morning $400 per couple. Add an extra night for $75 + tax.

Gillum House is on a quiet side street so you will have a very restful sleep while visiting Shinnston and surrounds. She asked us what bean we wanted for our coffee and provides a selection of over 25 green beans to choose from - Tanzania, Costa Rican, Zimbabwe, Sumatra to name just a few. She then roasted them to our preference (dark roast) and ground them fresh for our morning cuppa joe. You will enjoy the hospitality of Kathleen and John at Gillum House. 1-888-592-0177 or visit their website:

Make sure she sends you a mile up the road to "Jimmy's Diner" for an Italian sausage sandwich or their all-you-can-eat Thursday night Spaghetti, bread and salad. Jimmy's was a real treat.

From West Virginia we headed north to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. What a fantastic town! I call it a town as it has a small-town feel. With over 500 bridges and the downtown smack dab in the middle of 3 major rivers, it was a sight to see! It is only one of two inlet shipping ports. I had no idea how beautiful Pittsburgh was, after hearing the many misconceptions about it being a dirty old steel mill town, I was shocked! It is the center of culture, the arts and technology. Voted America's Most Livable City - The City of Bridges.

I was told in Pittsburgh you will go home to Mama for Sunday Suppers!

Our first stop in Pittsburgh was The Strip. This is the place to shop all the et
hnic food markets, buy freshly made Sicilian Sausage, Salami, Italian cheese and anything your heart desires. Remember Pittsburgh has a massive Italian population - moreso than any other US City. Also in the ranks you will find Irish, Scots, Polish, Urkrainian and many many other nationalities who came to Pitts during the steel era. We stumbled into the famous Primanti Brothers for one of their incredible sandwiches.

A book I highly recommend on the Era that changed not only the USA but the world is titled "Meet You in Hell" here it is on with full reviews. A small blurb: The dramatic centerpiece of Les Standiford's dual biography of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick is the bloody clash between striking steelworkers and imported Pinkerton "detectives" at Carnegie's Homestead, PA plant in early July of 1892. Fourteen people were killed in that battle, and many more injured.

This book will enlighten you into the intens
e character and clashing egoes of two men who changed history. Andrew Carnegie was and still would be if alive today the richest man in America. He came up from poverty to be the master of steel and rail.

Pittsburgh Steeler's - I have always admired their fanatics (fans) as I have seen them year after year sitting in the frigid temperatures, snow, wind, ice cheering on their team! Well this trip was no exception - we drove past Heinz Field - this grand open air stadium along the Allegeny River as the fans
lit up the charcoal for their tailgate parties in freezing 22 degrees fahrenheit. The Steelers (5 time superbowl champions) beat the tails off of Cinncinatti Bengals ('scuse the pun). We couldn't help but get into the spirit! Everyone and I mean everyone had on Yellow and Black Steeler's gear.

Things to do and see in Pittsburgh - T
he Zoo, The Aquarium, The National Aviary, Downtown Cultural District for plays, musicals, theatre, The Strip. Carnegie Science Center, History Museum, Andy Warhol Museum., Duquesne Incline...the list goes on and on. I will put a link here so you can see for yourself.

The drive time total from Pittsburgh to Rocky Mount was 6 1/2 - 7 hours and that included a white out snow storm which I will call
a blizzard. It was bad, but we made it home in one piece. Next time we visit in the summertime.

PS Don't forget to click on any photo for an enlarged view.

Life is too short for bad coffee... Shellie @ The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia