Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our West Virginia vacation, and hey! Another contest!

Most of us, I suspect, have a place or two in the world that we revisit over and over again. Either its natural beauty speaks to us, or we associate it with good times, or both.

Alert readers of hearth/myth know Colorado is one of those places for me. Another one is Pipestem Resort State Park in southern West Virginia. I even set my first book, The Maidens' War, there. And that's where my daughter Kat and I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago.

The first time I went to Pipestem, I was in my twenties and working in the news department of WKEE-FM in Huntington, WV ("KEE 100 FM -- it's a monster!"). The West Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters Association held its annual meeting at Pipestem for a couple of years running. Every time we went, my co-workers and I would talk about how beautiful it was, and how we wanted to go back in the summertime when everything was open -- including the lodge at the bottom of the Bluestone River Gorge, the one where the only way in or out is by riding the 3,600-foot-long aerial tram. It's a steep trip -- you gain about 1,100 feet in elevation from bottom to top.

Try hauling a suitcase across that.
To be fair, there's a trail, too. But you wouldn't want to haul your luggage down the trail. It's five-and-a-quarter miles long, downhill all the way, and you have to ford the river at the end of it to get to the lodge. Better to pack light and take your stuff down on the tram.

Anyway, some years later, when Kat and Amy were small, I remembered Pipestem. It's only about a four-hour drive from DC and the rates were extremely reasonable. Plus back then, the park threw in some nice perks for lodge guests: free admission to the pools, free tennis, and free mini-golf. Not to mention the free tram rides for guests staying at the lodge down in the gorge. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but free is my favorite price. Plus at the time, I was pretty much broke. So we stayed at the lodge, ate lunches out of a cooler and dinners at the snack bar, did all the free stuff, and had a great time.

I've lost track of how many times we've been back since then. Once, we got a cottage and brought Suzu along. Another time, I dropped the kids off at college and went by myself; I hiked every day, including the five-mile downhill run with the walk across the river at the end, and drafted the outline for The Maidens' War.

The tram stop at Mountain Creek Lodge.
This most recent trip wasn't anything that momentous -- which, after the year I've had so far, was perfect. Kat went with me -- Amy had to work -- and all we did was read books, sit on our balcony, and ride the tram up to get lunch at the other lodge. Very restful.

You're waiting for the contest part, aren't you? Okay. It's easy. I'm not even going to do an annoying Rafflecopter this time.

The Maidens' War gets no love at all. It's my first book, published by a small press, and nobody ever reads it. The poor thing has only one review on Amazon. So I'm offering a free Kindle copy to the first five people who ask for one.

Also, I picked up two fun Pipestem souvenirs while we were there earlier this month. If you post a review of the book at Amazon, send me a message (email or Facebook or here on the blog -- wherever) and I will send you one of them. But you have to be one of the first two people to post a review.

Got it? Okay. In sum:

  • Free Kindle copy of The Maidens' War to the first 5 people who ask.
  • Pipestem tchotchke for the first 2 people who post a review at Amazon.
While you're deciding whether to play, here's a video of one of our tram rides this year. Flora, fauna, a view of part of that five-mile downhill trail, and massive rattly noises as our tram car goes over the support towers. Enjoy! And good luck!

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These moments of bloggy vacation memories have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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