It was my favorite vacation ever.
There was no beach or four-star hotel. There wasn’t even a pool, although we could hear one a half-block away, its tinny speakers blaring country music that mixed nicely with splashing and laughing and the lifeguard’s whistle. And when the wind hit just right, we were treated to the smell of chlorine and sunscreen and hot dogs blistering on the grill.
It was paradise.
A paradise where we got sunburned and filthy and covered in poison ivy. There wasn’t even a working bathroom where we stayed, yet I honestly can’t recall a trip I enjoyed more. When I felt so fully in my element, doing what I love with whom I love in a place I love more than anywhere else.
In a place that feels as much like home as our home.
It’s been several months since I first wrote about the three-story warehouse in Hinton that Don and I purchased last year. We dubbed it Old Fuzzy because the 110-year-old, mostly windowless building is so covered in vines it appears as though it has hair.
So, we took our vacation and gave Old Fuzzy a trim.
It’s something of an asymmetrical cut, far shorter on one side than the other. The shock of bangs on the front was the first to go, although a few strays managed to escape the blades. The main part of the dreaded locks took much longer, with one side being easier to reach, so we went after it first, bringing down so many vines we had to hire a truck to haul it away.
Weather prevented us from completing the cut, although I’m not sure we would’ve finished under the best of circumstances, as there was another project to lure us. On the front of our building is a large picture window, about 10-feet wide by 6-feet tall. To shield the windows from vandals, the previous owner covered it with a large metal sheet. But what he saw as protection we viewed as a canvas.
Don created a logo for a company that does not yet exist — a design that encompasses our love for rust, old sci fi, industrial, and antiques — and we hand-painted his logo onto the metal.
It was our way of announcing ourselves to the neighborhood, while making the place look occupied at the same time. What we hadn’t anticipated was how much fun we would have in the process. We both loved painting that sign.
While there, we got to hang out with our friends, Marilyn and Stephen, at the Pence Springs Flea Market and over dinner at their beautiful farm, where we witnessed something I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it myself — so many lightning bugs it seemed as though we were watching fireworks, not fireflies. They lit up the fields, trees, and sky until they seemed to blend with the stars.
And then, in a flash, it was time to return to Atlanta. I don’t think I’ve teared up over leaving a place since, as a teen, I knew it was my last time to ever leave Carbide Camp. But it hit me hard. I did not want to go.
In a single week, I met more people in Hinton than I have in five years in Atlanta. Friendly people. Interesting. Genuine. We even met the town’s mayor, who stopped by to say hi. In Atlanta, folks say, “We should have lunch sometime.” In West Virginia, they say, “We should have lunch sometime. What are you doing tomorrow?” They don’t just feign interest. They are interested.
When we bought the warehouse, we were fuzzy on why. We told ourselves it was a retirement project, something way down the road.
And now we’re looking for shortcuts.