Well dear readers, I won’t bury the lede:
Elaine played a triple word score on the third play and never looked back.
The final score was 323-235.
My luck with letters vanished. The last four pulls from the bag gave me seven vowels. Elaine pretended sympathy, but I sensed her delight in finding her ground on the Scrabble board. Fortunately I still like Elaine. And I was relieved of the stresses of winning.
Before a certain NYT best-selling author gives you her side of the story, I’d like to share a few pertinent details.
We stayed in a private house (called Arden Estate) on the Nemacolin property instead of the fifth floor of the Chateau. While everyone in the house had been vaccinated, we opted to keep the house reservation as a cautious way to return to travel.
It’s a huge house with decks running on two levels on the back, providing gorgeous views of the Laurel Highlands. With six bedrooms, a huge dining area, an even huge-r deck with picnic table, a game room, a pool table, fireplaces, two hot tubs, Arden offered enough to do, enough space to sit and read or talk, that you didn’t even need to leave for spa treatments. (Though everyone did at least one.)
BTW, in the fall of 2020, the most recent season of The Bachelor was filmed entirely at Nemacolin. The resort was closed to guests for two months, all employees of the resort who worked during that time as well as the entire cast and crew were sequestered on the property and subject to two Covid tests per week.
Arden was used for group dates and one-on-one interviews in front of the fireplace. I’m not a fan of the show, but it was a conversation starter with everyone I met. And it seems to be a lure for visitors to the resort now that spring has arrived.
Oh, the one thing I DID know was our friend Claire Hardy created the vivid, engaging rose paintings that were visible on the show. Nora owns several of Claire’s pieces and she had a show at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro in March 2020.
While I mentally (and maybe somewhat vocally) bemoaned the Stupid Scoreboard, I firmly put my foot down about playing Hearts with Kayla. “That,” I said grandly, “is a Greenbrier activity.”
Shows me what I know. My plan was to bed by 10:30 on the first night, but as I was about to say goodnight, Kat had to go downstairs to Griffin and I was dragooned into sitting in her place in a game of — you guessed it — Hearts. I proceeded to tank on purpose, but still didn’t get to bed until 11:30. Sigh.
On the positive side of the Stupid Scoreboard tally, we bowled with the Ninendo Switch instead of the Wii. Turns out I have mad skills bowling with the left Switch remote in the right hand.
Eventually I helped the group learn that six strikes in a row are called a six-pack. Unfortunately, my talents only showed up for exhibitions to delight Griffin who chortled whenever anyone bowled a strike.
Overall, the days were lovely. Forecasted cold weather and rain never materialized. We had enough room on the decks to take in the magnificent sunsets (instead of crowding at a hotel window).
Even though it’s not everyone’s idea of a vacation, I really wanted to get my hands on the grill on one deck and make dinner for everyone. (I enjoy cooking for larger groups and it’s been a long, long time.) The group was all in so Kayla and I went out to buy chicken and vegetables and the ingredients for Nora’s Roasted Potatoes.
Since everyone will ask: Nora took the boatload of Yukon gold potatoes I bought her, washed them, quartered them, coated them with olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped garlic and rosemary. Put them in a 375 oven for 30 minutes, then took out of the oven and stirred them so nothing stuck to the pan. Then she rechecked/stirred them every 15 minutes until they were done.
When I’ve made them, I use Yukon Gold baby potatoes, do the same oil/spice thing, then start the stirring at 15 minutes instead of 30, since they cook faster.
I needed a tenderizer to get the chicken breasts around the same thickness. In the perfect example of #RandomKatness, she went out and found a rock for my approval. Then she washed it and covered with foil. And it was perfect fit for my hand, weight for the job.
Actually everything was pretty perfect. I grilled asparagus with lemon, broccoli, cauliflower while Nicole prepped portobello mushrooms stuffed with zuchini, squash and mozzerella.
Praise all around for our family meal. And we had leftovers for days.
As for the rest of our time away?
Went for walks.
Watched a surprise fireworks display.
And took the time to catch up in person, rather than a monthly Zoom call.
Nora captures the magic of friendship and girl power far better than I do, so I’ll let her give you a fuller picture in her own post.
All I can say is it was a wonderful, restorative week away…
Until JoAnne screamed.
But that’s a story for next time.