Hello, everyone! If you’ve been following me here, my parent blog or over on Instagram for a while, you know I really enjoy mini breaks from the hustle – work, events, home maintenance – and just have to take an escape from day-to-day life. In my case, this meant skipping town for the weekend on a mystery vacation called Fall Destination Unknown earlier this month. Though it wasn’t much of a “mystery” for me (as one of the influencers invited to cover the trip, I totally knew where we were headed!), I was able to relax and experience a different setting than I’m usually in everyday – in this case, West Virginia.
On the first day of the trip, I boarded a bus at Union Station with thirty-two other passengers, who I didn’t know (with the exception of my friend Cheryl and my photographer besties, Anthony and Pootie!), and had no clue where we were headed; the destination we were told was literally “Destination Unknown!” These kinds of vacations are known as “blind vacations,” and have become a trend along with solo travelling in recent years. I wanted to experience it for myself, as a travel blogger who wants to share what’s going on in the travel industry with all of you, and this was the perfect opportunity.
That afternoon, we kicked things off with a delicious al fresco luncheon, which was in the stunning Blackwater Falls State Park! Blackwater is named for it’s signature waterfall that gets additional coloring from fallen red spruce needles and hemlock, and is based in the Allegheny Mountains, where most of the trip took place. The luncheon was set in one of the forest paths overlooking the Falls, and had three courses paired with different hard apple ciders from local cidery Hawk Knobb – totally perfect for fall!
After the luncheon, we headed back to the Canaan Valley Resort. The Resort is in the center of the park and had amazing views of the open Valley from it’s private balcony. I felt like this trip was a great opportunity for me to experience raw nature, but the polished wood interior, climate control and spacious suite (and bathroom!) was lovely to return to and relax in throughout the trip. One of my other favorite parts of the view was it’s exposure of West Virginia’s fall foliage! A favorite thing of mine is when leaves change colors in autumn and combined with the sunset, the exposure to the great outdoors and the crisp fall air, it was simply magical.
That evening, before it got too dark outside, my travel group went horseback riding while “fall leaf peeping,” to check out the foliage up-close. Though I lagged slightly behind the group (horseback riding at a quicker pace is hard when you’re trying to post on Stories, LOL), it was refreshing to see the trees I’d viewed from much further away so closely. The entire forest was flooded with color, and it was insanely gorgeous!
On our last day, the group I was with went rock climbing in the NRocks Via Ferrata. This was undoubtedly the highlight of my trip! It was raining, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. After a few high-altitude hikes to get to the bridge and where we climbed in the West Virginia mountains, we had the best panoramic views of the gorgeous foliage covering the mountains.
Rock climbing was very intimidating for me at first, since I have a really acute fear of heights, and sometimes I don’t think about it at all. However, once we reached the Via Ferrata bridge I felt ready to take a greater leap (definitely figurative) and face that fear. When I was clipped into my harness on the bridge between two mountains (which was planks on sturdy cables, with a harness system and lines attached to the sides for safety), I felt really vulnerable but very free as well. I felt like I was able to jump right in, knowing the experience was safe, and take in the incredible views. There were a few moments where I felt scared and extremely thrilled, but it was one of the coolest experiences of my life.
On the bus ride home, I was reflecting on this trip and I’m so happy that I chose to go. Not only was I able to experience nature and have a fun getaway in West Virginia while spending time with really great friends–old and new, I was also encouraged and able to take risks and be outside of my comfort zone. Though I knew where we were going on our trip the whole time, I think those are important feelings for people to experience – especially if you’re thinking of taking a “blind vacation.” I felt like I left the trip feeling emboldened, refreshed and ready to take on whatever life was going to throw at me afterwards. Sometimes we all need to take a break, and the adventures that you can have when doing that are some of the most important ones that you can experience.
Live boldly, friends!