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Perhaps it’s always been like this. We work hard and become more productive in each passing day. Fueled by some imaginary respite in the near future, we find ourselves swamped. In fact, do you notice how most people answer this question in this age – “How are you doing.”

Most often, the answer is “Busy” or “Crazy” at its extremes. I’m certainly guilty of that response too.

My wife, Kelli had been working covertly to plan a special getaway for us both. We’ve had a busy Summer and as part of my 55th birthday plans, she put together a terrific adventure along with our friends Eric and Angie Hyche.

First of all, I love the New River Trail around Draper, Virginia. I’m proud to say I’ve biked that 100 mile trip a handful of times in my life and although this area is two hours away – it can certainly feel like you’re away from home and that seems to be the only way we can slow down.

We discovered the Draper Mercantile last year on a Spring getaway. That’s where we met Eric and Angie on Friday night. There was a duo playing 70s folk tunes through the night and we had fun calling out Neil Young, Eagles and Crosby Stills and Nash tunes. I had a glass of wine to christen the evening and enjoyed a coffee-crusted New York Strip to celebrate the beginning of the weekend.

Our zig-zag journey to the cabin took about 30 minutes once we left Draper only because of the mountain roads. We were amused by the Christmas lights already torched in some parts of the remote hillside.

When we first arrived at the cabin, the cicadas were at a low-murmur and we had fun exploring the three floors of our cabin. The main level had a bedroom, living area, kitchen and bath with a deck that surrounded the cabin. Downstairs, there was another den area, bar and large bath with jacuzzi steam. As we made our way upstairs, we tossed our few bags into the floor of a nice loft bedroom with an outdoor deck looking over the back of the property.

Once we were settled, we made our way downstairs to play card games before retiring into the midnight hour.

In the morning, I walked out onto our bedroom deck and below us where about 4 or 5 young deer foraging through the forest. There was a hazy fog filtering through the trees. Below, about 50 brightly colored koi were swimming in a small outdoor pound and the birds and squirrels were busy with morning recon gathering food for the day.

After breakfast, Kelli, Angie, Eric and myself loaded the bikes and made our way down to the railroad trestle on the New River Trail. This parking lot is located at mile-marker 11 and we set off for the day’s ride.

Together, we rode up past Foster Falls which is some twenty miles away. We enjoyed the quiet trek along the New River as the leaves were just beginning to fall. There was an unusual number of snakes visible on the trail today, but nothing that felt life-threatening, despite the shrieks from Kelli.

Later that afternoon, we cleaned up at the cabin and rode out to the Fort Chiswell Mansion and the “Key Ingredients” – Farm to Table Restaurant. I’d always wondered what this place was like and we enjoyed an afternoon sunset overlooking gorgeous Virginia pastures and eating homemade ice cream after a wonderful dinner.

The weather, the bike ride, the restaurants and the company was amazing this weekend. However, my favorite memory and always one of my favorite past-times was watching the night sky unfold from our cabin near Hiwasse Virginia.

As the sunset over Claytor Lake, we watched the Milky Way stretches across the night sky. Everyone was cleaning up from a day on the trail and one-by-one, we found ourselves leaning back on the dark deck, with our necks turned toward the heavens.

I remember Angie coming out to see Eric and I and she said, “Are you going to stay out here much longer because I’m starting to get sleepy?”

It’s certainly understandable that the cool temperatures of the night and the quiet, dark horizon is perfect for an early night, but this was an amazing spectacle. Angie was thinking we would play games and that’s certainly a lot of fun with this couple, but the more we started to see, the more reflective and enjoyable the conversation and the appreciation of deep time and deep thinking.

We didn’t see a lot of shooting stars. I believe Eric tallied the best count on that activity, but we all had great fun counting satellites moving across the star clusters. For me personally, it’s always great fun to track the constellations and name the stars. I wish I had more time to do this and ultimately, this is the one hobby I’d love to find more time to do. Afterall, I’m still looking for those fireballs and shooting stars.

It was a late night by the time we went to bed. We woke to a glorious Sunday morning with sapphire skies and made our way down to the dock on Claytor Lake. I’d been hoping to fly the drone around again and couldn’t have asked for better color to shoot this amazing retreat in Virginia.

The Lost Horizon on Claytor Lake is a mesmerizing cabin getaway. Every detail is there for you to unplug and unleash your imagination. In fact, I’d love to be bored here more often. The older I get, the more convincing that moments like these with good friends are healing, creative and rich with the best of memories. In the heat of the stress of busy-land, it’s weekend getaways like this that make it all worthwhile.