The Colonial homes that I love. (Deb Meissner photo)

The Colonial homes that I love. (Deb Meissner photo)

How I spent my summer vacation, Part 2: Almost heaven, West Viriginia

Deb is glad to be back with her family in the valley, but the tug of home persists

After I adjusted for a few minutes outside the Dulles airport, I saw the enormous U.S. flag that I always look for. There is something about seeing that flag that brings me the comfort of knowing I am home.

It was a relief to know I was there, finally, well, almost. Now came the driving, but knowing I was within reach of my parents truly brought my heart joy. It had been three and a half years since I last saw my parents, much too long.

The morning broke with the B.C. smoke firmly set in the skies, bad enough that it made your eyes water. The noise and traffic, the people speaking many different dialects and the heat were all increasing at 6 a.m. and I was anxious to get to the drive through the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful, historic and they lead me home.

My cousins showed up right on time, and boy was it great to see them! My cousin Scott, who works seven days a week, actually took the day off to come and pick me up with his wife Jo Lee.

I could not believe my eyes and told Scott it made me feel like a princess he would take the whole day off for me. We all lost much this year, his mother, my Aunt Phyllis, died from COVID-19, and it broke all of our hearts. So it was even more special to see them.

We dumped my bags in the back and struck out for the beltway. Man, how an eight-lane freeway can be full at that hour, or where exactly they were all going, I have no idea, but I’m sure as heck glad it’s not my commute.

So the three of us laughed and talked and got caught up, as we made our way to Winchester, Virginia, my birthplace. It is known for its cherry blossom trees and the fact that George Washington surveyed the whole area. It’s also an area that traded hands several times during the Civil War.

I love the history of Winchester, it is so old compared to western Canadian history. The other thing I always love seeing is the huge, beautiful colonial homes made of brick.

The roads become less busy once off the beltway and onto the roads that wind through the mountain. It is a glorious ride.

Once we are in Winchester, I am reunited with my folks, and I cannot tell you how good the hugs felt. I wanted to hold on forever. Winchester is the halfway point to my parent’s home, and it is my birthplace.

If you ever wondered why this column is called Daresay, it is due to my mother being a historian, and, the story behind my name is about the first child born in the “free world.” Her name was Virginia Dare. Since I was born in Virginia, and my mother’s roommate in college and lifelong friend was Lois Dare, combined with mom’s love of history, I am Deborah Dare. And since I say what’s on my mind, “Daresay” seemed natural.

Middle names are important at home, but I knew if I heard mine in a sentence coming from mom or dad, I’d better run as I was in big trouble!

Once reunited with my parents the rest of my trip was spent catching up, helping out, watching the Olympics with my mom, chatting with dad on the porch in the evenings, and just enjoying being there with them. As my parents are both in their 80s, I treasure every minute I have with them.

I never have enough time home, and the time to leave came too soon.

The trip back was again through the Blue Ridge Mountains, which actually do have a blue hue to them. You pass many historic places where battles took place from both the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. It is an incredible area of history.

Once back to the airport, it was a long trip home. I again had to take the Rapid COVID test before going, but this time when I hit Canadian customs, they wanted to see everything. They wanted hard copies of shots, tests and grilled me on why I was travelling in the first place!

For a time, I wondered if they were going to let me back in the country, the lady was quite stern and had an unnerving stare. Eventually, she had inspected every document I had and decided I could go home. It was an intimidating process, and they are all business, so if you decide to travel, take copies of everything you have regarding shots, health, tests, etc.

For some reason, on the way back, the flights were completely full. The flights in the States were full of grumpy people that fussed with the flight attendants about most everything, but mostly masks. The flight attendants were firm though and thankfully took little guff, so there weren’t any out-of-control people.

Once back in Canada the flights were again full to the brim, but no one complained about anything. This time there was no time to see if there were any bikini-clad people, I only saw ones in a hurry, and lots of them.

I was relieved to be back on familiar ground and to be reunited with my family here. But my heart still pulls me to a little place tucked away in the hills of West Virginia.

I hear it’s “almost heaven.”


The porches are key in these homes, as evenings are spent on the porches visiting. (Deb Meissner photo)

The porches are key in these homes, as evenings are spent on the porches visiting. (Deb Meissner photo)

One of the many beautiful churches in West Virginia. (Deb Meissner photo)

One of the many beautiful churches in West Virginia. (Deb Meissner photo)

Flying to Montreal, the smoke from the BC wildfires reached across the country. (Deb Meissner photo)

Flying to Montreal, the smoke from the BC wildfires reached across the country. (Deb Meissner photo)