I was driving along a steep, winding road in southwest Virginia, looking for my lodgings for the night, when I rounded a turn and saw spreading before me a large, verdant valley, like a great head of broccoli, sliced by a meandering river.
“Wow!” I said, stepping on the brakes.
Had I read the directions the lodge had provided a little more closely, I would have realized that this reaction meant that I had just missed my turn for the Inn at Riverbend in Pearisburg, Va.
After a few minutes savoring the view, I looked around for my inn but didn’t see it. Rereading the directions, I recognized my error and backtracked a dozen yards, drove up another hill and pulled into the inn’s driveway.
The Inn at Riverbend, as the name implies, is perched on a hill overlooking a bend in the New River, which cuts through the Appalachian Mountains into West Virginia. As I pulled up, owner Jimm Burton walked out to greet me. His wife, Janet, was washing dishes and waved through the kitchen window. Their shih tzus, Gaby and Zoey, ran out and yelped hello.
The inn is a two-story, 4,800-square-foot house with wraparound porches on each floor from which you get a fine view of the valley. Jimm told me that the New River is a misnomer; it’s actually considered one of the oldest rivers in the world.
Decorated with paintings of Native American warriors and a statuette of a grizzly bear eating salmon, the inn felt more like a Montana lodge than an Appalachian bastion, like one of those houses you see advertised in the back of Cowboys & Indians magazine. I wasn’t so far off. Turns out, the Burtons lived in Washington state before buying the inn eight months ago.
The living room and dining area on the first floor are spacious and illuminated by brilliant natural light. Large windows frame the arresting vistas.
My room overlooked the valley. Its purple walls, four-poster bed and ample space lent it a regal air. It opened onto the upper balcony and was outfitted with two rockers and a table. Just outside the room, down the hill, flowed a little man-made cascade.
After dropping off my gear, I walked down a footpath and reclined in a hammock near the cascade. Cicadas rattled in the bushes. Afterward I took a bath in the jet tub in my bathroom, using the delightfully fragrant mint-thyme “head wash,” as it was described on the little tube.
Just before bed I opened the windows so that I could hear the cascade while I slept.
Next morning, breakfast started with a bowl of sliced strawberries, bananas and kiwi, drizzled with cream and accompanied by an almond-cranberry scone with a morsel of butter molded into a rosebud. The main dish was an open sandwich of wheat toast, crisp bacon, a slice of tomato and fluffy scrambled eggs garnished with chives.
I spent the final 30 minutes of my stay on the rocker outside my room, enjoying the view and the waterfall. After getting into my car, I drove away. Then I came back and took one more peek.