You'll be glad to know I returned the gun. Later, after a superb dinner in the resort's fancy French bistro, which my Holiday Inn "savings" did not cover, I sat in an outdoor hot tub on a starry, starry autumn night, and relaxed.
DETAILS: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa
GETTING THERE: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa is in Farmington, Pa., about 185 miles from downtown Washington in southwest Pennsylvania. From the Beltway, take I-270 to I-70 west and I-40 west; watch for the welcome sign on the right.
WHERE TO STAY: Nemacolin (800-422-2736, www.nemacolin.com) has three lodging alternatives, and rates drop between Nov. 1 and April 21. During that time, doubles at the elegant but homey Lodge begin at $160 midweek, $225 weekends and holidays. At the posher Chateau LaFayette, doubles start at $195 midweek, $315 weekends. Town houses that are a short drive from the main property start at $150 midweek, $225 weekends.
Drastically cut Web prices are available on short notice. Click on "special deals" at the resort Web site. You can also sign up to be e-mailed during sales.
Individual spa treatments range from $45 to $195, and various packages are available.
Nearby options includethe Hampton, Holiday and Fairfield Inns in Uniontown, the closest major town, about 23 miles west of the resort. Rates start at just over $50. Call the visitors bureau or check its Web site (see below) for details.
Even closer to the resort: Quiet House B&B (800-784-8187), where doubles start at $79. Doubles at the Stone House (800-274-7138) begin at $75, but consider a higher-priced room away from Route 40. My favorite alternative, the Historic Summit Inn (724-438-8594), closes for the season Nov. 10 and reopens in May. Rooms begin at $79 weekdays, $99 weekends. A room with a view doesn't cost extra, so request one.
WHERE TO EAT: Nemacolin has four restaurants (one for every budget), with sandwiches and pasta beginning at $8 at the Tavern, and entrees at Lautrec, a gourmet French bistro, ranging from $27 to $32.
Just down the road, entrees at the Stone House range from $8 to $22, and similar prices for American-style cuisine are offered at the Historic Summit Inn. Uniontown has every fast food known to man, and the visitor's bureau features a fine dining section on its site and in brochures.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS: Two Frank Lloyd Wright homes, Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, are nearby and open to the public. Renovations begin at Fallingwater in December; $50 appointment-only construction tours conducted until work is complete. Details: 724-329-8501, www.paconserve.org.
The national battlefield Fort Necessity (724-329-5512, www.nps.gov/fone; $2) and Laurel Caverns (800-515-4150, www.laurelcaverns.com; $9) are a few miles from the resort, as is Ohiopyle State Park. Paintball battles in the woods, boating and whitewater rafting are favored fair weather activities.
INFORMATION: Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, 724-238-5661, www.laurelhighlands.org.
-- Cindy Loose