Saturday, January 20 -- Near the edge of the tiny town of Washington, Virginia, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, sits the Foster Harris House, a handsome yellow-and-green bed and breakfast that is as vibrant as a sunflower in full bloom.
As a young surveyor, a 17-year-old George Washington plotted the town of Washington in the year 1749. Today, there are less than 200 residents in this historic village.
I awake in a plush bed at the Foster Harris House after nine hours of deep sleep, something unheard of for me. The aroma of eggs and sausage caress my nostrils from the kitchen below.
Proprietors Diane and John MacPherson offer a gracious haven that delights the senses. The MacPhersons abandoned the corporate grind in California several years ago for life as innkeepers in the rural Virginia countryside. They are ever-present with welcoming smiles, a complimentary glass of wine and advice on local sights. John even loans me a new sport jacket to wear at dinner, since my packing on this trip has left something to be desired.
The rooms in this Victorian home, circa 1900, are bright and cheerful. Mine has a view of the rolling countryside behind the inn. Linens feel incredibly soft and the smoky sounds of Diana Krall and Nat King Cole fill the dining room where breakfast is served at a rustic tavern table. The MacPhersons have followed their dream and it is delicious.
John prepares a four-course breakfast that is nothing short of a work of art. He is a self-taught chef, and tells us that he is from a family that loves to cook and eat. We are served fresh mango, kiwi and blackberries with vanilla custard yogurt and granola, a perfect golden omelet of spinach, mushroom and goat cheese with tarragon potato “roshi” and apple chicken sausage, and lemon “Liebchen, ” a type of German pancake, with blackberry maple butter sauce, sprinkled with mint chopped extremely fine. It is a morning feast. The ingredients are garden-fresh and burst with an harmonious symphony of colors and flavors. The MacPhersons’ passion for good food and the country life infuses every detail of the Foster Harris House.
After the long and leisurely breakfast, I drive along the Skyline Drive deep into Shenandoah National Park. It is colder at the higher elevation, and I encounter no more than a dozen tourists during the entire drive through the park. The car thermometer reads 23 degrees, and the frigid wind buffets the rental car. I spot several deer foraging for food. I hike to the top of the Stony Man peak where a lone blackbird glides the stiff wind currents and ice fills the crevices between ancient gray boulders.
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