The plan was to get from A to B with a stop for lunch. We certainly did not expect to come across a mom-and-pop restaurant in the middle of an enchanted garden. After all, Wytheville, Virginia didn’t sound very exciting. We had started our journey in Cincinnati, Ohio, and were on our way to a family vacation at the beach in South Carolina. The weather was nice, the Smokey Mountains presented themselves from their most beautiful side –and we were hungry. Following signs for food, we left the highway at Wytheville. Turning left would have led us to a generic place like Wendy’s or Subway, but my sister in law decided to turn right and drive into town. She has some great intuition.
From the street The Log House was not very impressive, but they did promise good, homemade food. As soon as we stepped inside I felt like we had gone back in time. Creaking woodfloors welcomed us at an old-fashioned reception desk. Pretty knick-knacks were on display, photographs of old folks on the wall along with quilts and old-world wall lamps. My heart jumped a bit for joy. Even more so when we sat down and saw that the menu asked for patience because this was no fast food place but everything was made from scratch. We did not expect to have anything, but fast food on our trip and here we were, waiting for outstanding sandwiches. At least we hoped so, and we were not disappointed in any way!
I did not manage to stay on my chair for longer than five minutes into the wait. Armed with my camera I started exploring the house. A waitress smiled at me when spotting my camera and invited me to go upstairs. The space there can be rented for events and was full of life even though no one was there. The rooms themselves seemed to talk, they seemed to carry all stories they had ever seen. And now they wanted to share them with me. It was truly magical.
When wandering around downstairs I almost got lost. Never before had I been in a house so rambling. And every corner was decorated with so much love and consideration. “To the gift shops” said little wooden signs I eagerly followed. They guided me through the entire house and lead me into the garden. What I saw made me stop short. Walt Disney couldn’t have made up a more enchanted place. To my left a huge old-school birdcage housed the most beautiful white doves. Little figurines of stone were all over the garden, sometimes big enough to overlook the place, sometimes so small you might overlook them under the plants. Little winding paths led through all of the beauty and if you looked closely, you could eye rabbits lounging under a wooden bench. Two big old buildings encircling the garden had gift shop sign on them. As eager as I was to take a look inside, my stomach told me it was time to eat.
The food was simply fantastic. I was close to kissing the cook. It was that good. Looking around I could see that everyone in the room looked equally happy with their orders. The entire atmosphere envited people to relax a bit, to step out from their busy everyday lives and enjoy a good meal. If I could move that reastaurant to my hometown in Germany, I would!
It was time for the gift shops. Part of me was afraid they would be full of country kitsch but luckily my fears were wrong. The most eclectic mix of crafts, design, jewelry, home accessoires new and old, as well as curious antiques waited inside the shops. They looked like a mixture of art gallery, antique shop and design store. Why oh why are there weight limitations on suitcases? Every other thing I saw I wanted to take with me: the soaps that looked like gem stones, the cards with sayings on them, the oddly shaped bottles in the corner, the seashells, the huge horse bust of wood, all the pretty little boxes, down to the furniture. Yes, I went mad a bit in there. In the end, I only took the pictures and the memories with me. “We are leaving,” my family shouted from the parking lot. I took a long last look around, said goodbye and never wanted to leave.
Sarolta Hershey lives and works in Nuremberg, Germany. She is a marketing assistant and graphic designer. Check out her blog here.