As a child I went on numerous camping trips with my family. Not to mention the weeks spent in a teepee on a Native American Reservation in north Wisconsin. I believe that these trips have opened my eyes to the benefits that being in nature can have on the unexposed. If your time spent away from the fast-paced life that some crave is overdue, I suggest making your way to a town that is literally off the map – at least Verizon Wireless’s map – and go to Lost River, West Virginia.

We originally had plans to go camping at an establishment called Big Ridge Campground, but were able to get in touch with a friend who owns a house in the area and conjured an invite. The 360-degree view of mountains and forest was calming and serene – something that does not come easily in my area without hearing car horns, sirens, and helicopters. After settling into our weekend dwelling, we decided to go on a little adventure. Mind you, we did not have cell service because we were literally off of the grid, but we got by with street signs and asking for directions (just once!). The place is full of farms, ponds, fresh air, and mountains.

We found an old barn turned museum/craft shop and decided to check it out. There we met a very friendly, now local artist who used to work at UMD Baltimore. It was nice to talk to someone from home. Inside the museum they had countless pieces of history and records of the lives of people from Lost River. Everything from original clothing to agricultural tools were on display. The upstairs included countless beautiful pieces from local artists, many of which were made by our friend from Baltimore.

We eventually found the campground that we were originally supposed to stay and decided to take a look around. The site didn’t look bad and I would have been fine with pitching a tent to enjoy the beautiful weekend.

There are many things to do in the area, such as taking a trip to the trout pond, a local swimming hole, or going for a dip in the pool at the state park – horseback riding and hiking are also available. Within the park you will find Robert E. Lee’s father’s summer home converted into a museum, in addition to cabins that look comfortable for at least four if camping isn’t your thing.

We finally found The Guesthouse, the gay mecca in Lost River, which sits on a picturesque property and has a very welcoming interior that is managed and operated by very kind, down-to-earth people. They have an outdoor pool and cabins for rent. One major benefit of staying at The Guesthouse opposed to the cabins in the state park is that there’s a bar right next to the pool and it is very gay-friendly. With the original owners from Baltimore, I highly recommend at least stopping by for lunch and a cocktail if you choose to not stay on the property.

The days and weekend ended with the sounds of nature, the fresh and cool mountain air, games of cards and chess. One felt pleasantly disconnected from the 21st century and surrounded by serenity.

Seeing the beauty in the night sky, the lightning storms in the distance and the outline of the mountains is something that I do not see often. When I was in Lost River, West Virginia, not only was my appreciation for nature reestablished, the beauty in a different way of life was revealed once again.