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Adventure Awaits at Unusual Primland

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By Fyllis Hockman

"You want me to go where?" my mind shouted as I barreled down a 90-degree angle that led into a wall of mud- and gravel-encased woods. I was driving -- or more accurately surviving -- an ATV excursion at Primland in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

On the hour's ride, when I was willing to unclutch the steering wheel long enough to wave at an occasional wild turkey, pheasant or deer (alas, none of the black bears that occasionally turn up) or look out over the magnificent countryside, I was reminded once again to take it easy on the turns. The adventure is not for the faint of heart or heavy of foot as we bounced over rocks, dipped into ruts, careened around hairpin turns and stormed through muddy ravines, but the adrenaline surge was thrilling. I had to keep reminding myself to relax my body, and I was sure none of my internal organs was where it started out before the ride. OK, so yes, it was a tad nerve-wracking -- but oh so much fun!

Even once I was in a real car on a real road the driving still felt treacherous. Primland is just shy of the size of Bermuda. Here windy, hilly, curvy roads that survey mammoth, stunning overlooks cover the 12,000-acre campus, and the shuttle drivers carry Dramamine with them to assuage those prone to motion sickness. Not your usual hotel amenity.

And a lot of driving is involved. Even when you arrive at Primland you haven't actually arrived. It's 6 miles from the North Gate to the lodge and another 7 miles to the South Gate. Shuttles to the different activities felt like activities in themselves.

So it was not surprising to be happily on our own two feet again when hiking with naturalist Tim, who enhanced our walk over varied terrain with knowledgeable explanations of flora and fauna and an even more interesting worldview.

 

And then it was time for archery, of course. And air-rifle shooting. And tomahawk throwing. Doesn't every hotel have that? I raised my bow and arrow and shot at the target. Turns out I was a natural, hitting the target every time. Not so much with the air rifle. To assuage my diminishing self-esteem I reverted back to my trusty bow and arrow.

The list of things we didn't do is longer than those we did: Fly-fishing, clay-shooting, disc golf, horseback-riding, hunting, water sports, outdoor fitness track, and of course golf and tennis.

But still I felt I had earned my Signature Massage at the spa, which emphasized the Native American experience. Here it is more than just a theme -- it's a philosophy. Artifacts from the local Saura tribe abound and are considered sacred. During the massage tribal elements of fire, water, air and earth were incorporated through hot stones, oils, scents and touch. Afterward I sipped tea from the Native American Tea Co.

Prior to the massage, I was taken to a "relaxation space," past hallways all designed with shades of turquoise and brown. The color represents a "drop of heaven" and the stones, anti-aging. I was already well-relaxed before I even got to the relaxation room, where a wide span of windows looking out over the countryside reinforced the sense of tranquility. At this point, I thought I didn't even need the massage.

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