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2018-08-01 / Go Pink Boots

Paradise Found

Jill Gleeson



I’ve done a lot of risky things in my life. I’ve paraglided over the Tetons, Wyoming visible far beneath my feet. I’ve paddled Class V rapids in West Virginia, nearly drowning when I fell overboard. I’ve jumped out of a plane and wrangled cattle, volcano boarded in Nicaragua and sunbathed naked on the banks of the Limmat River in Zurich. I’ve ridden a camel across the Sahara and snorkeled with whitetip reef sharks in the Galapagos. I summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, all 19,341 feet of her.

I’ve run my body ragged to do it all, confident that the strength and energy needed for the next summit or dive or cattle drive would always return. I’ve never even really taken much time to recuperate between adventures. The idea of an indolent getaway, something entirely lacking in physical challenge, much less danger and adrenaline, hasn’t appealed to me in a long time.

But I recently did something far more terrifying than anything I’ve previously attempted. Two years after the worst heartbreak of my life, the thing that set me on my quest to climb two of the Seven Summits, I finally started seeing someone. We’ve fallen in love. Although this new development has made me only slightly less skittish than a cat on a hot tin roof, it’s also encouraged me to slow down a bit, to savor the time between mountaintops.

With that in mind and my fella, Matt, in tow, I headed off to the Inn at Bowman’s Hill. I’d stayed years ago at the Inn, which sits grandly, like a British country estate, on 5 meticulously manicured acres in Bucks County. It is quite possibly the most soothing place in the world. I’ve known the innkeepers, Mike and Louisa, since before I started adventuring.

The inn, Mike had explained to me once, was made for lovers. He told me a story about a woman who booked a room there for her and her husband, a veteran coming home after a devastating tour of duty in Iraq. Things had long been difficult between them; she wasn’t sure what the future held. Mike watched as they reunited, celebrating his safe return, falling in love with each other again.

When we checked in we discovered Mike had upgraded us to the General Washington Suite, which includes a jacuzzi built for two, a fireplace and a shower that doubles as a steam room. There was also a large balcony overlooking the lush, rolling grounds, dotted with towering trees, a beautifully landscaped pool and a large fountain set within a pond. As I stood there, gazing over it all, I felt my shoulders untense just a little.

I carry so much stress around every day, the result of trying to care for elderly parents alone and the continuing emotional fallout from the loss of my brother four years ago. I alleviate it with things like mountain climbing, but the Inn showed me there are other, softer methods. Things like sleeping in late and eating breakfast in bed. Taking a bubble bath so luxuriously long the water is almost cold before you get out. Swimming in the deep of night with your love, as he whispers the names of the stars overhead.

We walked the grounds, too. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d walked, no, actually strolled, just for the sheer pleasure of it, without a goal in mind, be it fitness or making a summit. And the Inn’s feathered friends — they keep chickens, ducks and way-comical free-ranging geese for fresh eggs — made it all the more bucolic.

After, there were hammocks big enough to fit Matt and me in one. Those were perhaps my favorite moments, dozing in the hammock, waking briefly to peer at the blue Pennsylvania summer sky and listen to the birdsong, before dropping off again. The book I’d brought remained unopened. Even reading was too much of an effort.

Those two nights at the Inn at Bowman’s Hill taught me something I’d never really understood. Indolence can be bliss, and healing can happen best during the downtimes. Especially if you pamper yourself a bit. •SCM


For more information about The Inn at Bowman’s Hill, visit theinnatbowmanshill.com.


Jill Gleeson is on the biggest adventure of her life. Follow her journey on her blog at gleesonreboots.com and via her column at womansday.com.

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