Living above the clouds

Never underestimate what a change of scenery can do. For Jonathan and Elaine Topodas life has literally gone from the fast track to the scenic route. For just under 40 years both lived hectic, high-speed lives centered around a bustling metropolitan city lifestyle. Jonathan was Vice President & Counsel for Aetna Life Insurance Company in Hartford Connecticut, spending the last twenty years on Capitol Hill as a Healthcare Reform Lobbyist. Elaine is a talented writer and choreographer, who spent much of her adult life working in the performing arts, particularly with children. Somehow, amidst the bustle, they found time to raise their own kids, who are now grown.

While they certainly created a great, meaningful life together, they were growing weary of the grind. “We were ready for a change,” Jonathan says. “It was time. That whole process of going to work when it’s dark, then coming home when it’s dark, being caught up in that whole cycle, it gets old. We were ready to get off the treadmill.” Jonathan has traded his morning and evening commutes in the city, for tranquil mornings on the porch watching the day arise, and early evening walks on trails whose biggest traffic jams are caused by passing deer, not beleaguered drivers.

It was in 2010 that the Topodases committed “to making a move.” They looked around for about a year till they settled on Blue Ridge Mountain Club. “We knew when we saw it: this is the place,” Elaine says. “It was just a feeling we had here. We connected with these mountains. We loved the grand views and the high altitude. As I explain it to friends, Blue Ridge Mountain Club let us live above the clouds.”

If living above the clouds was the dream, it’s what happens at ground level that sealed the deal for Jonathan and Elaine. “From our very first visit here,” Elaine says, “we felt at home. Everyone we met or talked to—from the sales team…to the builders…to the other members—everyone seemed so genuine and helpful. There was a sense of true community that we experienced at the social events and lawn parties. We hadn’t seen that at other properties.”

In fact, it is that communal spirit, combined with the peace and serenity that these mountains instill, that made it the ideal choice for the Topodas family. As a relaxed Jonathan notes, “I wish I could show my former colleagues and associates the ‘commute’ I have now—the gorgeous, winding, panoramic descent from the Gate House to the Pavilion and then up to our house. There is a subtle flow to the design that is in synch with the natural landscape. It’s a little more inspiring than traffic jams on the Washington Beltway.” Inspiring indeed, above the clouds, all the way down to the valley floor, it’s a change of scenery that never grows old.