Notes from West Virginia 2019:

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DrippingColors
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Notes from West Virginia 2019:

Post by DrippingColors » Thu Aug 29, 2019 10:22 am

I am incredibly grateful for the natural places that remain on earth, especially the ones that exist in our own backyard.

I am also grateful that our ailing, troubled thirteen year old dog was healthy enough to make the trip, possibly his last, and for the veterinary medical professionals who feverishly worked to patch him up and medicate him so he could travel.

As jaded, stressed out adults, we easily forget the simple pleasures in life, like wading into a cool mountain stream or rolling in the sun baked grass, until we see the joy it brings to children or dogs.

There is something wonderful about heading out of town, getting off the interstate and seeing America. There is also something nearly as satisfying as getting back on the interstate, after a couple days or a couple of weeks, and heading home.

Frustrating as it may be at times, spending a few days out of cell phone and Wi-Fi service will recalibrate how you look at the your personal habits, technology and the world in general.

Gravel roads suck. They eat your car. They also shake your innards like a James Bond martini.

Everybody we met in WV was unfailingly nice. I like to stop at local markets and diners when possible. People are curious about out-of-towners and like to tell their stories as well. Their accents make it all the more charming. That being said, the pro Trump, NRA, confederate flag waving signs everywhere were disturbing. For one thing, WV remained in the union during the Civil War. And the irony of telling people that if they don't like America they should leave, next to a flag commemorating armed insurrection against the United states, which resulted in over 600,000 deaths, seems to elude these people.

Mountain living changes your perspective. Literally. You usually don't see much except what's right in front of you, but occasionally get breathtaking glimpses of soaring peaks across mile wide valleys.

We have an amazing system of public land in this country. We stayed in a private campground, a state park, a state forest and a national recreation area. The private campground was the shabbiest. The average cost at the public sites was less than twenty dollars a night. In addition to the secluded spots in the woods, most offered excellent facilities like modern plumbing and showers and were exceptionally clean and well maintained. The work of the depression era Civilian Conservation Corps is still notable eighty years later. We should have something like that today. The efforts of the DNR and the boy scouts in marking trails, even in the most remote locations are outstanding and make it simple for casual middle aged hikers, with senior aged dogs, to venture into the wilderness with confidence.

Even though reservations to all these campgrounds could easily be made online and admission to the state and national parks is free, the most common refrain we told each other in these exceedingly magnificent locations was, "we practically have the place to ourselves." Maybe it's because school had started. Maybe we're sort of spoiled and can't pull ourselves away from the the A.C. and the TV long enough to venture outside.

As we meandered down country roads, there were so many dilapidated structures, particularly mobiles homes, replete with yards littered with various rusting car parts and discarded appliances, piles of refuse, and emaciated animals wandering about we started commenting "Hee Haw" (like the show) as we drove past them. We also saw log cabins, carved into the hills, with broad porches, hanging plants and Adirondack chairs, which we called "Mountaineer." Well kept cottages nestled into the woods with neat yards and a row of flowers or two were labeled "Rustic" while your average little home, while not much to look at, but devoid of corrugated roofing and blue tarps, was simply "Country." At the bottom of the scale were the ramshackle, mostly abandoned buildings that were so scary looking that they seemed dangerous, so we christened them "Banjo." (as in the film "Deliverance"). We like to have fun as we drive around.

Stop at roadside vegetable stands! You'll rarely regret it. Also pullover sporadically for historical markers or scenic overlooks. Vacations are about not being in a hurry. West Virginia has battlegrounds from four wars (French Indian, Revolutionary, 1812 and Civil)

I know my wife is having a good time anywhere we travel when she progresses from, "we should come back here again" to "we should bring family and friends with us," to finally, "we should buy a little place around here." This trip was no exception.

I would like to thank Michele again for spending eleven nights in a van with me (and two dogs) as the temperature wavered over fifty degrees between hot summer days and cool mountain nights. We braved two torrential downpours that sounded like the van was getting sprayed with BB gun fire. It's more than a little cramped in there and patience can wear thin at times. Fortunately we've worked out many of the details. I have running water and an elaborate system of battery powered lights and fans, as well as lots of things to eat and drink.

Hint: Keep separate coolers for food that needs to be kept dry and another for beverages that are just fine sitting in cold water. Also, that way you won't disrupt the food while scrounging around for a late night beer. Keep stuff in sealed packaging until you are ready to cook it. Reuse your Ziploc baggies to double and triple bag food. Have a large container of trail mix handy (almonds, walnuts, raisins etc) to snack on while driving around or waiting for meals to be prepared. Bring as much drinking water from home as you can. Well water can taste funny.

While I use a propane stove to make dinner, we built a fire every night and brewed hot coffee every morning. I'm getting better at cooking stuff on a cast iron grill (the only way to cook outside). I bring chopped onions, peppers and mushrooms from home to speed things up and add flavor to almost anything.

Fisherman are slobs. There, I said it. The river areas that had the most trash always seemed to include discarded line and bait containers amongst the empty bottles and cigarette butts. C'mon people, pack it in, pack it out. Didn't your mother teach you anything?

Yes, we listened to John Denver.

Finally, the ritual of unpacking after a successful journey is especially gratifying. Recalling the various things you used each item for or the places you visited in different articles of clothing adds much needed reflection to the adventure. Plus finding little souvenirs or brochures stashed in your belongings adds happy surprises to the task. You're glad to be home, but you feel a little different - maybe rested, maybe inspired by your experiences - which is probably why you left in the first place. Hoping to carry this post vacation buzz well into the Fall!

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Mojohand714
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Re: Notes from West Virginia 2019:

Post by Mojohand714 » Thu Aug 29, 2019 1:33 pm

Great report! :thumbsup After living 30 min from WV in OH for 20 years, I sometimes imagined that it was the West Virginians that were spreading all the WV jokes to keep the masses from going there and wrecking it. In Appalachia, these jokes are akin to yo mama jokes, but usually also involve relations with yo mama, or other kin. :rofl None of the jokes I fully remember would I type out here. There were a few short years in the early 2000's where they changed the State motto on the welcome signs to "Open For Business." I was very pleased when they changed it back to "Wild & Wonderful." The latter more truly reflects the feeling you get when you wander into, and around, the The Mountain State.

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DrippingColors
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Re: Notes from West Virginia 2019:

Post by DrippingColors » Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:37 pm

Mojohand714 wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 1:33 pm
Great report! :thumbsup After living 30 min from WV in OH for 20 years, I sometimes imagined that it was the West Virginians that were spreading all the WV jokes to keep the masses from going there and wrecking it. In Appalachia, these jokes are akin to yo mama jokes, but usually also involve relations with yo mama, or other kin. :rofl None of the jokes I fully remember would I type out here. There were a few short years in the early 2000's where they changed the State motto on the welcome signs to "Open For Business." I was very pleased when they changed it back to "Wild & Wonderful." The latter more truly reflects the feeling you get when you wander into, and around, the The Mountain State.

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I had to convince my wife to go to WV. She thought it would be boring and too hot. I showed her how the whole eastern part was state and national parks, and the mountains were always cooler than the cities. There were a couple of hot days, but the nights were always comfortable. Thx for reading!

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KC.Jones
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Re: Notes from West Virginia 2019:

Post by KC.Jones » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:09 pm

Very awesome, thanks for sharing!! Sounds like you had an epic time on your trip.
You ain't gonna learn what you don't wanna know

Boxorain
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Re: Notes from West Virginia 2019:

Post by Boxorain » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:18 pm

Yea man, really cool. I love tales from the road. The sense of adventure is so invigorating. Thx much for sharing :bears2
~ Let it be known there is a fountain that was not made by the hands of men ~

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