Well we got up this morning and headed west. We drove out of Maryland, into Virginia, through Virginia and into West Virginia. Maryland and eastern Virginia were about the same terrain, but as we neared West Virginia a strange phenomena began to occur. The land seemed to get bumpy. I mean big bumps and the road rose and fell with these big bumps. It took us a while to realize we had witnessed this phenomena in the distant past. These bumps were hills at first and then became mountains. We had not experienced anything like this since we hit the Gulf Coast somewhere in south Texas. We had driven all the way across south Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, around Florida’s peninsula, up the east coast of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland without seeing the merest hint of a hill, much less a mountain.
Today we learned why West Virginia is called ”The Mountain State”. There do not appear to be any flat spots in West Virginia bigger than a Walmart parking lot. We also learned a second thing about West Virginia. For years I had been told that West Virginia had been ravaged by strip mining for coal. It has been said that the mountains have been so stripped of nutrients and top soil that nothing will grow on them. I am here to tell you that it is not true. If there are any ruined parts of this state, they are very good at hiding them. And I was looking for them. We did not cross the state on major interstate highways. We took the smaller US and State highways. I have to say that this is one of the most beautiful states I have ever had the good fortune to cross.
Nestled in the mountains about half way across the state is a small town called Moorefield. Moorefield is host to a Walmart and that Walmart is host to Lucy and Harvey for tonight.
Behind this Walmart was another small area where there was a cinema and a bowling alley. We decided to see a movie. Now being Monday night in a small town in the mountains, there were few other people at the cinemas. They had 6 theaters and there could not have been more than 6 people in the place. We grabbed a bag of popcorn and a box of Dots and headed for our seats. When the movie started, counting Lucy and I, there were two people in the theater. Now we are usually pretty neat eaters, but when they pile that popcorn up over the rim of the bucket, it’s hard not to drop some. And we did. Usually that is no big deal, because there are lots of other people around you so the cleanup people do not know who spilled all the popcorn. Lucy pointed out the fact that this time they would know exactly who the culprits were. So we resolved that as soon as the movie ended and the lights went up we would clean up our area before the cleaning people descended on the theater. Well the end of the movie was pretty intense and we did not notice anyone entering the theater, but when the lights went up, there, standing at the end of our isle was the cleanup crew, broom and dustpan in hand, looking directly at the only two people in the theater sitting there in front of a huge mess of spilled popcorn. Lucy tried to apologize and explain that we are not usually this messy. They just laughed it off and said it was okay and they went about their duties sweeping up our mess. We hung our heads and left the theater as quickly as possible. We were comforted by the fact that we were just passing through and would probably never again see these people. Back to van sweet home and to bed.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
We thought we had seen some mountains yesterday. It turns out those were just the appetizer. Today we had the real mountains. High mountains, narrow winding roads over high mountains. We finally reached a point that they call the Eastern Continental Divide. I had never heard of it, but it apparently exists in the Appellation mountains, just a few miles east of Elkins, West Virginia. The scary part ended at Elkins, but not the mountains. The road was better and four lanes, but the mountains continued all the way to Charleston and beyond.
Along the way we stopped in a small town called Buckhannon. It was a very quaint old 1750’s town, not really different from many little old towns we passed through on this trip toward the midwest, but there was something peculiar about this town. We stopped at DQ for a cone. The DQ was downtown and was said to be the oldest fast food place in town. Anyway, I was lucky enough to find a place to park on the street. Now here is the peculiar thing. As we sat there, the street was bogged down with traffic. It was moving fast enough, but it was bumper to bumper. By the way, this was Tuesday, mid afternoon. When we were ready to leave we had to wait a good ten minutes for a break in traffic big enough to dart out into the flow. During the time we were parked there, I would be willing to bet that more vehicles passed by than there are people living in this town. We drove the three blocks out to the end of the business district and the traffic seemed to dissipate until we got back to the highway and it was back to normal. We looked around for signs of some special event, we looked online for some clue, nothing to be found. It is still a mystery to me. It was a beautiful, historical looking little town, but nothing special. Go figure.
My sister lives in a small town on the outskirts of Charleston, named St. Albans. We arrived there this afternoon and were greeted by my sister Brenda, my niece, Carrie, and Carrie’s four son’s. My sister has three daughters, Molly is the oldest, the afore mentioned Carrie in the middle, and the youngest, Maggy, whom you met in Charleston, South Carolina. Between the three of them they have produced 12 grandchildren for Brenda.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Very quiet day today. Brenda had to work, so we took the day and caught up on a few chores and took a couple of naps and just had a day of rest. I should mention that Brenda and Carrie have 2 dogs. One is a little tiny dog (don’t remember the breed), old and a little cranky at times. The other is a Lab and German Shepherd mix and is about the same size as LaKisha. Her name is Lilly. LaKisha and Lilly played and romped together non stop all the time we were there. They are going to miss each other.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Today we took off, Lucy and Brenda and I, to see a bridge that is locally famous. It is about 120 miles south of Charleston on highway 19 and it crosses the New River Gorge. It is the second highest bridge in North America at 876′ and it is the longest span of any arch type bridge in the USA. I found it quite interesting. The bridge was quite a sight, but the surrounding area was breathtaking.
Brenda and all of her daughters are very good singers. God was very generous when it came to the musical talent She bestowed on my family. Unfortunately I was somehow skipped over. The only thing I do well musically is listen and I enjoy that very much. I told you all of that to preface what comes next. Brenda and her girls love Karaoke, so it was no surprise when someone suggested we go to Smiley’s bar for Karaoke night. So we jumped into Brenda’s car and headed out. I should explain that I use the term ”jumped” only in the broadest sense of the word. It has been many years since I have even considered trying to jump. And in this case it would have been difficult under the best of circumstances. First, I am 6’4” tall and weight more than I am willing to admit. Second, Brenda’s car and I are about he same size. It would have been just as easy for the car to jump into me than for me to jump into the car. So everyone else jumped into the car while I folded myself in half and then in half again and sort of pried myself into the car. When we got to Smiley’s I reversed the process and extracted myself from the car. Then we learned that Smiley’s had discontinued it’s Thursday night Karaoke. After some discussion we decided on another Karaoke bar and I began the folding process again. At the second place, I again extracted myself from the can, I mean car, while the others looked on trying to hide the obvious fact that they were enjoying the show. Thankfully, this place actually had Karaoke on Thursday night. At first it was quite enjoyable. Brenda and Molly each sang a few songs as Lucy and I and a few strangers looked on. Then the place started getting a little crowded and very noisy. It seems that many of these people were more interested in being heard than in listening to the singers. The music was loud and the singing was loud and so these people had to screech even louder to be heard. It was very annoying, so right after Brenda and Molly sang another song or two we left. And I began the folding process in preparation for the ride home. I did learn something in all of this: when it comes to little cars and large people, insertion is more difficult than extraction. I think it’s like compressing a spring and then letting it loose.
Friday, April 6, 2012
You may have noticed that the map shows us in Kentucky even though this post ends in West Virginia. That is because I am behind in my posting and this post is actually coming from Kentucky.