Wednesday, July 22, 2009

West (by God) Virginia

Just back from a lovely long weekend in West Virginia. I like traveling in eastern West Virginia more than western. Obviously, the difference is in coal mining versus logging. You can't get too excited about cutting forests but for the most part the large tracts are interspersed with lots of farms and small towns so any current cutting is "over yonder." You sort of look away at the ruination by coal mining. But I guess that gives the place it's texture, too. I like to think we appreciate a place that isn't "perfect" because we see, we know, we understand, what's beyond the facade.

If all you wanted was the hillbilly or "tartanized" look go to Dollywood.

West Virginia takes great pains in attracting tourists. They do have lots of great scenery and you do have to get off the interstate and into the back country. They have skiing, camping, old railroads, small towns, and good roads. We visited the Cass Scenic Railroad which is just lovely. Be prepared that you are way back in the woods, so to speak.

Because I live in upper east Tennessee, the countryside in West Virginia looks pretty much the same to me. Plants and animals are sometimes different because of the latitude but you'd know where you are and what you see for the most part.

The intinerary was sort of: Johnson City to Beckley to Lewisberg in about three hours. Lewisberg is a great old town. Then to Cass and the ride the rails. The Green Bank Observatory. Elkins (as in Davis & Elkins). The New River Gorge and back to Beckley. To the John Henry Statue in Talcott. The other end of the gorge. Back home. Don't underestimate the John Henry Memorial. It isn't much, just a statue, but the drive is really pretty and is tucked away in the most out-of-the-way part of the state. You all get great views of upriver New River Gorge from a couple of places, both worth checking out.

My kind of place.

Birds? Saw what I thought to be a blue-winged warbler but I couldn't be sure. Mostly, Pocahontas County, West Virginia, was just like Washington County, Tennessee.

This picture is from a short hike at Caneen Valley State Park above Cass. I couldn't begin to describe how pretty it all is. By the way, it's pronounced "kah-neen" instead of "cane'in".

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