About Me

Tired of the mundane and craving an adventure, on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010, I embarked on the ultimate American road trip through all fifty states. After nearly a year and a half on the road, on a budget of less than 50 bucks a day, this is my story...

For the Love of West Virginia!

Saturday, September 4, 2010
I don't know what came over me last night (oh wait, yes I do, it's called boredom and access to food), but on the way to West Virginia I spent every second eating.  A simple stop for a veggie burger at Burger King (have you not tried one yet, their amazing!) resulted in a veggie burger plus shake, and a stop for gas turned into gas + chips and dip.  My music blaring, the windows down, the junk food binge, the wind blowing through my hair (er, I mean bare scalp)...I'm so bad ass.  LOL.

This morning I drove through the Monongahela National Forest, aka "The Mon."  Where at 4,863 feet, I drove up to Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia, which you can easily reach via a half-mile hike up Whispering Spruce Trail, to a viewing tower with breathtaking views.  

Then I went to the Seneca Rocks, one of the best known landmarks of West Virginia and a rock-climbers paradise, and had some pizza and local cheese across the street at the Front Porch Restaurant.  Afterward I went to the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center to meet my hosts, Michael & Carrie Kline, a wonderful pair of folk music singers from Elkins.  I listened to their set, and fell in love with their music, especially "If the World Had a Front Porch," written by Tracy Lawrence:

...There were many nights I'd sit right there and look out at the stars
To the sound of a distant whippoorwill or the hum of a passing car
It was where I first got up the nerve to steal me my first kiss
and it was where I learned to play guitar and pray I had the gift
If the world had a front porch like we did back then
We'd still have our problems but we'd all be friends
Treating your neighbor like he's your next of kin
Wouldn't be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch, like we did back then...

That's exactly what they would do the next couple of days - treat me, a perfect stranger, like their kin.  After their set they introduced me to Sadik, a cool Moroccan guy that arrived the same day as I did; he's teaching at the college in Elkins.  They were going to act as ambassadors to him, well, they would act more like family, but they wanted to show him around and make him feel at home in his new neighborhood and make sure he was getting what he needed.  Then the four of us walked around the corner to a very old homestead restored to its former glory with original furniture and vegetable garden with all kinds of crazy things in it that were used for practical purposes back in the day.  After that I got my feet wet in their favorite swimmin' hole nearby.  

Our caravan took the mountain back roads past farms and old mud storage huts, to their place in Elkins, about 45 minutes away.  When I got to their house, it was like I had imagined - warm, colorful, eclectic, beautiful paintings and photos on the walls of the wonderful people they've met in their lifetime.  My room was cozy and simple, reminiscent of an Amish country house, perfect for a little R&R.  

It was one of my favorite nights ever.  We had a wonderful home-cooked meal; Carrie made a delicious tofu dish, and we all had so many hearty laughs cracking jokes and watching Sadik show us how they pour and serve tea in Morocco - they will actually raise the tea pot super high as they pour, then they will empty the cups of tea back into the pot and they will do this several times, lol!  Sadik shared some yummy cookies from Morocco with us, and he had lots of questions about America, so we talked about everything late into the night - life, religion, politics, attitudes toward GLBT people, the list goes on.  It was great =)

Sunday, September 5, 2010 
This morning the four of us went to the Jubilee festival in historic Jackson Mill, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson's former farmstead.  Sadik and I wandered around the different arts and crafts vendor tents, checked out the classic car show, watched wheat and corn being ground at the Blakers' Mill, toured the Old Jackson's Mill Museum, saw Civil War Reenactments. and toured the historical buckskinner encampment.  That's when we weren't watching Michael and Carrie's concerts.  Afterward we went back to Michael and Carrie's, where I had a great talk with Michael on his back porch overlooking his "poutin' shanty," and he brought a big smile to my face when he said "Is your father proud of you?  I am."   (Thankfully I do have a solid relationship with my dad/hero)  Then another spectacular dinner!

Monday, September 6, 2010
This morning I offered Michael and Carrie a hand finishing the roof of their firewood shelter, and said my goodbyes to this wonderful pair of souls.  They sent me off with some fresh apples and an audio book they thought I should listen to, named "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You," an award-winning story of "a sophisticated, vulnerable young man with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it."

I listened to the CDs of their music I bought as I headed to the New River Gorge Bridge, a structure of amazing statistics,.  3030 feet long. 876 feet high. 70 feet wide. 88 million pounds of U.S. Cor Ten steel and American cement.  They could move the Washington Monument underneath it and still have 325 feet left of empty space, which makes the bridge a perfect location for the BASE jumpers and rappellers that take advantage of the Bridge Day festivities.  After snapping some photos of the bridge and the river below (one of the best destinations in the country for white-water rafting), I took a beautiful drive on the Highland Scenic Highway, a quiet two-lane highway in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, and stopped to walk the half-mile boardwalk of the Cranberry Glades, a grouping of cool peat bogs resembling those usually found much farther north and in Canada.


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