Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No Place Like Home, Either..

Cooper's Rock Gorge

Morgantown, West Virginia.  3/27/13:   In all my running about, sometimes it's easy to forget what I've left behind.  You take for granted what you're used to, and that's sad.  But if you didn't get used to things, you'd be living in a constant state of astonishment and nothing would ever get done.

  At least that's my story..and I'm sticking to it.

  Here in these parts, we live with the gently rolling Appalachians.  Few of them top 4,000 feet.  Once, they did.  Once, they were like the Rockies--but eons have mellowed them down to vast forests, rivers and canyons like those in these pictures.  The Rockies can look forward to that, too..but no time soon.
Overlook, Cooper's Rock
    Cooper's Rock State Forest is near my home, Morgantown, WV.  When I want to introduce visitors to the "Big Wide Picture," I take them up there.  Even in the days of horse and buggy, it was a picnic spot--a picnic taking all day out and back from the city.  It's called Cooper's Rock because, it's said, a barrel-maker..a "Cooper"..once had his works near the big rock.  Certainly, he had untold miles of wood for his product.  There are also historic iron furnaces just down the hill from the visitor's center.  Iron was a big industry before timbering and coal mining began.  Here in Morgantown, glass factories were legion at the turn of the 20th century because there was an abundance of natural gas and good sand.  Jackie Kennedy liked Morgantown's glass so much that she bought it for the White House.

  West Virginia, the "Mountain State," is a mixing bowl of cultures.  Italians came here as glass and stone artisans, Polish came to West Virginia as mining experts.  Scots and Irish came to settle after the Revolution, so did the French..looking for land where they could live free and independent.  The state motto is "Montani Semper Liberi,"  or Mountaineers are always free.  People who live here take that very seriously.

  I like it like that.

New River Gorge
   The state in general is heartbreakingly beautiful.  That's a picture (right) of the New River Gorge..I snap one every time I go past.  As it turned out, we had fog and mist that particular morning, but I thought it only served to enhance the view.  I like 'em moody.

  New River's famous, now, for white water rafting, hiking, camping, horseback riding and..once a year, bungee jumping or parachuting off the New River Gorge Bridge.  If that's what you want to do, by all means, have a ball. I will stand by and watch.

   Oh..and the Boy Scouts of America have also chosen the area as their new Jamboree campground.  Welcome to West Virginia, Kids.

  Hunting and fishing are big here, as everyone knows.  My friend and avid outdoorsman, Chris Lawrence, passed along the gorgeous shot below  It sort of says "West Virginia."

Sandstone Falls.  Courtesy of Chris Lawrence
    The state was created by Abraham Lincoln in 1863..splitting it away from secessionist Virginia.  The Mountaineers never got along with the Tidewater planters, economically or politically.  Virginia kept access to the Atlantic ports, we got the Ohio River.  

   We also got our stubborn independence.  

   Fair trade.

   As much as I enjoy my travels, I always enjoy coming home again.  That's a fair trade, too.

   Come and see us.