Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Drive Through West Virgina

It is the Friday of Mother's Day weekend. We enter West Virginia from  Kentucky, first traveling east and then turning north towards Pittsburgh in the midst of a 5 day road trip. I was to witness,as we drove through the state that afternoon, a place of stunning natural beauty juxtaposed with some of the worst poverty I have ever experienced in the U.S.

The highway took us along a high ridge affording us an expansive view of the mountains cloaked in their lush, thick velvet green of spring. Creeks and rivers alongside the road had limestone beds that as they cracked and settled created not rapids but a series of diminutive falls as the water flowed, dropping from one ledge to the next.

It was when the road led us into the valleys between these mountains that the poverty became apparent. In many the trailers serving as homes were old and in varying states of disrepair and decay, seemingly inadequate to shelter the inhabitants against the winter cold. Jobs appeared scarce and the people resigned to their economic status.

As the road carried us up we would escape this scene and once again encounter the grandeur and intense beauty of the green mountains. We stopped at a sandwich shop in one small town to get our lunch. The teens behind the counter, as teens do at this time of year, were discussing their upcoming prom. As we returned to the car we reminisced about our own proms. Mine was held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. I considered what one would be like in such a small town so isolated from a city.

We stopped at a scenic overlook to eat. The view was bucolic. By the wood rail fence bordering the overlook ran a river. Across the river, at a bend, stood a mill, it's large wood wheel being turned by the water rushing over a long limestone ledge.We continued towards Pennsylvania with the soft rumble of the waterfall in our ears.

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