Saturday, June 4, 2011

Country Roads Take Me Home

We repeated the Parkways this summer as a scenic way to get to West Virginia, a state that is uncolored on my US map on the window of the RV. I’d heard it is beautiful. And yes, in fact, it is.

West Virginia has a wonderful network of state parks, all admission free. They have taken the natural treasures and developed them for the common man. So far two tram rides, one jet boat, and soon, a railroad state park.

With the state park network having a foothold on camping, providing everything but cable and internet for a reasonable price, private RV parks are almost non-existent. I haven’t had Wifi for days, but I have stayed in some very scenic places: Pipestream, Hawks Nest, Watoga on the Greenbriar River, and Forest camps as well.

I am also in a radio free zone, created so that researchers with America’s largest moving telescope at the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory can search for evidence of other solar systems like ours. 12,000 acres with no cell towers or radio waves. Big bang, anyone?

Can’t get that John Denver song out of my head. “Country roads, take me home, to the place that I belong, West Virginia, Mountain Mama, take me home, country roads.”The roads wind as we traverse the Appalachians, rising to maybe 4,000 feet. That’s tall for very old eroded mountains. Once we put a destination into our Garmain and instead of the main roads, we went on a windy twisty adventure. Underneath the canopy of the forest, mountain laurels were popping with pale pink blooms, much like the dogwood of East Texas in the spring. Still very few rhodies. Whenever I sighted one I felt like a bird watcher logging a rare bird. Two weeks from now the woods will be bursting with pink. Appalachian spring is wonderful.

I love that the barns are unpainted here, filled with square hay bales, bringing back memories of stacking them in the barn of my childhood, creating grand staircases and rooms and castles smelling of fresh hay. I love that the rhododendron planted 60 years ago right by the front door of a house is now larger than the house, and the homeowners have abandoned using the front door rather than cut it back. I love the peonies, planted close to the road so that passersby can admire their pink and white and purple blooms. I love the flame azaleas, bursts of fiery orange in the landscape.

I can see most things here from John Denver’s song, Almost heaven, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.There’s just one line where I think the writer gave up on a rhyme that makes sense: Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze.  ????What????

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