Sunday, July 26, 2009

4 Boys, 3 Days, 3 National Park Units, 3 State Parks, 1 National Forest, 2 Statues, and Countless Memories (West Virginia Trip Day 1)

So I decided to take a trip with just my boys to visit West Virginia. We left early on a Thursday morning for the 3 hours to our hotel. It would not take long for the memories to begin. Our journey would take us over the Blue Ridge and our first stop would be at Lover’s Leap Overlook on Highway 58. Our drive up the mountains was one of continual and thick fog. At the overlook we were above the fog but it still was sitting heavy in the mountains below. The boys just thought that it was amazing that we were above the clouds. Only an hour into this trip and the excitement level was high.

The excitement level soon did tamper off as the curves of the road up the mountain got the best of Joshua. Fortunately, we were able to find a place to pull over and stop before Joshua refunded the sausage biscuit he had for breakfast. When it was all said and done he looked at me and said, “Wow, I feel better.”

It was not long before the excitement grew again. This time it was for the first of 2 tunnels that we would be driving through on I-77 going through the mountains of Virginia. I believe that the word I kept hearing from the back of the van was “awesome!”

Around 11 we made a quick stop to check into our hotel. It was amusing to see that Feromsa is still fascinated by elevators. His excitement over riding the elevator took me back to riding the elevator at the hotel in Ethiopia. A year later, and there are still those things that are so common place for most of us that these young boys from Ethiopia still find amazing. Another example of this was Bereket’s thrill at seeing that our hotel room had a TV.

We left our hotel and headed for our first real stop: Carnifex Battlefield State Park. Here we saw a snake, had lunch, and of course, we saw a cannon. We also used this stop to visit Gauley River National Recreation Area. The battlefield is adjacent to the river and Joshua, perhaps to his regret, asked why they would have a battle on this mountain right next to the river (by the way, this was a battle in the Civil War that helped pave the way for West Virginia to become a state in the Union). History and military strategy lesson was quickly given.

Our next tour stop would find us at our first of many stops along the New River Gorge National River. We stopped to see the famous New River Gorge Bridge which is the 2nd longest single arch steel span in the world and the 2nd highest bridge in the country. We began this stop at the top of the gorge just under the bridge. From here we could look down into the river where the boys noticed a kayaker rolling his kayak. Once we were on the bank of the river Feromsa asked a kayaker if he was the one we saw going in the water. He wasn’t but he was happy to roll his kayak to the cheers of three boys. Before we actually got to the bank of the river where the boys talked to the kayaker and played in the water, we stopped on the old bridge to take some pictures. This bridge is narrow, old, and the road part of the bridge is made up of wood planks. There was nervous laughing while standing on the bridge and a car driving by would make the bridge rumble.

After playing in the New River (which according to scientist is actually the 2nd oldest river in the world – I just mention that for the irony of the name and not to make any Creationist friends mad nor to say that I agree with the scientist) we started to look for a place to eat dinner. Joshua scanned the horizon for a place to eat and suggested we eat at the first place he saw – Hooters. After driving around a little we ended up at CiCi’s Pizza.

Day one ended with us at the hotel. The boys attempted to go swimming but considering the high for the day was in the mid-seventies, the water was just too cold. That lasted all of about 10 minutes before they couldn’t take anymore. Back in the room we spent the evening watching the classic Don Knotts’ movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpet. For those who don’t know, in this movie Don Knotts plays a character who turns into a fish. Feromsa did not seem too bothered by the fact that a man could turn into a fish but simply could not understand how a fish could talk underwater. After the movie, everyone quickly fell asleep for a restful night. Unfortunately, I was sharing the bed with Bereket who felt it was necessary to lay on my side of the bed all night. Several times throughout the night I had to pick him up and lay him back down on his side of the bed. He, of course, slept right through this.