All Roads Lead to Fun ….West Virginia

A few months back we accepted an invitation that changed our lives forever.  For many years I had heard Lori reminiscing about “brother” and every so often I would hear them talk on the phone. I knew he lived in West Virginia but we never really talk about going to visit. Perhaps because we are a different family and we try to stay among the people who accept us rather than go and have difficult situations and get our feeling hurt.  West Virginia was not one of those places in my bucket list as it seems like a little dot in the map of the USA.  Never heard of anything exciting to go see there or we never had a professional society meeting we could say let’s go there. But one evening I came home from work and I was made aware of an invitation to go and spend 4th of July weekend in West Virginia, get to know the family and have a little fun.  At first I was skeptical as my first encounter with my partner’s family years back was a disaster and my feeling were hurt.  She was very excited about the trip and about returning to WV to see her brother.  They had just lost their mother and now it is just the two of them to love and support each other. She told me all about his property and how he had made it a fun place to be with zip lines, ATV trails and a river that runs through it to add more fun to the experience.  It all seemed like fun and a place I would love, after all that is exactly what we look for when we take the RV to enjoy our time with nature.  She was so excited that it was hard for me to tell her how I was really feeling. This was going outside of our norm from staying at the hotel if we didn’t have the RV but I couldn’t throw a bucket of ice on her excitement.   For a couple of weeks I dealt within myself with thoughts of fear of being rejected, being uncomfortable in a stranger’s house and what if things don’t go well?  We agreed that even though it was a long holiday weekend we were going to leave on Sunday that would give us a breather to adjust to the change and we would leave on Saturday if we (me) didn’t feel comfortable or welcomed.

Finally the day to leave for West Virginia arrived!!! We were leaving after Lori came out of work on Friday and as I worked that day the butterflies in my stomach became bats!!!  Not only because of the expectation of what and how this were new relationships going to receive us but also because my neighbor had commented to me about the road leading to WV.   On one of those “fence” conversations he commented going there and the road going through high mountains with deep hills up and down. “I blew an engine on that road” he told me but I knew that the road wasn’t what was keeping me awake at night…   We loaded the truck and put the puppies in their safety booster seats and we started on 84 west to 81 to 70 and finally the road with the hills I was told about … 68!!! We stopped a few times as we weren’t rushing. It was Friday evening before the holiday therefore many people were on the road.  There were many beautiful sites to see which we took note to go back and visit. We stopped at the Veterans memorial on I68 and we were taken by the view of the valley.  Many visitors were there walking their dogs and seating by the picnic tables enjoying the most beautiful scenery.   There were maps with information on the landmarks and places to visit in the area.  We went through small towns but Cumberland, MD caught our attention the most.  The freeway travels through the town and one can see the buildings dating back to the 1800’s.  It reminded me of driving through Hartford, CT on our way to Cape Code, MA.  The architecture of the buildings, the large churches and old structures that made the city earn its majestic name of “The Queen City,” it was amazing.  We added this town as one to come back to visit and walk the streets of history where George Washington built his first military headquarter.  In the 19th century this town was a key road, railroad and canal junction between the Midwest and Washington, DC. Cumberland also was the initial point for what would become the National Road which eventually reached the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.   This beautiful township holds much history and we want to go back and walk the same streets our Country’s father walked.

We finally passed a big sign that said welcome to West Virginia the “Mountain State” and our exit was approaching.  Like I always do, I had already looked at my route and checked the satellite map and the conditions of the road.  Uhmmmmm … a bridge over a river! Can’t avoid those it seems everywhere we go we have to go over one. My heart started pounding and wondering and this time

West Virginia here we come!
West Virginia here we come!

not because of the bridge but because we were 15 minutes away from meeting the family.  We came through this little town which had a deli, a bar, a post office, a school and a fire house. Not too many buildings as it was a small town; according to the information posted in the 2010 census the population was 85 people, 42 households, and 22 families residing in the town.  Comes to think you must have a bar in every town,  occasionally you have to mail something so you need a post office and just in case one of the 42 households gets on fire you need a fire department to come and help extinguish it.  So it was about right only the essential buildings in this little town.  It was already after 9:00 pm and of course everything was closed.  I joked and I said where is the “Starbucks.”  We drove through a dark road and the gps said turn right and we started going through an unpaved mountain road.  Under other circumstances I would probably be excited to go to a forest but this time as we got closer to the house I became more nervous.  The road was dark and the trees and grass over grown.  I constantly asked my partner “are you sure we are on the right road” as she had been there and knew the road.  We finally got to the top of the mountain and saw a mountain man approaching out of a truck in the dark and illuminated by the truck lights.   All of the sudden he greeted us with much enthusiasm and told us to keep forward and leave the truck on the side of the road.  There I saw a huge cabin with a long hair woman standing on the porch and the dogs going crazy barking.   We got out of the car, we grab the puppies and proceeded to the cabin.  There was much excitement everywhere the hugs, the kisses the introduction and the welcoming words.   In a few minutes I felt like I had been there a zillion times.  It brought back memories of the times I visited relatives in the mountains of Puerto Rico were they used to live.  That night was the beginning of the future I had never met more humble simple people in my life.   That night we talked for a long time and got to know a little bit of each other.  The next day would be an adventure and exploration of the 20+ acres of land of the mountain man and his wife property.   They made me feel like part of the family and then we decided that there is “fun around the corner.” 

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