November 22, 2004

Oh Deer, It's Huntin' Time!

Day 4: Canaan Valley, WV to Washington DC

When John Denver sung about "country roads, West Virginia," he may very well have been referencing the Canaan Valley roads we were to traverse this day. However, the word "roads" is a bit of a stretch in these parts. When I was a kid, we took vacations to West Virginia (hey, when you're from Delaware, anywhere is considered a vacation) and I remember really enjoying certain natural wonders in this area. Blackwater Falls, Seneca Rocks, and Dolly Sods to name a few. Dolly Sods is a pretty cool, pretty unique place. It's an alpine area with a moonscape feel to it with carnivorous plants, flagged trees, and white chalky soil. One thing I didn't remember from my childhood was that all the roads in the area were pothole riddled, steep, rocky, dirt roads.

We were told the night before at the hotel which road was the "good road" to reach our goal. Either she was pulling our New Englander legs or West Virginia has some truly medieval roads. Once in the Dolly Sods area, it became readily apparent that we were a bit out of place. We weren't alone - we saw hundreds of other vehicles - but we were the only people not in a pickup truck. And I'd bet my house that Hoang was the only non-caucasian out there. It was like we were on one of those Six Flags Safari adventures but the "wildlife" was a cornucopia of various breeds of rednecks with varying degrees of mulletude.

The crappy road went on forever and never really seemed to go anywhere in particular. It wouldn't have mattered anyway because hiking around woods filled with presumably drunken hunters eager to shoot something... anything... Wasn't on our to-do list. I did pull off at one spot to at least read some trail info about what we'd be missing. Gee, let's see what interesting flora and fauna are out in this unspoiled nature preserve:

Oh. Nice. Um, sorry Hoang, I guess this place was pretty lame afterall. Actually, a bit of exploring would have been fun and rewarding on a different day. As it was, we simply wanted to keep driving to the other end of the park and get the heck out of there. We finally emerged onto pavement after passing a few hundred more hunters along the sides of the road. Some of the stares we got we pretty funny; German sedan, Asian woman, Connecticut plates driving down primitive backwoods roads on the biggest hunting day of the year will do that for ya. Trust me.

After that disappointment, we went to another landmark I remembered fondly from my childhood, Seneca Rocks. I promised Hoang that this was a cool place so we were especially eager after the morning's disappointment. While driving I saw some small rock formations that vaguely reminded me of the place of my childhood memories. "See, it's like that but much bigger and better." Unfortunately, once I rounded a corner, I realized that those rocks I was pointing to were indeed the Seneca Rocks. Man, this day was pretty weak so far. To top it off, the visitor's center was closed and no one was even climbing that day. Fortunately, I knew we were off to the WV highpoint next and as we all know, ALL highpoints are ALWAYS awesome.

Seneca rocks and Hoang almost to the West Virginia highpoint

After summitting Spruce Knob (enjoy the highpoint report here), we drove many pretty miles of eastern West Virginia on our way to the Interstate. Once there, it was actually a relatively pleasant drive paralleling the Shenandoahs and then east to Washington DC. Once to the city, it was a bit of a crapshoot as to where we should go since our directions were terrible and it was pouring rain. However, using my incredible directional Spidey senses, I was able to lead us straight to our hotel on Embassy Row. It was another Westin night for us, which was nice after the long rainy drive. It was pretty funny when the valet wanted to park the muddy car and noticed all the hiking clothes and mobile kitchen implements. We looked like Dead Heads coming off of tour and yet were staying in a rather cosmopolitan hotel. Oh well. He can judge all he wants, I mean, it's not like I don't look down on adults who park cars for a living, right? Just kidding.

The rain let up while we cleaned up (the shower had a seat in it, which is always enjoyable) and we hoofed it over to Georgetown and enjoyed a nice Vietnamese restaurant, then had a flat five dollar beer at some bar. All in all, our heads hit our pillows around midnight - ending another completely strange day.

Only one more day until we made it to my family for Thanksgiving... How did that go?

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