Here are a few things one learns while in West Virginia

Now, I don’t consider myself a City Girl. I grew up in a small town in a pretty rural area in Michigan. No, I’ve never been camping, no, I’ve never been hunting, no, I’m not really outdoorsy, per se. Those things don’t interest me. But a City Girl? That’s a stretch.

However, one may mistake a girl like me for a City Girl when one thrusts her into the West Virginia wilderness for an entire weekend. Yes, when relocated to a farm on a mountain in a town where everyone knows whose second cousins belong to whom and where there’s no cell reception within a 1.5 hour radius, one’s City Girl qualities may suddenly become more apparent.

Two weekends ago, I attended the Wyatt Family Reunion in Pocahontas County, WV.

Howwww highhhhhh does the sycamore growwww?

Anyone? Anyone? Pocahontas?

Anyway.

I knew this trip would put me a little out of my comfort zone; I was going to be spending a weekend with Bryan’s dad, after all. Bryan’s dad, who upon our second meeting, coerced me into riding on a 4-wheeler with him for a spin around his back yard. Perhaps it would have been less awkward had I not been wearing a floral dress and heels, every inch of the front of my body bouncing against every inch of the back of Mr. Wyatt’s body, for a solid 25 minutes. Nothing like a proper introduction.

That was also the same trip in which I learned what a lean-to was. And what Skoal looks like.

I digress.

I thought I had prepared myself for this trip to WV. I didn’t know exactly what we’d be doing, but I knew that Bryan’s dad was hauling not one but two 4-wheelers down for the weekend. Things were bound to get crazy. So, I packed a sweatshirt, my only pair of tennis shoes, and some dry shampoo. And my makeup mirror, in case the place we were staying didn’t have adequate lighting.

Truly, I think my first mistake was in packing only white shirts. I did not expect so much dust.

Bryan and I started the drive to WV after work on Thursday. We drove for about 6 hours, then met up with his dad and stepmom at a hotel somewhere east of Charleston. It was a quaint hotel room, which had collected approximately a half-century of cigarette smoke before our arrival. Ahem. It was, however, a nice enough place to stop, so I won’t complain.

The next morning, Bryan and I took a detour to Fayetteville, WV so he could do some mountain biking. I even strapped on my tennis shoes and did a little hiking of my own! After the hike, we decided to walk to a different part of the mountain where an abandoned coal mine was rumored to be.

We discovered many beautiful things along the way:

jillian

waterfall 2

waterfall

And did some investigating around the mine:

mine

safety board

mine 3

mine 2

In our excitement to see the mine, however, Bryan and I failed to notice just how far down the mountain we were descending. Not only did we have nearly 500 vertical feet to walk up, but there were also an additional 800 wooden steps to ascend. I’m still sore.

stairs

Having survived the greatest physical challenge of both of our lives, we fell into the car and continued the voyage to Pocahontas County.

Have youuu everrrr heard the wolf cryyy to the bluuuue corn moooooon?

Our final destination was beautiful. Bryan’s Dad and siblings grew up on a large chunk of land on a mountainside. I saw Bryan’s grandmother’s farm and the house Bryan’s dad grew up in, among other things. It felt special to be standing on such a timeless piece of land rich in family history.

farm

barn

Bryan’s grandmother designated a piece of land for use by a Christian youth camp, so we got to stay in cabins at the camp site. Though modest, I was overjoyed to see my cabin had its own bathroom complete with a shower, toilet and mirror, and a big comfy bed.

Unfortunately, no one told me that I needed to pack blankets. Or pillows. Or towels.

So this is camping.

We spent a lot of time eating, playing cornhole, swapping stories, and riding 4-wheelers through the hills. There was a triathlon in town that Saturday, so we ventured down the mountain to cheer on the participants. Three mile run, four mile kayak, 10 mile bike.

race

kayaks

kayaks down river

Here are other things that I experienced and learned in WV:

  • This is going to sound really obvious, but it is dark at night in the mountains. Like, really dark. I cannot find words that seem adequate enough to describe just how dark it was there. And people just expected me to walk outside in the dark! Like, from cabin to cabin and from the farm to the camp site and everything! With only a flashlight? It was dark. D-A-R-K. How is one supposed to see if a bear is charging her? Or if a snake is underfoot? Or if a psycho hillbilly is running after her with a knife and a crazed half-toothed grin? I’m not exaggerating when I say I was terrified to be outside in that much darkness.
  • Which brings me to the next thing I learned: Bears are just coming out of hibernation. And they are very hungry. And they are probably mama bears and they probably have babies that you’d want to pet until mama mauled your skin off. While you’re walking alone. In the darkest dark dark. (Thankfully, that didn’t happen.)
  • Did you know that people hunt bears? Like for sport? And that you can eat bear? I had no idea. Cousin Emery really thought I was a City Girl when I exclaimed that I didn’t know people ate bear meat.
  • That little WV town has something called a Roadkill Festival every year. People come from all around to feast on meat that comes from animals that have the potential to be roadkill. (I was assured that the meat does not actually come from real road kill.) Possums, snakes, squirrel, raccoon. Bryan’s dad told me that raccoons are one of the cleanest animals because they wash their food so diligently. I told him I knew that was true because I saw a raccoon washing berries in the river in an animated Disney movie.
  • Note: Don’t try to relate to outdoorsy people by telling them what you’ve seen animals do in animated films. If you do that, they will make fun of you.
  • I nearly learned how to drive a 4-wheeler. Bryan so patiently taught me the first day we were there. Unfortunately, my lesson was cut short when some crazy neighbor’s crazier rabies dog chased after us and growled at us, bearing all of his teeth. I found out later that this dog actually bit someone last year. Good thing I was able to speed away at my record 4-wheeler high of 6MPH and get Bryan and myself to safety.
  • There is a cabin on Bryan’s family’s property, wayyyyy back in the woods, that no one thinks is terrifying except for me. I thought I heard an animal and/or ghost scratching the door when Bryan was taking this photo, but upon investigation shortly after, Bryan discovered there was neither animal nor ghost present. Close call.

cabin

So, maybe I’m a little more City than I thought I was; however, I really enjoyed spending so much time outdoors. Bryan’s family was welcoming and lovely, and their little piece of WV was beautiful. I can’t wait to go back.

(With darker shirts, towels, blankets, and one of those super-bright headlamp things for nighttime, of course.)

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