Well I can't say that I was expecting too much from a state known only for its coal mines. At the start of this day, I was barely able to recall the only town I know in West Virginia: Charleston. Yup, that was about all I knew about the state. When we decided to drive out to there though, we didn't know what to do or see. We thought that a nice hike through the Appalachian Mountains would be a good way to see the state, but what we got was Harper's Ferry!
This town was great. It had all the elements to make it a great date! The true beauty of this place can't be appreciated unless you actually go there. Nestled between a couple mountains and along a river, it is really a cute, small town that not only looks, but actually dates back to the civil war. Although things around here look haunted (and they say they are), it has a bunch of ruins of old mills, storehouses and a main street that doesn't look like it has been updated in a 100 years. There are still remnants of a vintage advertisement painted on the mountain for the whole town to see. The houses are all crooked from years of wear, and although there is a old church overlooking the valley, nearby above the cemetery are the ruins of a long before used church. It was really cool to explore, but also creepy at the same time.
I really enjoyed walking around this place all day. I highly recommend it to anyone, guy or girl. You can spend at least one full day here, but an overnight trip would really allow you to take in everything that Harper's Ferry has to offer. Among the numerous historic hikes, tubing down the river, seeing the old battlefields, you won't run out of things to do. Just don't forget the ghost tour at night, if you believe in that sort of thing!
“Country roads, take me home to the place I belong. West Virginia…” Imagine that, times it by a million, and that’s the WV Welcome Center. After this trip, I don’t ever want to hear John Denver again!
On a good note, however, (and at the risk of sounding like a complete travel agent), I do have to say this state has a little bit of everything to do: hiking, skiing, history, tubing and tons more. I’m not making it up – even the greeters at the WV Welcome Center (where the John Denver song was playing on eternal repeat) agreed.
When Jacek was here visiting late in the fall, we had a free weekend and no plans. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I don’t well with free time. I have to plan something. Anything. So I evaluated the situation: the weekend was not quite long enough to hop on a plane, so a short trip was definitely in order. Clearly, West Virginia was the best choice because it was the only state in the immediate DC area that we hadn’t yet visited – so it was an easy decision. And a great way to add yet another state to our adventures.
If I had ever been there before, I certainly don’t remember it. Jacek (of course) had never been, so we started googling things to do. Harpers Ferry quickly popped up as the destination of choice. It was on the eastern side of the state and within an hour of DC. It also had a few great hiking trails, a mix of historic old stuff (Jacek’s favorite) and a little town that looks like it has been frozen in time since 1850.
So we packed up. After grabbing some water bottles, granola bars, and the GPS, we hopped into the car and arrived in WV in an hour. We didn’t take the most direct route, but we did manage to see about 5 times as many cows as people.
Upon arriving, we hiked around the town. We enjoyed the sun by walking along abandoned train tracks (or at least that’s what Jacek told me), and along a river where we came across some sort of abandoned mill. So we stopped and snacked. And Jacek investigated the old stuff.
After exploring the town, eating some shrimp cocktail, and taking pleasure in a well deserved happy hour, a certain sign caught the corner of my eye: Ghost Tour, tonight at 8pm. Enough said - we were staying! I’m pretty sure Jacek rolled his eyes at me, but was such a sweetheart when he replied, ‘I’m happy to do whatever makes you happy’. We promptly bought our tickets and then walked to the local ice creamery to kill some time before setting out on the tour.
Starting perfectly at dusk, our fully costumed 18th century guide gathered us up at the old church and guided us through town. I admit, at first I thought she was rather corny, but she never broke character and the stories got better as the night went on. Ending in ‘hog's alley’, we were encouraged to take photographs of her and try to capture the ghost that’s been known to appear in the background. Although I was snapping away, nothing popped up and I was disappointed. I guess I’ll just have to settle for the orbs in my picture. Or, should I say dust particles.