As some of you may know I’m traveling to Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby Festival. You can read all about it at http://www.robmiracle.com.
Normally, my wife and I prefer to take I-40 from Raleigh to Knoxville and then catch I-75 north. When visiting my side of the family first, this is the best route. However for time and distance efficiency its better to depart I-40 at Winston-Salem, take I-77 north until it turns into I-64 which will zip us straight to the Hurstbourne Road Exit in Louisville. It trims a good hour off the trip which is about 60 miles or so which at $2 a gallon saves us $17 which is several trips to White Castles for “Sliders”.
North Carolina, if you can forgive their sports arrogance is actually a nice place. Yea, its got a few ugly spots, but for the most part you see more beauty than ugly when traveling about. In our preferred way to go, we have 5 of the 11 hours in North Carolina. Kentucky is also a beautiful place. That leaves about 2 and a half hours of Tennessee. The stretch from the Pigeon Forge area west to Knoxville and north to Jerico is a balanced mix of good, okay and ugly.
Well in this economy $17 is important and we want to make sure we get to Louisville for a festival event today, so we are taking the short route which means visiting the Virginia’s.
Now you wouldn’t think it, but there is a world of difference between the two. Virginia is reasonably pretty in the spring. Most of the trees are turning green. The Red Buds and Dogwoods are blooming.
But then comes West “By God” Virginia. This has to be the ugliest place on the planet. Like any state it’s going to have some bright spots. But a measure of a states beauty is its balance of beauty vs. ugly and West Virginia is . . . well . . . ugly.
The southern stretch of I-77 south of Beckley isn’t too bad but as you head into Charleston and pass through Huntington I just want to close my eyes and dream of a happier place.
Dark brown trees, carved and weathered rock, strip mines, rusted roofed houses all just adds up to ick. My wife exclaimed as he drove “Look the river is pretty”. A glimmer of hope among the sour.
John Denver sang about West Virginia in his song “Country Roads” where he talked about it being almost Heaven. But he wasn’t writing about the train yards in Charleston.
And this trip isn’t all about the lack of eye candy either. Its a hard trip. Mountain driving is difficult. Long curved hills filled with tractor-trailers and police on every down hill slope making sure you don’t make up any time stresses the driver. Its challenging.
Of course there are mountains and curves going through North Carolina to Tennessee, and though the curves are sharper, they are shorter and your in and out of them after a few minutes instead of the long duration of fighting a 6,000 pound vehicle.
We will be through it soon enough.
Side note: We are stopping in Marmet for lunch. On either side of a busy street, two women, dressed in sundresses that look like towels were trying to walk into the road handing papers out. My wife said “Idiots!”. I responded “Where are you?” She said “That answered everything”.
I Heart West Virginia! Not!