Sunday, July 14, 2013

Family Vacation 2013: West Virginia

We returned home via Ohio instead of Kentucky, and--if we stopped in the Buckeye State, at all--I don't remember it. The older children slept like full-bellied angels, and Jim drove like a man on a mission. I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep, though, because Baby Chip took my arm hostage. Every time I tried to move it, he cried. I couldn't figure out how to put my head down with his holding my arm that way.

Finally, I told Jim: "Look, I know you would prefer driving the ten hours straight through over stopping, but you have to stop. I can't get comfortable enough to sleep, and--if we're both exhausted, tomorrow--who's going to take care of the kids?"

So we woke up to a beautiful morning in West Virginia. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to experience the drive home from Charleston in the daylight. (I'd actually slept a good stretch of that road a week earlier, on our drive to Lexington.)

Cathedral Falls. I took a photo without people but think the boy helps accentuate the height (60+') of the Falls.

I've heard my share of West Virginia jokes in my lifetime, especially from the people of East Tennessee, who--far as I can tell--believe West Virginians to be even bigger rednecks than they. But I'll tell you the truth: I lived in East Tennessee for eleven years, and I can't tell the difference between a West Virginia accent and an East Tennessee accent. West Virginia--with its coal cars and wild, mountainous, blooming beauty--feels very much like home to me. 

We stopped at a community yard sale, all proceeds to benefit a young widow and her babies, and that, too, felt like home: how everybody knows everybody, how folks come together in times of trouble.

Of course, there is the matter of West Virginia's Mystery Hole. (And of the United States Post Office up in a trailer. But especially of the Mystery Hole.)

Lover of kitsch and tack that I am, I started to think--right then and there--that West Virginia might be the coolest state ever. Y'all know I had to do it; I had to experience the Mystery Hole. It ended up being a bonding experience for Cade and me.

I'd tell you more about it, but the first rule of the Mystery Hole is: you do not talk about the Mystery Hole.

I bought a bobble-head turtle as a souvenir, also a sign that says: 

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

I told Jimmy: that right there goes to the heart of all our communication problems! I felt very excited, suddenly, to get on home...just so I could duct tape my new sign to the fridge.


Brandee's and Jim's Travel Tips

Take your time getting home, and be open to at least one unplanned adventure.


  1. What an utter blessing this vacation has been ..not just for you and the family but for us, the readers who will most likely never get to visit the places you have been to or experience any of what you have shared these past few weeks. But it's not just the visual journey that's been awesome to see... it's the spiritual one that has touched my heart. The one of connecting and the lessons learn on the way. Thanks for sharing that, Brandee.

  2. Goodness, this is SOOOO GREAT! I will be stopping there next Sunday on my way home from Ohio!!!!

    Peace <3