Country Roads: West Virginia Road Trip

I couldn’t keep the song from coming into my head whenever I was driving through the parks and countryside during last week’s road trip to West Virginia.

The country roads were peaceful, although I arrived a week or two too late for the best fall foliage. I drove into West Virginia, my 39th state in my quest to see all 50 states by the time I turn 50 next year, from Kentucky (state #38). My dog, Selma, was along for the ride!

We stayed in Charleston, the state capital, and took some side road trips from there. Charleston has a really striking Capitol Building with a gold dome. The river that runs through town and the surrounding bluffs make for some pretty nice city views.

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In town we checked out:

  • Capitol Market — A seasonal farmers market with both indoor and outdoor spaces, with everything from produce and meat to a wine shop and seafood restaurant.
  • The Downtown Historic District — Cobblestone streets and cute little shops are throughout this section of downtown. I stopped in Mission Savvy, a little spot serving all organic, vegan, handmade food and drinks. Nearby are many historic mansions for a walking or driving tour, with a few open to the public.
  • East End Historic District — In another nearby neighborhood, the East End is a place of recent revitalization. There are murals and street art aplenty, cool bars and some restaurants and shops. It was a little quiet when I was there, but it was a Sunday and the off season. I felt most at home in this eclectic area that reminded me of my neighborhood in Austin.
  • Booker T. Washington’s Boyhood Cabin — This was hard to find and, in my mind, not nearly as advertised as it should be. It’s directly behind a small, inconspicuous African Zion Baptist Church; you have to look for the church, there are no signs for the cabin. It was recreated on the very spot where Booker T. Washington grew up, from photos of the cabin. There is also a little schoolhouse and museum. Well worth a visit.

Outside of Charleston, on our “country road” trips, Selma and I checked out a few other cool spots. The New River Gorge Bridge, for instance, is the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world. You can even walk across the bridge, on the underside of it along a steel suspension walkway. Reservations are required as this is only done by guided tour.

I also stopped in at the Blenko Glass Company, which I had been wanting to visit since entering West Virginia. They’ve been making beautifully hand-crafted glassware since 1893; and they still make every piece by hand, with a glass blowing workshop that you can visit and watch the artisans in action.

Now that I’ve seen the 39th state on my list, I have only states 40-50 left to visit. Keep track of my journey here!

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