Monday, August 20, 2007

Camping, Friendship, and Memories

Linda loves people and she enjoys showing them some of the great recreational areas surrounding her West Virginia home place. This past weekend Lib and I were privileged to be part of a group that visited these spots.

We left Oak Grove CoB around 1:15 pm. There were two vans in the convoy and six couples making the trip. We were retirement age or near, so we're people with long histories, just the recipe that make for interesting conversations. Linda also arranged for a scheme to mix us up so we weren’t with the same people all of the time. I greatly enjoyed exchanging views with Linda who was my first seat partner on the first leg of the trip.

We arrived at our motel in Beaver, WV several hours later, got settled in and then ate supper at a Bob Evans restaurant nearby. Our first place of interest was the Crab Tree Cob, the church that Linda attended as a child. She also showed us her home nearby and regaled us with stories about family and church life there. Her father was a coal miner and life was not easy for them. Looking back one can appreciate the long journey and the myriad experiences that make her the interesting caring woman she is today. It was obvious to all that she enjoyed sharing vignettes from her young life...a life that wasn’t always easy, but one in which the family loved its members and took care of each other. Perhaps it was the uncertain life of the miner who spent so much time in the dark bowels of the earth that made them relish the light and beauty above!

Next we went to nearby Grandview. There is a fantastic lookout point that surveys a great loop in the New River. We were there just before dusk. What a magnificent panorama of beautiful mountains, curving river, and off to the left, just a little town snuggled between hills and river. One could thank the Creator for making the scene, for West Virginia government that made access easy, and for the Creator giving us eyes and senses to enjoy the visual feast before us. Then we assembled at the open air theater for a presentation of "Honey in the Rock".
It is a finely crafted tale of the differences that caused the America’s Civil war and how it created the inevitable rift that resulted in the state of West Virginia. For discerning folk, it was also a strong statement about the futility of war as a means of settling differences. Much was made as to how war was glorified, divided families, and made those who lost sons, husbands, and brothers question if another way could not have been found. Lincoln’s "Gettysburg Address" was a focal point of the quest for unity in a new nation. It was a moving story.

The next day we visited Hawks Nest State Park. It is a smaller brother to Pipestem State Park We took the tram down to the river and enjoyed a boat excursion up to the famous arch bridge across. It is a beautiful structure that safely transports thousands of vehicles each day over the New River gorge.

We had tasty lunch in the park dining hall and then drove to Sandstone wayside. In the auditorium saw a brief presentation about the New River and its importance to the area. Next we drove to the Sandstone waterfalls. We travelled for forty some minutes, up a very narrow valley alongside the river. It was truly amazing to see how many folks are into the camping/fishing lifestyle. There were numerous places along the river where there were whole communities of trailer homes, motor homes, or just temporary camping tents. Some were amazingly extensive to be in such a remote place. Just as one is impressed with the large number of beach homes, so it seems the fishing/camping community has its aficionados. The New River attracts from all over.

Linda explained how her father would take the family down to the river for two weeks each summer to enjoy this life style. It helped me understand why so many Brethren support so strongly their church camps. It’s in the blood! They wish for their children the unique experience that comes from being "in the woods" or "close to Nature". As the camps become more commercial, with more of the amenities resembling home, the more difficult it will be to realize an authentic "camping" experience.

After our skilled drivers Buddy and Garland returned us safely to
Oak Grove, Lib and I who had recently moved to Richmond, spent the night at Buddy and Linda’s. It gave us time to visit further and learn more about each other and the place of the church in our lives. I have been allowed a long and interesting life lived in numerous places and varying circumstances. I'm so thankful and grateful that Lib and I are healthy enough and have the resources to still do these sorts of activities when invited. I really, really, REALLY am!!

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Hi Bill ! What a small world, eh !? I am going to forward your comment to my Grandma and see how she responds. My Grandpa is one of 7 Alleys. Lawrence ( Larry ), Ralph, Erma, Raymond (my grandpa),Thelma and Nina. Don't know if any of those names are more familiar than just Alley. Have you been back to India since you left Woodstock ? I grew up hearing so many wonderful stories. It was like a fairy tale actually going and seeing all of the places in person !! Well, thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I'm glad to meet you. Bonnie