March does not have to roar very much as it makes its calendar appearance. This winter has been a long, loud series of cold spells, blowing snow and icy roads that will not be forgotten. West Virginians are ready for some sunshine and warmth and, fortunately, we can obtain these in almost every neck of our woods with a magnificent State Park system that maintains excellent facilities and provides fine dining.
Mountain State Mini vacations are just around every county's corner, and 49 can be found by checking www.wvstateparks.com. Whether one wants a high mountain retreat or a river full of trout, go past the glitzy hotels of the larger cities and settle for some hand-hewn picnic tables, SUV outdoor camping areas, rustic cabins or likable lodge rooms. Out-of-state-visitors will share with you that our own park system has an ample supply of best-kept secrets.
No Mountain State resident will forget the derecho - or Superstorm Sandy - that rocked our area in 2012. State Park workers have had a very difficult job getting all the damage corrected. It has taken many months and it has been very costly. If ever there was a time our state parks needed our help, it is now. For those who believe in extending themselves to give to good causes, planning a summer vacation at one of our many beautiful parks would be a great offering to them as they try to maintain and be open for future generations.
The Inter-Mountain photos by Shannon Bennett Campbell
Enjoyable breakfasts are a special feature of West Virginia State Parks. Whether having a stack of pancakes or scrambled eggs with sausage gravy and biscuits, this Pipestem State Park group would tell you they plan to visit the buffet several times.
A typical state park morning buffet is usually hot and ready by 7 a.m. for early-risers to hike, play golf or photograph fog-filled canyons that sparkle in the sun’s dawning rays.
State park chefs know how to make mega-biscuits that take at least three spoonfuls of jam and make a hungry visitor ready for any morning activity.
Audra, Stonewall Jackson, Droop Mountain, Canaan, Blackwater, Kumbrabow, Tygart Lake, Cass, Cathedral, Cedar Lake, Watoga and Holly River are just a few parks within a hundred miles that could be visited. Most have large swimming pools, hiking, biking, playground areas, boating and fishing, and are some of the best places to find a good home-cooked meal with breakfast and evening buffets that would make beach eateries blink.
The 2014 West Virginia Historic Preservation Division is promoting "Historic Recreation" this year and encouraging vacations that can be built around historic places that provide landmarks important to our state and nation's history.
Especially important for youth, the Civil War can be studied at several spots. Droop Mountain Battlefield, Harper's Ferry, Stonewall Jackson, Fairmont's Prickett's Fort and Tu-Endie-Wei at Point Pleasant hold keys to understanding our early colonial beginnings. For more information about historic landmarks involving State Park assistance, contact 304-558-0240 to obtain additional ideas, and consult any 2014 Historic Recreation Calendars remaining.
All of these destinations insist that cameras be packed, because one will never run out of things to photograph. Rhododendron, wild honeysuckle, dogwood, birds of many species, mountain vistas and canyon areas with glistening streams below are just a few available shots.
Evenings can be filled with campfires, s'mores and songs learned at 4-H Camp or church meetings. Feeling the coolness and breathing clear air help put your cares aside. This could be a vacation for the storybooks. Why, you might even see a black bear, or two!
I encourage in 2014 a campaign where we all will be winners. We can call it "1-4-West Virginia State Parks," and in this year each of us can figure out a way to spend some money to help our Park System revive. I am thanking you now for giving this consideration and you will not be sorry for spending time in these facilities. Just enjoy all the money that will be saved from eliminating gasoline prices to get across our borders and beyond.
As we attempt to shore up our own State Park system and give it a boost it needs, we consider what the l958 Nobel Laureate for Peace explained. This member of the Dominican order received a doctorate of theology in Rome, was a refugee in World War I and founded the University of Peace in Belgium. Said Georges Pire, "What matters today is not the difference between those who do not believe and believe, but the difference between those who care and those who don't."
Care enough to be "1-4-West Virginia State Parks." This is a time they need us and a time we can help them survive for us to continue visits down life's winding road. Remember, l-800-CALL WVA will provide you with any details you may need. Happy travels in West (by gosh) Virginia. Win the prize of peace.