The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

July 13, 2014

July in W.Va.: Recreational opportunities abound

It’s July in the West Virginia mountains, which brings vibrant orange tiger lilies, blooming rhododendron, and of course fireworks. Usually the heat and humidity is in full force, but so far the weather has been nice.

This past weekend it was a comfortable 68 degrees in the mountains. I’ll take those temperatures any day during the normally hot summer months. The cool mountain water felt refreshing, as always.

While most folks head to the beach for their summer vacations, I’d rather spend my time in our high mountain counties. The temperatures are always cooler, and the river is always relaxing. I have fond memories of spending my summer’s on the Greenbrier River during my youth.

With some time off for the holiday, I wanted to take our daughter Kelsey back to that area to experience the same thing. It was great to be a kid again and watch Kelsey swing in the playground and run around playing hide-and-seek behind the oak trees. After that, we climbed the lookout tower located on top of the ridge at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park.

It was a clear blue sky day with low humidity, and you could see the rolling mountains extending into the distant horizon for miles. I made sure to remind Kelsey of what an absolutely beautiful state she lives in, and I can’t wait to tell her about the history of the area and the Civil War battles that took place there.

A trip to the blueberry patch at White Oak Farms in Renick provided plenty of tasty berries for the ride home. We stopped and had a picnic and even skipped a few rocks across the river.  It was great family time spent together, and I can’t wait to do it again.

That’s what I love about living here as there is an outdoor adventure waiting for every weekend. We have numerous state parks and forests as well as the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests providing plenty of places to roam. The Blackwater Falls, Seneca Rocks, Dolly Sods and Spruce Knob areas are a great place to visit any time of the year.

The vibrant wildflowers and cool mountain air always relax me, and it’s where I feel the most at home. There’s just something about listening to the wind and sounds of nature while high atop a mountain ridge that gives me a peace of mind. Our mountains are full of wildlife, and you never know what you might encounter from day to day.

This past weekend I watched a nice bear walk through our front yard while I was on the porch relaxing in the shade. It never saw me, and I could hear him huffing and puffing the whole time. I guess he doesn’t care too much for the heat either. Of course, as soon as I got the camera out, he walked into the woods.

With the heat and humidity inevitably coming this summer, be sure to make time to hit the river or a lake. There’s no need to drive hundreds of miles to recreate as there are several opportunities right in our backyards. Stay cool and take care until next time.        

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