Monday, January 28, 2008

West Virginia - Open for Business?

West Virginia got my business last weekend when I squandered my stipend on a ski vacation at Snowshoe Mountain.


I'm glad I wasn't the one driving, because it's not easy to get to West Virginia. The ancient wrinkles of the Appalachians still conspire to isolate the mountain kingdom. From the East, one must ascend a gauntlet of engine-grinding ridges, and navigate a maze of winding hollows. Deeper in, cell phones stop working, and McDonalds and McMansions are replaced by country diners and cabins. Such seclusion has its appeal, both to hearty locals and to some strange comers from the outside world. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank seems thoroughly out of place, although I'll grant that it might seem out of place ANYWHERE on earth. The relative radio quiet of rural Green Bank is perfect for looking and listening to the cosmos.


Snowshoe Mountain is another strange, outside element in the rural state. Its lines of condominiums and luxury shops are perched on the very top of a remote and windswept ridge. Ski runs trickle down into the valleys below. The set-up is an odd reverse of the ski areas I remember from Washington State, where lodges and resorts were at the bottom of valleys and ski lifts reached UP to the ridges. Although I think it's kind of disrespectful of a mountain to build all over the top, it was neat to be up there in the extreme environment, where torn clouds of wind-driven snow coated every object in a patina of frost.


West Virginia's former "Almost Heaven" and "Wild and Wonderful" mottos were apt descriptions of the beauty and uniqueness I observed. But not everyone thinks the way I do. The state's idiot governor recently decided to change their main slogan to, "Open for Business", inviting all manner of unscrupulous developers and extractive industries to have their way with the land. You can sign this online petition to change the slogan (and maybe the policy) of the state back to "Wild and Wonderful".


1 comment:

Paul Richardson said...

Whuuuutt??!!?? Gotta use it all up before the "rapture", right??

It truly is shameful how we give the greedy few full rights to destroy beautiful places like WV. Bush loves his "clean coal".

Now, our own Gov. Kaine wishes to open for business the uranium deposits of Spottsylvania County. The oil mongers are drooling over the possibility of raping the eastern seaboard and Alaska's North Slope. It's all very disturbing. I'll sign the petition.

The skiing was sweet!! Nice pics, and post.