World's-most-patient-husband and I got away from our normal haunts for a weekend recently. We journeyed to Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. What a beautiful place. So distant from the bustle of our daily life. Only the rustle of the brush and the rush of the water.
The falls are powerful, and the water is stained "black," evidently, by tannin from ancient trees.
On the way to the park, we saw signs of energy production old and new: coal mines and windmills. I didn't realize that we had windmills already in operation in this part of the country. Yet here they were. These things are enormously tall.
Later, as we drove around, we had dramatic views of a whole bank of them along a ridge against the sky.
Once we arrived at the park, we got to the falls by a hike through dappled woods, with moderate terrain, lots of mud, and even a bit of scrambling up and down rocks. It was only a mile or so each way from where we began, but harder work and a longer time than I expected.
I don't know why I forget that ferns are a woodland plant -- I know they didn't evolve simply by living in pots -- but here they were in profusion. The path grew iffy at times, and we missed seeing the yellow blazes that marked it. The beautiful surroundings seemed almost spooky then, when we looked around and saw trackless woods in every direction. But we knew we weren't far from the road into the park and could have clambered across to find it if we had to. That didn't turn out to be necessary, as we managed to backtrack and find the path again each time.
If I were a skilled dyer, I would have been inspired with lots of new colorways. I saw them everywhere, in the mosses and barks, in the stone, and sometimes in strange red mushrooms.
As we left the park, tired, hungry, and ready to head for the town where we would stay that night, expecting to settle for fast food or a chain restaurant for dinner, we spotted a surprising and welcome sight: a brewpub. World's-most-patient-husband slewed the car around instantly. I don't think we squealed the tires.
And Blackwater Brewing Company is quite a good brewpub, with the brewing equipment right there behind the bar, excellent ales, and a specialty in good German food. I had a very nice porter, most fortifying after my afternoon walking in the woods.
We were even more surprised, as we drove away later, to see a second brewpub beckoning within a few miles. We really hadn't expected such a rural area to have so much quality beer to offer. We were ready to make a beeline to our hotel, though, for showers and relaxation, so we didn't stop and can't vouch for that one.
It was just an other-worldly and refreshing day and the kind of thing we should do more often.