www.wvgazettemail.com Travel http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2017, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Journey to my second home in Iran http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ0506/170219883 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ0506/170219883 Sat, 11 Feb 2017 20:35:54 -0500 Editor's note: Charleston native and resident Shiva Shafii traveled to Iran on Dec. 11, 2016, to visit her grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. She returned home Jan. 13 and agreed to write a travel story for the Sunday Gazette-Mail. Two weeks later, on Jan. 27, President Donald Trump signed an order temporarily barring people from seven countries including Iran from entering the United States - a move he says is necessary to ensure travelers to the U.S. don't pose a security risk.

By Shiva Shafii

Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail

Name a place with astounding architecture, exotic landscapes, a rich culture and a lot of rugs. The rugs might have given it away: I'm talking about Iran.

My relationship with Iran is almost certainly different from that of other West Virginians. Although I was born and raised in Charleston, Iran remains a second home to me.

Maybe it's because that's where my family is from. Or maybe it's because whenever I visit, I'm aware that I'm walking on ancient lands entrenched with deep history dating back to the Persian Empire. Full of beauty and warm people, every journey back to my roots provides a grounding experience.

I was fortunate enough to recently spend a month in Iran, and I whole heartedly believe it should be on everyone's travel bucket list. Even after traveling the country extensively during my visits, I still feel like there is more to be discovered.

"Your room smells like America," my aunt lovingly joked with me as I was packing clothes for a family party in Behshahr, a city in northern Iran.

I asked her what it smelled like. She described it as clean and fresh, but she had first-hand experience. My aunt and uncle, now dual-citizens of the United States and Iran, recently moved back to Iran after living in West Virginia for about 10 years. They became green card holders through an intensive two-year vetting process to provide a better opportunity for their children, my cousins, who still live in the U.S.

We were traveling to Behshahr, in Mazandaran, about a five-hour drive from Tehran,  for my cousin's engagement party, and stayed an extra couple of days to explore this gorgeous city known for its lush scenery. It's close to the Caspian Sea and near the foot of the Alborz mountains, so the hills and humidity made me feel right at home.

It was a bit chilly, but my family took me up a road on a mountain in the middle of the jungle that surrounds a lake with a destroyed castle and garden called Abbasabad that once belonged to Shah Abbas I from the Safavid Empire around 1588. Being in this part of the world that's so rich in history is something you can feel in the air.

The next day, we went to another lake just in time for the sun to set. On the road, we passed a shepherd and his sheep, and I went back to speak with him after we arrived. He told me about the value of his sheep and how thankful he was for them, for they were his lifeline.

Living off the land and appreciating the family line of work you were born into was something his father instilled in him from a young age. His gratefulness was humbling.

We returned to Tehran in time for Shabe Yalda, a traditional Persian holiday celebrating the longest night of the year. The celebration dates back prior to the advent of Islam, when a majority of Persians were followers of Zoroastrianism - one of the oldest of the world's single-god religions. The holiday is meant to represent the arrival of winter, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness.

Following tradition, my grandmother had put together a lovely spread of fruit, nuts and other Persian pastries. Some have specific purposes: Pomegranates are reminders of the cycle of life - the rebirth and revival of generations. The purple outer covering of a pomegranate symbolizes birth or dawn, and its bright red seeds represent the glow of life.

We stayed up late into the night reading poetry by the ancient Persian poet Hafez, which included one of my favorites:

"Even after all this time,

the sun never says to the earth,

'You owe me.'

Look what happens with a

love like that

It lights the whole sky."

Later in the week, my aunt and I ventured to the old Grand Tehran Bazaar, where there are a few walls and passages that date back 400 years. You read about the exchange of goods in the Middle East as a child, and it's incredible to experience the continuation of this extensive legacy in its current form.

I saw handmade silk Persian rugs, exquisite textiles, spices galore and gold as far as the eye could see sold by proud Iranians who are fiercely in tune with the richness of their culture.

Rasht, another city in northern Iran is close to the Caspian Sea and home to one of my uncles. We were traveling for my cousin Pouria's wedding, and I could only picture him as a 5-year-old incapable of getting married.

How the bride and groom came to be is nothing short of an adorable love story. Pouria fell in love with a girl in his neighborhood, Arefe. He wanted to get to know her, and her family told him to stay away, so he pledged he would be back when he was worthy of their daughter.

Pouria was accepted to the No. 1 college in Iran, the University of Tehran, became a petroleum engineer and fulfilled his promise to come back for Arefe's hand in marriage.

Rasht was a stunning city, with palm trees that made me feel like I was in Miami, at times. Because it is close the Caspian Sea, Rasht is known for its impeccable seafood.

We were traveling through the bazaar when my cousin and I stopped to listen to an older gentleman singing to himself in his shop. He was the epitome of the warmth and natural joy that exudes from Iranian people. Graciously, he changed his tune and invited us to buy some of his fish in his new song.

On the way back from Rasht, we stopped in the historic village of Masouleh. Established nearly 1,000 years ago, Masouleh was once part of the Silk Road and is incredibly designed. The cottages, constructed of clay and wood, are tucked neatly in the mountainside, where each house's courtyard is another house's rooftop. Forever covered in fog, its beauty was undeniable.

My final week was about three days exploring the palaces in Tehran that belonged to the Pahlavi Dynasty prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Persians have an affinity toward luxury, and the palaces built in Tehran were nothing short of glamorous.

From the engraved crown on every golden door handle in the entire complex to the intricate design of hand-placed mirrors, every detail was lavish. Being in those spaces and thinking about the incredible talent it took to build them was astounding. Iranians are so creatively refined in the arts.

Experiencing arts in Iran was the theme for the rest of the week, as I was invited to attend a performance by the Tehran Symphony Orchestra., led by Maestro Shahrdad Rohani, a beloved Iranian-American composer and conductor from a prominent musical family in Iran.

Rohani is dedicated to reviving the TSO after its doors were shut during the Islamic Revolution, he has taken great strides in making orchestral music accessible throughout Iran. I was fortunate enough to have breakfast with him and explore the Museum of Iranian Music that housed fascinating instruments up to 600 years old.

When it came time to say goodbye to Iran, my heart was heavy. It's often difficult being halfway around the world from those you love. Time passes quickly, and each trip ends with the same shuddering thought of whether or not it will be my last time seeing my grandmother.

How can a place that has such warm people, such stunning beauty and such a rich culture be portrayed as one that only breeds fear, terror and hate? There is light and dark in every part of the world. I long for a day when Americans feel a desire to visit this part of the world because I know they would be welcomed with open arms and lots of tea.

Shiva Shafii is the marketing director for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and a classical radio host on WTSQ 88.1 FM. She also writes a blog at shivashafii.com. She can be reached by email at shivashafii@gmail.com.

Perfect dates in 13 cities around the world http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ0506/170219886 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ0506/170219886 Sat, 11 Feb 2017 20:31:58 -0500 The Washington Post By The Washington Post A global guide to romance - from restaurants to boat rides to chartered planes - just in time for Valentine's Day.

Book a table at: 101 Dining Lounge and Bar at the One and Only Resort on Dubai's iconic palm-shaped island. Located in the resort's private marina, this overwater restaurant has panoramic views of the city's Marina skyline. Enjoy Mediterranean tapas and cocktails as you watch private yachts pass by and a DJ spins up some chill, electro ambiance.

Before dinner, if it's a weekday: Make the most of Dubai's pleasant winter weather before the summer heat sets in. Take a water taxi - or even better-charter your own boat and cruise through the city's newly-built and aptly-named Water Canal. On your way, you'll pass colorful waterfalls, the famous Burj al Arab hotel and World development. Get off at the Jetty Lounge where you can relax over beachside cocktails.

After lunch, if it's the weekend: Unwind at the palatial Talise Ottoman Spa in the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel. Enjoy a relaxing couples hammam in this opulent take on the centuries-old Turkish bath. When you're feeling totally de-stressed, you can head to the nearby Atlantis Hotel - a carbon copy of the original on Paradise Island, Bahamas. Grab some sushi at Nobu before hitting Nasimi Beach Club on the shores of palm-shaped island where you can party with Dubai's cool set.

Book a table at: The Sidewalk Café on Vredehoek's Derry Street. It's intimate and informal, has panoramic mountain and harbor vistas, and the bistro-style food is eclectic without being overly fussy. Our recommendations: prawns in pastry, a perfect pan-fried steak with Cafe de Paris butter, and a slice of light-as-air lemon soufflé cheesecake.

After dinner, if it's a weekday: Go whisky tasting at the Cape Grace Hotel's Bascule Bar, on the edge of the yacht marina. With 500 bottles on stock, it has one of the biggest collections of whisky in the southern hemisphere, and the sommelier can select six for you to try. (While it's still available, ask for the 50-year-old Glenfiddich Bottle No. 400-a very limited production that collectors have snapped up for $40,000 a bottle .)

After brunch, if it's a weekend: Take a guided kayak trip off the Sea Point promenade to see the resident dolphins and African penguin. If you're lucky, you might spot a sunfish-they weigh up to 4,400 pounds and are named for their tendency to sunbathe at the water's surface.

Then head to Clifton, for four of the world's most pristine beaches, each in its own cover separated by boulders: for quieter moments, climb down to Clifton First, gays and lesbians aim for Third beach, and style-casters for the Fourth. You may risk hypothermia by rinsing off in the Atlantic, but it's worth every second.

Book a table at: Borkonyha, a Michelin-starred restaurant specializing in Hungarian wine and local cuisine. The bistro-style restaurant is a two-minute walk from the city's famous St. Stephen's Basilica, and much like its menu, combines traditional aesthetics (ornate chandeliers, bentwood coat racks) with a sleek, updated aesthetic. As for ordering, don't be put off: veal brains as a starter won't ruin your evening.

Before dinner, if it's a weekday: Make your way from work to the Chain Bridge, the most beautiful crossing over the Danube River, and hop on the funicular that takes you directly up to the former Royal Palace. Take a romantic walk on the cobblestoned streets of the Castle District and peer out from the Fisherman's bastion for one of the best views of Budapest. Then get a pre-dinner drink at the wine bar Divino, which has unbeatable views of the Basilica.

Before dinner, if it's a weekend: Spend some time at the Rudas Bath on the bank of the Danube for some seriously leisurely R&R. Wallow in the thermal waters under the Ottoman-era dome and then head to the rooftop and the recently renovated wellness section and take a plunge in the open-air pool with stunning views of the city. Don't forget to book a massage (or two).

Book a table at: Restaurante Limosneros, a romantic spot in the city's Centro Histórico (Historic Downtown), where chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and its thick walls are built from 400-year-old stones. The menu is much more modern, with Mexican dishes like bean soup with bacon dust and duck with a black cherry sorbet, apples, and raisins. For dessert share berry-filled tacos in a chocolate tortilla.

Before dinner, if it's a weekday: Stroll through the 16th century San Idelfonso College, which has been transformed into a museum. In the 1920s Diego Rivera painted murals here; now there's the chance to view some of his work. Afterwards, grab a capirinha as sweet as the panoramic views from the rooftop bar of the boutique Downtown Mexico hotel in one of Mexico City's oldest buildings.

Before or after dinner, if it's a weekend: Attend a concert in the nearby Palacio de Bellas Artes. The white marble building's neo-classical architecture and murals, by some of Mexico's most famous artists, are worth a visit on their own, but scoring balcony seats to watch a ballet or opera in the concert hall is as romantic as it gets in Mexico City. (For several days in February, renowned violinist David Garret will perform there).

Book a table at: Chou in the neighborhood of Pinheiros. Set in an old residential building, the vibe is relaxed and homey, with a bright, clean and modern interior (think white walls, light wood floors) and a back courtyard strung with fairy light. In other words: the makings for the most romantic of summer evenings. The food, cooked over wood and charcoal fires, places an emphasis on fresh meat and fish brightened up with plenty of fresh herbs.

Before dinner, if it's a weekday: Get pre-dinner drinks at Bar Baretto at the Fasano Hotel, a low-lit, wood-paneled space with leather chairs, polished wood tables, and a piano and performance area, where artists serenade guests.

Before dinner, if it's a weekend: Pick up a nice bottle of white wine and a blanket and watch the sun go down at Praça pôr do sol (literally "Sunset Plaza"). Then, if you like to live on the edgier side, take a romantic stroll down the elevado minhocão to work up an appetite before dinner; the elevated highway closes to car traffic every night from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Book a table at: Bombay Canteen, a Mumbai favorite for a reason. There, Chef Floyd Cardoz-who also runs one of New York City's most successful Indian restaurants, Paowalla-whips up lesser-known regional specialties like Kashmiri leg of lamb that are perfect for sharing. Make sure to ask for a table with a view of the open kitchen.

After dinner, if it's a weekday: Head to Aer, the 34th-floor rooftop bar at the Four Seasons, where the views of the city and the Arabian Sea seem to extend forever. While weekends there are clubby, weeknights are more relaxed-and the cardamom- and pineapple-infused Mumbai Kiss cocktail sets the mood for romance.

Before dinner, if it's a weekend: Since nothing builds a bond better than a common goal, take a sailing lesson with Aquasail Yachting Academy, based at the Gateway of India. At worst, you'll cruise around the harbor on an intimate, masted ship; at best, you'll line up five more dates, since it takes six classes to master the art.

Book a table at: L'Oiseau Blanc, on the top floor of the Peninsula Hotel and home of the city's most expensive suite. Other spots have great views over the City of Love but this one, with unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower from its 16th arrondissement perch, is one of the very best. (Give in to the cliché.)

The French menu, overseen by Chef Sidney Redel, includes guineafowl from Landes, Ossau Iraty cheese, monkfish from Brittany, and Douarnenez crab. There's a special Valentine's Day six-course prix fixe as well.

After dinner, if it's a weekday: Take a 20-minute stroll and stop by the flower installations at the Four Seasons George V where Jeff Leatham, the hotel's celebrated artistic director, arranges 12,000 blooms every week.

Then head for a nightcap nearby at the Le Bar du Plaza Athénée, where wreaths of fabric hide the soaring ceiling and provide a soft counterpoint to the heavy wood-paneled walls.

Seal the deal with an El Diablo-a mix of 10-year-old Laphroaig whisky, Patron Silver, and blackcurrant-at the futuristic-looking bar made of see-through resin.

Before dinner, if it's a weekend: Start at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton, located in the Bois de Bologne, which is currently hosting the exhibition "Icons of Modern Art." The show includes many artists, such as Vincent van Gogh and August Renoir, who painted scenes of daily life from the same park during their lives.

Then, take the scenic route to the restaurant along Avenue Montaigne and window shop the world's biggest fashion designers, from French stalwarts such as Dior and Chanel to international stars ranging from Valentino and Bulgari.

Book a table at: Odette, a two-Michelin-star restaurant, at the National Gallery. With less than 40 seats in what was formerly a side chambers of the Supreme Court, the intimate service is as exceptional as the ambiance.

Book early and opt for the 8-course tasting menu. Acclaimed chef Julien Royer brings magic to modern French cuisine, raw scallops with Perigord truffles and hazelnuts; guinea fowl with celeric risotto and foie gras; and beets with a piquant sorbet.

Before dinner, if it's a weekday: Take a leisurely stroll from your office through the Civic District of Singapore, where the country's colonial past and modern present come together in a romantic setting. Enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail and plate of oysters at Aura Sky Lounge, as the sun sets and the Marina Bay skyline glitters alive in the distance.

Before or after dinner, if it's a weekend: Soak in some music with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra who call Victoria Concert Hall home. Highlights from the month include a weekend of Beethoven and, in March, a free outdoor concert in Gardens by the Bay featuring scores both classic (Mussorgasky) and pop (John Williams). Pack a picnic and make a whole day of it.

Book a table at: Foreign Cinema. First, feast your eyes on the impressive oyster list of this Mission District institution. Then feast on the oysters as paired with Champagne-the De Sousa Blanc de Blancs Brut Réserve, maybe.

Next, make out intermittently while eating your main course during the nightly movie screening. And then, because the film showing through Feb. 19 is Dirty Dancing, you'll have had the time of your life.

Before dinner, if it's a weekday: Pre-game while gaming at Coin-Op Game Room, brand new in SoMa from owners who've previously taken their concept to San Diego and Sacramento. You'll find a host of arcade classics beeping and blooping in Coin-Op's 10,000-square-foot space and a bevy of California microbrews flowing from its 16 taps. The multi-player cocktails are sized to share.

Before or after dinner, if it's a weekend: Re-visit the dates of your innocent youth and tee off at Urban Putt, a 14-hole miniature golf course housed inside a renovated mortuary in the Mission. The owner, PC World editorial director Steve Fox, worked with industrial designers and robotics engineers to create such course features as a roulette hole and an earthquake simulator. The drinks, which include both Pimm's Cup and Moscow Mule on tap, are above par.

Book a table at: Cantaloupe Sky Dining, on the 24th floor of the Foster & Partners-designed Troika building. A tasting menu consists of 24 dishes by chef Christian Bauer, ranging from geoduck carpaccio, roasted beef marrow, and a sweet-and-savory combination of yuzu watermelon and miso. But it's really the interiors, by Melbourne designers Hecker Guthrie, that accentuates the restaurant's uber-romantic views out over KLCC Park and the twin Petronas Towers.

After dinner, if it's a weekday: Stop over at live jazz bar No Black Tie for music and drinks. The club, a favorite among KL-ites, is just a five-minute cab ride away from the restaurant and shows can range from more traditional acts, such as drummer extraordinaire John Thomas, to more pop-friendly shows that pay tribute to David Bowie and Justin Timberlake. For Valentine's Day proper, the bill features local pianist-violinist duo A9 Strings.

Before dinner, if it's a weekend: Sign up for a two-hour cooking class at the newly-opened ABC Cooking Studio for a hands-on lesson on making food the Japanese way. Classes are small, limited to four students for every instructor, and you can choose to make anything from sushi, ramen, and sesame matcha bun from scratch. This month, a one-off class offers guidance on how to make a heart-shaped chocolate cake.

Book a table at: Hawksworth in the celebrated Rosewood Hotel Georgia, which brought luxury to the young Canadian west coast city in the '20s and whose guests have included British royalty, Nat King Cole, and Marlene Dietrich (and her 40 suitcases).

Equally as lauded, chef David Hawksworth's contemporary Canadian cuisine with a focus on fresh ingredients and Asian accents, such as a black peppered tuna tataki with mushroom dashi, crispy rice, lotus root, and water chestnut. Before leaving, snap a romantic photo under the massive, hand-assembled crystal chandelier in the elegant, four-room eatery.

If it's a weekday, before dinner: Hop on over to Harbour Air's downtown seaplane dock for a 30-minute charter flight. Take in the stunning views of Vancouver's skyline, Stanley Park, the North Shore mountains and Coal Harbour. For those with a little more time, ask for the one-hour Glaciers tour that includes a stop on a secret alpine lake.

If it's a weekend, before dinner: take a private helicopter to the fir-covered peak of Grouse Mountain, a favorite among Vancouver's outdoorsy set. Look out across eye-popping views of the city and the Gulf Islands as you marvel at how unbelievably accessible snowshoeing, skiing and hiking is from Vancouver-even without the helicopter, you could be back in downtown in half an hour.

For those feeling less athletic, enjoy a bottle of vino at the mountaintop Observatory, choosing from its voluminous list, a consistent winner of the Wine Spectator's award of excellence.

Book a table at: Oriole, a Michelin-starred destination down an industrial alley in the West Loop. Don't be deterred by the freight elevator-like entrance. Once the door opens, you'll be transported into the perfect date night in a softly lit dining room with lots of nooks and crannies.

The tasting-menu-only evening starts with a complimentary cocktail (currently a warm apple cider with barley shochu) and progressing through 16-odd courses, such as capellini with truffles, squab with wild blueberries, and Santa Barbara sea urchin.

Before dinner, if it's weekday: Enjoy some aperitifs at Cindy's Rooftop at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, a Venetian Gothic landmark from the 1890s that recently underwent a classy, ultra-slick renovation.

Clink glasses and stare into each other's eyes when not taking in the sunset's pinks and oranges reflected across Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. Note for the chilly: The house hot chocolate features a white velvet speculoos mixed with green chartreuse.

Before or after dinner, if it's a weekend: see what all the fuss is about with a matinee or evening performance to Hamilton, one of the hottest Broadways shows in recent memory, now on tour.

Unlike in New York, you won't have any trouble getting tickets. Alternatively-or heck, stoke your passions and make it a double feature-the Lyric Opera is playing Carmen, the classic French tale of vital, dangerous love and fiery independence.

Book at table at: Fred's, the restaurant of the moment for Sydney's movers and shakers. Chef Danielle Alvarez, formerly of Chez Panisse, centers her French country cuisine on seasonal produce and old-world techniques. A special Valentine's Day menu features rose veal, blood plum, Clair de lune oysters, saffron tagliatelle, and wood-oven snapper. The 60-seater restaurant in Paddington feels so intimate and warm you'll forget you're not in a friend's kitchen (at least until the bill arrives).

Before dinner, if it's a weekday: Embrace the balmy summer eves with a wander around the gardens of the century-old Strickland House in the eastern suburb of Vaucluse. Afterward, lounge on quiet Milk Beach, a small, secret inlet nearby, and watch the sun decline over the horizon. The view of central Sydney across the water is nothing if not romantic.

After brunch, if it's a weekend: Pre-order the perfect picnic from Pop-up Picnic and set a late-afternoon delivery time for Bondi Beach. You'll be whiling away the afternoon at Bondi Icebergs Club, with laps in the azure pools, a sit in the sauna, and a therapeutic massage.

The famous health club has been a fixture at the south end of Bondi Beach for more than 100 years. After grabbing a glass of white on the deck, go find your patch of sand for your sunset sandwiches.

Photo of the Week: Views from the trestle http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ05/170219889 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ05/170219889 Sat, 11 Feb 2017 20:23:22 -0500 While standing on the CSX railroad trestle that crosses the Guyandotte River in Man, photographer Mike Adkins snapped this picture. The railroad bridge was decked last summer by the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreational Authority, making it the longest ATV bridge in North America.

ATV's, UTV's and dirt bikes are allowed to legally ride the trestle to and from the town of Man and the Rockhouse Trailhead of the Hatfield McCoy Trail System.

In the far distance on the right is the old C&O freight depot on the banks of the Guyandotte River, built in the early 1900s. It was renovated 12 years ago and is now The Depot Lodge, providing overnight accommodations for trail riders visiting from all over the United States.

The Guyandotte flows north and empties into the Ohio River at Huntington.

We want to see pictures of your adventures. Send us your best submissions and you might find them here one day.

Send your submissions, with a few details about the photo, to social@wvgazettemail.com with "Photo of the Week" in the subject line.

WV Travel Team: Make the most of a road trip with these I-79 stops http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ0506/170219891 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170211/GZ0506/170219891 Sat, 11 Feb 2017 20:20:35 -0500 Compiled by the GoToWV Team By Compiled by the GoToWV Team

Interstate 79 truly gives travelers a little taste of about everything that makes West Virginia great: mountains, rivers, cities, historical sites, restaurants and more.

Whether you're exploring or just passing through, here are some of the best stops to consider on your next trip up (or down) I-79:

Just about 10 minutes outside Charleston, Coonskin Park is one of West Virginia's largest municipal parks. Depending on the time of year, you can birdwatch, hike, bike, golf (both regular and disc golf), swim and more. In the summer you might catch an outdoor concert or soccer game, and in the winter don't miss the holiday lights display.

If you're passing through West Virginia's capital city, there's no better pit stop than the Capitol Market. Inside, the long building is lined with a collection of unique shops complete with a coffee shop, artisan works, books, wines, chocolates, local foods and snacks, and fresh meat, sushi, and seafood. Bonus, it's also home to one of the city's most popular restaurants, Soho's.

One of West Virginia's quaintest little towns is just a couple minutes off I-79. Situated along the Elk River just below a reservoir and wildlife management area, Sutton's historic downtown has beautiful houses along a brick-lined main street.

Catch a movie at the town's restored Elk Theatre and coffee shop, and definitely don't miss dinner at Cafe Cimino Country Inn, one of West Virginia's finest restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts with a world-renowned chef.

This reconstruction of a 1774 Revolution-era fort transports visitors back in time to the frontier, where backcountry settlers sometimes had to huddle behind its walls for protection from Native American raids.

Today, the state park is a center for living history in West Virginia. You can wander around the grounds and cabins within its 100-square-foot walls and watch as colonial re-enactors weave, spin, blacksmith and more.

For a dose of eerie West Virginia history, it doesn't get more interesting than the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. From the mid-1800s until 1994, this sprawling hospital complex housed up to 2,400 patients at a time.

You'll need a few hours to take it all in - it's the second-largest hand-cut stone masonry building in the world after the Kremlin. The Asylum has both historical heritage tours and spooky paranormal ghost tours.

Pull into Morgantown, the hip, happening home of West Virginia University, for a great selection of local eateries on High Street and beyond.

If you just want to relax with some great food and unique brews, check out Atomic Grill just outside of town. It serves kicked-up comfort food, steaks and burgers. House specialties include BBQ Ribs, Appalachian Bruschetta with cornbread crostini and seasonal toppings, organic local chicken wings, Fried Green Tomatoes, Pork Skins and Collard Greens.

For more information, call 800-CALL-WVA or visit GoToWV.com. Share your Real. West Virginia stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #GoToWV and #RealWV.

Woman tries to bring loaded gun onto WV flight http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170206/GZ0118/170209687 GZ0118 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170206/GZ0118/170209687 Mon, 6 Feb 2017 10:00:58 -0500 Staff reports By Staff reports A Kentucky woman tried to bring a loaded handgun onto an airplane at Huntington's Tri-State Airport on Friday.

The .380 caliber handgun was in the woman's carry-on bag, according to a news release from the Transportation Security Administration. It was fully loaded, including a bullet in the chamber. The woman also had an extra magazine loaded with six bullets in her bags, according to the release.

TSA officers found the gun at the airport checkpoint and contacted Tri-State Airport Police, who confiscated the gun.

The woman, a resident of Ashland, was not identified in the release. It was not clear if she was cited or arrested.

Three guns were found on people going through airport checkpoints by TSA screeners at Tri-State Airport last year. Ten were found at Charleston's Yeager Airport last year, and a Huntington man was cited for trying to bring a loaded gun onto a Yeager flight in the first week of this year.

WV Travel Team: History and authentic flavors in Staunton, Virginia http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0506/170209770 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170205/GZ0506/170209770 Sun, 5 Feb 2017 00:01:00 -0500 By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team By By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team STAUNTON, Va. - From our home in Berkley Springs, my husband and I took a quick getaway to Staunton, Virginia, never realizing how much smarter we were going to be upon our return. We learned about 16th-century London and William Shakespeare's world of theater, explored 17th- and 18th-century housing in Europe and the Shenandoah Valley, and visited Woodrow Wilson.

Our initial view of Staunton was dominated by red brick. A compact downtown had an array of more than 100 shops and eateries in architecturally notable buildings from its Victorian boom time. On the hill west of downtown are the pristine white Greek Revival structures of Mary Baldwin University.

A bustling Shenandoah Valley market town almost from its 18th century beginning, Staunton benefited from its location at the intersection of the Great Wagon Road and ways west as well as the Virginia Central Railroad. Serving to feed Confederate troops, it emerged remarkably unscathed during the Civil War.

We stopped first for a tour of the Blackfriars Playhouse. Like Shakespeare's theater, it is a modern facility built inside an historic one. Its claim to fame is being the world's only re-creation of the Bard's indoor theater, a playhouse he would recognize as constructed to his original staging conditions.

Actors and musicians have no amplification, there is seating directly on the floor on traditional Gallants Stools, but most significantly, there is universal lighting so everyone - audience and actors - is lit all the time, effectively dissolving the barrier of most theatrical productions.

The 15-year-old playhouse, home of the American Shakespeare Center, stages work in seasons throughout the year, mostly Shakespeare but other plays as well.

The fascinating Frontier Culture Museum on the edge of town moved us over a couple centuries from Shakespeare's England. The eight farms of the museum span the old-world section of German, Irish and West African farms to life in the Shenandoah Valley, including an American Indian living area and several local frontier structures up to the 1850s.

Most of the structures are authentic, relocated from their original places, and furnished with period items and the animals that would have been on such farms. One of the most impressive was the 18th-century Irish farm complete with several thatched roof buildings.

Open daily year-round, the Frontier Culture Museum is a state-owned and operated facility. Our tour guide, who works on various projects around the facility was very knowledgeable as she took us around the nearly 2-mile trail in a golf cart. During warmer seasons, there are costumed craftsmen of all sorts working in and around the various farms ready to give information.

We decided to take a break to allow all this remarkable information to settle in our brains, so we set out on the Beerwerks Trail. Virginia has thrown itself wholeheartedly into the local artisan culture.

We visited three craft breweries/pubs in Staunton. With a bit more effort, we could've added nine more to our list within an easy hour's drive.

Shenandoah Valley, currently located in the wharf district along the railroad tracks, is about to move uptown across from City Hall. Redbeard Brewing Company remains in that area, and Queen City Brewing, most venerable among the three, is near Gypsy Hill Park.

Queen City is immersed in the local music scene with live performances almost nightly. Each serves only the beer brewed on site, and none have ice, a peculiarity I noted as I sought out a glass of water in each place.

We had our third learning experience the next day visiting the Woodrow Wilson Library and Museum as well as the house in which our 28th president was born. We learned Wilson, the only president with an earned doctorate degree, was probably a dyslexic who was unable to read easily until he was 10. Wilson invented his own shorthand system to help with his studies and wrote many presidential documents in it.

Among the most interesting exhibits in the museum were those depicting activities of World War I as well as Wilson's 1919 Pierce-Arrow, the oldest presidential limousine still in operation. It was this presidential museum that stirred our interest in Staunton after visiting three earlier Virginia presidents in nearby Charlottesville.

Absorbing so much information, no matter how fascinating, made us hungry. Fortunately, Staunton is well supplied with excellent food of all sorts, especially along its downtown streets, including the tasty Cocoa Mill chocolate shop and more substantial eateries.

We started at the iconic Mrs. Rowe's on the outskirts of town, where the story is heartwarming and all the pies - as many a 100 on a summer day - are homemade.

Our dinner stop was Emilio's on the main street. I chose it because authentic Italian restaurants are hard to find. And how did my ethnic Italian sensibilities know Emilio's was the real thing? Gnocchi made from ricotta sang out to me from the menu. They were excellent as a side.

My husband ate every bit of his Seafood Scampi, and I almost licked the veal marsala sauce off my plate. No red-checked tablecloths here, though; Emilio's was an elegantly lit but sweatshirt-comfortable dining experience.

We delayed leaving town the second day so we could eat at the Mill Street Grill, which advertised itself on billboards as the best ribs in Virginia. I haven't explored all the rib joints in the state (has anyone?), but I have to admit, Mill Street was outstanding.

The ribs were meaty, the portions substantial and the sauce sweet. The menu is accommodating with platters that featured any two of the three rib types. We happily stuffed ourselves, then packed the rest away for the next day's dinner at home.

Various friendly folks, official and not, directed us to special gems. We climbed the century-old, cast-iron Sears Hill Bridge for panoramic photos of the town and captured pictures of Willy Ferguson's metal sculpture along the main way into town that surely is the world's largest watering can.

Visiting Sunspots Studio, we watched the daily glass-blowing activity and were introduced to a device that allows the glassmaker to blow while still being free to work the glass.

We were amazed by the expansive and very busy Gypsy Hill Park we found by accident on our way to Queen City Brewing. The popular 242-acre city park boasts everything from a mini-train and ball fields to a dog park, golf course and skate park.

Intrigued by the mention of Tiffany glass windows, we visited historic Trinity Episcopal Church and examined the dozen located in the church easily recognizable, even among the other exquisite windows, by the distinctive Tiffany touch. The church is open for self-guided tours daily from 1 to 4 p.m.

We stayed at the historic Stonewall Jackson Hotel downtown and next door to the Shakespeare Center. In fact, the hotel was restored in 2005 to support the many visitors who came to attend the theater.

Built originally in 1924 and still the tallest building in town, the amenities of this comfortable hotel include a heated swimming pool and whirlpool tub as well as restaurant.

For more about Staunton, call 800-342-7982 or check www.VisitStaunton.com.

Jeanne Mozier, of Berkeley Springs, is the author of "Way Out in West Virginia," a must-have guide to the wonders and oddities of the Mountain State. She and noted photographer Steve Shaluta have released the second printing of the coffee-table photo book "West Virginia Beauty, Familiar and Rare." Both books are available around West Virginia and from WVBookCo.com.

WV Culinary Team: What makes Hawaii and WV so similar? http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170129/GZ0502/170129487 GZ0502 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170129/GZ0502/170129487 Sun, 29 Jan 2017 02:00:00 -0500 By Susan Maslowski WV Culinary Team By By Susan Maslowski WV Culinary Team Some may argue there is no comparison between West Virginia, our nation's 35th state, and Hawaii, our 50th state, but I noted many similarities on a recent trip to Oahu that coincided with the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu Marathon and a series of Garth Brooks concerts.

This was not my first trip to Hawaii, nor my husband's. During his final years as an archaeologist with the Army Corps of Engineers, he headed two MIA recovery missions -one to Vietnam and one to Laos - both based out of Hickam Air Force Base. Honolulu became his second home during that time. There is no better traveling companion than an anthropologist who is familiar with a place, its people and culture.

Both states would probably tie when asked which has the friendliest people or the most breathtaking scenery. As West Virginia develops our tourism industry, we could take a few tips from Hawaii, since tourism is now the major source of state income, drawing billions of dollars a year in visitor expenditures. Tourism-related industries like hotels, transportation, retail shops and restaurants have grown to provide more than 150,000 jobs for the state economy.

Tourism has gradually replaced traditional agriculture as the primary income provider. Last year, after 180 years, the sugar industry shut down in Hawaii. Acreage once used for sugar production is now being converted to smaller crops and a variety of agricultural uses including community garden parks where residents can grow their own food.

Agriculture still remains important to the economy of Hawaii and West Virginia, but it has become more diversified. We often think about crops like sugarcane, pineapple, macadamia nuts and coffee when we think about Hawaii. However, Hawaii now concentrates on specialized crops, which include ginger, onions, sweet potatoes and lettuce.

To promote agricultural diversification, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and West Virginia State University Extension have been researching and reviving many of the plant and animal industries that were once a part of our state's rich and booming agricultural history, including white potatoes, sweet potatoes, hops and apples.

West Virginia's departments of Commerce and Agriculture are now promoting the state's agritourism industry. We could learn a thing or two from Hawaii, which hosted the first international AgriTourism Symposium at the College of Hawaiian Language: Ka Haka 'Ulu O Ke'eliko Lani, in Hilo, this year.

Industry experts shared forecasts, trends and tips on competing on a global stage. Visitors from many regions of the world shared their experiences and perspectives on how they have expanded agricultural operations in innovative ways to increase profitability.

Farmers in West Virginia and Hawaii have opportunities to connect agriculture with travel and tourism that impact many businesses beyond lodging and restaurants. Agritourism gives farmers, small producers and home-based businesses a chance to be creative and enlarge their own operations.

Farmers are recognizing the financial benefits of adding an agritourism component to their marketing plan, because visitors are looking for different experiences that connect them to food sources. Small farms become profitable and sustainable as a result.

Many chefs in West Virginia and Hawaii showcase regional cuisine, capitalizing on fresh, local and culturally inspired dishes. They support and source ingredients from small farms and identify the growers. Both states have farmers market associations that promote a rural lifestyle and agricultural products.

Peter Merriman is considered the big kahuna of farm-driven restaurants in Hawaii. He started a restaurant in Waimea and now has five eateries on three Hawaiian Islands. When he started 25 years ago, he had trouble finding fresh local fruits and vegetables.

He had to encourage growers to plant the items he needed. Farmers complied and grew niche crops, many items never grown before. As tourism increased, farmers and restaurateurs realized a profit since there was a market for higher-quality foods.

West Virginia chef Dale Hawkins is most often accredited with building enthusiasm for the state's regional cuisine. While executive chef at Stonewall Resort, he innovatively combined provincial fare with ethnically inspired dishes, creating a new Appalachian cuisine, putting West Virginia on the epicurean map.

During a cooking demonstration at the Feast of Seven Fishes, in Fairmont, another farm-to-table crusader, Chef Marion Ohlinger, of Morgantown's Hill and Hollow Restaurant, spoke about the immigrants who came to West Virginia to work in the steel and mining industries. Unable to find the ingredients for the recipes they brought from their home countries, newcomers improvised using local ingredients.

Fresh water fish were substituted for baccala and Bloody Butcher cornmeal was used to make polenta. He noted there were many occasions when local ingredients were used to create global flavors.

The same was true with immigrants in Hawaii. Ethnic cuisine was adapted to use fruits and vegetables from backyard gardens. Un-ripe mangos were combined with coconut milk to make chutney. As a result, a cosmopolitan/fusion cuisine evolved.

Today, Hawaii and West Virginia are witnessing culinary innovations started by pioneering chefs. They looked at classic cuisine for inspiration to create imaginative, exhilarating new dining experiences.

Home cooks can learn a lot from these pioneers. It is important to support local producers and the state's economy by using more fresh ingredients. And don't be afraid to improvise when a particular ingredient is not available.

Susan Maslowski founded and operates the Mud River Pottery studio in Milton, where she has created utilitarian ware for nearly 40 years. She sells produce at the Putnam Farmers Market, serves on the board of the West Virginia Farmers Market Association and The Wild Ramp, and is an advocate for local foods and farmers. She also writes the Farmer's Table cooking column for the Gazette-Mail's Metro section. Susan can be reached by email at mudriverpottery@aol.com.

Hawaii and West Virginia have both developed renewed interest in heritage breed pigs, raised the old-fashioned humane and environmentally responsible way in the idyllic conditions of both states. For a dish that's a little bit of paradise and almost heaven, try this easy recipe.

1 (3-pound) boneless West Virginia-raised pork roast, trimmed of fat

1 tablespoon J.Q. Dickinson salt

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Shiitake Sauce

Pierce roast and rub with salt and liquid smoke.

Place roast in a slow-cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 14 hours.

Remove pork from slow-cooker and place on a cutting board.

Shred pork with a fork and serve with Shiitake Sauce and Jasmine rice.

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 cup West Virginia-grown shiitake mushrooms, sliced

½ cup mirin

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup citrus seasoned rice vinegar

½ lemon, juiced

½ orange, juiced

2 tablespoons cornstarch, softened in ½ cup of water

1 tablespoon butter, softened

dash of red pepper flakes

Saute mushrooms in sesame oil in a saucepan.

Remove and set aside.

Deglaze pan with mirin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and fruit juices.

Add red pepper flakes and boil for about 10 minutes.

Stir in cornstarch mixture.

Stir in butter as sauce thickens and add sauteed shiitake mushrooms.

WV Travel Team: Take a trip to the past at Asheville's Biltmore Estate http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170129/GZ0506/170129490 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170129/GZ0506/170129490 Sun, 29 Jan 2017 02:00:00 -0500 By Caroline Clippinger Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail By By Caroline Clippinger Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail ASHEVILLE, N.C. - You may not be a "Downton Abbey" dame or a Gilded Age tycoon, but at the Biltmore Estate, you can pretend. Just over four-and-a-half hours from downtown Charleston stands a colossal palace on the outskirts of Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Billing itself as "America's Largest Home," Biltmore Estate offers a glimpse into turn-of-the-century luxury, replete with pursuits for the wine enthusiast, foodie, botanist, history buff, nature lover and so much more.

Taking a different path than many of his Vanderbilt relations who found respite in Providence, Rhode Island, or New York's Adirondacks, George Washington Vanderbilt's retreat took six years to build. With the main residence boasting 4 total acres of floor space (including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool and a bowling alley) plus 8,000 acres of lush gardens and breathtaking views, it's easy to fall in love with the Biltmore in any season.

There is also much to enjoy about neighboring downtown Asheville, just a short drive from the estate, a destination for shopping, dining and craft breweries.

Admission to the estate costs $40 to $75 a person, depending on the timing. The general admission fees include a self-guided tour of Biltmore House; access to the grounds, gardens and Antler Hill Village; a family museum visit; and a free wine tasting and tour at the Biltmore Winery.

A wand for a self-guided audio tour ($10) is recommended to learn more detailed information. Guided tours ($19 each) are available in varying themes such as the Rooftop Tour, which offers a peek at the structure's architecture, or the Upstairs-Downstairs Tour, highlighting the lives of Biltmore servants and hosting house galas.

The grounds of the property are a hiker's dream in any season, constituting miles of idyllic walking trails, but biking, rafting, horseback riding, shooting, fishing and more are also offered. The gardens and greenhouses - designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead - are dotted with classical statutes, reflecting pools, roses, and Thoreau-worthy ponds and bridges ready to be explored.

The dining and drinking scene at Biltmore is equally impressive, ranging from fancy to family friendly casual.

At the Inn, indulge in an authentic afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches, scones and teas of all kinds.

The food in a tourist-heavy area can be conventional and uninspired; not the case with Bistro, a delicious farm-to-table spot with dishes such as scallop bucatini pasta and mountain trout with bacon vinaigrette.

Or pop into Cedric's Tavern, a casual pub named for George Vanderbilt's dog. Here, nosh on charcuterie plates, Jack-and-Coke-marinated wings and tavern pretzels washed down with local brews.

Also located on the property is Antler Village, a mini-town complete with a museum, restaurants, shopping and the winery. You may have seen Biltmore wines at your local grocery store, but here you can try more than 20 wines of all varieties, produced on the Estate. Bottles of wine and gift items are available to take home after you decide on your favorite (or multiple favorites).

The winery is housed in the restored former dairy barn, which previously churned out award-winning milk for local residents.

To do the Biltmore justice, dedicating a whole day to your visit is imperative, and with two hotels on site, there is no reason to leave the area.

The four star Inn on Biltmore is well-deserving of the accolades it has received over the years, and manages to be both cozy and elegant. Whether you're lounging in the Adirondack chairs on the patio or enjoying coffee and live bluegrass by the immense fireplace, prepare to be mesmerized.

For a more moderately-priced option, the brand new Village Hotel is a superb choice, situated in the heart of Antler Village.

Schedule your visit to Biltmore Estate for any season, but prepare to be so enchanted you will return soon.

Getting there: Take Interstate 77 South to Interstate 81 South to Interstate 26 East.

Caroline Clippinger is a Columbus-based attorney and bona fide foodie. When she's not visiting friends or checking out the food scene in neighboring states, she writes the popular Columbus Culinary Connection food blog. Follow her postings at


Photo of the Week: Train ride through the mountains http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170128/GZ0506/170129494 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170128/GZ0506/170129494 Sat, 28 Jan 2017 15:01:05 -0500 Over the river and through the woods, a ride on the Tygart Flyer along Shavers Fork of the rocky Cheat River in Randolph County revealed this scene as Ed Bailey was on his way back to Elkins. The train takes passengers along some of West Virginia's hidden mountain wilderness through Mountain Rail Adventures.

We want to see pictures of your adventures. Send us your best submissions and you might find them here one day.

Send your submissions, with a few details about the photo, to social@wvgazettemail.com with "Photo of the Week" in the subject line.

Stonewall Resort, Bavarian Inn get AAA Four Diamond Award http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170127/GZ03/170129600 GZ03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170127/GZ03/170129600 Fri, 27 Jan 2017 00:01:00 -0500 Staff reports By Staff reports The Bavarian Inn and the Stonewall Resort have made the list for AAA's top ratings in the hotel and restaurant business for 2017.

Both hotels, and the Bavarian Inn's restaurant, received AAA's Four Diamond Award. Just 2 percent of restaurants and 6 percent of hotels rated by AAA receive the Four Diamond Award.

No West Virginia hotel or restaurant received the Five Diamond Award, the travel organization's most exclusive award.

The Bavarian Inn, located in Shepherdstown, has maintained the designation since 1983. The restaurant has maintained four diamonds since 2001.

The Stonewall Resort, located in Roanoke, has received the Four Diamond Award every year since 2003.

The Greenbrier resprt remains off the list for AAA's top hotel ratings.

After being a recipient of AAA's Five Diamond Award for 36 consecutive years, the resort in White Sulphur Springs owned by Gov. Jim Justice has been in a drought for the award since 2013, when it instead earned four diamonds. In 2014, The Greenbrier wasn't able to make the cut for the Four Diamond Award, and hasn't received either award since.

Crissy Gray, district office supervisor for AAA Charleston, said in a news release that Four Diamond hotels and restaurants provide all guests "with a high level of personalized service in comfortable, luxurious surroundings."

WV Travel Team: Mountain bliss at the Trapp Family Lodge http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170124/GZ0506/170129757 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170124/GZ0506/170129757 Tue, 24 Jan 2017 14:49:29 -0500 By Seth Skiles For the Charleston Gazette-Mail By By Seth Skiles For the Charleston Gazette-Mail "I go to the hills when my heart is lonely."

This text - written by Oscar Hammerstein II for the title song in "The Sound of Music" - likely brings to mind Julie Andrews twirling on her famous mountaintop in the 1965 film. While many have heard the lyrics countless times in passing, the concept lies deep in who I am as a person. And as a traveler.

I do go to the hills to fill up my heart. I've been drawn to mountains my entire life - which is fortunate, since I was born and raised in the Mountain State. I've been privileged to experience many landscapes known for mountains and hills in my life. Beyond the beauty of my home state, there is one mountainous location that holds a special place in my heart.

Nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the village of Stowe is straight out of a storybook. Little Stowe lies 30 miles from Burlington International Airport in a vast valley formed by Mount Mansfield and the Worcester Mountain Range. The picturesque white steeple of Stowe Community Church rises above the quaint streets, which are lined with boutiques and pillbox houses strung with real greenery in wintertime. Driving out of town on Mountain Road, the calzones and garlic knots at Piecasso are to die for. (Check them out at  www.piecasso.com.)

Branching off to the left from Mountain Road, Trapp Hill Road leads travelers to an alpine paradise. Perched on a mountainside overlooking the vast valley below, the Trapp Family Lodge is one of New England's greatest treasures. 

The resort sits on 2,500 acres of wilderness sporting a European lodge, villas, guest houses, large meadows, a fitness center with indoor and outdoor pools, various dining options, and seemingly endless cross-country ski trails. The main dining room serves a traditional Austrian breakfast each morning. 

A highlight is the fitness center's outdoor hot tub with mountains looming in the background. I relaxed in this on a day when the temperature peaked at 15 degrees Fahrenheit - what a thrill. A visit to the Trapp Family Lodge is equally delightful in summer or winter, but the property is most famous for cross-country skiing.

In 1968, the Trapp Cross Country Ski Center opened to the public. It was the first of its kind in the United States and is "considered the foremost cross-country ski touring center in America today," according to the official website of the lodge. 

The ski trails crisscrossing Trapp Mountain are expertly groomed to such a degree that often skiers glide along through the woods without much assistance from ski poles. Lessons are offered for beginners and experienced skiers alike.

The Sugar Road Trail forges deep into the forest passing the Trapp's Sugar House, where maple syrup is harvested from surrounding tapped trees. After arriving at Picnic Knoll, a variety of ski trails branch off in all directions across the mountains.

The Slayton Pasture Cabin, a rustic winter respite high in the hills with a roaring fire and delicious soups, sandwiches and desserts, welcomes skiers from the cold. The trip from here back to the lodge is mostly downhill, which makes the journey totally worthwhile.   Racing through the trees where the only sound was the snow falling is an experience I'll never forget.

Besides being one of the premiere ski resorts in the country, the history surrounding the Trapp Family Lodge has become known across the globe.

Capt. Georg and Maria von Trapp escaped Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and fled to America in search of a new life. The family was musical, and, having established their own singing group two years before, began touring the country as the Trapp Family Singers. 

After searching for a place to permanently settle, Georg and Maria happened upon alpine property high in the mountains above Stowe. The magnificent mountain vistas reminded the family of their abandoned Austrian estate in Salzburg. Guest rooms were added to the family's home, and it opened for public lodging in 1948 after Georg's death, with Maria taking full charge of operations. 

The original lodge tragically burned to the ground in December 1980, and the current structure opened in 1983. Maria remained at the helm until her death in 1987. Sam von Trapp, son of Georg and Maria's youngest son Johannes, operates the lodge today. 

Several members of the von Trapp family, including Georg and Maria, are buried in the family cemetery located a stone's throw away from the lodge.

The von Trapp family's story was immortalized in "The Sound of Music," the last collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Hammerstein. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1959; six years later, the Academy Award-winning film adaptation catapulted the family's story to international fame. 

"The Sound of Music" is shown in the Lodge for guests, along with a variety of other films each week. History talks, a documentary detailing the von Trapp family's story (with footage of Maria von Trapp returning to Salzburg in the 1980s) and weekly musical events are also regularly scheduled.

Visit the Trapp Family Lodge for mountain vistas, top-notch outdoor activities and lessons in the history of one of the most celebrated families of our time. All Lodge amenities, activities and offerings are detailed on the resort's website -  www.trappfamily.com

Go to the hills - your heart will fill up!

Seth Skiles is a West Virginia native

who enjoys writing, traveling and writing about his travels. You can visit his travel blog at sethskiles.wordpress.com.

Yeager Airport terminal reopened after grenade found in baggage http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170123/GZ0118/170129833 GZ0118 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170123/GZ0118/170129833 Mon, 23 Jan 2017 09:59:55 -0500 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer The Transportation Security Administration's screening area at Charleston's Yeager Airport was briefly emptied this morning, and inbound and outbound air traffic was temporarily halted, after TSA officers found what appeared to be a hand grenade in a passenger's carry-on bag.

The grenade turned out to have been either a deactivated weapon or a realistic replica, according to airport spokesman Mike Plante.

The suspicious carry-on item was detected at 9:20 a.m., and the man who allegedly brought it to the airport, John Gregg Goodykoontz, 61, of Bridgeport, was detained as the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department Bomb Squad examined the device.

As the examination was taking place, departing passengers waiting to pass through the screening gate were moved back to the ticketing lobby and baggage claim area as a safety precaution, while passengers who had already cleared security were moved to a boarding area a safe distance from the gate, Plante said.

Airplanes that had been boarded by passengers at the time of the incident were not allowed to depart until the incident had been cleared.

Plante said a speedy response to the TSA's detection of the grenade by the Kanawha sheriff's bomb squad and deputies and Yeager Airport Police allowed the incident to be cleared within 25 minutes.

"Hopefully, no one missed their flights or connections," he said.

Goodykoontz received a misdemeanor citation for violating Yeager Airport regulations by allegedly attempting to carry a prohibited item into the sterile area of the airport and for violating state law by transporting or possessing a hoax bomb, Plante said.

Attempting to carry deactivated or replica hand grenades on commercial U.S. flights is also a violation of TSA rules.

Plante said Monday's incident marked the first time in his 12-year affiliation with Yeager that an inert hand grenade had been by security screeners at the Charleston airport.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

WV Travel Team: An alternative to buying kids new ski gear every year http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170115/GZ05/170119735 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170115/GZ05/170119735 Sun, 15 Jan 2017 04:30:00 -0500 Compiled by the GoToWV Team By Compiled by the GoToWV Team

Finally, one of the East Coast's best ski destinations created a genius program to help you bring your family back to the snow, year after year - affordably.

Cross-country skiing is one of the best ways to start the kiddos out on the snow, and a great family activity: solitude, more terrain to explore and more affordable equipment - unless you have kids who are outgrowing their ski gear every year.

If you're concerned about the costs or logistics of getting kids into skiing, White Grass in Davis has the answer: a gear exchange program for growing kids that will keep them outfitted with top-quality gear from toddlerhood to adolescence.

Here's how it works:

Families with very young children can sign up for a $45 buy-in, which gets kids a starter ski set-up designed for young learners.

"These are very basic packages," said Chip Chase, owner of White Grass. "They can be down to 100 centimeters [about 39 inches] in length or less, with bindings that don't even require ski boots."

This is the perfect outfit for kids to plod, fall, learn and eventually glide over some of White Grass's beginner loop courses in the resort's front country.

But here's where it gets better. Next year, when your little ones are a bit bigger and begging to go skiing again, you can take back the skis they've outgrown, find some slightly sportier models for a bit more and trade in those old skis for a full $45 credit, the same amount you started out with.

When they outgrow those skis, you can do the same - again and again and again.

If you stick with this exchange all the way until your children reach their teenage years, you'll wind up having spent around $350 total on multiple pairs of skis, Chase estimated. That is about the same as a set-up for just one adult pair of skis, boots and poles.

Be the family that skis together. White Grass offers this deal out of pure love for the sport, so you can share it with your kids.

And it doesn't hurt that White Grass is a great place for your little ones to learn. It's one of the top-rated ski centers on the East Coast, and it's in West Virginia high country (which guarantees plenty of snowfall).

Plus, it is really an all-encompassing ski center, with a retail and tune-up shop, restaurant and all varieties and levels of skiing areas.

It is quite possible your child starts out picking around the basic loops and is shredding high-speed telemark turns in the backcountry by the time he or she is a teenager - all on skis from the exchange.

And the skis are good for more than White Grass.

Once you and your kids have dialed in your ski skills at the resort, there are infinite other options around the Mountain State for cross-country and downhill skiing.

"We have a lot of folks get into skiing here, and then take their skis back home, too," Chase said.

In fact, almost anywhere can make great cross-country terrain. Given the right snow and temperatures, even most West Virginia hiking trails are great for skiing.

If you want to instill a lifelong love of mountains, physical activity, snow and the beauty of the state, pack up the car, and take the family to White Grass.

For more information, call 800-CALL-WVA or visit GoToWV.com. Share your Real. West Virginia stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #GoToWV and #RealWV.

Number of guns detected at WV airports shot upward in 2016 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170113/GZ0118/170119784 GZ0118 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170113/GZ0118/170119784 Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:22:30 -0500 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer The number of firearms found by Transportation Security Administration officers at West Virginia airports in 2016 equaled the number confiscated during the previous three years combined, according to statistics compiled by the federal agency.

Last year, a total of 14 firearms were discovered in carry-on baggage presented for inspection at Charleston's Yeager Airport, Huntington's Tri-State Airport and Morgantown Municipal Airport. No weapons were detected during 2016 by screeners at Parkersburg's Mid-Ohio Valley Airport.

During 2013, a total of three firearms were detected at the four airports, while six turned up at security checkpoints in 2014, followed by five in 2015.

Yeager Airport, the state's largest, accounted for 10 of the weapons confiscated at security checkpoints during 2016, followed by Huntington's Tri-State Airport with three and Morgantown Municipal with one.

Nationally, a total of 3,391 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints during 2016, a 28 percent increase from 2015, according to the TSA. Eighty-three percent of the weapons detected at commercial airports during 2016 were loaded.

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport recorded the highest number of firearms detected by TSA screeners - 198 - followed by Dallas-Fort Worth International with 192, Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport with 128, Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix with 101, and Denver International, 98.

Travelers who bring firearms to security checkpoints are subject to criminal charges from local law enforcement agencies and civil penalties from the TSA. Laws and penalties vary by state and locality.

Traveling by air with firearms is legal if weapons are unloaded and packed in checked baggage in locked, hard-sided cases. Ammunition in its original packaging can be transported inside the locked gun cases. Those traveling with firearms should tell airline representatives at the check-in counter that they have weapons stowed inside their checked baggage.

In virtually all instances of weapons being detected at security checkpoints in West Virginia, owners reported that they had forgotten the firearms were in their carry-on baggage.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

New WV travel guide features crowdsourced content http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170109/GZ0506/170109598 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170109/GZ0506/170109598 Mon, 9 Jan 2017 12:58:53 -0500 West Virginia has a new travel guide for 2017 that tourism officials say is one of the first nationally with all crowdsourced content.

According to Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, it has a heavy focus on recreational experiences through the lens of social media, with features stories, pictures, blog posts and links to video.

Commissioner of Tourism Amy Shuler Goodwin says that gives readers a firsthand look at the state.

It contains a 2017 calendar of events.

Free copies are available by calling 800-CALLWVA or online at https://gotowv.com/explore/travel-guide-request/.

They also will be available at the eight West Virginia Welcome Centers and various tourist attractions.

Photo of the Week: Cheat River views http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170107/GZ05/170109674 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170107/GZ05/170109674 Sat, 7 Jan 2017 15:04:09 -0500 Amos Perrine sent this photo of the Cheat River at Albright.

Albright, a small town and former coal town in Preston County, is along the Cheat River.

The river is a 78-mile long river in the eastern part of the state.

We want to feature your photos! Send us your favorite photo from a recent trip, a hike or holiday festivities.

Send the photo, along with a few details to social@wvgazettemail.com. Be sure to put Photo of the Week in the subject line.

WV Travel Team: Start the new year with WV travel gems http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170101/GZ0506/170109986 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170101/GZ0506/170109986 Sun, 1 Jan 2017 04:00:00 -0500 By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team By By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team Imagine you had a magic bike and could dial in a destination, stop for a quick experience and then move on. Here is a program for that magical ride.

The Mountain State is filled with spectacular views, but few folks start their list in Harpers Ferry. There are views of the Potomac River, views of the Shenandoah and views of the two rivers coming together even Thomas Jefferson noted. There are views from a historic cemetery and from battlefields. There are even views from impressive church steps.

In Berkeley Springs, it's about selfies. You can take a selfie with George Washington's Bathtub, and then walk down the sidewalk to the Museum of the Berkeley Springs, and get a selfie with a 400-pound faceted silica crystal.

Berkeley Castle is selfie bait, as is the flashing light '40s-style marquee at my own business, the Star Theatre.

Finally, position yourself correctly and capture a selfie with a three-state background that also includes a river, railroad and canal - but be careful about getting too close to the edge.

Pop into the Lost River Trading Post and see where the 21st-century revolution started in Wardensville, complete with an impressive collection of craft beers and a made-from-scratch local bakery.

Then drive Corridor H - the Heavenly Highway - straight to the boardwalk at Blackwater Falls in Tucker County.

The PRT - Morgantown's Personal Rapid Transit system - has always been driverless and cute, all dressed in blue and gold. It moves more than the population of the whole state each year on rails through the still-gridlocked traffic of Morgantown. Another transport wonder is the ride on a stern-wheeler from Parkersburg to Blennerhassett Island and back.

Two extraordinary statues pay tribute to a historical figure and a mythical one. The life-size Italian marble statue of Devil Anse Hatfield in the Sarah Ann family cemetery is far more impressive than Jefferson's tomb at Monticello.

Nothing compares to the winged, stainless-steel depiction of Mothman in the heart of Point Pleasant. Visitors come from around the world to pose with Mothman, the more daring among them choosing the backside as the background.

At Oglebay's Good Zoo in Wheeling can you see African wild dogs, meerkats, spectacled bears, lemurs and red pandas.

Arrive in Wheeling hungry for pizza, and you'll find yourself forced to choose sides. Add the cheese to the pie before cooking or after?

The Italians awarded their first prize to DeFelice's, where thick-crust pizzas are cooked in cast-iron, and the cheese is melted during the cooking process - in contrast to DiCarlo's thin crusts, with mozzarella added after cooking.

Pepperoni rolls, state food of West Virginia, also engender fierce conflicts: with or without cheese, slices or sticks of pepperoni, tiny finger-sized or meal-sized rolls. Fiercest of all - Fairmont or Clarksburg.

Another memorable food stop is Hillbilly Hot Dogs, north of Huntington, where the food is good, but the ambiance is galactic, with the world-famous "Weenie Song" and the new Weddin' Chapel added to their collection of exotic structures.

The Lewisburg food experience is slightly more upscale and has a beverage stop included. The state as a whole does well with breakfast, but top of the heap is the General Lewis Inn, where the breakfast potatoes served in a dining room that is part of the original 1834 home are an abundant assemblage that includes mushrooms, scallions, tomatoes, banana peppers, cheese, salsa and sour cream.

After breakfast comes the whiskey, gin, vodka and the state's only bourbon, all produced in small batches at the Smooth Ambler Distillery. Every drop is sold, so when the chatty staff offer you a taste, take it.

Down the road, at The Greenbrier resort, one of the most unforgettable experiences is in the spa disguised as hydrotherapy. Of the literally hundreds of spa treatments I've had, the Scotch spray stands out, probably because I wondered if I would be able to stand through being hosed down by something resembling a full-blast fire hose.

The state's only plant conservatory is housed in the specialty wing of the Huntington Museum of Art and boasts the spectacular Art Tower, a glass sculpture created exclusively for the conservatory by Dale Chihuly. Finished with flowers, you can slide over to the Herman Dean Firearms Collection room with hundreds of artifacts, including examples of decorated weapons.

The Railroad Museum in Summers County houses the John Henry Collection - 120 hand-carved wooden figures and train cars radiating primitive artistic power. It took the self-taught carver seven and a half years to make the detailed figures using 56 kinds of wood.

Now a well-scripted tour through state history supported by more than 60,000 authentic artifacts in appealing exhibits, the West Virginia State Museum in Charleston has a few eccentric holdovers from its dusty basement days.

Don't miss the colorful circus car and well-preserved denizens of Professor Hechler's Flea Circus, now in the entrance hall. The famed New York performers came to the state in 1906.

When West Virginia became a state in 1863, it inherited its first two public buildings from Virginia. Both have always been high on the creepy scale, and, after a century or more of use, both are now popular tours. The Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston and Moundsville Penitentiary remain certifiably scary.

High adventure in the New River Gorge is worth several stops with action-packed white water rafting, zip lines and real cliffs to climb.

The best stop is on Bridge Day in October, when hundreds jump nearly 900 feet off the bridge into the rapids of the New River. For the rest of us, there is now a walking bridge suspended under the bridge for daily treks.

We could do magical bike stops like this for food or state parks or art experiences or scenic splendor or fabulous architecture. Maybe next year.

Jeanne Mozier, of Berkeley Springs, is the author of "Way Out in West Virginia," a must-have guide to the wonders and oddities of the Mountain State. She and noted photographer Steve Shaluta released the second printing of the coffee-table photo book "West Virginia Beauty, Familiar and Rare." Both books are available around West Virginia and from WVBookCo.com.

WV Travel Team: Too much Pittsburgh to explore in too little time http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161225/GZ0506/161229738 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161225/GZ0506/161229738 Sun, 25 Dec 2016 04:00:00 -0500 By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team By By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team PITTSBURGH - We hadn't planned for excessive cold and winds when we timed our visit at the end of Pittsburgh's bicentennial year.

One server told us that, last year on the same weekend, the temperature was in the 70s. We had anticipated exploring the city's celebrated downtown culture and shopping in a notably walkable urban setting. Instead, we focused on cultural institutions and nearly unlimited dining opportunities.

My husband, Jack, decided valet parking was his favorite amenity at the fabulous William Penn Hotel, where we stayed.

Our first stop in the city's remarkably rich cultural universe was the incomparable Andy Warhol Museum, dedicated to every aspect of the life and work of the city's most famous artist - arguably the most important artist of the second half of the 20th century.

The scope and duration of his genius is easy to recognize in the museum's seven-floor collection, ranging from early graphic designs to sound, light, movies and lifestyle.

My favorite was a room filled with floating sculptures - metallic pillow-shaped helium-inflated objects that were very friendly with anyone who hung out in their room. Warhol called them "Silver Clouds."

Our next stop was the Mattress Factory, a 40-year-old center devoted to installation art that seems to have transformed its gritty Central Northside neighborhood.

We were especially taken with a three-story building filled with an installation that appeared to be an assemblage of every item artist Dennis Maher ever touched. When I asked the docent how many pieces were in the installation, she admitted to having no idea but said when the artist first came to start his three months of work, he had two box trucks of items - and they barely filled half the first floor.

Pittsburgh has nearly 100 named neighborhoods, most of which were once independent towns and villages and now are well signed for getting around.

The other distinctive geographic attribute of the city is its bridges. Not only are they named, but many are painted bright yellow ("Pittsburgh Gold," I was corrected.)

It's not surprising that a city built around three rivers would have a lot of bridges, but they go above and beyond, including bridges that traverse land, as well. Repeatedly, I was told they had more bridges than anywhere in the world, including Venice, Italy - 446, in fact.

We experienced the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, with its dinosaurs and a spectacular gem and mineral collection in a display as resplendent as the contents.

We saw the carriages and cars at the Frick and heard the Pittsburgh Symphony at historic Heinz Hall, restored in 1971 from a 1927 movie palace.

We left with the aromas and lights of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Among our favorite activities was riding up Mount Washington on the Duquesne Incline, getting spectacular views of the city and its rivers from the restored cable car and the observation deck.

The incline is 800 feet long, 400 feet in elevation, has a 30-percent grade and moves at 6 miles per hour. Jack was particularly pleased that he got to enter the bowels of the machine room and see the equipment that made it run.

The William Penn Hotel, now an Omni property, is celebrating its 100th anniversary as the premier place to stay in the heart of town. Our room was contemporary and comfortable.

The legendary Palm Court Lobby is splendid. Best of all was the service.

In fact, Pittsburgh as a whole - from the concierge and front desk folks at the William Penn to myriad servers - was filled with helpful and friendly people. I couldn't decide whether it was some sort of surgical implant or maybe the water.

About the water: At several dining establishments, we were served water from spare but impressive-looking bottles placed on the table. These were not pricey places, so I assumed it was tap water, which one of those helpful servers confirmed.

No one should complain about the quality. I explained Pittsburgh municipal water had twice placed in the top five at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, one year winning the bronze.

There are hundreds of places to eat in Pittsburgh, and every one we sampled was one to which I would gratefully return.

Our first dinner was at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, recently rated best in the city, where all the flesh is cooked over wood, which decidedly enhances the taste. We had excellent steak and shrimp.

There are jars of various sauces for the food, and you fill your own little containers with whatever selection you choose. The smoked red pepper and the garlic were our choices.

Dining at Gaucho is not an experience for the faint of heart or the traditional. There are often long lines of folks waiting, sometimes up to 90 minutes, to place their orders at the kitchen counter and then wait for the food to be delivered.

What do folks do while they wait? It's a bring-your-own-bottle place, so they share bottles of wine and make friends with others in line. Some play music. Lines seem to be a way of life at some eateries.

We had breakfast at Pamela's, a famed diner on The Strip, on a Saturday morning. We could have chosen DeLuca's, around the block, but the line stretched down the street outside in the cold while Pamela's was jammed in the diner foyer.

No one seemed to mind. Pamela's plate-covering crepe-like pancakes and lyonnaise potatoes covered in cheese were certainly worth the wait.

We also had breakfast at Kelly O's diner, with no line on Friday morning.

We had lunch at the innovative Smallman's Galley, an incubator for aspiring chefs, where you can pick and choose from four showcasing dishes at a time. They stay 18 months, and then head out into the big world.

I couldn't wait to eat at the meatball joint, officially Emporio's. There were meatball sliders and hoagies and meatballs served on various sides of pasta, mashed potatoes or fries.

Available sauces ranged from traditional marinara to creamy Parmesan to chicken gravy. You assemble your own combination. Emporio's even had pepperoni fritters.

I can understand why Pittsburgh is so highly rated as a livable city - there are more than 20 colleges and universities, a young demographic and way too many places to eat and things to do on a short visit.

My list of what I missed would fill several return trips and includes shopping at ethnic groceries on The Strip - Italian, Greek, Chinese and Middle Eastern - and in the market areas downtown.

St. Anthony's Church, with the largest collection of relics in the world outside the Vatican, was closed the day we had marked for a visit. We never had time to ride the free T subway.

There are 24 miles of riverfront trails, kayaking on the rivers and three major professional sports teams. For efficiency, they all use the black and gold Pittsburgh colors, so you needn't change your wardrobe depending on the sport.

Plan to come repeatedly.

Plenty to do in Orlando ahead of WVU bowl appearance http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161224/GZ0506/161229718 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161224/GZ0506/161229718 Sat, 24 Dec 2016 14:39:30 -0500 Phil Kabler By Phil Kabler As West Virginia University alumni and fans prepare to embark for Florida and the Russell Athletic Bowl, it's somewhat surprising this is only the second bowl trip to Orlando for the Mountaineers.

After all, this is WVU's 35th bowl game, and Orlando has been home to at least one and as many as three bowl games each year since the 1940s.

Nonetheless, Kevin Berry, chief operating officer for the WVU Alumni Association, said the Dec. 28 match-up with the University of Miami is an ideal combination.

"Everybody loves going to Orlando around the holidays," he said. "Obviously, it's a destination in its own right, and on top of that, you have the Mountaineers playing there."

Berry said he expects most fans will arrive a day or two early, to visit attractions like Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.

"You have the opportunity to take in everything that Orlando has to offer, and at the same time, take in the football game and congregate with Mountaineer fans," he said.

Once fans are done visiting the amusement parks or other Orlando attractions, they'll find plenty of things to do leading up to the 5:30 p.m. kickoff Dec. 28 at the former Citrus Bowl Stadium, now the Camping World Stadium.

On Tuesday, Dec. 27, events start with a Big 12 Pep Rally at 4 p.m. at I-Drive 360, a $250 million entertainment complex in downtown Orlando, featuring the Orlando Eye, a 400-foot high observation ferris wheel.

The rally will feature appearances by the Pride of West Virginia, WVU cheerleaders, the Mountaineer, and an expected guest appearance by WVU President Gordon Gee. Admission is free.

After the rally, activities will shift to the nearby Miller's Ale House for a Mountaineer Meet and Greet hosted by the Alumni Association, the WVU Foundation, the Mountaineer Athletic Club, the WVU Varsity Club and the IMG Mountaineer Sports Network, beginning at 6 p.m.

In addition to food and drink specials, fans will be able to watch a live broadcast of the IMG Bowl Special radio show, hosted by WVU play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi. Again, admission is free.

Game day activities begin at 11 a.m. with the Russell Athletic Bowl Parade of Bands in Winter Park, featuring the Pride of West Virginia.

The bowl game Fan Fest, a free admission tailgate outside of the stadium that will feature live entertainment, activities, and a variety of food and beverage options, starts at 1:30 p.m.

For an upgraded tailgate option, tickets are available to the Buffalo Wild Wings Tailgate Hospitality Tent. The $85 admission includes unlimited food and beverages, live entertainment, flat screen TVs, and lounge seating, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Berry said he's anticipating a large WVU contingent at the game, particularly with several large alumni chapters in Florida, including the host Central Florida chapter.

"Not only are we going to have a lot of people traveling down, but we have a lot a people who live in Florida who will be attending," he said.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220, or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

WV Travel Team: 5 ways to explore WV's winter backcountry http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161218/GZ0506/161219565 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161218/GZ0506/161219565 Sun, 18 Dec 2016 02:00:00 -0500 Compiled by the GoToWV Team By Compiled by the GoToWV Team

Of course, the Mountain State is the place to be for winter slopes, but you can trek those wild winter valleys, too.

Vast landscapes, rolling hillsides, dense forests. Explore the wildest side of wild, wonderful West Virginia winter:

Strap on some cross-country skis and glide through the glades, no ski lifts required, and it's quite a workout.

Alpine Lake Resort has more than 15 miles of trails, including some around the stunning Alpine Lake. White Grass is one of the highest-rated cross-country destinations on the East Coast.

Snowmobile tours are an exciting way to zip through wilderness you might not otherwise get to explore.

Snowshoe Mountain has two different types of snowmobile tours in the basin and backcountry, if you want to go deeper into the forests surrounding the mountain - and you can even swoop out to their backcountry hut for a gourmet meal.

Take in the simple joys of the season with a snowshoe trek through the scenic winter scenery.

Blackwater Falls State Park in Tucker County has a full-service snowshoeing center with lessons and equipment rentals. The maintained trails cover more than 10 miles, with highlights like the falls - which can freeze completely in the winter - and Blackwater Canyon. With a leisurely snowshoe pace, it's easy to get caught up in the natural beauty.

Get extra wild with off-road exploring in the Mountain State. Down in the southern part of the state, roar through the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System, one of the largest off-roading trails systems in the country.

You can ride your ATV, UTV, dirtbike and more, but for a 4-by-4 thrill ride, try Bearwallow.

Ratings range from green to double-black diamond, so it's a challenging way to kick up some snow.

All you really need to enjoy the winter in West Virginia is to set out.

Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park has eight year-round trails, with different levels and grades (and you can even use some for cross-country skiing.)

Strap on the hiking boots and take your pick from Cranberry Bogs or Musket Trail, which ends at the lookout tower. Any trail you take is an adventure in history and natural beauty.

For more information, call 800-CALL WVA or visit GoToWV.com. Share your Real. West Virginia stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #GoToWV and #RealWV.