www.wvgazettemail.com Travel http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2016, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers WV Travel Team: Chart a course through America's Historic Triangle http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161016/GZ0506/161019773 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161016/GZ0506/161019773 Sun, 16 Oct 2016 01:45:00 -0400 By Karen A. Avitabile WV Travel Team By By Karen A. Avitabile WV Travel Team You may have been bored to tears in history classes at school. But America's Historic Triangle, a family destination rich in history, might just make your vacation one for the history books.

The Historic Triangle, encompassing three colonial communities in Virginia - Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown - is the birthplace of American democracy. The story of America's first permanent English colony, the final battle of the American Revolution and daily life in the 1770s is weaved through famous battlefields, buildings and plantations that bring to life the story of America's foundation.

Begin the adventure by exploring the Historic Triangle attractions linked by the National Park Service's Colonial Parkway. The 23-mile, bucolic roadway starts in Yorktown, passes through Colonial Williamsburg and ends in Jamestown. Enjoy spectacular views of the James and York rivers, and bike along its many trails.

Your history lesson begins at Jamestown Settlement. Thirteen years before the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, three ships with 104 men and boys and their cargo arrived on the banks of the James River in spring 1607.

Take a tour of replicas of the three ships - the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery - that, on Dec. 20, 1606, embarked from England on a voyage to Virginia. This living-history museum site traces America's colonial beginnings through an outdoor re-created Powhatan Indian village, colonists' forts and archaeological site. Indoors, find an exhibition gallery, a film and costumed historical interpreters.

The Historic Jamestowne site preserves England's first permanent settlement in 1607 in North America by Capt. John Smith (governor of Virginia), Pocahontas (Chief Powhatan's favored daughter), and men and women from England.

The ongoing archaeological dig continues to uncover remains - some 1 million artifacts, so far, have been excavated - from the original 1607 James Fort site. Walk with a park ranger, costumed interpreter or archaeologist to study the culture of the early settlers: the English, Africans and Powhatan Indians, longtime inhabitants of the area.

Exhibits and a multimedia presentation can be viewed in the visitor center. An archaeology museum displays artifacts unearthed at the fort site. The Glasshouse of 1608 showcases artisans practicing glassmaking, an early industry on the island. Walk through the original 17th-century church tower, the island's only surviving aboveground structure.

It is easy to imagine life in the 18th century with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, America's oldest and largest interactive history experience with some 20 guided and self-guided tours.

Colonial Williamsburg is made up of taverns, trade shops, homes, community buildings, a governor's palace (home to seven royal governors and Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson), museums, theater programs and more spread over 300 acres.

Visit the Capitol and witness a debate about independence or the adoption of the Bill of Rights, be part of a mock trial in the courthouse, and see how newspapers and pamphlets were made in the Printing Office and Bookbindery.

Talk to patriots (all dressed in period clothing) who discuss their city on the verge of war or how they distance themselves from their king to establish a new republic.

Visit the homes and gardens of Williamsburg's 18th-century residents. Evening events and programs include deciding the fate of a woman accused of witchcraft, taking ghost tours and listening to live music at candlelit colonial concerts. Begin your journey at the visitor center, which offers films about the colonial era and shuttles to Colonial Williamsburg.

Drive the 1781 Revolutionary War battlefield and encampment roads used in the final major conflict of the American Revolution. A diorama is posted at each site along the 7-mile Battlefield Tour Road of its events. Or purchase a driving tour CD to follow along.

Visit the Moore House, where British troops surrendered to the American and French armies led by Gen. George Washington. At the visitor center, artifacts from the siege, including tents used by Washington and his men, and a film, "The Siege of Yorktown,"­­ can be viewed. Park rangers lead tours of the battlefield.

Visitors can feel America's struggle for independence emerging from colonial unrest. Exhibits depict the people who lived during the Revolution, the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and Yorktown's sunken fleet of ships lost during the Yorktown siege.

Daily activities are demonstrated through costumed interpreters in a re-created Continental Army encampment and 1780s Tidewater Virginia farm. Visitors can be recruited into military life and watch musket and artillery loading and firing demonstrations.

After visiting Historic Triangle attractions, there are plenty of other things to do:

n Explore the cultures of Old European countries plus more than 50 rides, roller coasters and attractions at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Mid-Atlantic's largest water park, Water Country USA in Williamsburg, has more than 30 water rides and attractions.

n Take a tour of the 1,200-acre College of William & Mary campus, the second oldest college in the country, founded in 1693 by Royal Charter. A self-guided tour of 15 locations begins and ends near the Wren Building. Its Muscarelle Museum of Art traces its collection to 1732.

n The Williamsburg Winery is Virginia's largest winery and one of the most acclaimed, located on a 320-acre farm, Wessex Hundred. Winery tours and tastings in an Old World-style building with a barrel cellar and production area are offered year-round.

The winery's Gabriel Archer Tavern offers lunch daily and a bar menu Friday through Sunday. Its on-site hotel, Wedmore Place, has 28 exquisitely appointed rooms and suites with a European flair. Downstairs at Wedmore Place is Café Provencal, a high-end restaurant.

n Take a relaxing sailing excursion with Williamsburg Charter Sails, departing from Yorktown or Gloucester Point. The sailboat navigates the York River across 200 years of history that links Yorktown, Williamsburg and beyond to the Chesapeake Bay. Capt. Bill O'Donovan can tailor a cruise for your interests aboard his 32-foot modern Hunter.

n The area won't disappoint with colonial and international cuisine, shopping, zip lining, fishing, golfing, kayaking, boating and more. Lodging options are plentiful including Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites, adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center.

Ready for a visit to America's Historic Triangle? Stop by the AAA Store in Charleston or call one of the AAA travel professionals - Janice Adkins, Lia Ireland, Amy Sisson, Becky Wallace and Barbara Wing at 304-925-1136.

Mitzi Harrison manages AAA Travel for the Charleston area and

divides her time between

Cincinnati and West Virginia.

Mild weather adds to Bridge Day fun http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161015/GZ01/161019651 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161015/GZ01/161019651 Sat, 15 Oct 2016 17:06:09 -0400 Max Garland By Max Garland FAYETTEVILLE - For BASE jumping veterans like Damien Ristaino of Charlotte, North Carolina, the 75-degree weather and light breeze made it a little easier to jump off the 876-foot New River Gorge Bridge.

"Last year the wind was much more to deal with, and that has a huge effect on how safe it can be," Ristaino said. "Takeoffs are optional, but landings are mandatory."

The third Saturday in October once again saw tens of thousands of people take in the high-risk spectacles of Bridge Day. Dedicated BASE jumpers from across the globe, whose greatest challenge continues to be finding areas that are both legal and safe to jump, made the most of the bridge's 39-year-old and 3,030-foot long structure.

The "BASE" in BASE jumper stands for building, antenna, span and Earth - the four fixed objects they leap off of with a specially designed parachute ready to deploy. These thrill-seekers didn't have to fight Mother Nature on the bridge as much as they have in years past.

"Compared to 2014 and 2015, it's been fantastic," said BASE jumper Aaron Jackson, of Ohio. "Last year, as the day went on the weather got worse, and no one wanted to jump. But it's been fantastic today. There are people who want to land in the water because it's getting so nice."

However, most of the jumpers aimed for the designated landing spot beside the New River Gorge. And there were a lot of jumpers and jumping tandems who participated in the event - 267 of them, according to Bridge Day organizer Sharon Cruikshank. That's more than double 2015's 130 jumpers and jumping tandems.

It's a small number compared to the estimated 80,000 event-goers on hand for 2016's Bridge Day, but BASE jumping remains a niche hobby. Jumper and Ohio native Angela Rowley called it a subgroup of skydiving, the sport in which most jumpers got their start.

The risks involved turn the majority of people away from the extreme sport. According to Blinc Magazine, there have been at least 36 BASE jumping deaths worldwide this year. The limited number of places where it is acceptable whittles down the number of committed jumpers even more.

"It's illegal in most areas; you just can't find a place to jump that often," Rowley said.

That's why the jumpers at Saturday's Bridge Day knew 2016 was a rare opportunity not seen in years at the New River Gorge. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., they got to experience a slice of BASE jumping heaven.

"The weather is beautiful," said Ohio BASE jumper Casey Magyar. "That's why this is so awesome. And you can't get in trouble for jumping, so you see people from all over the country and from other countries."

All of the travel, the prayers to whoever controls the weather and butterflies before the jump are done in the service of chasing the sensation of the fall. Ristaino said it's like the feeling of weightlessness one gets during the biggest drop on a roller coaster. Rowley was only able to describe the before and after.

"There's fear there, but as soon as you go off the edge, there are no thoughts," she said. "You don't think about anything. And then as soon as you get down to the ground, it's the best feeling in the world."

Thrill-seekers have been a part of Bridge Day since 1980, when five parachutists jumped from the bridge into the gorge below. The event began to grow rapidly, with 300 BASE jumpers taking a leap of faith in 1984.

Today, BASE jumpers are just one part of a very large show. Rappellers and zip-liners also benefited from the day's mild, comfortable conditions. Scott Brumagin, of Cleveland, Ohio, said rappellers have to sign up in June, when they have no idea how the weather will cooperate.

"You're putting your money down and just hoping for a good day, and this right here is the ideal day," he said.

For the many who were less inclined to rappel or jump off of a bridge, Bridge Day saw dozens of vendors selling food, T-shirts, West Virginia-themed souvenirs and more. Even politics made its way into the event, with stands set up for the Fayette County Republican and Democratic parties, along with supporters of West Virginia's Libertarian Party.

"It's basically a big festival on steroids," Cruikshank said.

Reach Max Garland at max.garland@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4886 or follow @MaxGarlandTypes on Twitter.

Oregon's Crater Lake: Violent beginning, peaceful ending http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161013/GZ0506/161019792 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161013/GZ0506/161019792 Thu, 13 Oct 2016 15:23:12 -0400 By Elizabeth Zach Special To The Washington Post By By Elizabeth Zach Special To The Washington Post More than 7,000 years ago, a collapsed volcano called Mount Mazama, in southern Oregon, burst open with a force seismologists say was four times greater than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Once its magma chamber was depleted, all that would remain was a dusty basin that, over the centuries, filled with snow.

Today, with no outlet for all that melted snow, Crater Lake is the deepest body of water in the United States, and because of its depth - nearly 2,000 feet at its maximum - it has perhaps the most haunting blue hue in the country as well.

One August afternoon, I stood at the southeast edge of this National Park - the only one in Oregon - balancing along the plunging shoreline that gives way to a small, rocky island. There were few other walkers on the trail, maybe because the larger Wizard Island to the west is more frequently seen on Crater Lake postcards and draws more crowds.

Emerging from the still water, the Phantom Ship, as it is called, commands your view for its quaint likeness to a seafaring vessel with beams and masts - but so, too, does Crater Lake's entire shoreline. I had to be particularly careful to watch my step as I hiked around it, so captivating are the views.

Two days before, I had begun tracing Crater Lake's history by heading north from Sacramento to Mount Shasta, a three-hour drive that comfortably broke up the journey onward the next day to southern Oregon.

After checking into the Shasta MountInn and unpacking in a room that had a picture-perfect view of the namesake peak, I went downstairs for a massage by owner and professional massage therapist David Knowles.

I had stayed in his elegant bed-and-breakfast inn a few years earlier, and was pleased to return - and to listen to him tell me about the variety of travelers who pass through his doors, including many Japanese tourists eager to see the North American counterpart to their Mount Fuji.

After breakfast and chatting with other guests, I drove north and then veered eastward along U.S. Route 97, which is but one stretch of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway All-American Road. The highway's lonely two lanes originate in the rather cheekily named town of Weed - this is, after all, Northern California - and meanders the base of grandiose Mount Shasta, as if not wanting to disturb it.

Tilting telephone poles stand sentinel all along the highway as it crosses grasslands and dry valleys covered in tumbleweeds until it weaves into the ghostlike town of Klamath Falls in southern Oregon. From there, I pushed on until I reached the rustic Jo's Motel in Fort Klamath.

After checking in, I bought some fruit and a sandwich in the country store adjacent to the reception area before hopping back into my car and motoring northward.

For another 20 miles along U.S. Route 62, before entering Crater Lake National Park, I passed a sweeping landscape of meadows, slack wooden fences, meandering cows and spooky, leafless trees with limbs awry. Once in the park and before reaching the visitors' center, I pulled over at a picnic area to look at dramatic, rocky ravines and spires of pumice and ash bordering Annie Creek.

After picking up a map at the Steel Visitor Center, I drove onto an understandably crowded Watchman Overlook - the view of Wizard Island, and all of Crater Lake, from here is among the best in the park. I didn't stay long, instead choosing to drive to the lake's North Shore, where I parked at Cleetwood Cove.

Tour boats depart from here, but I was more interested in walking the steep, downward mile to the shore for a better perspective of the lake. The road that encircles it, Rim Drive, is hundreds of feet above.

On the well-marked trail to the water, I hit dozens of switchbacks until I reached a rocky beach, where I perched myself, removed my boots and dipped my feet into the clear, chilly water. It would be a long trek back to the top, so I leaned back into a smooth rock behind me and stared out at the lake for about a half-hour before lumbering back to the trail, occasionally stopping and glancing backward to watch the ferries gliding pleasantly toward Wizard Island to the west.

The next morning, I drove east around the lake's southern rim, past the Phantom Ship overlook and onto the trail head of Plaikni Falls. I had read in my guidebook that parts of the trail to the falls are awash with wildflowers in July; it was late August now, but I was still hopeful.

The trail wove first through an old-growth forest and over boulders for a mile until I could hear a faint trickle. Then, rounding a bend, I saw the lush waterfall, which comes from snowmelt, not Crater Lake, I later read.

A man sat near the top and appeared to be sketching the scene while his young daughter scampered over the rocks, themselves making for a charming image set against the wildflowers tumbling down each side of the falls.

Before leaving the park, I spontaneously parked my car to hike the short loop of the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail. Built by Boy Scouts in 1929, the trail meanders through forest, swamp, meadows and grassy slopes, boasting more than 200 wildflower species.

It was late morning, already hot, and I had a long drive back to Sacramento, so I took my time and let my eyes feast on Lewis's monkeyflowers, lupines, buttercups and blue stickweed while I sat in a shady grove. The flowers, the stillness, it was all a fitting way to conclude this tour of a once violent, raging, volcanic landscape that is now so very peaceful and welcoming.

WV Travel Team: Ways to enjoy Bridge Day without making the jump http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161009/GZ0506/161009561 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161009/GZ0506/161009561 Sun, 9 Oct 2016 02:07:00 -0400 Compiled by the Go To WV team By Compiled by the Go To WV team It's no wonder Bridge Day is the largest extreme sports event of its kind in the entire world. Who wouldn't want to watch as hundreds of people hurl themselves nearly 900 feet off a bridge?

With parachutes, of course.

Bridge Day began in 1980 to commemorate the completion of the picturesque bridge over the New River Gorge. There were five BASE jumpers that year.

Now, every third Saturday in October, at the peak of the vibrant fall foliage, hundreds come to leap.

But it's more than just jumping. It is the only day of the year visitors can walk across the bridge, and the vast majority (more than 80,000) come to watch.

If you're not in the small percentage of humans willing to take the plunge, here's how you can enjoy this free event:

You'd be surprised how much time can pass while you're watching jumper after jumper plummet toward the river below. Watch as experienced BASE jumpers dive, flip and stunt off a wooden platform atop the bridge. Many also opt to walk the plank, a 15-foot-long 4-inch-wide balance beam, or climb an antenna even higher before they leap.

If you insist on the full Bridge Day experience but don't have the prior jumps - or nerve - to do it alone, a limited number of tandem BASE jump spots are available.

Several rappel teams descend from the catwalk beneath the New River Gorge Bridge, and above, veteran skydivers will put on a show with smoke, flips and billowing flags. Other adventurers, like a pogo stunt team showing off wild tricks while bouncing more than 10 feet in the air, line the bridge to show off their skills.

If BASE jumping isn't your cup of tea, but you're still looking for a dose of adrenaline, try the 700-foot High Line from the bridge to the gorge below.

Stop into Smokey's on the Gorge the evening before the action to sample a lot for a little. The Taste of Bridge Day showcases West Virginia's finest food products from restaurants around the state. Smokey's on the Gorge is an open-air venue perched on a ridge, offering unbelievable views of the gorge.

It's hard to grasp just how massive the New River Gorge Bridge is until you are looking up at it from below. Into the Gorge shuttles run visitors to the riverbed below for $20 per person. From there, you can watch jumpers approach the landing zone about every 30 seconds.

Grab a paddle, and hop onto a boat with a seasoned guide to conquer whitewater rapids, all while taking in the gorgeous fall foliage enveloping the New River, where you can catch a glimpse of BASE jumpers along the way.

Also nearby: one of the world's top 10 whitewater rivers. Bridge Day weekend is a perfect chance to catch the Gauley on one of only a few fleeting #gauleyseason days each year.

To walk from one side of the bridge to the other is 3,030 feet. Funnel cakes, turkey legs and corn dogs eagerly await you along the way. There's also an array of artisan vendors displaying their crafts and wares, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to search for that perfect souvenir.

Bridge Day can get a bit chilly. The solution? Chili.

After the jumping concludes, let the chili consumption begin. The Bridge Day Chili and Cornbread Cook-Off starts after the festival in downtown Fayetteville. Grab your tasting tickets to vote for the People's Choice Award. In addition to some great, warm chili, enjoy some live Southern rock sounds from Three Card Monte.

Some of the biggest legends in bluegrass and roots music take the stage at the Bridge Jam concert later in the evening, with a lineup of the genre's top acts.

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.

Fayetteville: Little town that grew around outdoor adventure http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ03/161009914 GZ03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ03/161009914 Sun, 2 Oct 2016 12:27:36 -0400 By Sarah Plummer The Register-Herald By By Sarah Plummer The Register-Herald FAYETTEVILLE - Business owners and local officials agree there are good things going on in Fayetteville and the immediate area. The past few years alone have seen the rise of new restaurants, retail shops, a strong farmers' market, resident artist and live music in Fayetteville. Area outdoor adventure resorts and outfitters are continuing to diversify and offer new experiences. Around those resorts, high-end housing developments and retail opportunities are growing.

But this burgeoning scene has been a long time in the making.

Those who visited the New River Gorge in the 1980s and 1990s found Fayetteville a quaint and historical but a quiet and depressed town. A handful decided to invest by opening businesses or buying homes. They remain in the community, and their outfitting shops and restaurants are still cornerstones of the town.

Maura and Gene Kistler moved to Fayetteville in 1991.

At that time there were more than 20 small whitewater rafting companies, but Fayetteville had few retail opportunities.

"There was a pancake house off Route 19 and Little General had pizza, but there was nothing going on downtown. Storefronts were empty. There wasn't even a place to get a cup of coffee in town," she recalled.

Like many who have moved to the New River Gorge region, she visited, fell in love with the scenery and saw the area's potential for recreation.

"I hadn't been here three months before I knew this is my place. I never had that feeling anywhere. We knew we wanted to stay, but we didn't know how we could stay," she said.

Kistler was a trained school teacher and guided rafts in the summer, so her husband led the charge behind opening the town's first general outfitter, Water Stone Outdoors.

"It seemed to make sense. We knew this was a world class climbing area and we needed a specialty outdoor business. We had no retail experience, but we were trying to build our community - to build the kind of community in which we wanted to live," she said.

Building the business was very slow, and in some ways the town is just now becoming a vibrant community, which is reflected in her store's bottom line, she said.

Five years ago Water Stone Outdoors had the best year they've ever had, and they continue to meet milestones. They had the best month ever last year and this year was their strongest opening quarter.

"We believe we have laid a lot of groundwork and are poised to start getting somewhere," she said. "We have to find a way to think about our economy post-coal. What we have right now - The Summit, saving the Whitlock Farm (now owned by the county farm board), a nondiscrimination resolution - those are measurable signs of progress in this town," Kistler said.

And it is a town that has become more and more welcoming to outsiders and the idea of tourism. It seems strange that a large queer climbing convention drawing LGBT from all over North America would choose Fayetteville, a small town in West Virginia, as its base camp, but 2016 marked the ninth year for HomoClimbtastic.

Fayetteville hasn't always been as welcoming to outsiders, and in some ways the influx of river rats might have been as much of a shock to locals as the quiet, sleepy town was to the young rafters.

Kim Shingledecker came to Fayetteville in 1995 having just graduated from the University of Cincinnati. She worked at Sedona Grill, the only restaurant in town at the time, and as a rafting guide.

"It was a culture shock. The only place to get coffee in town was The Pancake House, which is where Sheetz is now on U.S. 19," she said.

She thought about opening Cathedral Cafe, a coffee house that remains a local favorite, although it now has a new owner.

"I got a Small Business Association loan for $25,000 and opened Cathedral Cafe in 1997 and struggled. I was naive. At that time it didn't matter how long you'd lived in Fayetteville. If you weren't born there, you weren't a local," she explained. "My business made it because of the tourists and the money I made in the summertime. The rest of the year I was supported by the rafting guides who lived in town year-round."

Today Shingledecker's Pies & Pints is a cornerstone of the town's exciting culinary scene.

"When I moved to Fayetteville in 1981, the economy was in a huge slump. It was apparent the town has seen better days. There was a drug store, grocery store and 16 rafting companies in their infancy," described Colleen Laffy, who started out shooting pictures for Wild Rivers Photo Services and became the first female videographer in the New River Gorge region.

She still lives in Fayetteville and travels to work producing and filming for TV.

Today the town is thriving, she said. "It is 100 percent different from when I moved here. I attribute the growth and positive things in town to outsiders coming in, starting businesses, investing in outdoor stores and visiting to experience the outdoors."

"It took me a while to stay year-round. I bought a house. It was affordable, and that is why I put down my roots here. It is an hour from the airport, and I've been able to fly out to shoot an episode here and there easily," she added.

She pointed out that changes in Fayetteville have been slow to come over time, but it has always been a place where one person or one family could make a major change in the town's culture and business landscape.

"In big cities, anything you do is going to be a tiny drop in the ocean. It doesn't take a big drop to make a big change in rural communities like this," she said.

Lewis Rhinehart is a relative newcomer and owner of Secret Sandwich Society and The Grove, an adjacent live music venue.

The town's culture and atmosphere is continuing to evolve, he said. With established businesses in the downtown, the community has focused on developing a night life, a vibrant arts scene, bed and breakfasts and retail shops - those things that give tourists options and encourage them to extend their stay.

Rhinehart said the greatest challenge this movement has faced in recent years is working with the Fayetteville Town Council as they negotiate and respond to changes in the community, like enforcing parking regulations to manage an increase in traffic and drafting a noise ordinance to negotiate the growing live music scene.

Rhinehart often represents the voice of a new ad hoc business association at council meetings.

"The scene is being born. We are transforming into a more tourist-based economy. The state is in a dire economic condition, and we want to make sure laws and regulations are not making it more difficult to open or operate an existing business," he said.

And some legislation pertaining to alcohol is bolstering local business.

In June 2015, Secret Sandwich Society was able to begin selling its local, craft beer to go in growlers. Rhinehart said this allows tourists to try local beer, like those from Bridge Brew Works, and take them home when they leave.

He is also part of a movement to encourage that the county place the Sunday brunch referendum on the ballot in two years. If it passes, restaurants in the county will be able to sell mixed drinks with Sunday brunch.

When asked how other communities can be as successful at Fayetteville, Kistler was quick to suggest that other towns should capitalize on what makes them unique.

"Richwood is 13 miles from Cranberry Glades, the largest area of bogs in West Virginia. Gauley Bridge is at the juncture of the New and Gauley rivers. To attract tourism, all communities need to capitalize on what they have and fill in the gap, provide those services tourists need to say in the area," she said.

People used to come to Fayetteville to hike and bike but go to Charleston to eat after, she said.

"We had to find way to get them downtown and sell them a T-shirt or a cup of coffee," she concluded. "West Virginians have to market their small communities. They have to define what it is that makes them different, articulate it, be proud of it and build a business around it."

WV Travel Team: Taste Of Our Towns festival to make noise in Lewisburg http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ0506/161009924 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ0506/161009924 Sun, 2 Oct 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Kristi Godby WV Travel Team By By Kristi Godby WV Travel Team If you have not planned to get to the Greenbrier Valley this fall, there's still time. In fact, there's no better time for fun and food than during the annual festival dedicated solely to epicurean awesomeness and eating - Taste Of Our Towns, or TOOT.

The 2016 installment of this annual festival is slated for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in downtown Lewisburg. Join us as the streets of one of "America's Coolest Small Towns" are filled with the favorite delicacies from local restaurants, The Greenbrier Sporting Club, church groups and anyone else who wants to show off appetizing edibles and culinary wizadry.

While there are always new food adventures and things to try, regular attendees will tell you they often return to get their favorite treat. For many, the Shrimp and Grits from the Greenbrier Sporting Club is certainly a must-eat.

Prepared and served by Chef Ryan Daniels and Chef Amy Mills, the Greenbrier Sporting Club uses 25 pounds of grits, which become 50 pounds after soaking.

To describe the perfect process, Daniels explained, "We cook the grits in the same liquid that we soaked them in, but not everybody does. The preparation of grits is very personal; people do it the way their grandmother taught them."

The Greenbrier Sporting Club chose to do shrimp and grits when it started serving at TOOT because, as Mills said, "everyone in the South grew up eating grits, but adding the shrimp gives it something special."

The Sporting Club grills the shrimp on site, after marinating it in a mixture of chili powder, brown sugar and more. The dish does have a pinch of heat, but as Daniels said, "that's what the grits are for."

A relative newcomer quickly gaining popularity is Diana's Cuban Café. This year will be the first-generation Cuban American's third time at TOOT. Attendees should plan to drop some serious TOOT tokens at this booth as cook Diana Miller has multiple offerings this year.

Headlining the Café's offerings are the Arroz Imperial, a creamy, cheesy, rice casserole with chicken and peppers, and the TOOT crowd favorite Frita Cuban (the Cuban equivalent of a hamburger including a mixture of beef, pork and a secret tomato-based sauce).

There will also be croquetas, breaded and fried finger food filled with a ham mixture and castelitos, guava and cheese-filled pastry.

If you need to simply get away, there's no better place than the Greenbrier Valley. We aren't saying food is our thing, but it's just one of a million reasons people visit us every fall, and have been doing so since 1778.

Kristi Godby is the Media Relations Manager for the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau. She can be reached by email at


To act like an insider, here are some tips for TOOT:

n Arrive early for the best parking in the Municipal Lot across from The French Goat on Lafayette Street.

n Find a spot to convert your cash to TOOT tokens. This festival does not accept cash, but you can purchase tokens throughout the festival.

n The Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center on the corner of Washington and Court streets, offers information about the festival, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, a place to rest and accessible restrooms.

n Check out the yellow Ginkgo Tree on the lawn by Carnegie Hall. When a Ginkgo Tree loses its leaves in autumn, it does so all at once, and this "rain of leaves" just might happen during TOOT.

n At noon, Country Roads CrossFit will offer kids a chance to test their basketball skills playing one-on-one with Olympic medalist and NBA player Bimbo Coles.

n Make your own take-home CD at the West Virginia's Music Hall of Fame Traveling Museum.

n Since there are no pets allowed at the TOOT festival, be sure to stop by Greenbrier Veterinary Hospital booth for a literal doggie bag.

n Don't miss the multiple free music acts and, new this year, a town minstrel will wander the street, guitar in hand.

n The Beef Jerky Outlet - assorted jerky

n Bolling School Alumni Association - hamburgers, sodas

n Davis-Stuart - Italian sausage sandwich, three layer cake, assorted baked goods

n Diana's Cuban Café - Arroz Imperial, Frita Cubana, papa rellenas, castelitos, croquetas

n Food & Friends - BBQ Brisket Sliders, Bacon Scallop Chowder, Grassroots Church Soda

n Greenbrier Episcopal School - cookies

n GEHS French Exchange - cookie walk

n Greenbrier Sporting Club - Shrimp and Grits

n Greenbrier Valley Medical Center - Strawberry Basil Creme Brule

n Greenbrier Veterinary Hospital - dog treats

n The Hub - mixed berry smoothie

n Jeff's Bread - handcrafted European-style artisan breads

n Please Save A Cat - White Bean Chicken Chili, buffalo wings

n Rhema Christian Center - chocolate-covered strawberries

n Shoney's - fried green tomato sliders, BBQ pork sliders, fried Oreos, pumpkin roll slices, caramel apples, Stuart's Smokehouse Brisket, pulled pork, corn, ribs

n Treat Your Senses - jars of locally grown fruit jams

Culinary Thrills in New York City's Chinatown http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ0506/161009926 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ0506/161009926 Sun, 2 Oct 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Seth Skiles For the Charleston Gazette-Mail By By Seth Skiles For the Charleston Gazette-Mail

Food tours have become one of my favorite experiences in larger cities. I don't consider myself a foodie, but I highly enjoy cooking and trying new foods in my spare time.

I discovered the tours' existence via a tasting tour of New York City's Chelsea Market several years ago. Food tours are designed for guests to partake in various tastes unique to a local culture. They are a fantastic way to learn why certain foods are identifiable to specific locations, how select foods are prepared and a locale's gastronomic history.

On a recent visit to the Big Apple, my mother and I took the eye-opening "Tastes of Chinatown" tour through New York Food Tours. Candy, the Chinese-American tour guide, has resided in the United States since 1994. Since coming to America to pursue a collegiate education, Candy has led tours in New York City for several years and had a profound grasp on daily life in Chinatown.

She explained Manhattan's ethnic neighborhoods. Once distinct areas based on ethnicity of immigrants and common languages have slowly dissolved into multicultural areas since the early 20th century. Chinatown, however, is an exception. The culture remains concentrated around Canal Street and the Manhattan Bridge because of the Chinese language's sharp contrast to English and the tourism factor.

This specific tour focused on Chinatown foods that reflected a variety of cooking styles based on various geographic regions in China. The concept is remarkably similar to American culinary sectors (New England clam chowder, Southern fried chicken, New Orleans po'boys). Certain areas in China are known for regional specialties, spices and cooking styles.

Americans are mostly familiar with Cantonese-style Chinese food, which originates in Southern China and is more commercialized on an international level. It also uses less spicy ingredients, providing the consumer with milder tastes.

We made several stops inside Chinatown establishments an average tourist might miss if he or she even blinked.

The Chinese dumplings at Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry Street can be filled with meats or vegetables; they are commonly eaten as appetizers to larger meals with optional soy sauce.

Bayard Street's New Beef King specializes in Chinese jerky, a delicacy of semi-dried pork or beef cut into strips and marinated in a variety of spices. While American jerky is typically dry and difficult to bite into, the Chinese prefer theirs moister and "juicier," according to Candy.

The Chinese pancakes with green onions at Bayard Street's Deluxe Green Bo Restaurant are delicious and come with a sweet sauce to pour on top. These resemble larger versions of American hash browns, which are eaten for breakfast or a snack.

We visited two places for drinks. The Chinese are famous for tea, so naturally we stopped in the famous Ten Ren's Tea Time on Mott Street for black, green and fruit tea samplings.

(I have visited this establishment during past visits to the Big Apple. It was here I discovered Chinese tea with bubbles, which are tapioca-jellied balls at the bottom of the glass.)

We also stopped in Mango Mango Dessert on Bayard Street for an authentic mango smoothie. Since Southern China is tropical in climate, many fruits are plentiful and used in foods and drinks.

The melon cakes at Mott's Street's Golden Fung Wong Bakery were unlike anything I had ever tasted. Candy pointed out the difference between bread-based European pastries and rice flour-based, extremely soft Chinese sweets.

The melon cake was about the size of my palm and was the softest baked good I ever felt. A very thin layer of pastry surrounded a light filling of winter melon and almond paste for this delicacy. This is quite mild compared to baked goods as Americans know them.

Samplings at Aji Ichiban right down the street from the bakery was an adventure in itself. This store's walls are lined with little drawers filled with dried food snacks - fruits, candies, spices and, surprisingly, meats (pork, beef and seafood).

Each could be sampled from a little dish on top of each drawer. I don't recall ever having so many new tastes in my mouth at one time - my taste buds were overwhelmed. We purchased some dried plums, which were delicious.

We stopped for a bowl of noodles with barbecued ribs and Chinese greens at Mott Street's Big Wong quick service restaurant. Candy said places such as this were much more concerned with the quality of food than the service, which I found humorous. Indeed, the place is lively with abrupt servers and silverware only upon request after failed attempts using chopsticks.

Lastly, we had a quick sample platter of dim-sum at Nom Wa Tea Parlor on Doyers Street. This little place dates back to 1920 and is reportedly the first to serve dim-sum (bite-sized portions of appetizer-like food). Ours looked like dumplings we had earlier, filled with meats and vegetables with soy sauce.

Most Chinatown restaurants, markets and stores are on the street level with multitudes of apartments and fire escapes above. Just as fascinating as each establishment is simply taking a walk down the streets. Chinese businessmen in suits, busy shop owners tidying their street-side offerings, children scurrying about and gawking tourists coexist in this frenzied and exciting area.

Manhattan's Chinatown is home to the largest number of Chinese individuals in United States. Rather than whizzing by it on top of a double-decker bus or underneath on the Metro, walk the streets and venture beyond the touristy gift shops to learn its deep history.

It will give Americans living proof that the United States is truly a melting pot of cultures, blended together through various ethnicities and cultural experiences. And, in my opinion, there is no other place in the country that embodies this trait better than the Big Apple.

New York City is accessible from West Virginia by air, train or car. The most direct options for travel are flights to LaGuardia International Airport, available from Charleston's Yeager Airport with typically one-stop layovers in Washington, D.C., Charlotte, North Carolina, or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Use the Canal Street station to access Manhattan's Chinatown via the Metro, or hail a cab.

Visit New York Food Tours on the web at foodtoursofny.com for more information on food tours in multiple areas of the city.

Check out West Virginia native

Seth Skiles' travel blog at


Photo of the Week: Capturing Bryce Canyon http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ0506/161009987 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20161002/GZ0506/161009987 Sun, 2 Oct 2016 00:55:00 -0400 This year, the United States National Park Service marked its 100th anniversary. And you better believe Debbie Keener celebrated it.

Well, technically, she celebrated the parks during her visit in 2012, but she submitted the photos to Photo of the Week this summer as a way to mark the park service's centennial. From Zion National Park in Utah to Monument Valley to Lake Powell, Keener, of St. Albans, made her first visit to several national parks, monuments and forests during a bus caravan tour.

It was her first visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. Keener snapped this photo of Bryce Canyon while hiking the Navajo Loop Trail into the canyon.

Although called a "canyon," the tall red pillars of rock in the photo are known as "hoodoos." The rock pillars can be found on every continent, but Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the largest collection of hoodoos in the world, according to the national park's website.

Please tell me everyone took a national park vacation this summer. If you haven't, you better get on it. There's only three more months left in its centennial year. And don't forget, please send us your photos!

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: Monuments, ghost tours and good food in Gettysburg http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160925/GZ0506/160929848 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160925/GZ0506/160929848 Sun, 25 Sep 2016 02:02:00 -0400 By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team By By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team GETTYSBURG, Penn. - War is not good for tourism - until the war has been over for nearly a century. Then it's a visitor magnet like Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where more than a million people a year come to immerse themselves in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

The century-old, 6,000-acre National Military Park is the center around which the history industry functions in Gettysburg and the Visitors Center and Museum is the place to start exploring.

A quick scan of the expansive parking lots attests to the national appeal of Gettysburg, with license plates from Mississippi to Michigan to New Jersey and various points in all directions.

The tens of thousands of artifacts and well-researched exhibits are a short-form history course that brings the Civil War into focus.

Particularly informative are the three short videos on each of the three July 1863 days of the actual battle. Fighting went on until midnight on day two and started at 4 a.m. on day three.

You'll be shaken to your toes by the carnage and horror of 165,000 troops from two armies in a clash in mostly open meadows around the historic town resulting in more than 50,000 casualties and a post-battle clean-up that turned the 2,300 citizens of the town into nurses and undertakers for months. More than 60,000 limbs were amputated and each body buried three times: first just in the ground, next when coffins arrived and finally when most were transported to their home areas.

It was the horror of the aftermath that led to almost immediate formation of the Soldiers National Cemetery, which in turn was the catalyst for Abraham Lincoln's immortal 10-sentence Gettysburg Address.

It was the same aftermath of death that led to one of today's true oddities of Gettysburg - an inordinately large population of turkey vultures, the largest in the country.

Lincoln is one of two U.S. presidents connected to Gettysburg, but he's the one with statues in and around town. Lincoln was invited to speak at the November 1863 commemoration of the cemetery. It was a surprise that he accepted.

Today, the David Wills House on the center square of town is a museum dedicated to the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln stayed in the house and revised his speech there. The official procession to the Soldiers National Cemetery began there. Exhibits and artifacts, including Lincoln's bed, tell the profound story of the event and the speech. A visit to the Wills House is a must.

The other president is Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose farm is still a working enterprise and now part of the National Military Park.

Ike and Mamie's home on the farm is open for tours and filled with artifacts like the white marble fireplace that had been in Lincoln's White House. Ike often brought world leaders here during his presidency and took them first to see his beef operation.

The battle's story is seared on the memories of all visitors, but visually, the greatest impact comes from the 1,328 monuments, markers and memorials spread throughout the park. Many were erected in the late 19th century and represent states, military units and occasional individuals. Some are splendid, others more modest.

The collection is considered one of the largest of public art in the world. Then there are the cannons, 410 of them in the care of the park service, almost twice as many cannon as actually participated in the battle.

Dozens of shops offer Civil War and other military antiques and artifacts; military and heritage museums can be found on nearly every corner. There's even a Civil War publishing company.

One unique industry spawned by the haunting history of the place is the paranormal. At least seven different companies offer a variety of ghost tours ranging from history-focused candlelight tours to ones that provide ghost-hunting technology so guests can seek out ghosts on their own.

We chose Ghosts of Gettysburg, the history-rich tour established in 1994 by retired park ranger Mark Nesbitt, who has collected tales and sightings into a series of award-winning books.

Although we saw no ghosts, we visited one of the reputed sighting locations the next day - Mr. G's, an old-fashioned, homemade ice cream shop. No ghosts, but a tasty strawberry cone.

When a million people a year visit, you better have a way to feed them, and Gettysburg has done a good job with nearly 100 different places for food. Virtually every block downtown has several restaurants of all sorts from Irish and Thai to sushi and Italian.

We discovered Gettysburg Baking Company on the main square the first day and returned for more of its home-baked treats to take home. The Lincoln Diner was an inspired breakfast choice, where they make their own bread for French toast and have hand-crafted link sausage.

We couldn't pass up lunch at Hunt's Café and Battlefield Fries where they claim the best fries. And they were outstanding; there is no way to fake hand-cut fries.

The place not to miss for a meal is Dobbin House Tavern. We had a casual early dinner in its Springhouse Tavern with 18th-century native stone walls, the original springs still visible, authentically costumed servers, and robust beef and barley soup.

If you want the veal Madeira or roast duck, you have to wait until 5 p.m. and better make a reservation. On the night we went, the fine dining area - a collection of six small, antique furnished rooms - was booked solid. Although the entire house feels like a museum, a singular exhibit can be seen on the third floor: a dormer that was a slave hideaway, part of the Underground Railroad.

The town has numerous bed-and-breakfasts, inns and boutique hotels in historic downtown buildings that served as Civil War hospitals and Underground Railroad stops and still flaunt bullet holes in their walls. Instead, we chose the countryside and were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise view overlooking the battlefield.

The Lodges of Gettysburg is a contemporary collection of 28 private stone and wood cottages housing a variety of size groups in a secluded and pristine location.

We finished our visit by exploring the countryside from Eisenhower's Farm to Hauser Estate Winery, one of several wine operations, breweries and distilleries with both in-town tasting rooms and countryside vineyards and production plants. We chose Hauser's because of its branded Jack's Hard Cider, which is produced from 25 varieties of the winery's own apples - 200,000-plus gallons of cider a year in more than a dozen flavors. We tasted and left with cases of canned cider in three flavors as well as bottles of wine.

Hauser's sits on a ridge, offering a splendid view from its glass-enclosed tasting room, where it also has nightly special events. The wine and cider production facility is underground.

Along the highway below is The Historic Round Barn & Farm Market, a rare structure made even more rare by being a working artifact. Today's farm market fills the circular interior with local food, decorative and gift items as well as produce in season.

The Union and Confederate armies invaded Gettysburg because of its roads - 10 roads that led into town. Today, those same roads make it easy to approach the historic town from all directions.

For more information and seasonal events go to www.destinationgettysburg.com.

Jeanne Mozier, of Berkeley Springs, is the author of "Way Out in West Virginia," a 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.

If Turnpike tolls to be removed, planning must start now, lawmakers told http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160920/GZ0101/160929967 GZ0101 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160920/GZ0101/160929967 Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:33:15 -0400 Phil Kabler By Phil Kabler The process of taking the tolls off the West Virginia Turnpike and moving the road into the state Division of Highways system will need to begin next summer, state Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr told a legislative interim committee Tuesday.

Under current law, once the 30-year Turnpike bonds are paid off in 2019, the state Division of Highways is to assume operation of the 88-mile interstate if the road is in good condition. State Transportation Secretary Paul Maddox has said planning for the transition will take two years, Barr said.

However, Barr told the Select Committee on Infrastructure he has concerns about future funding for the roadway if tolls are removed.

"If we're going to let the Turnpike fade away, and the tolls taken off, I would hope attention is paid to how to maintain it," he said.

Barr said Turnpike tolls provide $85 million a year of revenue, 75 percent of which is paid by out-of-state drivers.

He said the Parkways Authority spends $36 million to $40 million a year on capital improvement and major maintenance projects, and that amount will need to increase by about $20 million a year beginning in 2022, as long-term maintenance plans call for the replacement of four to five bridge decks each year after that date.

Barr noted that many states are taking the opposite tack, leveraging toll revenues to fund state highways. That includes Ohio, which in 2013 sold a $1 billion road bond issue that is funded with an increase on tolls on the Ohio Turnpike.

Also during legislative interim meetings Tuesday:

n Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, strongly objected to a proposal by House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, to reduce state spending by "refinancing" state pension funds by extending out the current plan to have the funds fully funded by 2034 - a plan that requires a state contribution of $470 million a year.

"I think that's one of the worst proposals - being here for 24 years - that I have ever heard," Plymale said.

Plymale noted that when the plan was adopted in 1994, the Teachers Retirement System was 6 percent funded. It is currently is 66 percent funded.

However, Plymale did question whether the pension funds should continue to assume a 7.5 percent annual return on investments, particularly after a fiscal year when the state Investment Management Board saw a 0.3 percent loss in its pension portfolios.

n Jared Walczak, policy analyst for the conservative Tax Foundation, made a presentation on reducing the state's sales tax rate by broadening the tax base by including currently exempted products and services, including professional services.

Walczak also downplayed the example of Kansas, which slashed state taxes in 2012, creating massive budget deficits without producing the anticipated economic growth.

"They have become the poster child, unfortunately, in some circles for tax reform: If you do tax reform, you'll become Kansas," Walczak said. He said the Kansas plan was flawed in assuming economic activity would make up the billion-dollar tax cuts.

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

WV Travel Team: Kansas City offers eclectic food, arts, shopping http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160918/GZ0506/160919513 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160918/GZ0506/160919513 Sun, 18 Sep 2016 01:26:00 -0400 By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team By By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team Kansas City is well known for several things: barbecue, the American Royal, the Kansas City Royals - recent World Series Champions - and more. A trip to the city that blurs the state line between Kansas and Missouri will allow you to find much more than barbecue (although you still must try it). If you're in the mood for a road trip, it's due west of Charleston roughly 11.5 hours on Interstate 64.

The Kansas City area is comprised of many different districts, each with its own unique style. While the districts are each certainly worth a visit, the hub of Kansas City is the downtown area.

The mixed-use area is seeing a recent surge in activity. The skyline has been evolving for several years now. With the addition of the Sprint and Kauffman Centers, the excitement builds as you enter the city.

Union Station - with Amtrak service - is also home to the hands-on Science City, featuring a rotating exhibit - currently "Body Worlds and The Cycle of Life."

Fresh seafood and steak at Pierpont's are the perfect finish to your evening. Harvey's serves breakfast, brunch and lunch with an open-air cafe inside the station.

Take in a moving performance from the Kansas City Ballet or the Kansas City Symphony at the beautiful Kauffman Center. The programming is vast and varied with a little something for everyone.

The Sprint Center sits among the bouncing entertainment area known as the Kansas City Power & Light District. Dine, drink and play in this eight-block area. The Living Room/KC Beer Garden is a hot spot, especially during sporting events, shown on KC's largest outdoor screen.

The Crown Center offers something for the whole family. Home to Hallmark's international headquarters, the center is flanked by two hotels and an office building that is over 2.2 million square feet tall.

During the summer, the Crown Center Fountain is an attraction for everyone. Water shooting up from ground spouts frequently, surprising visitors. During colder months, the ice skating terrace whirs with skaters of all ages.

Shopping and dining opportunities are abundant, and attractions such as the Kaleidoscope, Legoland Discovery Center, the SEA LIFE Kansas City aquarium and the Money Museum have broad appeal. You may decide to take a behind-the-scenes tour of Hallmark to see how greeting cards are made, from the artist to the shelves.

First Fridays are a busy buzz in this area. With over 400 artists, studios and galleries, the creative energy is everywhere. Not only will you find things for your eyes and ears to enjoy, but the shopping and dining experiences are unique, too. This area is located south of downtown Kansas City near Union Station.

The galleries are as diverse as the city with styles from contemporary to upcycled. Fashion, photography, gifts, engineering and fine art have all found a home in this district.

After taking on shopping and browsing, refuel at one of the many specialty restaurants. A stop at Christopher Elbow Chocolates will feel like you've stepped into an art gallery of edible works. The chocolates are tiny and tasty things of beauty. Italian, Thai, Craft Brew and German are a few of the featured fare options.

This area is north of downtown Kansas City. The River Market was designated a Historic District in 1978. Large riverfront warehouses have been transformed over the years to include loft living, shops, bars and other businesses.

The Arabia Steamboat Museum is one of the spotlights in the district. The steamboat sank nearby in 1856. The contents were brought to light in 1987 and 1988, and are now on display in the museum.

The other pillar to the area is the largest farmer's market in the region, where you can find a wide variety of delicious items on Saturdays and Sundays.

The recent revival of the historic West Bottoms 12th Street Bridge Entertainment District has created much for a visitor to explore. The area was originally a hub for the railroad and livestock industry.

Stockyards and loading docks lined the area. The well-known American Royal calls the area home. The American Royal Barbecue Contest is something to behold each year.

In the fall, one can choose from many high-tech haunted houses hosted in several of the warehouses.

Stores and cafes are quickly filling the historic area and are currently open on the weekends. Plenty of upcycled shops and other unique finds are available. The atmosphere is as much a part of the adventure. The area has a rich history.

Not far from downtown, Country Club Plaza showcases 15 blocks of upscale shopping, dining and lodging. Several of the cities well-known fountains are along the Plaza.

A long-standing tradition is the lighting of the plaza Christmas lights, frequently hosted by a local celebrity. Horse-drawn carriages can also give visitors a little time to relax and take in the scenery.

In September, stroll through the annual Plaza Art Fair with over 200 artist and restaurant booths and bands. Be sure to make reservations at the Bluestem Restaurant on Westport Road. The beauty and flavor of the food alone is worth the trip.

Driving around the Plaza area, you may notice a large building with some very large objects on the lawn. This is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and it features some of the world's artistic treasures.

The phrase, "Jazz was born in New Orleans, but grew up in Kansas City," can be seen - and heard - in all its glory in the Historic Jazz District. The 18th and Vine District was the place for jazz in the 1920s, '30s and '40s.

The American Jazz Museum tells the tale of this art form through interactive displays. Kids can make their own instruments in the Jazz Discovery area. The Blue Room is a nightclub built within the museum featuring live music five nights a week along with photos and memorabilia.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum takes visitors down a timeline of the Negro Leagues history. Walk among the 10 life-sized bronze statues of the greats on a scaled diamond. Visit the museum store to take a piece of history home.

Pack your bags, let's go!

For personalized assistance in planning your Kansas City adventure, stop by the AAA Charleston office or call one of the AAA travel professionals -Janice Adkins, Lia Ireland, Amy Sisson, Becky Wallace and Barbara Wing at 304-925-1136.

Powerboats fill excitement niche at Stonewall and Sutton lakes http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160917/GZ0702/160919580 GZ0702 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160917/GZ0702/160919580 Sat, 17 Sep 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer ROANOKE - Two-person powerboats that combine the open-air, wave-riding feel of a personal watercraft with the stability of a bass boat are stirring up waves of interest from visitors to two West Virginia reservoirs where they are available for rent.

"They're kind of a cross between a motorboat and a jet ski," said Ashley Allen, an attendant at the Stonewall Resort Marina at Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County, of the three CraigCat rental boats the resort acquired about one month ago. "They're pretty fast. We've clocked them here at 27 miles an hour. When you hit the wake from another boat, it feels like you're on a jet ski, but these boats are very stable and won't flip."

"They're not as fast as a jet ski, and they're much more stable," said Rella Cvetican of Sutton Lake Marina, which added two CraigCats to its rental fleet at the start of this year's boating season. "They've been really popular for us this summer. You can fish from them, swim off them or just use them to go explore the lake," a 1,440-acre reservoir surrounded by steep, wooded hills that stretches nearly 14 miles from the outskirts of Sutton into Webster County.

CraigCats, built by Craig Catamaran Corporation, feature open-air, side-by-side seating atop a pair of pontoons linked in a catamaran configuration. Steering is done with a stick located between the vessels' two bucket seats. The operator pushes the lever forward to turn right and pulls back to turn left. A small platform near the bow allows riders to keep their feet dry when the boat's 25-horsepower outboard eases off plane. For anglers, each boat is equipped with four rod holders, and casts can be made while standing on one of the pontoons.

Rella Cvetican and husband, Ron Cvetican, vacationed in Florida last winter, and visited more than 20 marinas "to bring back ideas we can use here," Rella Cvetican said. "The CraigCats were one of them. They were popular down there and they are made in Orlando."

"We've been renting more CraigCats than pontoon boats," Allen said. "They're a lot of fun."

The CraigCats are equipped with AM/FM/USB/Bluetooth sound systems with high definition marine speakers, behind-seat storage bins, and small coolers for beverages, sandwiches and snacks. They are designed for no more than two passengers with a total maximum weight of 600 pounds.

"They get great gas mileage," Rella Cvetican said. "A tank will last you all day."

Sutton Lake Marina's boat rental season ends Oct. 9. Until then, the marina is offering 20 percent end-of-season discounts. Without discount, the mid-week rate for a CraigCat rental session starts at $95 for a two-hour session, with four- and eight-hour sessions available at higher rates. During the first two Saturdays in October, Sutton Lake Marina is offering fall foliage lake tours, starting at 2 p.m. each day, for $28 per person plus tax. The fee includes boat, driver, fuel and safety gear. For details, call 304-765-2120 or visit www.suttonlakemarina.com. Sutton Lake Marina also rents jet skis, pontoon boats, fishing boats, kayaks, paddleboards, pedal boats and houseboats that sleep up to 10.

The last day of Stonewall Jackson Resort Marina's rental season is Oct. 31, although the Marina will be closed Mondays through Wednesdays until then during its late season operating schedule. Rental prices for the resort's new CraigCats start at $115 for two-hour weekday sessions, with four- and eight-hour sessions available at higher rates. For details, call 304-269-8895 or visit www.stonewallresort.com and click the "marina" tab.

Stonewall Resort also rents canoes, stand-up paddleboards, fishing boats, pontoon boats, pedal boats and kayaks.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at

rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Photo of the Week: Black-and-white illusions in Ohio http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160911/GZ05/160919999 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160911/GZ05/160919999 Sun, 11 Sep 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Brenda Thomas loves visiting Amish country. It's peaceful. There are plenty of animals to look at.

Thomas, of Chesapeake, was driving through Sugar Creek, Ohio, with a friend recently when she spotted these beauties standing by a barn.

Two of the three that turned to look at the photo made it seem as if the head of one was connected to the back side of another. A two-headed cow!

"Amish country is always a good place to go and take photographs and if you are not a photographer, it's always a good place to eat some delicious food and enjoy the beautiful countryside," Thomas said.

Love cows? What about chickens? Do you have a fondness for rats? We really don't care. We'll take anything.

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

Hermine may have dampened holiday traffic in WV http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160906/GZ01/160909721 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160906/GZ01/160909721 Tue, 6 Sep 2016 17:35:06 -0400 Phil Kabler By Phil Kabler Tropical Storm Hermine's jaunt up the East Coast may have put a damper on Labor Day holiday traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike, officials with the state Parkways Authority said Tuesday.

Traffic for the four-day holiday weekend was down 1.37 percent from the 2015 Labor Day weekend, with 465,507 toll transactions, compared to 466,917 transactions last year, Operations Director Tyrone Gore said.

Parkways General Manager Greg Barr had expected traffic to be up about 2 percent, consistent with an overall increase in Turnpike traffic over the past year.

However, that was before Hermine, which hit Florida as a hurricane on Friday, then slowly moved up the coast, closing beaches from Georgia to New York.

"The storm coming through probably had a lot of people deciding not to travel," Gore said.

Less traffic meant no significant traffic backups or delays over the holiday weekend, he said. "Traffic moved really well, and we didn't have any major incidents," Gore said.

Also Tuesday:

n Tamarack Executive Director Jim Browder was authorized to put out a request for proposals for a generator to power the Beckley complex. Browder said the facility has been plagued by frequent power outages recently.

While most are of short duration, Tamarack lost power for a day and a half on July 8-9, he said. That resulted in the loss of nearly $5,000 in food from the Taste of West Virginia food court, and the closure of Tamarack Friday afternoon and all day Saturday resulted in more than $40,000 in lost retail and food court sales, Browder said.

n Board member Bill Seaver called on the Parkways Authority to be more proactive in encouraging legislators to maintain tolls on the Turnpike, which are set to expire in 2019.

Proponents note that the tolls provide more than $85 million a year of revenue for the state, with out-of-state travelers accounting for more than 75 percent of that amount.

"These are things we have to look at if Parkways is to survive," Seaver said of contacting legislators. "I don't think they understand if they do nothing, it's over."

Barr noted that the Senate Transportation Committee advanced a bill in the 2016 regular session to maintain Turnpike tolls after the 30-year turnpike bond issue is retired in 2019.

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

Charleston native talks life in Seoul in new memoir http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160904/GZ0605/160909922 GZ0605 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160904/GZ0605/160909922 Sun, 4 Sep 2016 02:42:00 -0400 Anna Patrick By Anna Patrick Frank Ahrens would try not to wake his wife as he crawled out of bed.

He'd get up quietly at 2 a.m. and head to the other room. Watching American sports live on TV wasn't so easy in South Korea. But Ahrens lived on a U.S. military base. And that base had American Forces TV. And sometimes that TV would play a West Virginia University football game.

To watch it live, he'd get up at 2 a.m. and go to the other room as his wife Rebekah slept.

When the sunny Saturday game in Morgantown ended, it would be about 6 a.m. Sunday in South Korea.

"They win or lose?" Rebekah Ahrens would ask.

He'd whisper a short report as the couple fell back to sleep in their new country.

"If I could keep these little tethers to my old life," Ahrens said, "I could live in a foreign country where I don't speak the language."

For a Charleston-born WVU alumnus, following the Mountaineers was a critical tether to feeling connected to home. Driving over the Han River on his way to work, Ahrens would pull over to watch the sun rise as ESPN's "Mike & Mike" podcast discussed the news in sports.

He needed to feel connected. So he'd visit the Charleston Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail websites for daily coverage of the Mountaineers, while working as director of global communications for Hyundai, Korea's second-largest company.

Ahrens writes about life in South Korea, the varying forms of kimchee - a fermented cabbage dish - and its many fragrances, the culture and the camaraderie among his Korean colleagues in his first book, "Seoul Man." Published in August, the memoir follows Ahrens as he tackles a new career in a new country as a newlywed.

Ahrens will speak about his book at 6 p.m. Friday at Taylor Books in downtown Charleston. The event is free, and refreshments will be provided along with alcoholic beverages. He'll be on hand after to chat and sign copies of the book.

"If I ever write a book," Ahrens used to say, "a high point would be coming home to Charleston, seeing old friends I haven't seen for a long time and talking at Taylor [Books]."

Ahrens grew up in Kanawha City, next to the University of Charleston. When he went to Charleston High School in the late '70s, the cool thing to do was go to Capitol Street and walk around.

"Capitol Street was the main drag before the mall was built. I remember it literally being packed," Ahrens said.

Even after he graduated from WVU and landed a job writing for The Washington Post, he still followed the action of his hometown, Ahrens said. During his 18 years at the Post, he spent a few years covering business, like stories of urban and suburban planning and how people live in those areas.

After the Charleston Town Center mall was built, Ahrens said he watched Charleston closely. He followed how the businesses on Capitol Street and surrounding downtown streets declined and how they slowly regrew.

And he credits Taylor Books for much of that.

"I always thought Taylor Books was the anchor of that. That Taylor [Books] was crucial to saving Capitol Street and downtown Charleston."

When he moved to South Korea in 2010, Ahrens said he found many things that reminded him of the Mountain State.

Seoul is roughly the same latitude. The weather is similar. It's mountainous, like in West Virginia's old and rolling Appalachian mountains.

"I arrived in October of 2010, and the hills all around Seoul looked like the hills around Charleston ablaze with color, just gorgeous," Ahrens said.

But naturally, there were handfuls of differences.

"You just have to switch your way of thinking almost 180 degrees," he said.

From cuisine - think lots and lots of kimchee - to Seoul's crazy traffic to the drinking, Ahrens' book recounts his daily life.

The stories include his first evening out with his coworkers. Ahrens brought his wife, which was contradictory to customary behavior.

His coworkers took him to a Korean barbecue restaurant. They sat around a table in a private room. Raw meat was brought to the table raw and cooked over a tub of hot coals or a grill in the middle of the table.

"The evening started off pleasantly enough, but once the soju came out, things got Korean," Ahrens writes.

Soju, like vodka in Russia, is much more than just a drink. It's a critical piece of Korean culture as Ahrens explains. It's the means for team building with coworkers. It's how you bond after hours. It's something you drink - a lot.

Ahrens explores the Korean drinking culture. He unpacks Korea's history of development, how in 50 years it grew from a poor country to one of the richest and smartest. He shares what it's like moving there as a middle-aged man.

And through the book, he draws a large arch between him, Korea and Hyundai - that all three were experiencing their midlife crises at the time.

To hear more about that midlife crisis and the ways Ahrens compares to the Asian country and one of its largest automakers, visit his website at frankahrens.com or listen to him Friday at Taylor Books.

Reach Anna Patrick at anna.patrick@wvgazettemail.com or 304-348-4881.

Photo of the Week: Celebrating National Parks http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160904/GZ0506/160909937 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160904/GZ0506/160909937 Sun, 4 Sep 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Lisa Paddock stood at the south rim of Yellowstone's Grand Canyon, and she started to feel something on her cheek. Tears.

"The place was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes," Lisa said.

Taken by her husband, Mark Paddock, the photo of Yellowstone National Park's Yellowstone Falls was shot from the overlook spot known as Artist Point.

"It is easy to see how Yellowstone National Park was named when you see the yellow in the canyon," said Lisa, a resident of Elkview.

Lisa, Mark and their son Bryan took a two-week trip in July to visit as many national parks and national monuments as they could. The family visited Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, the Badlands, Bighorn Battlefield, Grand Tetons and more.

"The trip was a present for my son Bryan's high school graduation. ... The trip was really special because we got to see so many beautiful places and spend great family time together before Bryan left for college," Lisa said.

Take any family vacations this year? We want to see!

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

Photo: WV readies for Bridge Day http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160901/GZ07/160909962 GZ07 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160901/GZ07/160909962 Thu, 1 Sep 2016 17:32:19 -0400 Workers are gussying up the New River Gorge Bridge for its big day in October. Here, Robert Ball, with D&G Construction of Huntington, gives the bridge's footers a fresh coat of paint on Thursday. Bridge Day, the only day of the year when BASE jumpers are welcome to legally leap from the span, is scheduled for Oct. 15.

West Virginian hops train to brainstorm how state can attract young talent http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160828/GZ0506/160829599 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160828/GZ0506/160829599 Sun, 28 Aug 2016 04:30:00 -0400 Anna Patrick By Anna Patrick The types of questions Natalie Roper received on "the millennial train" went beyond the basic get-to-know-you kind of inquiries.

They skipped over the niceties. And instead, Roper and her fellow participants on the Millennial Trains Project dove into hearty discussions about social change and how millennials are impacting their communities. They listened to speakers from national nonprofits, visited cities focused on innovation like Detroit and Milwaukee, and met with community leaders.

Roper said many times she would be sitting on the floor in a '50s-style train car, surrounded by young people, all trying to determine their role in changing the world, while listening to a speaker from the Rockefeller Foundation. Meanwhile their train zipped by fields of corn on the journey to their next stop.

Roper, executive director of Generation West Virginia, and 25 of her peers, all diverse young leaders, recently concluded the 10-day trip across the country with the Millennial Trains Project. Founded in 2013 by Patrick Dowd, the nonprofit is designed to take millennials on a journey across the country, stopping in five cities that are working hard to retain young talent, while creating an environment to brainstorm ideas and foster progress.

It's a rubber-meets-the-road kind of mentality. Instead of reading about how Detroit is working to attract young talent, the nonprofit took participants there and showed them. It took them to a millennial tech summit in San Francisco and hosted them for a rooftop dinner in Los Angeles to showcase a new dining project.

"I hope I'm cool enough for this," Roper joked before flying to Los Angeles to catch the train Aug. 10.

Roper had to apply and submit a project to work on during the train ride. She was the only person representing West Virginia. Roper's project focused on answering the question that drives her organization: How does West Virginia attract and retain its young talent?

Young talent is a regular export of the Mountain State. According to a 2009 study by PayScale.com, a salary information website, 72 percent of graduates from West Virginia University leave the state within five years of graduation. Between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015, West Virginia lost more than 6,100 people, a higher rate of loss than any other state in the country, according to a population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"West Virginia's future depends on its ability to attract and retain young adults, who fuel economic growth and urban revitalization," Roper wrote in her proposal to the Millennial Trains Project.

During every stop in L.A., San Francisco, Denver, Milwaukee and Detroit, Roper met with chambers of commerce, community organizations and nonprofits to learn about what they are doing to attract and retain young talent.

Even places like San Francisco, Roper said, which has a high percentage of young people, city organizers, planners and large businesses, are making decisions around the retention and attraction of workers 18 to 34 years of age.

"I was shocked at this sense of urgency for attracting and retaining young people in every single city, especially San Fran. ... They are the hub for young people," Roper said. "They knew that success of a place equals the number of young people you have."

At its most basic level, attracting young, talented people to your city or state is about growing your tax base. It's about having enough tax payers to support critical infrastructure needs, to provide enough funds so a city can grow its quality of life.

But it's much more than that. It's about a state or city's survival and growth in a knowledge economy, Roper said.

"In a knowledge economy, our greatest asset is young people with great ideas and the ability to get them done," she said. "So we have to be a place where they want to be."

Millennials are the most mobile generation. Thanks to technology, millennials can find ways to work from wherever they want.

So, how are places like Detroit, a city that filed bankruptcy three years ago, luring millennials to come and start a life there?


"In Detroit they even said, 'Sometimes the narrative has more power than reality,'" Roper said.

Detroit still has a long way to recovery. Roper said the city's downtown has only one major street that's been renovated and populated with new trendy restaurants and businesses.

But people are moving there because they believe in the narrative of the city. Roper spoke to many leaders of nonprofits in Detroit, and they all said the same things: "Detroit is for doers," "In Detroit, we get things done," "Detroit is big enough to matter in the world, but small enough for you to matter in it."

West Virginia already has its narrative, Roper said. It's what defines its culture and shapes its people. It's not a blank canvas.

"The reason we have a culture right now that is amazing for a young person to be a part of is because we've always been resilient. We've always been a place that steps up. We've always been a place of self starters," Roper said.

Narrative provides hope, she said. It's powerful. It helps bring a bankrupt city like Detroit back from the brink.

Roper spent a lot of time talking to fellow train passengers and organizers about West Virginia's narrative, about what it has to offer young people.

"I'm able to say, 'I have an opportunity as a young person to be a part of conversations that are envisioning the state's future, to work with people in the legislature,'" Roper said.

"We're not so behind on this wave. We have a lot of foundational things that other places don't have."

These include a low cost of living, access to networks in the state and local governments and a tremendous amount of outdoor recreation.

And it isn't that people living in other states have negative perceptions of West Virginia, Roper said. It's that they don't have any perceptions of the place.

"Most people just said, 'I don't know anything that happens there,'" Roper said. "We're not really combating that many negative stereotypes. We are creating our narrative. People don't know anything about this place."

To learn about the Millennial Trains Project, visit www.millennialtrain.co.

Reach Anna Patrick at


or 304-348-4881.

Photo of the Week: Warm summer night in Bristol http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160828/GZ0506/160829632 GZ0506 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160828/GZ0506/160829632 Sun, 28 Aug 2016 00:01:00 -0400 The train station in Bristol, Tennessee, is warm with the glow of yellowish lights on a summer eve. Nancy Hancart of Nitro was on vacation when she photographed the empty scene.

Hancart's a regular contributor to Photo of the Week, always taking her camera with her on trips and then sending in photos to make us feel like we were there.

Send us a photo of a place you think everyone should see. Somewhere that's bucket-list worthy.

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

New guide lists drool-worthy West Virginia pet-friendly vacation sites http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160825/GZ03/160829692 GZ03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160825/GZ03/160829692 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 17:16:15 -0400 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer With more Americans than ever now including pets in their entourage as they hit the road for family vacations or business trips, the folks at Wild, Wonderful West Virginia have sunk their teeth into the concept of marketing the state's pet-friendly attractions, accommodations and eateries.

"We love our pets as much as we do our children," said state Tourism Commissioner Amy Shuler Goodwin, who announced the release of the "West FURginia Guide" during a press conference Thursday in Charleston's East End Dog Park.

The free, 20-page booklet lists places to see and things to do while accompanied by dogs, cats and other leash-controlled pets.

"When people are away from home, they worry about their pets," Goodwin said, as she watched Gus, her shelter-rescued Golden Retriever-Saint Bernard cross-breed, romp through the dog park with some newly made friends. "And it can be quite expensive to board your pets while you are away from home. People who are in businesses that cater to visitors have recognized that becoming pet-friendly gives them a great opportunity to grow without having to spend a lot of money to do so."

"Six million Americans travel with their pets each year," said Alisa Bailey, president of the Charleston Convention and Visitors' Bureau. "They're willing to pay extra fees to be able to keep their pets with them while they travel."

Among unique pet-friendly attractions available in West Virginia, according to the new guide, are sternwheeler cruises to Blennerhassett Island State Historical Park, where leashed dogs and their human partners can roam the grounds of the reconstructed Harman Blennerhassett Mansion, wade on the beaches of the Ohio River island and jog its network of dirt roads.

At the eastern tip of the state, dogs are allowed to keep their owners company while exploring the spookier nooks of the historic town of Harpers Ferry while participating in Harpers Ferry Ghost Tours programs.

In Canaan Valley, snow-loving dogs are welcome to accompany their human keepers on several of White Grass Touring Center's cross-country ski trails, while far to the south, dogs are welcome to trade in the couch for a passenger seat in the family car to take in a movie at the Pipestem Drive-In near Athens.

According to the new guide, a surprising number of West Virginia restaurants are dog-friendly, with Morgantown leading the pack by offering at least seven canine-accommodating eateries. At Shepherdstown in the Eastern Panhandle, dogs are welcome at aptly named Lost Dog Coffee, Domestic's artisan cuisine and the Blue Moon Cafe. In Charleston, Fido-friendly food outlets include the deck at Tricky Fish cafe and water bowl-equipped Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream.

Dog-friendly cabins can be found at 18 West Virginia state parks and state forests, in addition to eight canine-accommodating state park lodges. Pet-friendly cabins are also available at private-sector places such as Yokum's Vacationland at Seneca Rocks, Berkeley Springs Getaways in Morgan County and New River Cabins near Fayetteville.

For more urban and upscale travelers, dogs are welcome at historic Blennerhassett Hotel in downtown Parkersburg, where courtesy water bowls, place mats and treats await canine guests. In the Charleston area, pet-friendly lodging is available at the Holiday Inn & Suites in South Charleston, Red Roof Inn and Country Inn & Suites in Kanawha City and the Residence Inn by Marriott at Northgate.

Also listed in the new guide are pet-friendly B&Bs, campgrounds and festivals, along with canine and feline day care, grooming and accessories shops across the state.

"Pet travel is growing across the country, and we're committed to make it a part of our marketing strategy," said Goodwin.

The West FURginia Guide is the latest in a series of new pocket guides released by Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, including the Craft Beer Guide, Wine and Spirits Guide, and Summer Guide. To get free copies of any of the guides, call 800-225-5982 or visit www.GoToWV.com.

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