www.wvgazettemail.com Travel http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2016, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers PHOTOS: Live on the Levee kicks off in Charleston http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160527/GZ01/160529555 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160527/GZ01/160529555 Fri, 27 May 2016 20:15:52 -0400

Dr. Beach names Hawaii's Hanauma Bay best beach in America http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160526/GZ07/160529626 GZ07 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160526/GZ07/160529626 Thu, 26 May 2016 21:16:59 -0400 By Caleb Jones The Associated Press By By Caleb Jones The Associated Press HONOLULU - When you come upon an ocean bay that has features known as "Toilet Bowl" and "Witch's Brew," you may not envision a welcoming tropical oasis. But Hawaii's Hanauma Bay, nestled inside a breeched volcanic cone on the southeastern shore of Oahu, has some of the state's calmest waters, most pristine beaches and world-renowned snorkeling over coral reefs that teem with colorful fish.

For the second year in a row, a beach in Hawaii has been selected as the best beach in America by a Florida professor who's made a career ranking and studying beaches around the country. This year's top spot goes to Hanauma Bay, a picturesque nature reserve with gin-clear, turquoise water and abundant sea life.

Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, uses about 50 criteria to assess and rank beaches across the country. In recent years, he has given extra points to beaches that prohibit smoking, saying cigarette butts are not only environmentally damaging, but can ruin the experience for beach-goers. Safety and environmental management are other major factors, he said.

"It's so safe and easy. A lot of times if you want to see those kinds of fish you've got to go offshore, you've got to go take a boat ride somewhere," Leatherman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview last week. "I've never seen so many fish swimming around your feet."

Other beaches that made the list this year, in order of ranking, are: Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida; Kapalua Bay Beach in Maui, Hawaii; Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Coast Guard Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Grayton Beach State Park in Florida; Coronado Beach in San Diego; Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York; Caladesi Island State Park in Clearwater, Florida; and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Hanauma Bay became a marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. In 1990, local officials formulated a plan to better protect the area. All first-time visitors who come to the popular snorkeling spot are required to watch an informational video that teaches them about preservation and conservation, as well as the safety rules for the bay. It's against the law to mistreat any marine life in the bay, and visitors are not allowed to touch or walk on the coral reefs.

Leatherman says Hanauma Bay was the first beach in the state to ban smoking because they found that fish were eating cigarette butts.

"We don't really want these cigarette butts on the beaches anyway, because kids eat them, too," Leatherman said. "They're disgusting."

Now all public beaches in Hawaii prohibit smoking, which helped give the edge to last year's winner, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park on Oahu.

Now in his 25th year of ranking beaches, Leatherman has reset the list and allowed all beaches to be eligible for the top spot in 2016. Until now, any beach that won previously had been disqualified for another win, and Hanauma Bay won the honor about a decade ago, Leatherman said.

"It's one of the most unique beaches in the world, there's no doubt about that," he said.

Safety is an important factor in Leatherman's decision, noting that the water in Hanauma Bay is relatively shallow and calm and that you don't have to go very far offshore to see the marine life. The park also has lifeguards posted across the beach and many signs warning visitors of the dangers that do exist.

The area is not without hazards, however. There have been 51 drowning deaths at Hanauma Bay since 1995.

Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Shayne Enright told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday that inexperienced snorkelers often underestimate the dangers of swimming in the bay.

"It's the lifeguard's job to survey all these people who are face-down in the water and figure out who is in trouble and who is OK," Enright said.

She said that there are some misconceptions that visitors have about snorkeling, especially that the activity is easy.

"If you don't practice snorkeling, you will swallow water," she said. "If you swallow a lot of water, you can actually paralyze your vocal cords and you're unable to make any noise and panic sets in."

Enright noted that while the waves rarely get very big in the bay, certain areas have very strong currents that can suck you out to sea. Areas known as "Witch's Brew" and "Toilet Bowl" are both off limits because of the strong currents, she said. There were about 650 rescues in 2015, ranging from people who were unresponsive in the water to those who simply needed some help getting back to shore.

Only four of the 51 drowning victims at Hanauma Bay since 1995 were Hawaii residents, 28 were from other countries and the remaining 19 were from out of state, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.

Yichuan Chiang, who has lived in Honolulu for about 45 years and comes to the park three times a week to swim laps in the "Keyhole" section of the bay, says the fish, scenery and warm water are the reasons he loves the beach so much.

"I don't think there's any other place like this in the state," he said as the sun rose above the horizon on an early May morning. "There are probably 200 varieties of fish in the bay, so you're bound to run into some of them every time you're out there."

Hanauma Bay is closed to visitors on Tuesdays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day to allow the fish to feed without the stress of swimmers nearby. President Barack Obama spent New Year's Day in 2015 snorkeling with his wife and daughters in the bay. They spent more than four hours at the site, which was closed to the public during their visit. The Obamas visit nearly every year.

There are only about 300 parking spaces available so guests should plan to arrive early if they want to drive to the bay. There are also tourist shuttle buses from Waikiki that operate daily.

WV Travel Team: Pennsylvania Highlands offer plenty of choices http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160522/GZ05/160529997 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160522/GZ05/160529997 Sun, 22 May 2016 04:23:00 -0400 By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team By By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team The Pennsylvania Highlands area is made up of 13 counties in the southern portion of the state. Each county is rich with history and culture as well as a variety of things to do and see. We've made it a little easier by breaking down some of the top things in each county visitors should add to their checklists.

This county, named after John Adams, is home to Gettysburg. Visit the National Military Park, Museum and Visitor Center. Walk the battlefield tour self-guided or with a licensed guide.

After taking in all the history at Gettysburg, tour the county's wineries and distilleries. Adams County is known for its orchards of apples, but the wine and spirits are on the rise.

Everyone has to eat, and the choices in Gettysburg abound. The Savor Gettysburg Food Tours takes you to seven unique eateries within 1 mile. Try the tribute to baseball Hall of Famer Edward Stewart Plank, "Gettysburg Eddie's," or for some historic dining, head to Fairfield Inn 1757 on the Confederate Retreat.

Berks County is part of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Reading is the county seat and a great place to start an adventure.

Reading has a robust trail system for hiking, biking, horseback riding or paddling. Its interactive trail map will help plot a course. Winter visitors can also take to the ski slopes. With camping and golfing, there are lots of reasons to be outdoors.

For sightseeing, take the Hex Barn Art Tour. The Hex Art was discovered as long ago as the 1700's in the gable ends of barns.

Covered bridges dot the landscape in Berks County. Find these historic bridges around the county, and take in the beautiful scenery along the way. Be sure to see the Wertz's Covered Bridge, which is the longest single span covered bridge in Pennsylvania at 220 feet across.

Visit the National Historic Landmark, Pearl S. Buck House and Historic Site, an 1825 farmhouse and 68-acre estate complete with a gift shop, cultural center and gardens. There are more than four dozen museums and historic sites to see in the area.

Reach new heights in a hot air balloon ride or float down the Delaware River. Bucks County River Country offers two- to four-hour scenic trips for the whole family.

For hikers, lace up the hiking shoes and fire up the taste buds to take Bucks County Wine Trail.

One of the three original Pennsylvania counties created by William Penn, Chester County is near Berks, Montgomery and Lancaster counties.

The Herrs Snack Factory Tour is fun for everyone. Learn how the Herrs product line is made and verify the deliciousness with your taste buds. Stop by the gift shop to take home a reminder of the trip.

Visitors up for some modern culture can take the QVC Studio Tour or the Dansko Headquarters and Company store tour.

Cumberland County, aka Cumberland Valley, has some amazing views. A birders delight, Waggoner's Gap Hawk Watch has one of the largest concentration of raptors over a 125-acre area. Autumn is the best time to see golden eagles during migration.

Get your motor running and see the Antique Auto Museum of America or the Rolls Royce Museum. If that really revs your engine, try the "Motorin' 5-Day Trip."

For the foodies, the riverfront town of Wormleysburg provides a lengthy list of options to dine with a view of the Susquehanna River. RockBass Grill gives diners a spectacular view while they feast on seafood and steak.

The Hersheypark and Harrisburg areas are located in Dauphin County. With lots of family friendly activities, all ages will be entertained.

Hershey Gardens uses a 23 acre "canvas" to display themed gardens including over 500 rose bushes.

In keeping with the Hershey theme, the chocolate lovers heaven is found at the Hershey's Chocolate World Attraction. Take the Chocolate Making Tour and sample.

In Harrisburg, sports lovers can take in a Harrisburg Senators baseball game or Harrisburg City Islanders soccer.

This county is the namesake of Ben Franklin. It's also the birthplace of James Buchanan.

With 232 miles of the Appalachian Trail passing through Pennsylvania, the hiking opportunities are as varied in their skill level as they are in their views.

For visitors looking for a historical stay, the James Buchanan Hotel serves a lovely Sunday brunch.

Lancaster is part of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The Amish community in Lancaster County is a major attraction.

Start with an Amish buggy ride, or take an Amish Farm and House Countryside Tour. The covered bridges are stars in the sight-seeing lineup too.

To take it up a notch, try the Refreshing Mountain Retreat and Adventure Center with zip lines, rappelling, climbing towers, nature hunts and more.

A stay in Lancaster County can be in a cozy bed-and-breakfast or a hotel of many price points.

Allentown, the third largest city in the state behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, is located in Lehigh County.

Seventh Street displays a palette of colors of ethnic restaurants.

Adventures await during any season. Iron Valley Tubing in Cornwall, provides 15 lanes of snow tubing fun. There are a variety of bodies of water to boat in or play around during the warmer months.

Covered Bridges and Excursion Trains will give you some of the best views.

The Garden of Reflection 9/11 Memorial is something to see in person. An evening visit is highly recommended.

If you're feeling colorful, check out the Crayola Experience in Easton. This is a "color outside the lines" sort of experience for the kids.

The Nor-Bath Trail is a 5-mile rails to trails route that follows the former Northampton & Bath rail line.

York County is known for its factory tours. Experience the fine crafting of a violin at Bluett Brothers Violins, the road ready rumble at the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and the salty goodness of Snyder's of Hanover Pretzels. There are also over a dozen breweries to choose from.

For personalized assistance in planning your adventure, stop by the AAA Charleston office or call one of the AAA travel professionals at 304-925-1136.

Music, history and festivals: Things to do in Lewisburg, WV http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160515/GZ05/160519828 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160515/GZ05/160519828 Sun, 15 May 2016 04:00:00 -0400 By Kristi Godby Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail By By Kristi Godby Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail Lewisburg is definitely a foodie paradise. Visitors may come for the duck confit, grilled Brussels sprouts, Big Jim Burger or spinach and cheese bagel, but they stay for the activities and ever-packed schedule of events.

Lewisburg has one of only four Carnegie Halls still in continuous use, which provides the area with a variety of musical acts. Martin Sexton - with his eclectic soulful voice - closes out the 2015-2016 Mainstage performances on May 20, but the melodies never stop at this local base for music. June 9 is the first of the Ivy Terrace Concerts, which take place every second and fourth Thursday night throughout the summer. Starting at 6:30 p.m., people can enjoy free live music on the lawn of Carnegie Hall.

Greenbrier Valley Theatre, the State Professional Theatre of West Virginia, also calls Lewisburg home and this summer, it presents the ambitious rock-opera of Jesus Christ Superstar May 13 to June 4. The popular 1970s Broadway musical follows Jesus of Nazareth in his last days as told through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. With amazing costumes, memorable songs and top-notch actors, this show is a must-see.

The ubiquitous dandelion, often hated by lawn owners, is celebrated during Memorial Day weekend, May 27 to 29, by the City of White Sulphur Springs. Black King Coal performs Friday night, a fishing derby and 5k run start off Saturday morning, followed by a car show, turkey calling contest, sporting clay shooting competition and a Dandy Legs Contest. Some of the music on Saturday includes Richard Hefner and The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys and the Hobb Sisters; fireworks begin at dusk. An evening parade closes out the event on Sunday. Concessions, Fun Factory activities for kids and an art show at the White Sulphur Springs Library are also on hand throughout the three days.

Tennis greats Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick face each other on Saturday, June 4 at The Greenbrier's professional tennis stadium, Center Court at Creekside. This outdoor arena, with gorgeous views of Howard's Creek and the Old White TPC Golf Course, is the ideal location to enjoy a thrilling tennis match. Turn this tennis treat into a getaway weekend by indulging in The Greenbrier's one or two night packages. They include a stay at America's Resort, lower level seating, breakfast buffet and more.

Taking place on Ronceverte Island Park June 9 to 12, this three-day festival boasts kid's carnival rides, vendors, free concerts and the crowd-favorite, the Rubber Ducky Race.

Lewisburg and Greenbrier County are full of history in their architecture, artifacts and stories. On June 11 the Home and Garden Tour provides an up-close look at the area's most historical and beautiful homes. Many of these homes are private residences and are only accessible during this once-a-year tour. Rare antiquities, private heirlooms and lovely spring gardens are the highlights of this event.

For more information visit


WV Travel Team: Multi-day camp-and-trek trail trips http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160515/GZ05/160519830 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160515/GZ05/160519830 Sun, 15 May 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Compiled by the GoToWV Team By Compiled by the GoToWV Team

Trace some of the nation's most atmospheric and historic camp-and-trek trails.

In West Virginia, picturesque footpaths take you past historic towns, heath landscapes and atmospheric railroads.

Here's a list of the best multi-day trail trips:

1. Appalachian Trail

At 2,160 miles long, this famous footpath gives you lots of territory to cover. But you'll want to hang around West Virginia, especially because of Harpers Ferry. This little cliff-side town has plenty of ambiance, from its perch overlooking the rock-strewn Potomac River to its historic Civil War-era homes.

From there, walk 10.4 miles to Gathland State Park. Along the way, you'll get to climb Weverton Cliffs and peer down at the river.

Pull off and spend the night, or double back to Harpers Ferry and sleep in town.

2. Allegheny Trail

Looking for an extended hiking trip? Check out West Virginia's first long-distance footpath, which winds past Durbin, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Seneca State Forest.

Its 300 miles are divvied up in four sections. We recommend the second, which starts off at Blackwater Falls State Park and ends at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park - a 76-mile hike.

Along the way, you'll see farms, creeks and various fishing spots for trout. Glady Fork River is especially picturesque.

3. North Bend Rail Trail

History and mystery give this hike plenty of atmosphere.

Its 72 miles cover tons of intriguing points, like old rail tunnels, historic inns and factories. A few passages are supposedly haunted. Of 10 accessible tunnels left behind from a 19th-century railroad company, one is even "raw"- it cuts through 337 feet of rock.

Ready? Start in Petersburg and end at Wolf Summit. Grouse and deer might keep you company. Stop into towns like Cairo and Salem, which have restaurants and shops near the trail.

4. American Discovery Trail

The North Bend Rail Trail is a section of the longer American Discovery Trail (ADT). Stretching more than 6,800 miles from California to Delaware, the American Discovery Trail is the only coast-to-coast non-motorized recreational trail in the country.

The ADT enters West Virginia at Parkersburg and passes through Grafton before veering north and exiting the state at Green Spring in the Eastern Panhandle. It actually merges with three other West Virginia trails, too: the Harrison County Rail Trail, the Dryfork Rail Trail and the Allegheny Trail.

There is plenty to see along the way, as the ADT passes through or near a number of scenic, historic and recreational sites, including Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, the Philippi Covered Bridge, Smoke Hole Caverns and the Dolly Sods Wilderness. You can pitch your tent in the Monongahela State Forest or at a number of state parks along the way, including North Bend, Tygart Lake, Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls.

5. Greenbrier River Trail

Crave rural scenery? Try this trail that follows the river for most of its 78 miles. Quiet pastures, thick woods, rustic bridges and historic railroad tunnels add pleasing variety to the trip.

We suggest you head south toward the little town of Clover Lick. Its aged train depot makes a great photo. Then, walk to Marlinton for lunch or spend the night at a B&B. Your trip ends in Lewisburg, a charming town packed with boutiques, antique shops and cafes.

6. West Fork Trail

This sweet journey pops with rustic delights. The 22 miles between Glady and Durbin are steeped in railroad history - old train ballast covers the paths, and old tracks cross an occasional bridge.

You'll also follow the river and even spot some cascades when the trail crosses High Falls. When you finish in Durbin, hang out at one of the local restaurants before riding the Durbin Rocket, an old steam locomotive.

7. Dolly Sods Wilderness

Do you really want to disappear into the wild? Look no further than Dolly Sods, a primordial backland brimming with arctic scenery: ancient bogs, stunted pines and odd boulders sculpted by mountain blasts. You may even spot some of the carnivorous plants that call this mysterious place home.

If you're game, 47 miles of discreet trails are at your disposal.

8. Kanawha Trace

Flatboatmen used this historic route to the Kanawha Valley when they came back from selling goods on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The 32-mile long Kanawha Trace (KT) runs from Barboursville where the Mud and Guyandotte Rivers meet to Fraziers Bottom on the Kanawha River.

The KT winds over wooded hillsides, past rushing streams and through pastoral countryside where cattle and horses graze. It's quiet and pretty, but never far from civilization. You can set up camp at one of two shelters along the route, or pitch a tent in a big field by the old schoolhouse near mile 20.

With the exception of a few public roads, the KT is on private lands. The trail is maintained by the local Boy Scout troop. Get parking and trail access at Camp Arrowhead near the southern terminus.

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.

Bed and breakfast owner brings home on country road back to life http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160513/GZ05/160519782 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160513/GZ05/160519782 Fri, 13 May 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Douglas Imbrogno By Douglas Imbrogno

CLENDENIN - When Angela Born - then Angela McFarland - graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan in 1995, she donned a backpack and headed eastward to wander across Europe. After returning home, she then headed west to St. Louis University to complete her certification as a dietitian and to work on a master's degree in nutrition and public health.

She thought she'd be back soon enough to her home state. But she met and married her husband, John Born, and they proceeded to settle in St. Louis and have six kids.

"The whole time we were in St. Louis I was homesick," Angela recalled. "I missed being here."

At age 42, she has finally returned to what she calls her "motherland." But more than just coming home, she and her husband have also joined the state's growing tourism and local foods movement with their Country Road House and Berries, located at 7 Kittyhawk Drive in rural Kanawha County.

The name of their 93-acre property, nestled in a quiet nook of the deep woods yet less than 10 minutes from Interstate 79, reveals its dual purpose as a bed-and-breakfast and - come next summer - a pick-your-own strawberry farm.

"Everyone needs to take a break with their family and do something fun. And picking fresh fruit is a memory maker," said Angela.

She had been working as a pharmaceutical sales rep in St. Louis. But she couldn't get the hills out of her system, even while living in a St. Louis subdivision. With the blessing of friendly neighbors, she and her husband kept chickens. And she has always grown a big garden and done down-home cooking.

Then, about a decade ago, she and a girlfriend drew up a business plan for a bed-and-breakfast.

"Our husbands are like, 'What are you guys doing!?'" Angela said. But the property they had in mind was too expensive to renovate. She set the plans aside.

Then, last year, Angela and her husband - a South Bend, Indiana native - decided to get that woman back home to West Virginia and her extended family. (Angela's father, Bill McFarland, runs Loop Pharmacy in St. Albans, where the family has deep roots.)

The couple found the perfect property, although it needed a lot to make it work. It came with a ramshackle farmhouse, a root cellar with a room above it and a whole lot of history, too.

"As I was thinking it through, God was like, 'THIS is your bed and breakfast. This is it.' And I'm like, 'Yes! Finally, I get it back!' I didn't think I'd ever get it back again," she said.

John found a good job as a Columbia Pipeline software engineer while the couple set to work drawing up plans for the property.

The question was simple and direct.

"What would it take to revamp the property? That's all my husband needs, is a plan," she said.

They renovated the old farmhouse into a cozy two-bedroom, one-bathroom B&B rental. The cellar house out back, with a root cellar burrowed into a hill and a room above it, has been transformed into a rustic single room with bathroom and can sleep four.

The limestone block foundations of the cellar house bear visible chisel marks from their original hewing out of the earth.

"In this area, the Amish would bring in wagon loads of limestone block. So, the early people out here would buy it and build with it," said Angela.

On the right side of the field behind the cellar house stands ... well, there is no other way to put it - an historic outhouse.

"This is one of the Public Works outhouses that was funded by the New Deal. It's in great shape," said Angela.

She had the owner of Mountaineer Auctions in Clendenin verify that the outhouse was one of those built via Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Public Works Administration, which fanned workers out across the country to put people to work constructing useful things.

"He said one of the things that's indicative of a PWA outhouse, if you really get into the science of outhouses, not that I care, but there's a poured throne cement floor and this special ventilation system," she said.

Angela laughed. "So, if a guest would prefer to use the outhouse this experience is available to them."

To the other side of the back yard rests a bite-size, single-room wooden structure.

"This is the former Bufflick post office. I'm pretty sure that's correct," said Angela.

"The story I got from the owners is that Pappy, he was the man that lived here, was driving home from work and they were building the interstate. And he saw that they had moved the post office because of the interstate construction. He asked if he could have it. And he carted it here."

The Borns may eventually turn the tiny house into a rental in the future. "But for now, my 13-year-old son has taken it over and has made it his man cave," she said.

Or perhaps his boy cave. She noted the computer on a side table.

"We don't have a TV, so he tries to watch things out here," she said.

The property's transformation keeps the family hopping. The two strawberry fields to either side of the property's driveway are ringed by the outward leaning wooden posts for an eventual seven-wire electric fence, designed to dissuade the hordes of deer expecting a strawberry dinner when the crop comes in. She got the idea for the design from an Extension office agent - the deer come underneath it and get a shock should they try to leap into strawberry fields forever.

"I talked to a strawberry grower in Kentucky at the small farms conference in February and he said he was thinking about trying that fence next," said Angela. "And I thought, 'Hmm ... if he's thinking about it next, I should just go ahead and do it right off the bat.'"

As for her own aims, Angela never did get that master's degree after her now 19-year-old daughter, Brooke, was born (the couple's six children range in age from 6 to 19). Brooke helps her mother with the B&B, making beds, cleaning up and helping with the cooking and other chores.

As a dietitian, Angela is able to meet dietary and food-preference needs of her guests, from gluten-free foods to vegetarian options, as well as meeting the urges of carnivores with sausage and rice and other dishes.

The farm features two pigs, named Quarterback and Bacon.

"I don't own the pigs," said Angela. "My 12-year-old owns the pig and Ethan down the road owns the pigs. The plan is to breed the pigs and sell their babies so they can make lots of money."

Guests need not feel guilty if they don't finish their hearty breakfasts, she added. "We will give it to the pigs!"

Since the B&B just recently opened, the couple has been seeing guests through word of mouth, their website or tourists traveling along Interstate 79. They had a reservation from three college students motorcycling across the country. They've had a couple bridal showers. (The Baptist minister down the road has made himself available for weddings, but you'll have to front him a tuxedo if you want him in one.)

The place is suitable for a wedding party of about 50 people or a small family reunion, she said.

They had one couple in their early 60s travel down from Ontario, Canada.

"His wife had never been to the United States. And they chose to come to West Virginia and they chose to come here. And I just thought that was amazing," she said.

"They stayed with us for a couple nights and just loved it. My husband built them a fire. If we know someone's going to be here for a period of time, we'll make them a fire and let them soak up the evening time out here."

There's so much local history around the property that everyone in the area is connected to it, said Angela. "The property just has a wonderful feeling. But people just also have a wonderful feeling about the property."

Angela hopes to evoke for her guests the feeling she got when visiting her great-grandmother's place in Brown's Creek in St. Albans.

"Back in the day, you were really close in age to your grandmother and your great-grandmother because people had their kids at 16, 18 years old, as opposed to, like, 30, as they do know," she said.

"So I grew up with my great-grandmother. We never had anything, produce-wise, that was bought in the store. It was always fresh or canned. I loved going out there and picking apples and playing with her chickens, her rabbits. Picking wildflowers."

One of the reasons she was so excited to find a cellar house on her new property were her memories of her grandmother's old root cellar.

"She had her food stored in there. In the summer, when you'd go visit her, she'd open the door and she'd sit right there and all that cool air would blow out on you. It was just like sitting under a fan, but you're outside.

"I have real soft spot for cellar houses. It's such a beautiful picture of rural West Virginia. The people that came out here? I mean, they really were roughing it. There was nothing out here. And to get to the city was a long journey. A lot of time you were riding your horse through the creek because there wasn't a road."

Born got her own love of rural gardening and cooking very young.

"When I was a girl in kindergarten, our teacher sent home seeds. And I was psycho-obsessed with these seeds! I begged my parents to make me a big bed so I could plant them. My great-grandmother even gave me seeds when I was in preschool. And I planted my first pumpkins and gourds at that time."

The property also includes a deep well, whose fresh water will be used to water the strawberries, which she also hopes to sell on a delivery route and in area markets. If a guest wishes, she can switch the B&B plumbing system to well water.

"Roger at the auction house said there are people that live in the city that would be dying to take a shower in well water," said Angela with a laugh. "I asked a few people that came here to stay and they were kind of looking at me like I had two heads. I just said I'm not going to ask anymore. But if somebody requests it we can switch it over and they could have that experience of showering in well water. If you want to feel like you're way out in the country."

The one thing she repeatedly hears from people who come to visit is how well they sleep, she said. "It's very quiet here."

Ultimately, she hopes the place channels the experience of being somewhere you might not have been for a long time.

"Here you might feel like you're at your great-grandma's house. And that's what I want people to feel. Stop the grind and come out and just make some memories.

"This is a palette," she added. "Paint whatever you want on it for whatever you want to use it for."

There will be an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 25. Contact Country Road House and Berries at 304-553-5761 or visit countryroadhouseandberries.com.

Reach Douglas Imbrogno at douglas@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-3017 or follow @douglaseye on Twitter.

Photo: Spring falls http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160509/GZ01/160509521 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160509/GZ01/160509521 Mon, 9 May 2016 18:07:08 -0400

WV Travel Team: Harpers Ferry at the epicenter of riveting history http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160508/GZ05/160509674 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160508/GZ05/160509674 Sun, 8 May 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team By By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team Editor's note: As we focus on food and fun in Shepherdstown this week, here's a look at something else to do on your journey to the Eastern Panhandle: Scenic Harpers Ferry is also in Jefferson County and a short drive away.


HARPERS FERRY - A pivotal scene in the political thriller I wrote featured the ghost of a Civil War soldier brandishing a bloody sword and was set in Harpers Ferry, at Jefferson Rock - with its spectacular view famously extolled by our third president as worth a voyage across the Atlantic.

Not everyone will use Harpers Ferry in a literary work, but no one will leave unimpressed.

The only town with its own national historic park, Harpers Ferry has a long and notable pedigree, beginning with Mother Nature's attributes.

Located at a break in the Blue Ridge, where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet at The Point, this natural corridor through the mountains made Harpers Ferry an important stop on the way west, whether on foot, horseback or by either boat or train. Carl Sandburg poetically captured its soul when he wrote: "Harpers Ferry is a meeting place of winds and water, rocks and ranges."

Virgin rock formations of Harpers shale dominate the area. Cliffs were blasted out in the mid-19th century to provide space for houses and shops needed for the armory workers.

Today those same structures are the charm of the town and offer numerous outdoor dining nooks and crannies, like the new Bistro 1840, with seating in an outdoor rock garden. Undoubtedly, the upper town of Harpers Ferry has more hidden spaces than anywhere outside of Rome's catacombs.

One way to experience the remarkable rock formations of the upper town is to visit the John Brown Wax Museum, where more than a dozen displays are constructed on a multitude of different levels, reached by descending narrow stairs.

When I finally reached the major display at the bottom, I was dismayed at the thought of climbing back up all those stairs to get out. Then I noticed an "EXIT" sign on my level and escaped to the street. I can't begin to explain the geography of it, but frankly all that mattered was not having to climb dozens of stairs.

Ghosts like the one I fabricated in my novel are a favorite part of the landscape, with the longest running ghost tours in the country conducted every weekend from April through November. Guides have plenty of historical information to work with: Harpers Ferry is the only locale that saw action every year of the Civil War.

As befits a national historic park, Harpers Ferry is saturated in history beginning with the first human habitation 10,000 years ago. Robert Harper first staked out the place that now bears his name in 1748.

George Washington catapulted Harpers Ferry, which was in his former legislative district, into its industrial success by rating it the "most eligible spot on the [Potomac] river" for one of two federal gun factories.

The famous armory was built and brought the railroad. Merryweather Lewis came to shop, acquiring the guns and the unique metal boat frame he took to explore the Louisiana Territory with William Clark.

Harpers Ferry's most notable marquee name also came for the guns. In 1859, abolitionist John Brown seized the armory, got most of his men killed, was captured, tried and hung nearby in Charles Town. Many believe his action instigated the Civil War.

The Civil War raged through Harpers Ferry all four years, destroying most of the industrial infrastructure. When the park service established the park, it restored the remaining structures to the quality of the lower town's 1859 heyday.

It was the memory of John Brown and his dream of establishing a black republic in the hills of Maryland that drew black America to the town. John Brown's Fort became a mecca with refugee slaves camping in the yard and civil rights groups making pilgrimages to see it.

This rich history is captured in several exhibits and includes the formation of the Niagara Movement by W.E.B. DuBois and the establishment of Storer College in 1867 as one of the earliest institutions for educating former slaves.

Although the National Park Service created the park in 1963, after devastating floods in 1936 and the closing of Storer College in 1955, West Virginia can claim credit for facilitating its creation.

In 1944, the state gave the federal government the flood-ravaged lower town. In 1953, the state acquired Bolivar Heights and gave that to the federal government as well, forming the basis for the park.

West Virginia's only National Historic Park, Harpers Ferry has been enjoying a very busy decade with anniversary celebrations virtually every year. For this year's 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Harpers Ferry has a full range of special events including jazz concerts and symphonies, historical dramas, hikes, pop-up exhibits and historic trade workshops. There are even costumes available for Civil War selfies.

Over the past decade, the National Park Service has expanded the area of the park by developing surrounding battlefields and adding more than 25 miles of walking trails. Murphy's Farm and Bolivar Heights are the most popular with representative cannon placements facing off across the highway below.

Park planners subscribe to the theory that visitors can learn history by walking through it. Through these efforts, the park is becoming a major destination for walkers and hikers, with the bonus of spectacular views of the two rivers and their water gaps.

For dedicated hikers, Harpers Ferry offers the trifecta of three national trails meeting along the Potomac River in the lower town: the Appalachian Trail, the C&O Canal and the Potomac Heritage Trail that takes hikers all the way to the Chesapeake Bay.

The new place to stay is the 100-room Clarion Harpers Ferry, which has a tavern and the largest privately owned solar array in the state. The only business with direct access to U.S. Route 340, the Clarion is just a quarter mile from the park by car. There are also trails for golf carts or walking from the popular KOA campground.

The River Riders adventure resort - with everything from kayaking to zip lines - is part of the hotel. A tower-strung zip line along the Potomac River provides a unique perspective on the breathtaking view that captivated Thomas Jefferson.

Harpers Ferry draws more than half a million visitors each year, with visits increasing monthly. Don't miss your chance to be part of the swell. The National Historic Park is open from dawn to dusk daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Visitors can get an orderly start to their tour at the central visitor center with its 1,000-car parking area, then take a free shuttle into the park.

For more information or to plan your trip, visit www.nps.gov/harpersferry, call 304-535-6029 or contact the Jefferson County CVB at 866-435-5698.

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.

Things to do in Shepherdstown (besides eat) http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160508/GZ05/160509677 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160508/GZ05/160509677 Sun, 8 May 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Mariane Davis Shepherdstown Visitors Center By By Mariane Davis Shepherdstown Visitors Center Lovely, historic Shepherdstown is going to the dogs downtown on King Street, and visitors will love it. DogFest returns the weekend of May 14 and 15, celebrating all things canine. Think canine competitions, tricks, shows, parades and more.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day visitors will have a chance to meet and mingle with animal shelters, breed-specific rescue groups and all-breed rescue organizations, all of which will have dogs eager for a belly rub or a cuddle.

The Parade of Dogs is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 14, and each day will include a blessing of the dogs. Vendors with dog-related products will be ready for pup-lovers in the crowd. The much-loved Community Dog Show will cap off the day's fun, so start working on those tricks and costumes.

Visitors will see border collies controlling sheep on the Shepherd University Midway, just a block north of the main exhibit area on May 14. The partnership between shepherd and sheepdog is almost mystical. Also on the Midway will be exciting flyball, a team sport for dogs in which they race over hurdles to catch balls and return. Lucky children may have a chance to try to beat the dogs at their own game. Children may also ride in a cart powered by a friendly Newfoundland.

As always, the Shepherdstown Opera House is adding to the fun with free children's films in the afternoon. The event takes place on King Street in the heart of downtown Shepherdstown. Many of Shepherdstown's shops and businesses welcome dogs, so bring your family and your best friends. Check out the sidebar for a full listing of events.


After the excitement of DogFest comes the peace and beauty of GardenFest on May 21 and 22. Shepherdstown, settled almost 300 years ago, has seen a lot but is still vibrant and alive with growing things.

The heart of the event is the Shepherdstown Community Club's Back Alley Tour and Tea, which returns for the 19th year, inviting ticket holders to stroll through almost 20 seldom-seen gardens. Some reflect the formality of the 18th- and 19th-century buildings that define this historic town.

Others are whimsically playful, mixing modern elements with quirky wildness. Others will give visitors a glimpse of Town Run, the spring-fed little river that runs under the town and peeks out from time to time.

Still others show that the fruits and vegetables usually seen piled high in grocery stores are much more lush and lovely growing in the earth.

The Back Alley Tour allows the visitors to return again and again to their favorite spots over the weekend, and to enjoy a charming and delicious tea as well. While ambling through town on May 21, don't miss the Potomac Valley Audubon Society's native plant sale. PVAS will put a particular emphasis on plants that will both thrive in this region and benefit pollinators like honeybees and monarch butterflies, which are both under great stress from pesticides and modern farming practices. Add beauty to your garden while ensuring a good harvest everywhere.

Both days will also include displays by local artists and access to local historic sites and the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. Visitors will delight in live music, children will find events just for them, too. Take the family on a carriage ride around town, and stop to shop for garden-themed goods at many of the unique and locally owned shops. Many of Shepherdstown's famous dining spots will entice visitors with special spring menus.

Make a point of getting to the Visitors Center where a volunteer is always happy to help visitors get the most out of their trip. Leave Shepherdstown with a greater love and understanding of dogs, a renewed passion for your own garden and a plan to return.

For more information, visit shepherdstown.info/.

New app gives visitors self-guided tours of Paint Creek Scenic Byway http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160426/GZ07/160429667 GZ07 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160426/GZ07/160429667 Tue, 26 Apr 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer BECKLEY - A 44-mile-long scenic corridor sprinkled with historic points of interest as well as places to fish for trout, ride bikes, view wildlife and paddle kayaks weaves its way over, under and alongside the West Virginia Turnpike between Beckley and the Kanawha County river town of Pratt - although most Turnpike travelers are oblivious to it.

To let more people know about the Paint Creek Scenic Byway and what it has to offer, the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association has created the Paint Creek Driving Tour, which uses a free downloadable mobile device app to give byway explorers access to 10 audio pieces with information on those who lived along the stream, from American Indian times through European settlement and farming to its coal mining boom and bust and present-day era of watershed restoration.

The mobile app, developed by i-Treks of Lewisburg, allows visitors to simply hit the Byway, starting from Tamarack, and as they approach points of interest, listen to site-appropriate audio stories automatically activated by arriving at preset GPS coordinates.

After three years of researching, recording and editing, "visitors now have the chance to learn about an area of Southern West Virginia as told by people who have lived there their whole lives," said project director Catherine Moore.

In addition to oral histories and historic sidebars, the audio tour features traditional Appalachian music. Additional information, plus a gallery of original photography, is available on the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association's website, paintcreekwv.com, where the free app for the driving tour can also be found.

American Indians once followed bison trails along Paint Creek to travel between the mountains of Southern West Virginia and the Kanawha Valley. The Shawnee who captured "Follow the River" heroine Mary Draper following an attack on settlers at Drapers Meadow, Virginia, in 1755 followed Paint Creek to travel between the Bluestone and Kanawha Rivers.

"I think people will really enjoy this trail," said Howard Hughes, president of the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association, whose great-great-grandfather founded the Paint Creek community of Pax in Fayette County.

"A lot of coal camps were built here and a lot of history took place along this creek," Hughes said. "While Blair Mountain gets all the publicity, the West Virginia Mine Wars started on Paint Creek."

In 1912, nine years before the Battle of Blair Mountain, thousands of miners went on strike along Paint and Cabin creeks in Kanawha County. After being evicted from coal company housing, the miners established tent cities that were fired upon, and in at least one case, machine-gunned by personnel hired by coal operators. Fiery labor organizer Mother Jones took part in the strike and was jailed in Pratt, while more than 100 miners were imprisoned through military court martial proceedings after state officials declared periods of martial law.

Although the driving tour begins by passing through several miles of picturesque farm country just south of Beckley, most of the drive takes travelers through what was once prime coal country. Mining developments began appearing in the Paint Creek watershed soon after the area became accessible to railroads in 1873.

"Pax used to be surrounded by coal mines and from Mahan on down Paint Creek to Pratt, it was one coal camp after another," said Hughes. "Now they're all gone."

Dave Cottrell and Darrell Preece of the Paint Creek Scenic Trails Association grew up in Mahan and attended high school at Kingston, a Paint Creek community that no longer exists. Both men now live in St. Albans, but continue to volunteer time and effort to making Paint Creek a more attractive place for visitors.

"We're trying to give something back to the place where we grew up," said Cottrell. "This creek is one of the best-kept secrets in West Virginia. We want to help get the word out to bring more people in."

"We're both in our 70s now and no longer live here, but we still want to make a contribution to the place where we grew up," said Preece. "We had a good life here. Our memories are good."

The town where Cottrell and Preece were raised is a far cry from the Mahan of today.

"There's just four or five houses there now," said Preece. "There were at least 500 people living there when we were growing up. There was the company store, a community hall where we had cake walks and dances, a barber and a doctor who came to town twice a week. Now it's a ghost town."

"Back then, our fun was swimming in the creek, swinging from vines, and sliding down the slate dump on sheets of tin roofing," said Cottrell.

"We'd fish, but back then, about the only fish in the creek were suckers. Now, it's one of the state's more prominent trout streams. Last Thursday, my son and I went trout fishing here. He caught nine and I caught seven."

Prior to the formation of the Upper and Lower Paint Creek Watershed Associations in the 1990s, "Paint Creek was a sewer and a public dumping site," said Dwight Siemiaczko, founder of the Lower Paint Creek Watershed Association. The cleanup started in 1995, Siemiaczko said, "when we started at Mahan and began walking down the creek, picking up trash as we went."

Since that first cleanup, the watershed groups have removed more than 11,000 bags of trash, 4,000 tires and 865 tons of discarded appliances and other forms of solid waste from the stream. They have built stream structures to flush silt from the creek and oxygenate its waters to enhance fish habitat. The have built a picnic area, fishing piers and installed signs and information kiosks to tell the creek's story to visitors.

"Since the cleanup got underway, the water quality has improved so much the fishery has exploded," Siemiaczko said. "Twenty years ago, if you happened to look down from the Turnpike and see Paint Creek, it was an embarrassment, with junk cars and tires all through the water. Now, if you look down when you drive by, you see people fishing. It's turned 180 degrees."

The Paint Creek Audio Driving Tour and website were made possible through grants from the National Coal Heritage Area Authority, the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Fayette County Commission.

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

WV Travel Team: Explore Chattanooga's storied past, colorful present http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160424/GZ05/160429898 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160424/GZ05/160429898 Sun, 24 Apr 2016 04:00:00 -0400 By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team By By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team Chattanooga may well be best known for the "Choo-Choo" ditty that's easily stuck in your head. While the historic hotel by the same name is an attraction in the Scenic City, it's only the beginning of what this 143-square-mile city has to offer.

Chattanooga came to life in 1815 as a trading post. The Union forces occupied the town during the Civil War. Many of the historic areas have been preserved in Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The Chattanooga National Cemetery was established in 1863. The Andrews Raiders Monument marks the graves of the participants in the 1862 Andres Raid or "The Great Locomotive Chase."

History buffs have a great deal of yesteryear to discover. You may want a tour of Tennessee Stillhouse. At the height of the pre-prohibition era you could find 20 distilleries throughout town. For another throw-back tour, hop on the Southern Belle Riverboat and take a river gorge tour. Don't miss the opportunity to see the International Towing and Recovery Museum, which includes the first tow truck in the world. It was made in Chattanooga in 1916.

The Native American history starts with Ross's Landing on the downtown riverfront. John Ross was the chief of the Cherokee nation. Ross's Landing is a public art memorial named "The Passage." You can splash in water running down steps alongside large clay medallions while learning more about the Cherokee history.

The list of outdoor options is lengthy - from mildly to extremely adventurous. You can run, mountain bike, camp, hang glide, paddle and more, all around the area. Spend the day paddling through downtown, gliding under the city bridges to the entrance of the Tennessee River Gorge.

If you're looking for new heights, you may want to try hang gliding from Lookout Mountain, the highest elevation in Chattanooga at 2,388 feet. If you want to hop on the Appalachian Trail, many sections are close to town, making about 50 miles of the trail accessible. If you're looking for a leisurely stroll, rent one of the Chattanooga city bikes found at docking stations around the city. Segway tours are also available.

Try the zip stream or white water rafting at several locations. The rock formations at the Rock City Gardens provide great views and a few active challenges. Fall Creek Falls offers prime real estate for camping and backpacking with waterfalls, steep gorges and forests. The whole family can scale a rock wall at High Point Climbing and Fitness.

After the kids check out the kid zone at High Point you may want to ride the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway.

The Chattanooga Ducks are always a hit with young and old and a great way to take in the city.

The Tennessee Aquarium is a must-see, especially for the touch tanks of sturgeon and stingrays.

For more hands-on experiences, the Creative Discovery Museum exhibits welcome interaction for all. Some other visual experiences include the IMAX 3-D theater at the aquarium and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, where you can ride on a vintage train.

As much as the geological and outdoor adventures abound, so do the arts, dining and shopping.

The Hunter Museum of American Art offers an amazing view from its location on a bluff near the Tennessee River, but the exhibits from colonial times to present day are the attraction.

Chattanooga is dotted with many galleries such as the River Gallery or iGNiS Glass Studio, where you can blow your own glass ornament.

The dining options span the gamut from craft brew pubs to culturally authentic Greek and Italian eateries and more. Some restaurants boast a locally grown ingredient menu. No matter your tastes or budget, you will not go hungry in Chattanooga.

Take a step back in time at the MoonPie General Store, where you can buy MoonPie merchandise along with nostalgic candy and souvenirs. It's a kitschy must-stop.

The galleries on Williams Street and The Redefinery on McCallie are also unique places to find something special to take home.

Of course in between all your Chattanooga adventures you'll need a place to relax and recoup for the next day.

The Chattanoogan is a AAA four-diamond hotel.

If you want a unique hotel experience, sleep in a historic railroad sleeper car at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel. Traditional rooms are also available.

You didn't think you were going to get that song out of your head did you?

For personalized assistance in planning your Chattanooga

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.

Greenbrier Valley makes an ideal outdoor destination http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160417/GZ05/160419728 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160417/GZ05/160419728 Sun, 17 Apr 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Kristi Godby Special to the Gazette-Mail By By Kristi Godby Special to the Gazette-Mail The Greenbrier Valley is quickly becoming an outdoor destination, especially for the budding athlete. Its namesake river is ideal for first time kayakers or a canoe ride with kids in tow (literally.) The area's most popular running and hiking trail, the Greenbrier River Trail, traverses through its backyard.

The Greenbrier State Forest has added multiple new biking trails to its miles of hiking paths, and its disc golf course delights people. Activities such as fishing, boating, hiking and swimming continue at Lake Sherwood, the largest lake in the Monongahela National Forest.

Here are some of the outdoor events taking place this year in the Greenbrier Valley:

May 7, Greenbrier State Forest

This is the second year for the trail run, but the first time it will take place in the spring.

The race takes advantage of the new paths in the Greenbrier State Forest. With about half of the race occurring on a single track, and with its rolling terrain, this 5-miler is a great first exposure for novice trail runners.

July 16, Lewisburg

This is a fully supported bike trek through the beautiful farmland and rolling mountains of the Greenbrier Valley. There are three distance options: a 29 miler, a 63-mile metric century and a challenging 105-mile century.

The event capitalizes on all the history of the area including packet pick-up at the historic General Lewis Inn and riding past Cook's Old Mill in Greenville.

Sept. 11, Lake Sherwood, Neola

The beauty of Lake Sherwood is the ideal place to have this sprint event. The distance and terrain are very doable for first-timers, and the duathlon option is perfect for the non-swimmer.

Onsite camping makes this a fun option for a family getaway, and spectators will enjoy the beach and grassy lawns as they await their favorite athlete's return.

Oct. 8, Lewisburg

This inaugural event takes place with the area's biggest festival, Taste Of Our Towns (TOOT), a benefit for local performance venue Carnegie Hall. Details for this 10K road run are still being determined, but it is a nice addition for participants who like to "make a trip" of a road race.

During TOOT, downtown Lewisburg is a food-lovers paradise with food vendors of all variety along the sidewalks and live music at the street's end.

WV Travel Team: Running with a scenic WV view http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160417/GZ05/160419729 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160417/GZ05/160419729 Sun, 17 Apr 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Compiled by the GoToWV Team By Compiled by the GoToWV Team

Running's not just for pavement anymore.

Hit the trails and experience the beauty of West Virginia woods and farmland on these popular trail races:

May, Kanawha State Forest

If your best running buddy has four legs, the Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run might be the race for you. Not only can dogs run in this popular race, it's encouraged (assuming they are well behaved and vaccinated, of course).

Dogs who run with their owners get their own water stations and post-race treats, and the first pooch to cross the finish line gets a special Top Dog award.

The course is a challenging mix of single-track mountainous trail and unimproved dirt road, with some mud, rocks and water - guaranteed to get your "dogs" dirty.

In the area: Stop for a snack at Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream in Charleston. The shop has outdoor seating, and owner Ellen leaves a bowl of water outside for thirsty pups.

July, Cacapon Resort State Park

The Cacapon 12 Hour Challenge is unique: it's a timed race, rather than a distance race.

Think you can hit 50 miles in 12 hours? Runners who complete 10 loops receive a commemorative pint glass as members of the Cacapon 50 Mile Club.

The moderate-to-technical course treks a 5-mile single-track loop across a few streams and lightly traveled park roads. You're welcome to run as many loops as you want, up to the 12-hour time limit.

A fully stocked picnic shelter is the start and finish, where runners can fuel up before their next loop.

In the area: Treat yourself to a massage in Berkeley Springs - America's "spa town" - and a hearty gourmet meal as you enjoy the mountain scenery at Panorama at the Peak.

July, Camp Arrowhead

The Kanawha Trace Trail Runs includes 10K, 25K and 50K point-to-point races on the Kanawha Trace, a 32-mile-long network of old bison and Native American trails across 3 counties.

The trail is a mix of rugged single track, dirt road, pavement and pasture, climbing and descending ridges and crossing several creeks. You'll be shuttled to your start line, and all three races end at Camp Arrowhead in Ona.

The Moonlight Madness and Darkness Falls night races also follow The Kanawha Trace. Both have 3.5 and 7.5 mile courses, and the Darkness Falls race even features a "haunted" section. (Bring a headlamp or flashlight.)

In the area: Chow down on a juicy burger at Fat Patty's in Barboursville and take a tour of Blenko Glass Company in Milton, where artisans craft hand-blown glass collectibles.

September, Gritt's Farm

Take this festive fall trail race through Gritt's Farm in Buffalo. The 5-mile course winds through corn fields, greenhouses and forest land.

Bring the whole family to enjoy Fun Farm activities like hayrides, a wagon train, apple sling shots, the slide mountain and a giant corn maze. And while you're at it, you can pick your own pumpkin.

In the area: Refuel at Fireside Grille or sip a hot coffee while you browse for books at Books and Brews, both in Hurricane.

October, Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

This 3-day stage race deep in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest has three distances: 50K, 50-mile and half-marathon. You can choose to run one, two or even all three races if you feel you're up to the challenge. You can camp overnight at the 400-acre Mountain Institute.

Trilogy runners will be rewarded with spectacular views of waterfalls, brilliant fall foliage and breathtaking overlooks - all within a stone's throw of the 4,863-foot-high Spruce Knob, West Virginia's highest point.

In the area: Climb the observation tower at Spruce Knob for a spectacular view of the mountains. Stop at Bob's Hotdogs in Belington, where you can choose from 250 specialty dogs.

November, Green Bank

Start your Thanksgiving Day with a vigorous run among the giant telescopes at National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The Turkey Trot has two distances: The 10K trail run is a mix of flats and hills over fields and wooded single track, while the 5K course is primarily on pavement with some short sections on groomed trails. Runners will get an up-close look at the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the world's largest moving land object.

In the area: Stay or grab a bite at Snowshoe Mountain, which has four seasons of outdoor fun, from skiing to golf to mountain biking.

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.

Top 7 getaway destinations in Tucker County http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160417/GZ05/160419733 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160417/GZ05/160419733 Sun, 17 Apr 2016 00:01:00 -0400 DAVIS - In case you haven't checked it out lately, Tucker County has some great places to escape: high-mountain paradise, uplifting breezes and spectacular natural features that leave visitors elevated and inspired.

Here are seven True Tucker getaways:

Few experiences are as memorable and inspiring as witnessing the Blackwater River crashing nearly six stories into the stunning Blackwater Canyon.

Blackwater Falls State park is a perennial favorite among nature lovers who can take in the views of the falls from an easy-access overlook or a trail hike to the falls' base. This is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia.

Four seasons of sweeping vistas of the peaks that surround it make this resort the ultimate view with a room.

The park is home to a 160-room lodge, 23 cabins and 34 campsites; a full-service ski area and championship golf course; sporting clays; and miles of hiking and biking for all skill levels.

This high-mountain, windswept plateau overlooking the Alleghenies is known for its Canadian-like flora and weather patterns. Summer brings mountain laurel and cranberries. Bear Rocks is a popular destination for photographers and birdwatchers.

Once veins feeding the heart of American industry, Tucker County's dormant rails have been converted into managed trails. The Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail, between Parsons and Elkins, is perfect for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Blackwater Canyon Rail Trail starts in Thomas and proceeds through the majestic Blackwater Canyon, ending in the community of Hendricks. Visit the depot in Parsons for more information for both trails.

Stretching across five eastern counties, near the Highway 219 corridor, the Mountain Music Trail is the ultimate road trip adventure for music enthusiasts. The entire region has contributed to the formation and longevity of the Appalachian music, dance and folkways of the Allegheny Mountain region. The Purple Fiddle in Thomas is a great place for live music. This is a family-friendly café and music venue with weekly live music performances.

One of the oldest and largest microbreweries in the state, Mountain State Brewing Company, is perched on top of a mountain in Thomas.

The brewery is known for its uniquely named artisan ales such as Dolly Suds Cranberry Wheat, Miner's Daughter Stout, Almost Heaven Amber Ale and many others. See the inner-workings of the brewery's seven-barrel brew house and tap room for free. Just schedule a tour.

For foodies, Sirianni's Café is a must stop. This casual, eclectic restaurant in Davis is known for its to-die-for pizza and pasta. USA TODAY recently rated in the best in West Virginia.

When it comes to water sports, the Cheat River offers family excitement with whitewater opportunities. Rafting occurs in what is called the Cheat Narrows of the Cheat River, the Cheat Canyon, 20 miles downstream, is home to 30 rapids Class III and greater.

The narrows is an adventurous Class III section of whitewater with swimming holes and a fun rock jump into the water. Interesting fact: The Cheat River is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the eastern United States and flows north.

To learn more about the Tucker County CVB,

visit www.canaanvalley.org.

Public-private partnership funds Stonewall Resort cottage development http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160411/GZ07/160419894 GZ07 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160411/GZ07/160419894 Mon, 11 Apr 2016 20:47:34 -0400 Rick Steelhammer By Rick Steelhammer WESTON — Budget cuts and funding uncertainty have placed many West Virginia state parks in survival, rather than expansion, mode. But Lewis County's Stonewall Resort State Park has opened the first of what could be 20 new luxury cottages in a new, wooded lakeshore development, thanks to a new public-private funding venture at a park developed in part with private sector capital.

Don't think small and quaint when envisioning Stonewall's new development: The “cottages” are 2,200-square-foot, two-story, four-bedroom luxury homes equipped with Wi-Fi, gas fireplaces, washers and dryers, central air, roomy kitchens and huge porches. Each bedroom has its own bathroom and flat screen television.

The occupancy rate has been high at Stonewall Resort's existing 10-unit cottage development, begun in 2002, featuring two- and four-bedroom units overlooking the lake and the resort's lodge on the opposite shore.

“The four-bedroom units are usually the first to go, so we knew we had a market for more of them,” said Richard Ebright, director of operations for Benchmark Resorts and Hotels, the lodging and recreation concessionaire at Stonewall Resort.

The new cottages will be the property of the state of West Virginia, built on land owned by the federal government, by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission-accredited investors who will be entitled to a portion of the cottages' revenue stream. Covenants are in place requiring owners to maintain the cottages to agreed-upon standards and cover other maintenance, design and liability issues.

Roads and utilities are in place to accommodate 14 new cottages, five of which are expected to be built this year, according to Ebright.

“We're hoping there's enough interest to build a total of 20,” he said.

Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park came into being in 1990, following the 1988 completion of Stonewall Jackson Dam and the 2,650-foot lake formed from the impounded waters of the West Fork River.

“When I started working here, there was the lake, the marina, the campground and a multipurpose building,” said State Parks Superintendent Sam England, who served as superintendent at Stonewall for 17 years earlier in his career, and was on hand for the new cottage development's opening ceremony last Friday.

To add recreational facilities to the new park and satisfy a $35 million debt to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for building the dam and acquiring the property for its backwaters, the State of West Virginia in 1998 entered into an agreement with McCabe-Henley LP of Charleston to organize the private investment of $42 million, which was added to $23 million contributed by the state. The $65 million public-private state park resort development pool, the first of its kind in the nation, produced the funding needed to develop Stonewall's Arnold Palmer signature golf course, its 191-room Lakeside Lodge, its 10 original cottages and other amenities — all managed under contract by a private concessionaire, Benchmark Resorts and Hotels.

Friday's opening ceremony “allows us to celebrate the success and dedication of or public-private partnership,” said Michael Hager, Stonewall Resort's general manager. Since Stonewall Resort State Park began operating in 2002, it has become Lewis County's fourth-largest employer and produces 170,000 visitor days, pumping more than $50 million into the local economy.

“It's a very unique venue,” said Col. Bernard R. Lindstrom, head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Pittsburgh District. “Our partnership with the state in this park is solid.”

Rudy Henley, who led McCabe-Henley's effort to build the public-private partnership leading to the development of Stonewall Resort, is now asset manager and developer for the resort. He credits a 1999 report by the National Recreation Lakes Study Commission with building the framework for the partnership at Stonewall.

Among other things, the report called for government initiatives to “build upon community interests to be successful.” Decisions regarding development at the 500 federal lakes that contain at least 1,000 acres of surface water should consider local goals, “so they contribute to the ecological, social and economic well-being of the area.” Private partners should be supported by “allowing them to amortize their long-term investment, providing them with the opportunity to make a profit, and embracing private sector innovations in providing facilities and services to visitors,” according to the report.

“This is part of an expansion that allows us to accommodate more guests and make our product more competitive,” Henley said at Friday's ceremony. “This is just the start of what we will be able to accomplish, as everyone gets comfortable with our partnership. I think there are opportunities around the country for similar partnerships.”

“Even in tough economic times, projects like this show that if you're willing to cooperate, you can get things done,” said state Division of Natural Resources Director Bob Fala, another speaker at Friday's event.

McCabe Henley LP arranged the financing for the new cottage development's newly completed model unit, as well as its site preparation work and utilities.

The new four-bedroom cottage, which sleeps up to 12, rents for $499 nightly.

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

Seven under-the-radar family travel destinations http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160405/GZ05/160409645 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160405/GZ05/160409645 Tue, 5 Apr 2016 07:02:00 -0400 By Jeff Schrum Special to The Washington Post By By Jeff Schrum Special to The Washington Post The most common reaction we get when people learn about our family's year-long trek around the country living in a travel trailer is, "So what was your favorite place?" It's not that it's an unreasonable question, it's just impossible to answer.

Despite 40,000 miles under our timing belts and miniature plastic license plates from most of the 49 states you can drive to (next time, Nebraska), so many of this country's attractions await our discovery. "Best place" is hopeless anyway, like picking a favorite child or singling out the best slice of pie in the Florida Keys. You love them all.

By the numbers, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone draw the most visitors. But how about the unheard-of or under-appreciated gems further down the list? They deserve some love too.

I love the underdogs, those obscure or out-of-the-way places that surprised us with their culture, history, learning opportunities, recreation and beauty. These are the places we could easily have missed but now can't stop raving about, those we dream of returning to before our kids leave the nest. In no particular order:

Standing on its pure white sand, gazing into aquamarine infinity, Sleeping Bear Dunes wows "lake people" and "ocean people" alike.

As lifelong sea-goers, Sleeping Bear checked all the boxes for us. It didn't hurt that our late-summer stop served up the perfect weather: warm enough to swim and sip a chilled cherry pop, but cool enough to sleep with the windows open.

I understand why so many families return here year after year - it's a blast. Stumbling down the 400-feet high dunes rocked (climbing them not so much), and we got totally carried away (pun intended) tubing down the Platte River.

Family fun, beautiful beaches, Junior Ranger programs, world-class sunsets and quaint nearby resort towns made Sleeping Bear one of our favorite stays. Michigan: Who knew?

Our family's favorite ecosystem? Easy: the desert. Its infamous dry heat, the aroma of Brittlebush and Ocotillo in bloom, the jaw-dropping night skies - this is the happy place I retreat to in my mind while getting a cavity filled or having blood drawn.

Anza-Borrego sports a rugged look, much like the bighorn sheep who call it home. Only an hour from the sprawl of Palm Springs, the setting feels unexpectedly remote.

We circled the wagons with a group of traveling friends over New Year's, setting up camp in one of the huge expanses of empty desert available to campers and RVers.

More than a year later we continue to reminisce about the sunsets and stars, coyotes yipping through the night, hikes through slot canyons and tropical oases, 500 miles of unpaved roads, wide-open space for kids to roam and the unforgettable view of the Badlands from Font's Point.

Many of our favorite places blindsided us. We knew little about them and almost skipped them, only to be blown away when we arrived.

Welcome to Death Valley, where your adventure begins before even entering the park. Only a few roads lead into the valley, all descending sharply from the ear-popping passes over the surrounding mountain ranges to the lowest elevations on the continent.

The park wooed us at first sight, making the four days we allotted feel woefully inadequate. During our too-short stay we crammed in a slot canyon hike, white-knuckled our way through a 27-mile off-road back country drive, scaled enormous sand dunes and explored several old-west ghost towns, all while avoiding seeing one of the park's native "sidewinder" rattlers.

Rounding out its awesomeness, Death Valley holds International Dark Sky Park credentials. Oh yes, we will be back.

Unless you're one of McCarthy, Alaska's 40-some-odd permanent residents, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park - the largest in the country - is the most isolated and inaccessible destination on this list. However, if you can manage to get the family here either by bush plane or car (the only "road" into the park is so sketchy, many rental car agencies expressly forbid it), you're in for a treat.

The frontier lives on here, in the bush and up and down the unpaved streets of McCarthy. The town's handful of businesses rely on generators for power and a nearby spring for fetching pails of water. Eco-friendly composting toilets, in hand-crafted reclaimed wood enclosures (read: outhouses), round out the town's modest list of amenities.

Thrill-seeking visitors can enjoy back-country excursions, whitewater rafting and mountaineering. The park has a lot to offer less adventurous, bear-fearing frontiersmen such as ourselves, too, such as touring the abandoned Kennecott mining town and glacier trekking.

Just outside Page, Arizona, near the Utah border, the Colorado River flows through one of the most iconic images of the desert southwest: Horseshoe Bend.

Perched on the red sandstone cliff like the king of the hill, feet flirting with the edge of a 1,000-foot vertical drop, I found myself securing my first-born with one hand and reaching for my selfie stick with the other.

A few miles away, Antelope Canyon is another gem begging to be checked off your bucket list. Navajo guides lead small groups down impossibly steep staircases where you're enveloped by the most gorgeous (and photographed) water-sculpted slot canyons anywhere.

And since you've journeyed this far, you might as well travel a little further to Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, home of another bucket-list slot canyon hike known as "the Wave."

This park immerses visitors in Ancestral Pueblo life in some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings on the continent. While many of the park's 600 dwellings housed one or two families, the larger ones provided shelter for as many as 150 people.

A ranger-guided tour of Balcony House has you scaling a cliff on a 30-foot wooden ladder and crawling through a 12-foot-long torso-width tunnel.

In Spruce Tree House we climbed down into a kiva, one of the sacred subterranean living spaces, as we imagined the lives lived here nearly a millennium ago. The phenomenal ranger-led tours and hands-on environment made this our favorite road-schooling stop.

The Everglades have always held top billing on my other travel bucket list - the places I'd be scared to death to ever step foot in.

Are you kidding? Pythons big enough to ingest a deer?

I suppose morbid curiosity and the opportunity to show the boys crocodiles and alligators commingling in nature finally swayed me to suck it up.

The park didn't just surpass expectations, it blew them out of the wetlands. A one-of-a-kind ecosystem that plays home to exotic birds, cougars, bears and even carnivorous plants ... it was all but guaranteed the boys would love this place.

With its nine distinct habitats, the Everglades refuses to be typecast. At times I couldn't tell if I was in a delta, a prairie, a forest or on the African savanna. In the warm afternoon sun, alligators sleep peacefully alongside the park road, mouths wide open, no doubt generating a gazillion likes in many a visitor's Instagram feed (#instagators).

A braver dad might have biked his kids around the 15-mile park loop, but after a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a mama gator and her pups just outside the visitor center, we settled on the enjoyable and stress-free tram tour instead.

This list, like our messy route across the continent, isn't all-inclusive. Had we visited places such as Great Sand Dunes, the Olympic Peninsula, Big Bend or the Dry Tortugas, this post may have turned out very differently (or probably just longer). But then, it's good to leave wanting more.

WV Travel Team: Jekyll Island a millionaire's getaway made affordable http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160403/GZ05/160409966 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160403/GZ05/160409966 Sun, 3 Apr 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team By By Jeanne Mozier WV Travel Team It was easy to imagine we were rich and chic as we flew our small plane onto the Jekyll Island airstrip and hopped into an incredibly cute Red Bug electric car to tool around the island.

Flying home from a Florida trip, my husband, Jack, and I stopped for a night to enjoy the same warm winter breezes and isolated locale that inspired a group of Victorian millionaires to build the Jekyll Island Club on the smallest of Georgia's coastal barrier islands in the mid-1880s.

"The richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world" according to Munsey's Magazine in 1904, is today an affordable fantasy with a range of special packages. The Queen Anne-style architecture is still splendid and listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Originally a haven for Creek Indians and passing pirates, including the notorious Blackbeard, then later settled by French planters and English soldiers, the entire 8-mile-long island became the privately-owned playground for a group of 19th century industrialists. When the U.S. government requested its use in 1942 to protect against nearby German submarines, the millionaire owners left their books, furniture and cottages and never returned again.

Georgia bought the island for less than $1 million in 1947, allowed the Club and more than 100 surrounding structures to deteriorate and then sold them in shambles to a group of local investors.

The founding gang of Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Morgans, who arrived on their yachts for the first season in January 1888, designed the original club for comfort rather than for showing off their wealth. This relaxed yet elegant atmosphere remains a tribute to the meticulous renovation that began in 1972 and took 15 years and $20 million to accomplish. It became the largest restoration project in the Southeast.

Thirty-three of the original structures remain, many now used as shops as well as additional lodging. The 240-acre historic district around the hotel is criss-crossed with walking and biking paths and trimmed with abundant live oak trees festooned in Spanish moss.

Not surprisingly given its clientele, history was made at the Club. The Federal Reserve Bank was spawned in a secret conclave and the first intercontinental phone call was made in 1915 to President Woodrow Wilson. The King of Naples sent J.P. Morgan a herd of wild boar as hunting stock. The Museum gift shop is the stalls of a former stable. Visitors can still see Joseph Pulitzer's initials printed atop posts.

"Eat your heart out, William Vanderbilt," I muttered as I slipped into the swirling whirlpool tub in our sumptuous suite. "You were born too soon."

Vanderbilt may have enjoyed the same harbor view, high ceilings and two fireplaces that I did more than a century later, but he didn't have a tub. In fact, no one had a tub in the original club. It wasn't until the 1904 addition that indoor plumbing was added; that's what servants were for.

Our balcony offered prime viewing for the landscaped Olympic-sized swimming pool, Jekyll River, a strolling bagpiper and a dazzling sunset.

The richly-appointed Grand Dining Room was once filled with formally dressed club members and guests peering around fluted Corinthian columns and posing in front of Rumford fireplaces waiting to see and be seen.

Ours was a simpler experience but enhanced by award-winning food and attentive service from young men. We started with an excellent appetizer of buttermilk-fried quail served on a cheddar and green onion waffle and a spicy hot sauce emulsion. Then came creamy butternut squash bisque with pecans - this is Georgia after all.

More Georgia-sourced food was served in the white shrimp and stone-milled yellow grits dish that had a creamy sauce with diced sausage, all cooked perfectly. Finally, there was duck served with delicious corn pudding and a black fig demi-glace.

Winter is no longer Jekyll's prime season as it had been for the original millionaire founders who came to hunt wild boar, deer and water fowl. Today it's a year-round destination, although the wild landscape and 9 miles of beaches remain a major attraction along with 63 challenging holes of golf in four courses.

The island is a natural semi-tropical paradise with famous salt marshes, sand dunes and palmetto clusters. The perimeter road takes you everywhere, and bicycles are a favorite means of transportation with more than 20 miles of flat, paved bicycle paths.

We, however, went electric. Red Bug Motors, based at the airport, leases tiny electric vehicles named after the first cars on the island in 1905. They were also electric. Today, it's an island with 18 charging stations and no traffic light.

Fortunately, Jekyll Island is protected from extensive development by the state, and no building can be higher than two stories. The club's turret is the highest point on the island.

For more information, contact Jekyllisland.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 Travel Team: Rocky Mountaineer train serves your senses and spirit http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160327/GZ05/160329688 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160327/GZ05/160329688 Sun, 27 Mar 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team By By Crissy Gray WV Travel Team Looking for a new kind of adventure? Get on board with Rocky Mountaineer, a privately owned luxury tourist train company that offers unbelievable vistas and impeccable service through Western Canada. The only thing challenging about this adventure is choosing your route.

An excursion along some of the most beautiful countryside in a glass domed train car will leave indelible memories to share for years. Five routes on the Rocky Mountaineer give you options for a completely breathtaking show by the original master artist, Mother Nature.

Visual delight

Along each route you will be transported to a world few may see, with untouched wildflower meadows, wild animals in their own habitat and breathtaking Rocky Mountain peaks. Mother Nature can't take all the credit here. Some of the most amazing views are man made engineering marvels - such as the Peak 2 Peak Gondola that connects the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb, two majestic mountaintops north of Vancouver.

The lift is the highest of its kind. Two gondolas have transparent acrylic glass floors so you will be able to see it all. If you're a shutterbug of any kind, your camera will get a workout. The wildlife sightings alone will have you clicking away: bears, elk, moose, eagles, mountain goats and big horn sheep to name a few.

Your taste buds will thank you

Executive Chef Jean Pierre Guerin says the guest experience is based on the Four S's: scenery, service, socialization and his favorite, sweet and savory. Technically that's five S's, but who's counting?

Chef Guerin and his team spend a lot of time creating the menus each season. In fact, the cuisine is so much a part of the experience he wrote a cookbook, "Eat Play Love - Regionally Inspired Cuisine by Rocky Mountaineer." The cookbook serves as a fine keepsake of your trip.

Adventure and exploration await

In British Columbia, the city of Kamloops will show you the cowboy way with its Wild West history. If you have the opportunity to visit during the Cowboy Festival don't miss it.

As you walk through tree-lined downtown streets with historic buildings and brick sidewalks, you'll find the best of both worlds of shops and restaurants. Relaxation comes naturally while enjoying one of the many tours that may include a Segway, wine trail or gardens. If you're looking for outdoor adventures there are plenty of opportunities to golf, bike, hike, ski, fish and more.

In Vancouver, be prepared to want to do it all. Take the Wine Country Tour and sample local varieties from Chardonnay to Riesling. Many local wines are served in restaurants throughout British Columbia.

Wildlife watching takes to the water from March to October when orcas are the main attraction. If you'd like to get a birds-eye view, ride the Hell's Gate Airtram, which descends over the Fraser River with churning rapids below. Observation decks and a suspension bridge on the opposite side of the visitor entrance give visitors another vantage point.

If you arrive to trees filled with pale pink blossoms, the cherry trees are in bloom. You're still in Canada but may feel as though you've traveled around the globe as the Japanese culture is woven into the local lifestyle. Find a new sense of tranquility in the Nitobe Memorial Garden with waterfalls, sculptures and an opportunity to see a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Just two hours north of Vancouver is Whistler. Whistler Village is the central neighborhood located at the base of both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The photo-op highlight is the Black Tusk, the extinct volcanic cone can be viewed from Whistler peak. Whistler is home of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, heli-skiing and winter zip lining. If you're looking for some restoration, there are over 30 spas and wellness centers to choose from.

Quesnel, a small city between the bigger cities of Prince George and Williams Lake, offers world class fly fishing. If the fishing bug bites, the Quesnel Visitor Center offers a "borrow-a-rod" program. The fishing at Ten Mile Lake and Dragon Lake come highly recommended.

If you choose to walk the 5K Riverfront Trail you will pass by the longest wood truss walking bridge in the world, the Fraser River Footbridge. Be sure to stop by Cariboo Keepsakes, a co-op run by local authors and artisans, for a locally made souvenir.

Step back into the ice age in Jasper National Park with the 90 minute Columbia Icefield adventure onto the Athabasca Glacier. You will see the ridges of debris along the glacier edge showing how the glacier has melted in the last 100 years. After your glacial expedition you can warm up in the Miette Hot Springs.

Banff National Park, oldest of the national parks, offers just about any way you want to experience its beauty: by horseback, on foot, driving, helicopter or snow shoeing. You can go as high as the gondola or as low as caving adventures. The accommodations at the Jasper Park Lodge, Banff Springs Hotel and Chateaux Lake Louise are perfect places to rest after the experiences of the day.

The location of the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary offers a sporting adventure at WinSport. This is the previous Olympic venue that is now a center for athletes to train and recreational athletes to enjoy.

The public art displays throughout the city are unique, photo-worthy moments to share. Calgary Tower becomes a 360-degree view master, showcasing the city from 207 yards above the city.

Fort Calgary shares the story of the North West Mounted Police. The trading post at Heritage Park Historical Village is an entire town staffed with pioneer villagers.

This trip has something for everyone and every timetable. The art aficionado, foodie and adrenaline seeker will all find much to appreciate on this trip. Traveling in May or late September tends to be less expensive than June through August. You may also want to add an Alaskan Cruise to a leg of your journey.

Which journey will you choose?

Coastal Passage Route

Along the ocean's edge connecting Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary. You may begin or end your journey in Seattle.

First passage to the west route

Only passenger rail service on the historic Canadian Pacific track. Begin or end your trip in Vancouver or in beautiful Lake Louise, Banff or Calgary.

Through the clouds

Amazing natural beauty from Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and the Pyramid Falls. The journey begins or ends in Vancouver or in Jasper, Alberta.

Rainforest to Gold Rush

Diverse and Extreme landscapes including the BC's coastal rainforest and desert-like climate of Fraser Canyon. Begin or end your journey in Whistler or Jasper, Alberta.

Whistler Sea to Ski Climb

Sea-to-Sky corridor between Vancouver and Whistler, Pacific Ocean to old-growth forests and snow-capped mountains.

For personalized assistance in planning your Rocky Mountaineer excursion, 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.

Picture Perfect: Miami's Wynwood art district ready for its close-up http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160320/GZ05/160329997 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160320/GZ05/160329997 Sun, 20 Mar 2016 00:01:00 -0400 By Martin W.G. King Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail By By Martin W.G. King Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail

MIAMI - Charleston's art aficionados - the folks who patronize local galleries, enjoy the downtown ArtWalk and take in all the exhibitions at the Clay Center - have helped put this city on the map as the cultural capital of the Appalachians.

If you're one of these art fans, or you just like to indulge your creative urges, and you're also fantasizing about a piña colada as you laze in the sun - and who isn't, at this time of year - you might want to put Miami's edgy, tropical Wynwood Art District on your real (or imagined) winter itinerary.

On a recent visit to Wynwood, I handed my keys to a valet and pushed through the throng on the narrow sidewalk by a glitzy restaurant. On my left was a high-end boutique selling sustainable clothes, crafts and artifacts; to my right, the entrance to a courtyard surrounded by murals, including a 50-foot red and orange painting featuring some strange bedfellows: The Dali Lama, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., former vice President Dick Cheney and David Bowie.

But this wasn't South Beach, which has ebbed and flowed and is ebbing again as a center for nightlife, creative drive and high-end retail. It was the Wynwood Art District to the west of downtown Miami, an edgy new destination on the international art scene where hundreds of resplendent murals on the sides of buildings sit cheek-by-jowl with incongruously tony art galleries and boutiques - newcomers to the neighborhood.

Out with the old?

Along with the new businesses, however, have come rent spikes, and some of the pioneering artists who originally colonized Wynwood, which was once known for making cheap footwear and fashions, are reportedly being forced out.

One company, which already owns 24 acres in the neighborhood, has unveiled plans for tens of millions of dollars in development, including high-rise office and condo towers totaling 9 million square feet.

But others say Wynwood is only now getting ready for prime time. They point to the crowds surging through the crumbling streets and the collectors scooping up art in the galleries, to the diversity in the art and even the cuisine. Wynwood, they say, is finally ready for its close-up.

A recent online search showed that American Airlines, Delta and United fly one-stop flights to Miami from Yeager Airport, with winter fares starting in the high $300s; much less expensive nonstop fares are available from Reagan National and Dulles airports in Washington, D.C. - often about $220 to $250 round trip.

Slightly cheaper fares are available to Fort Lauderdale, 20 miles north of Miami. There's also Amtrak service, via bus to Charlottesville, Virginia, approximately 30 hours to Miami, including the bus, about $350 round trip; and Greyhound, also 30 hours, about $260 round trip. According to distancesonline.com, it's 992 miles, or 17 hours by car, including three hours of breaks.

Already well-ensconced on the local art scene, Wynwood debuted on the world stage as the site of 2002 Art Basel events. (Art Basel is an international art festival held in Miami every year.)

Now, it seems to be attracting as many curious tourists as art aficionados, as many school kids as hipsters. There's a potpourri of ages, languages and cultures. People with selfie sticks are as common as professional photographers with elaborate gadgetry. All use the murals as a backdrop.

Street art

Wynwood is an urban schizophrenic neighborhood. Part of it is still residential - and dirt-poor. Gangs still dangle shoes from utility wires to mark their territory (one artist told me that the shoes were really just artistic statements). But one mural after another draws the crowds - and the cameras.

Many of the murals feature fanciful, surrealistic characters and scenes, but others are strikingly realistic. Some feature bold geometrics. Some offer political and social commentary (the mural of Cheney et al; Bill Cosby in prison garb).

Some depict Florida's flora and fauna. Others incorporate skulls, reflecting South Florida's association with occult cultures of the Caribbean. Some are risqué (and some are X-rated).

Most of the murals are rendered with painstaking detail, but others feature washes of color. Some are temporary, quickly painted over with new designs: A paint supply store in the neighborhood seems to be doing a brisk business.

On a recent visit, I asked Stephen Tate, a writer with a communications firm temporarily doing-double duty as a coffee vendor (part of a marketing campaign), about the changes in the area.

"The gentrification has been like a force of nature," he said. "It's happened so quickly, Wynwood is losing its identity. There's been a huge influx of cash, and that can stifle creativity. It's making Wynwood more expensive. One of my friends lost his lease."

"Ideas are all around you," said Harold Golen, proprietor of the tiny Harold Golen Gallery, which focuses on pop surrealism, philosophically.

The changes were neither good nor bad, he said, but noted that the area isn't focused on art as much as before.

Golen shares his space with Valentina Kawaii Universe, an industrial designer with bright pink hair who has drawn and illustrated maps of nature preserves for the City of Miami and designs fabrics for handmade pillows and other artifacts. She was a bit more outspoken.

"Not all the artists can afford to stay here," she said. "People are being pushed out."

Asked about the double-decker buses that disgorge tourists at the district's epicenter, Wynwood Walls, just a few blocks down the street at N 2nd Avenue and NW 26th Street, she said she isn't worried about them, but, at the same time, laments what they're missing.

"They keep them in one area," she said. "They don't venture very far. ... You have to branch out, adventure into new areas, see different shows at different galleries to really appreciate all the exciting things that are going on here."

Setting aside the debate about Wynwood's future, there is plenty to see and do in the area - in addition to strolling up and down the streets and soaking up the art.

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls is the geographic heart of the district, with one courtyard opening after another, all featuring building-sized art. The most adventurous murals, however, seem to be in the streets and alleys several blocks away, where they attract smaller crowds and more serious photographers.

But if you're there for the food, shopping, nightlife and funky atmosphere, the area near Wynwood Walls is the place to be.

Most galleries are open to the public, though many don't post schedules. The Peter Tunney Experience gallery is an outpost of the New York establishment of the same name, but its artwork doesn't come cheap; prices range into the mega-thousands of dollars.

Other nearby galleries, including the San Paul Gallery, which offers South American art by "emerging" artists, are almost as expensive. (Prices at the Harold Golen Gallery are much more down-to-earth.)

On weekends, at least in the winter, when the weather is better, the galleries leave their doors open. (During Miami's oppressive summer, when crowds are scarcer, you may have to ring a bell or make an appointment.)

Many are open the second Saturday night of each month for the Wynwood Art Walk, with some offering complimentary libations and hors d'oeuvres to visitors who traipse from one gallery to another in a carnival-like atmosphere.

The area's new emphasis on retail is nowhere more evident than at Walt Grace Vintage, which specializes in antique cars and guitars. There's also a Ducati motorcycle showroom.

Another landmark on the retail scene is the Miami outpost of the supremely chic Detroit store Shinola, named, yes, after the shoe polish.

Through the doors of Shinola's black edifice is a world of hand-made bicycles (upward of $2,900); top-quality leather products; and decor, all the product of manual labor at the store's Detroit workshops.

Frangipani, near the entrance to Wynwood Walls, features sustainable and "intelligently designed" home goods, decor and clothes. Basico sells hip, one-of-a-kind men's fashions.

Also upper-tier, the Illimit furniture store offers high-end designer pieces at prices that, probably, few of the artists who first settled Wynwood will be able to afford - in their lifetimes.

Wynwood is a great place for people watching. When I last visited, I encountered an artist in a yarmulke and paint-stained stars and stripes tie-dye frock painting at an easel.

A woman sat outside a coffee house and wrote poems for people as she typed on an old manual typewriter. A pair of attractive young women in headscarves giggled as they took pictures of each other in front of an art installation.

Culinary art

While Wynwood's art is a feast to behold, the restaurants in the area serve up an equally creative bounty.

At Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, whose indoor murals were painted by Shepard Fairey, designer of the iconic 2008 "Hope" poster for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, my wife and I lunched on a tapas spread of the Wynwood Salad (yellow and red beefsteak tomatoes, manchego cheese, piquillo peppers and an arugula puree) and plates of freshly made hummus and piquant guacamole. (We repeated the order on another visit with the addition of chicken empanadas - pleasingly smoky and spicy.)

For dinner, we decided to try Wynwood Diner and Cocktails across the street, which we had passed up for lunch because of the crowds waiting for tables.

From the outside, the "diner" looked like it might have been a chain restaurant. Inside, it was anything but.

Our host led us through a front room with huge booths to another room, the gargantuan bar. It featured patterned cement floors, black concrete walls and, among other seating arrangements, long communal tables with 1950s-style wooden chairs. Strategically placed industrial lighting threw off a warm glow.

Outside, torches beckoned on an expansive patio, while lights in birdcages in the trees threw just enough light to read a menu. A DJ spun 1970s soul classics. We dined on a quinoa and feta salad, an avocado salad and mac and cheese, all satisfying. It was the perfect, memorable ending to our day.

Wynwood lives.

Long may it prosper.

Martin W.G. King is a freelance travel writer based in Florida.

Things to keep you busy in Wynwood

Go for a walk: Wynwood Art Walk Tours has numerous options. They include a Sunday tour followed by brunch, $59; a weekly street art and gallery tour, $29; a tour with a drink at a Wynwood establishment, $25; and a guided tour of Wynwood Walls, $20. Lengths of tours and times vary; 305-814-9290, http://wynwoodartwalk.com/

Go for a bike ride: Bike and Roll offers a guided bike tour of Wynwood (it provides the bike). The ride is about eight miles, including the route from its downtown Miami location, and the tour lasts three to four hours; adults, $49, students, $39; 305-604-0001, http://bikemiami.com/tour/wynwood-graffiti-tour/

Work up an appetite: Miami Culinary Tours offers guided tours of Wynwood that include stops at five or six top restaurants where samples and local craft beer are provided; adults $69, children to age 13, $59; 786-942-8856, www.miamiculinarytours.com

Send Your kid to camp: Art Center Miami, an international organization that offers a variety of art classes in the Miami area (and elsewhere), is offering a spring break day camp in Wynwood for children ages 6 through 12 from March 21 through 26. The price is $270, including art supplies. Information: 786-406-9915, www.artclassesmiami.com

Take up boxing: Matt Baiamonte's Boxing Club has trained numerous professional athletes, and Baiamonte trained under boxing great Angelo Dundee. Baiamonte himself trained 2012 WBC featherweight champion Melissa "Huracán Shark" Hernandez. The club is at 222 NW 27th St., near Wynwood Walls; 786-420-5252, www.baiamonteboxing.com


Eat Your Heart Out Wynwood Kitchen and Bar: Eclectic cuisine with an emphasis on Latin American food, with seating indoors and on a large outdoor patio overlooking Wynwood Walls; happy hour 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; DJs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights; 2550 NW 2nd Ave., 305-722-8959, www.wynwoodkitchenandbar.com

Wynwood Diner and Cocktails: Modern comfort food; DJ at night; 2601 NW 2nd Avenue, 305-747-7888.

Beaker and Gray: There's media buzz about this new restaurant on the eastern fringe of the neighborhood; 2637 N Miami Ave. , 305-699-2637, www.BeakerAndGray.com

Joey's: Italian classics, including moderately priced pasta and pizza and informal, old-time charm; 2506 NW 2nd Ave., 305-438-0488, www.joeyswynwood.com

Fireman Derek's Bake Shop & Café: Inexpensive menu of light café items and delectable-looking pastries and desserts at Wynwood's eastern edge; closes at 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2818 N Miami Ave., 786-449-2517, www.firemanderek.spies.com

Zak the Baker and Cafe: Baked goods made fresh each day and inexpensive light meals; closed Saturday; 405 NW 26th St., 786-347-7100, http://zakthebaker.com/cafe/

Caffeine fix

Panther Coffee always has a wait in line for coffee, pastries and snacks. It grinds its own coffee and brews it four different ways. It also sells beer. Communal seating is outside, at a large workbench that surrounds a mimosa tree. Free WiFi; 2390 NW Second Ave., 305-677-3952, http://www.panthercoffee.com/

Bars: To your health!

Concrete Beach Brewery: This brewery serves beer only, much of it brewed on the premises, which features a large patio and limited inside seating; free public tours on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m.; 325 NW 24th St., 305-796-2727, http://concretebeachbrewery.com/

Wood Tavern: This bar across the street from Wynwood Walls serves cocktails as well as beer at communal tables; 2531 NW 2nd Ave., 305-748-2828, www.woodtavernmiami.com


This is where to find the seven shops mentioned in this story:

Basico: 2347 NW 2nd Ave., 786-360-3688, http://www.shopbasico.com/

Ducati: 2825 NW 2nd Ave., 786-374-2994, http://www.ducatimiami.com/

Frangipani: 2516 NW 2nd Ave., 305-573-1480, https://frangipanimiami.com/store/location/

Vintage Boutique, 2401 N Miami Ave., 305-573-2976, www.givegoodworks.org

Illimit: 2699 NW 2nd Ave., 786-558-7176, http://www.illim.it/

Shinola: 2389 NW 2nd Ave., 786-374-2994, http://www.shinola.com//

Walt Grace Vintage: 229 NW 26th St., 786-683-8180, http://www.waltgracevintage.com/


Art galleries and working studios are everywhere in Wynwood. The three mentioned in this story are:

Harold Golen Gallery, 2294 NW 2nd Ave., 305-989-3359, website under maintenance

San Paul Gallery, 2527 NW 2nd Ave., 305-381-5785, https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Paul-Gallery-Wynwood/383323435186350

Peter Tunney Experience, 220 NW 26th St., main entrance in Wynwood Walls, 646-245-7904, http://www.petertunney.com

WV Travel Team: Eight high-end boutiques to shop for country elegance http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160320/GZ05/160329998 GZ05 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20160320/GZ05/160329998 Sun, 20 Mar 2016 00:01:00 -0400 Compiled by the GoToWV Team By Compiled by the GoToWV Team Give your style a dash of Southern sophistication with West Virginia's finest fashions.

Here are eight high-end boutiques that can outfit you in contemporary country elegance:

1. Indie Sparrow Boutique, Beaver

For a luxe look like you won't find anywhere else around town, try the unique collection at Indie Sparrow Boutique. Timeless trendsetters will love this modern homage to vintage vogue. The reimagined styles have an ultra-feminine vibe with a balance of bohemian inspiration and suave sensibility.

2. High Country Boutique, Lewisburg

High Country Boutique focuses on ever-classic pieces with simple shapes that you can easily personalize and redefine. Their stunning global artworks and accessories punctuate the elegantly sleek fashions with bold, beautiful flair.

3. Casablanca Boutique, Bluefield

Add a daring dash of flash to your wardrobe at Casablanca. Stop in for a cupcake and relax on the antique benches as you feast your eyes on bold prints of name-brand and artisan accent pieces. Anything from this chic shop is sure to get people talking.

4. Park & Madison Boutique, Morgantown

ELLE named this high-end retail stop one of America's top 50 boutiques, with top-of-the-line apparel for women and a finely curated collection for men. In addition to their main shop, they have a second location downtown that caters its upscale attire to the college crowds.

5. RoseTree, Ceredo and Barboursville

It's known for its posh formalwear and special occasion collections, but The RoseTree can also add fashionable panache to your everyday look. It has been on the cutting edge of style for more than 40 years, with luxury brands like Joseph Ribkoff.

6. SerenDipity Boutique, Weirton

The owner at SerenDipity honed her fashionista eye while working for Dior, Louis Vuitton and other legendary names in luxury looks. Now she draws on her insider savvy to hand-select her own assortment stunning styles.

7. Bridge Road Shops, Charleston

The Bridge Road Shops are a collective of fashion and finer things in the capital city.

Put together a sensible modern style with effortless finesse at Charlie or Geraniums boutiques. Kelley's has the top men's trends. Accessorize your ensemble at Petit Jewelry Designs or the long-established Yarid's Shoes. The Dressmaker's Closet can take care of all the dashing details to make it all fit just so.

Turn your shopping trip into a treat. Make it a day of pampering with fine dining, salon stops and more just around the corner in Bridge Road.

8. The Retail Collection at the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs

As one of the nation's premier resorts, The Greenbrier has everything you could dream of, from the nation's first golf course to an upscale casino to a renowned all-natural spring spa. All you need for an indulgent getaway is right there - and that includes plenty of shopping.

Pick up chic apparel at Greenbrier Avenue Women's, or a distinctive designer look from Wickets. The Greenbrier's Ralph Lauren shop features designs unique to the resort. Pick up the exclusive Greenbrier charms and other finishing touches at The Jeweler and Crepe Myrtle Bags & Beads.