Wasted And Wonderful West Virginia

When I was a kid, I never enjoyed my stays in Raleigh County. Much of it looked like a dump, and my aging grandparents were ill-equipped to handle the entertainment required to break the spell of boredom in a place where the bears out number people.  They were at a stage in life when sitting on the porch listening to the police scanner was an exciting evening and dithering in the garage was pure heaven (ain’t nothin’ wrong with that).  I wanted lights, action and loud noises.  So, I sat around much of the time counting days until I could return and keeping the lights on at night for fear of the dolls coming alive.

I thought the people were ignorant, dated, and out of the loop.  The country side carried nothing in the way of beauty and I couldn’t see the point.

A decade and a half later, things changed.  Grandparents passed away and the house was all alone. I snapped out of brathood and I would spend weeks at a time there alone, staying up late, driving around and investigating the landscape. 

Here I began to see and hear, soaking up the atmosphere and loving everything about it. One beautiful memory brings me back to a quick run to the Go-Mart in Beckley for a case of Yeungling before midnight and driving along Route 3 back to the house. I came upon a train running alongside the tracks parallel to the road. The moon was brightly shining and houses were  lit inside with warm glowing incandescent bulbs (or crack pipes). It was a beautiful moment.

My Mom decided to move into the house and my visits were more frequent. Drives to Hinton, Thurmond, New River, Coal River, Oceana and Logan. One midnight drive led us to the border of Kentucky.   I was hooked on  the enchanting mountainous wonderland.

One thing that does stand out as strange (and has done since time began) is the appearance of peoples’ houses.  Next to an immaculately kept property is one equally messed up and unloved squalor. This paired with a sense of foreboding, tension, mistrust, unemployment, and  frequent tales of Coppers being gunned down on the beat (like this poor fella) indicates a dark presence infiltrating the lives of residents of southern West Virginia and I don’t think it’s coal. Coal mining is probably one of the few things keeping people from the brink of extreme poverty and third world like conditions. 

There is much to speculate about but it would not be unfair to suggest that West Virginia might have something of a drug problem.  Sure not everyone has gone slap your thigh silly, someone has to run the banks, courts, gas stations and restaurants and drug-stores (of which there are plenty).  You’ll find people there who bust their backsides to support their family just like anywhere, in the same way you’ll find cousins all loved up in other regions.

I came across one woman’s article and she illustrates the situation far more intelligently than I could (and she uses things like facts and sources our lord gave us to encourage other people to believe us).

So I’m curious about the whole thing. Is it simply a matter of “Doctor Shopping”? Is it really that easy to just go to any doctor and be like “Yo, Doc, ugh…my back..” Et Voila!
It seems it might be. 

This brings me to a documentary that I am very excited to see when it becomes available. This is something I heard about yesterday (through Mumsie) and it’s called “Oxyana”. Can you guess why???

I loved my travels up to Bolt Mountain and Through Oceana, so beautiful there!  It’s incredibly heartbreaking to imagine the situation in a town like this, hell; it sucks for anyone in that situation. I so desperately hope that someone can be blamed but I just don’t think life is that simple. Things are dire for a lot of people.  Is it any wonder that the best thing to do is stick your head in the sand and forget?
Sure, it’s well and good saying things have got to stop and it’s a huge problem, but if it’s not prescription drugs, it would be something else…and then something else.  There’s an underlying issue and my sincere hope is that bit by bit, each soul takes it upon themselves to pull out of the pit of despair. 

Now we’ve come to the segment of our program called “Pretty Pictures Jenny Took in West Virginia”



Somewhere between Bolt Mountain and Ocean

Somewhere on Coal River

New River Gorge Bridge


Somewhere on Bolt Mountain