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From the Editor

Almost Heaven Indeed

For nearly 15 years, I have been writing about the singular qualities that make Huntington such a wonderful place to live, work and play. I am proud to call Huntington my home, but am equally proud of the fact that I am a West Virginian, born and raised. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to travel much of this state and experience numerous adventures that have left an indelible mark on my life.

From its raw natural beauty to the courageous spirit of its people, the Mountain State is truly unlike any other. From these experiences a cover story was born which we entitled “99 Things Every West Virginian Should Do.” It is my contention that West Virginia is one of the best-kept secrets not only in America, but, oddly enough, in West Virginia. I believe most of the residents in our state are not aware of just how many incredible opportunities await them in the hills and valleys that encompass their backyards.

Highest on my list of experiences in the state was an overnight stay at the world-renowned Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs. If you want to see the very best of what West Virginia has to offer, the Greenbrier has it all. Words alone cannot capture its beauty and grandeur.

Shooting the rapids down the New River or the Gauley is another adventure everyone, young and old, should try once in their lifetime. If you choose the New River, you will float underneath the massive New River Gorge Bridge, the second longest steel arch span in the world.

There was the time I biked five miles down an old railroad bed carrying my fishing gear and arrived at the crystal clear waters of the Cranberry River. Casting a fly in that scenic setting and reeling in a tenacious rainbow trout is another moment in time I will never forget.

A visit to the top of Snowshoe Mountain, whether to take in the spectacular views, dine at the finest restaurant in the entire state (The Red Fox) or hit the snow covered slopes is another item on my list of accomplishments. You should add it to yours.

Standing on the ninth tee at the Raven Golf Club at Showshoe Mountain in October is something every golfer should experience. The spectacular view of hills ablaze with fall color is enough to distract even the most focused player. On my most recent visit, I was lucky enough to spot a black bear (my second sighting at the resort) grazing on some berries at the base of the mountain.

Of course there are hiking trails throughout the state. I will never forget my afternoon traversing the lowlands at Glade Springs Resort. My girlfriend and I walked for miles, stomping through gushing streams before finally finding a calm pool of water where we jumped in to cool off.

These are just some of the adventures that await you in the Mountain State. We have found 99 of the best things to do in West Virginia, but there are undoubtedly more. Read our cover story on page 32 to see our complete list.

During a recent winter drive across the Highland Scenic Highway on one of our numerous West Virginia jaunts, my friend Dale Oxley and I pulled over to take in the majestic landscape. We stood there for a moment before Dale finally broke the silence that only a winter snowfall can yield. “If He isn’t here, He’s close by,” Dale remarked. I nodded in agreement before we returned to the car and headed home.

There is indeed a reason they call West Virginia “Almost Heaven,” and it’s there for you to experience at every bend and curve along our winding roads. I challenge each of you to embark on your own personal journey to explore our remarkable state. But before you hit the road, don’t forget to pack your John Denver CD. After all, singing “Country Roads” along with the late musician is #2 on our list....


 

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