West Virginia, Mountain Mama

It’s much easier to go adventuring when you have a car.

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This probably does not come as surprising news to you, but as a first-time car owner, it’s been a revelation. Since leaving my car-owning parents for college, I’ve been entirely at the will of Washington D.C.’s public transportation system. It’s a fine one, but bone-chilling winds, heavy bags of groceries, and the occasional torrential downpour can throw a wrench into one’s errands or commute.


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For all those reasons, it was a blessing when I inherited my mom’s ten-year-old Honda CR-V last month. I booked a one-way plane ticket back to Chicago, christened the car Bridget Honda, and drove straight to my new apartment in Northern Virginia, leaving bus dependence behind forever (or at least until Bridget dies).

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Immediately, new worlds opened their doors to me. Day-tripping has long been on my weekend to-do list, but the dream of exploring was now a legitimate possibility. So last weekend, we traipsed westward to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, for a day of hiking and Civil War artillery demonstrations, of course. We grooved to banjo music (and John Denver) the entire drive there.

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The day was saturated in crisp late-autumn air and flamboyant leaves, which were supplemented with ear-splitting cannon fire and history lessons, a long stroll along the Shenandoah River, a visit to the old-timey town of Harpers Ferry and a rainy trek up a mountain—and afterwards, restorative mugs of hot apple cider and a plate of triple-berry cobbler. The cloudy sky even broke open, drenching the day in gorgeous light that lasted until the hike uphill, at which point a shower felt quite refreshing indeed.

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So don’t be afraid to head out of state yourself next weekend! I know my head is now swimming with enough new day-trip plans to inspire a Beatles song…or maybe the sequel to a John Denver one.

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